Asus is a Taiwan based company that is known more for notebook computers than home based entertainment devices. Since it is a new comer to the media field, some people are not sure if the Asus media player will meet their needs. The ASUS O!Play Live HD Media Player has network connectivity and an exhaustive list of video codecs making it a nearly perfect player as it is capable of playing anything from VCDs to Blu-ray / HD DVD rips. It is important to note that it has RMVB support which is an important feature for people who love Asian shows. Asus also seems to be diligent in developing firmwares, something that is lacking in other manufacturers.
Asus Media Player – Setup
Setting up the Asus media player is very easy and it takes half a minute. It has 1 eSATA port and 1 USB port that can be used to connect local hard drives should you need them. Optical (S / PDIF) and HDMI cable are not included so you will need to get your own. Instead of a wall-wart that blocks neighboring outlets, Asus media player uses a 2-prong power outlet. You will notice that the AC adapter is similar in looks to a laptop’s AC adapter. The adapter is quite small and uses a blue LED to show that power has been connected.
Asus Media Player - Usability and interface
Compared to as many as 40 seconds for other media players, Asus takes about 10 seconds to boot to the home screen. The home screen is attractive and bright although the same cannot be said about the folder navigation scheme. As much as the folder navigation screen is not as attractive as other makes, it is easy to use and gets the job done.
Asus Media Player - Format Support
This is where the ASUS O!Play Live HD Media Player – Black really shines. In one test, it was able to play more than 100 different files. In standard def and hi-def 720p / 1080i / p, it played TS, RM, DIVX, MPG, AVI and MKV files flawlessly. Additionally, it even plays FLV (flash video), a feature that is rarely encountered in other media players. If you just want to output through the television for convenience, there is no need for an audio receiver because DTS and Dolby multi-channel audio is downsampled to stereo. Furthermore, it also plays .VOB / IFO files with menus, chapters and all disc features as if it were an original DVD.
Asus Media Player - External Subtitles
When internally embedded subtitles in .MKV’s and external .SRTs were tested in a number of languages, including French, English, Russian, Japanese and Chinese, that all worked when they were saved as UTF-8. This is great news for fans of foreign films and multilingual families. The interface can also be set to one of the 10 major international languages, and subtitles can be downloaded from websites such as DivxStation.
Asus Media Player - Network interface
The network interface in current players is a 10 / 100 network interface. This may seem to be a challenge when using bandwidth intensive HD content.
Asus Media Player - Cons
The only con that can be found with the Asus media player is a problem playing progressive JPEGs. Images can zoom up to 8x and they will fit to screen. However, it lacks a 1x view to see images at their original size.
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