Got Media Files? ASUS has player!

Mar 18, 2010 (Updated Mar 19, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Low cost, quick and easy

Cons:No web capabilities for viewing youtube etc.

The Bottom Line: For a easy way to show your media files on your HDTV, this is a great answer.


Introduction
You have a HDTV and you have a computer and often think you would like to be able to play files you have downloaded on your computer through your HDTV.  Well, with this handy box you can.

I have a couple of the Western Digital TV HD media players and while they are also a handy way of playing media files on your HDTV without the pain of actually attaching your PC to your HDTV, (many HDTVs do not play well with PCs and no PC is as easy as connecting a media player) the Western Digital TV HD media players do not have LAN support.  That means in order to play your media files on your HDTV, they have to be transferred to a USB drive or memory stick from your PC. The O!Play player having LAN support eliminates that step and it sells for approximately the same price.

What You Get
In the box the media player comes with a power supply, composite A/V cable (Red-White-Yellow) set, remote control with batteries, a quick start guide and a CD with the manual.  The quick start guide and manual are multi-lingual including English, French, Spanish, among many more languages.

Connections
The hookup of the unit is very easy and straightforward.  To get the unit ready to go you attach the power converter, a HDMI cable and some type of storage device like a USB or eSATA hard drive that has the media files to be played.  Alternately, or in addition you can also attach a LAN cable to allow playing files or photo display from any PC that is attached to the network.  Just like any PC, in order for you to be able to access the files they must be in a shared folder.  In the manual there is complete step by step procedures for connecting to the network.

In addition to the HDMI connection, the unit also supports audio/video connections via a stereo audio+video patch cable which is furnished with the package.  This connection will down-convert video to 480i standard definition and is useful for connecting to DVD recorders and televisions that do not have a HDMI or DVI connection.

Operation
The operation of the unit is straight forward and intuitive.  There is a "home" menu that allows the selection of movies, photos, music, setup and file copy.

The movie selection is used to play video files either from the attached storage or any shared location on the LAN.  When the movie is selected, the next menu allows selection of where the source is located.  If the LAN is selected then subsequent menus allow navigation to the exact location in a manner that is similar to using the network functions on a PC.  Having the folder and file names meaningful is recommended as this is what is displayed in the navigation menus.  Once you have selected a folder playing the first file in the folder will cause the files in the folder to be played sequentially one after the other. 

The photo and music selections will also work in the same manner. You can start music playing then go to a photo folder and start a slide show so you have background music playing during the slide show.

The setup selection has sub-menus for audio, video, photo, network and system.  In this selection you set such things as the slide show duration, transition type, digital audio and video picture parameters.

Conclusion
For the price (I paid $99 for mine at amazon) I don't think this can be beat as far as media players go.  There are other media players that are LAN compatible that cost much more.  I was impressed with just how simple and quick the unit was to get up and running.  If you have a need to be able to play your media files that reside on your PC, this could be the player for you.


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