Asus O!Play Air HDP-R3
Power isn't the name of the game when it comes to products in this line; instead fulfilling their purpose and offering a high degree of usability are key. The next few images will give you a general impression of how the menus are arranged, along with the key settings the O!Play allows you to change.
The home screen gives you access to the main sub menus: Movies, Music, Photos, File Copy, All media and Settings. To select one of these sections you press up or down on the remote, which then cycles the on screen selection.
The three main sub menus (movies, photos and music) all use the same menu structure, so the images below are relevant to all three. Upon selecting the section with which you wish to navigate from the home screen, you are then offered the choice of 'Date', 'Folder' and 'Recently Played'. Unfortunately the Recently Played and Date menus didn't appear to be working. I have a feeling that these menus are designed to work with internal hard disks, something the O!Play lacks, which means that menus were left empty. It's nothing vital, but it would be nice to have external content from the network or an external source listed. Fortunately the Folder menu did work, and it takes you to the next stage: Choosing a source drive. Strangely, 'Storage Device' shows up here, which seemed odd, as on previous units this has always been used as the heading for the internal hard disk. Sure enough, trying to save any files to the 'Storage Device' just came up with the no entry logo. We have heard from Asus that these issues will be fixed with a firmware update, with the ETA on this as 'soon'. Another minor niggle is that every time you want to view your media you have to find your way to it. It would have been much nicer if you could select locations to be scanned, and have it all appear in a single library, like in iTunes or similar.
Once you've found your source file, you can hover over it to produce a small preview on the right hand side of the screen. Running over a 1gb/s network, and connected to a dedicated NAS, these previews still took a good few seconds to come up. Even more annoying is the fact that you're not allowed to start watching the file in full screen until the preview has been created. Another feature of the O!Play is file copy, which allows you to copy media from one place to another. I can only really see this being useful if you wanted to copy something to an internal drive (which the O!Play lacks), since everything else can be done from a PC, but it's nice to have just in case.
When plugging in the O!Play I found that most of the default settings were pretty much spot on, and only needed to change a few of them to get optimum performance on my TV. If you find things looking a bit odd, then the settings menu is where you'll need to head. It offers a large range of options, which should easily be enough for even the most high-tech amongst us.
Although I had a few niggles with the menus, I am pleased to report that the O!Play was more than capable of playing all the media files I threw at it. It also managed to track through them without stalling, something which has caused me a lot of hair pulling in the past. Photos were also displayed full screen without fuss, and looked very good. Changing between images wasn't instantaneous, but it wasn't bad. Again, this is probably due to the image being streamed off the network, rather than being stored locally on the O!Play.