The O!Play HDP-R1 is a new media box from Taiwanese tech giant Asus.

The problem with media players is that many of them aren't very good. Some of them, in fact, are absolutely terrible. The interfaces are often horrible to navigate. They're slow to respond to commands. And they often aren't compatible with all the files you want to play on them.

Is the Asus O!Play HDP-R1 one of these terrible devices? Or does it stand triumphant as one of the best media streamers available?

First impressions

At first glance, the first Asus O!Play has a lot of potential. It plays almost any media format you can imagine, including the Matroska '.mkv' container – the current de facto file format for user-created HD video.

Asus o!play hdp-r1

The O!Play plays these files (including the usual MP3, AVI, DivX, Xvid and other formats too) either via a USB storage device or over a wired LAN. Technically this is a media streamer, but the lack of a wireless connection is puzzling to say the least.

Asus o!play hdp-r1

The video options include a standard composite connection and also HDMI – an absolute must if you're going to be playing back 1080p video. And there's also a solitary USB port alongside an E-SATA connection for plugging in your storage devices direct.

Asus o!play hdp-r1

In the box you get the player itself, as well as an IR remote control, composite video cable and power adapter.