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Pros: Compact, stylish, build quality seems quite good, BIOS is pretty? Pretty much a PC in a small package (look at the specs what hardware you're getting and you'll get it) - nothing more to say here.
Cons: Sometimes (very rarely), it does not find the hard drive on startup, but if you restart, it will find it - I did not update the BIOS yet, so this may be fixed already. I wanted to use the GeForce GT540M GPU exclusively, but it seems its a some sort of hybrid with the Intel GPU, so say when you're watching youtube in a window, you will use the Intel GPU and when you switch to full-screen, you will use the Geforce GPU (after waiting about 1-2 seconds for it to switch). Disabling hardware acceleration for youtube removes the delay, but obviously the CPU will be doing all the work then (don't take me wrong - there is plenty of CPU power available), which means the CPU fan will spin faster generating more noise. This is pretty much my biggest problem with this platform - the switch between the Intel GPU to the NVidia GPU. DXVA2 was choppy in some video in XBMC, so again I had to disable it, making the CPU do all the work instead. Drivers from the NVidia site would not install.
Other Thoughts: Stand-alone XBMC install from the live CD would not run "out of the box" - I think it probably did not have the video drivers. Running XBMC in Windows 7 to ensure full support of all features and thats working beautifully. Replaced the 750GB HDD with a 120GB SSD for the noise reduction and faster all-around operation. Had to unscrew A LOT of screws (not sure how many, seems like about 10) on the top shield in order to gain access to the hard drive and the bluray drive, but really not that big of a deal. Unit is almost completely silent on idle, however the fan is noticeable in a quiet small room - it gets louder as you put more load on the CPU, but when you're watching a movie, its really not too bad (even if the CPU does all the work). Overall, I would recommend this as a quality HTPC, however I would point out that perhaps it would require some work to set everything up and to make sure that everything is just perfect. I tried many Media Center solutions, but XBMC and Plex stood outREAD FULL REVIEW
Pros: - Seems to play the same file formats as original O!Play (HDP R1). Plays them just as well as the original.
- Wireless support (did not test)
- Netflix support*
- Youtube support*
* See other comments below
Cons: - Youtube - very poorly done. In order to actually sign in using your Youtube account, you need to use a USB mouse. Once you sign in, the Youtube app does not let you browse your subscriptions. Absolutely no quality settings. There are many smaller problems as well, but at the end of the day it does play videos.
- Netflix - No settings, quality seems sub-par. All actions are very slow - especially connect and disconnect from the service.
- Fan noise. Not too loud, but noticeable in a small room. The original was silent - why add noise to what was a silent player?
- "Online (Firmware) Update" option in the Settings movie always gives off a connection error.
- O!Direct application does not seem to work. Turned off all firewalls and such, but the application is still complaining that the connection fails. I can see it communicating with the O!Play, but even the latest version does not seem to work.
- Player freezes sometimes in some apps.
- Telnet access blocked (can't mod).
Other Thoughts: The overall feel of everything that has to do with this player is as if they're doing alpha testing (not even beta testing!) and you are the tester. I will give you a few examples:
- Try to do an "Online Upgrade" - it fails saying to retry after checking the network settings. Fine - whatever, lets try manually. Go to the ASUS website (USA one is the only one that even has some info about this player) and it suddenly pops up an .HTACCESS login dialog - weird, but lets cancel. OK, seem to be able to browse the site, click Download to get the latest downloads, but it says "0 files found". OK - thats annoying, but there is still one more option left - FTP. Go to the ASUS FTP, check the firmware versions for the O!Play Live and they only have one firmware version there and its considerably older than the stock.
- Youtube app might just randomly show a mouse cursor or stop responding. The whole thing runs in a web browser (right click with a mouse).
- Horrible firmware job, feels rush