Asus O!Play HDP-R1 Digital Media Player

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Navigating Your Media Collection(s)



Selecting the Movies or Photos modules from the Home menu, opens new screens that lets you select the files to play from a Folder menu, or based on the Date of the files or from Recently Played files. Those same options are also available with the Music module, but a number of additional file selection options are available, such as Album, Singer, and Genre. Note that the Date and Recently Played options only display media files that are accessible from direct-connected USB drives; the only way to access network files is through the Folder navigation option. When you select Folder, the three options are Storage Device, Network, and UPnP.



 The Music module (right) offers a few more file navigation options than the
Movies (left) and Photos modules.


The Storage Device option shows all USB-attached drives. You can access each attached drive and navigate through the folder structure of the respective drives to find the media files you want to play. Unfortunately, the O!Play does not let you search for specific files, so you either need to know where your files are located or be prepared to spend some time hunting for them.


 

Selecting Storage Devices (left) accesses any direct-connected USB drives (right).


Selecting the Network option takes you to a screen with two options: My_Shortcuts and My_Neighbors. Selecting My_Neighbors displays a list of Windows XP or Vista PCs on the local network that have folder-sharing enabled. When you choose one of these systems, you are given the option to create a shortcut to the system. Any shortcuts you create get added to the My_Shortcuts menu. We had little trouble getting the O!Play to see our networked HP Pavilion Elite m9550f desktop running Windows Vista; but despite all attempts, we could not get the O!Play to see our networked Windows 7 system--it turns out that accessing Windows 7 networked systems is not supported by the 01.13N firmware or earlier versions. Asus tells us that support for accessing networked Windows 7 systems will be added with the 0.16N firmware.


 

Left: The UPnP devices on our network that the O!Play detected. Right: Network connections
are listed under My_ShortCuts and and My_Neighbors.


In the meantime, there is a workaround for accessing networked Windows 7 systems, but it involves a bit of Linux hackery: You need to telnet into the O!Play as root (there is no password), and update the /usr/local/etc/dvdplayer/script/run_tail file to include a mount point for the network folders you want the O!Play to access. Following a reboot, the O!Play will display these mounted shares in the Storage Device menu. Obviously, this approach is not for the feint of heart--non-Linux users need not apply. A big downside to this approach is that if the shared folders being accessed are password-protected, your username and password must be included with the mount instructions in the unencrypted, text-based run_tail file. This also shows a significant security hole with the O!Play: Anyone who has access to your network can telnet into the O!Play as the root user, and see and alter the entire contents of the device as well as any mounted drives or folders.

 

 

Left: Using Telnet to access the O!Play, with the contents of the
/usr/local/etc/dvdplayer/script/run_tail file displayed.
Right: Using Telnet to explore the contents of a mounted USB drive.


In addition to storing media files on a networked Vista system, we also made media files available on two networked, UPnP-enabled NAS devices: a Synology Disk Station DS409+ and a WD My Book World Edition. When we selected UPnP from the O!Play’s file navigation menu, the two NAS devices appeared as available network devices--albeit, not every time. The O!Play’s UPnP connectivity was a bit flaky--sometimes we’d select UPnP, only to see that neither device was available. We’d hit the Return button on the remote and then navigate back to the UPnP menu, mere moments later, only to see one or both NAS devices appear. It was a veritable crapshoot as to which devices would appear whenever we select the O!Play’s UPnP option. Asus claims that this network instability will be fixed with the 01.16N firmware.

Another network-related issue we ran into (and also which will purportedly be fixed with the 01.16N firmware update) is that even when we could access one of the UPnP devices and navigate to the folder we wanted, sometimes the files in that folder didn’t appear; we saw this most often with photo files. Yet another issue we encountered was that the O!Play occasionally performed spontaneous reboots when trying to access media files; this only happened to us a handful of times, but each time that it happened was when we were trying to play a video file over a network connection.

We found the most convenient way to navigate through all of our disparate media collections was to use the Folder navigation option. This quickly made us realize, however, that our current system for storing files was less than ideal, as we had folder and file names that often made little sense. Making matters worse was that some folders contained hundreds of files, making finding the one file we were looking for tantamount to trying to find a needle in a haystack. If you’re thinking about jumping on the media player bandwagon--be it with the O!Play or similar device--we highly recommend you spend some time organizing your media collection into folder structures that are easy navigate and with file names that are self-explanatory.


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