Ever since Asus sent me an O!Play HD media player to review, I’ve been meaning to gather a few more of these tiny media boxes and do a proper roundup. But Gizmodo has beat me to it. The tech blog put together a not-quite comprehensive roundup of media streaming devices from Western Digital, Seagate, Popcorn Hour, Patrio, and Netgear.
The Patriot box is actually quite similar to the Asus O!Play and has similar software and support for all the same audio and video codecs, which is to say, nearly all of them. But Gizmodo found that the video quality on the Patriot box was subpar. Gizmodo’s Wilson Rothman liked the Western Digital and Seagate devices best, but the truth is most of these little guys have clunky interfaces, lack support for online media, some video formats, or suffer from other problems.
In related news, Engadget reports that Asus has released an updated version of the O!Play in Spain. The O!Play HDP-R3 has integrated 802.11b/g/n WiFi and a flash card reader and sells for about $133.
But I’m starting to think the best low cost media player is really just a nettop with good graphics capabilities like the $330 Acer AspireRevo AR3610. Sure, it costs more than most of the other boxes, but not a lot more. And it’s a heck of a lot more versatile.