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o!play unboxed

The Asus O!Play HDP-R1 Media Player is a device that turns your standard television into a media center. Here’s how it works. You plug this $99 box into your TV using the HDMI or composite A/V cables. Then you plug in a flash drive, hard drive, or other device using the USB or eSATA ports.The media player will detect any audio, video, or photos you have on the storage media and allow you to navigate through your files with an included remote control and a television set.

What I’m really excited about is the fact that the O!Play HDP-R1 also includes an Ethernet port, which means you should be able to access media stored on a shared network drive or network attached storage device.

Asus sent me an O!Play media player to test out and I’m planning to set it up so that I can stream TV programs recorded on the Home Theater PC in our living room to a television in another room in the house. In the meantime, you can check out my unboxing video after the break. I’m pretty impressed with the HDP-R1’s relatively small size and intuitive looking remote control. The recorder should be able to handle a huge array of media codecs including MPEG1/2/4, H.264, DivX, and XViD, but I’ll let you know more about that once I’ve had a chance to put it through the paces.

You can pick up an O!Play HDP-R1 for $99.99 from Amazon.

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34 replies on “Unboxing the Asus O!Play Media Player – Video”

  1. Well this looks pretty good, just have to wait for the wifi version after all my tv is on 1 floor and pc on other.

  2. Yes, it will read from a *nix system NFS share – –
    Just not on the on-screen menu.
    _all_ you need is:
    1) Knowledge of Linux/Unix
    2) Knowledge of the ASUStek product details
    3) Another computer to telnet into the box from

    4) Get lucky in searching the ASUStek support forum
    for the directions on how to do it.

    These people (ASUStek) really, really, need to hire a Linux consultant!

    1. I did (again) wore out another keyboard.
      But as I was posting…
      Select Linux as the OS in the box.
      The firmware image now posted is the same one loaded in my machine.
      Users in the ‘PAL’ area will want to download the ‘PAL’ version of the
      firmware (the machine I bought came with A/NTSC firmware).

      The GPL_Release file *does not* include the kernel source code.
      Hello? ASUS?

  3. I’m done for now – –

    Box has a telnet daemon running, you can telnet into it.
    Box has a https daemon running, a cgi-bin demo page only.
    The Busybox build is fairly complete.

    It has drivers for about three of the Realtek Wifi chips, so
    a usb-wifi dongle might ‘just work’ – I leave that to Brad.

    And yes, according to /proc/cpuinfo it *is* a 24K mips core.

    So my “hack attack” of about three days ago is satisfied for now;
    I would give it a 9.5:10.0 on the hackable scale;
    I deduct the 0.5 because of the Realtek binary only audio/video drivers.

    1. I finally got around to plugging it in today. The software interface is OK,
      and I had no problem streaming some MP3s to the TV in the basement while I
      was doing some housework today (I haven’t tried any video formats yet), but
      the UI is absolutely horrible for browsing through large lists of MP3s. It
      took several minutes of scrolling to find the album I wanted to play… and
      first you had to sift through all the folders starting with capital letters
      before you get to the list of folders with lowercase letters.
      It’s possible that I need to futz with some more settings, but so far it
      looks like Mikez’s hacking experiences are a bit more pleasant than my
      experiences with the built in software.

      1. So it isn’t just me then. I thought that was a rather funky UI
        but I am not used to using these things.

        It might suit the end-user who is only familiar with media
        appliances but people who expect a “computer user interface”
        are going to be disappointed.
        I was expecting at least a simplified version of their original
        EeePC interface. This box has enough resources to do it easily.

        The device does not write an error log that the user can view
        and of course, none but a hacker will hook up an external
        console terminal where they can see the error messages.

        I have captured hours of those console messages to a file I can
        study so I can say that the kernel build and software image needs
        a lot more work.

        For instance:
        A person buys a “media player” with connections to a USB drive –
        How many would expect to be able to plug in their external DVD drive –
        Insert a DVD and watch it?
        Or an audio CDROM and listen to it?

        Mine will not do that – although it may be “user error” here.
        According to the error messages, it is just a missing kernel module
        in the firmware package (oops).
        If that is the only reason, something ASUS can fix in less than a day.

        There are a lot of such things shown in the error logs – the Linus build
        looks to be not much better than “Working Prototype”.
        *AND* the box can update its firmware from an ASUS image –
        so one can hope that ASUS will be posting updates that fix those problems.

        There are drivers in the build for at least three models of Realtek Wifi
        chips – plugging in the right USB-Wifi dongle might “just work” –
        but then again, it might not. I don’t have one to try.

        I don’t see any drivers for TV tuners in the image – so I don’t expect my
        USB-TV tuner to “just work”. That will take an updated firmware image
        and probably a lot of work to extend the on-screen menu system.

        The shipping the device without password protection for the ‘root’ user
        account (what Linux calls the ‘administrator’) I consider a serious fault.

        End users will want to be sure that incoming connections to telnet are
        blocked at their firewall (in your modem/router/gateway/whatever).
        They will also probably want to block incoming connections to the
        https server in the box also.
        But having a https server running in the box opens up the possibility
        of a web-based interface to your media player – not just on-screen.

        ASUS did not include any of the iptables stuff (the Linux firewall)
        in the build. So although the box has network connectivity, it
        can not ‘defend itself’ – I consider that another serious fault.

        But at least ASUS is consistent, they didn’t do that for the EeePC either. 😉

        So much for the “insider report” – Brad, you can use any of this information
        in your “outsider report” .

          1. The internal firmware didn’t read the manual, it is trying real hard.

            This impresses me more and more as if it is shipping with a
            product demonstration kernel that Realtek ships with its
            development boards –

            *Not* a ‘built for general release’ kernel.

            This may have been a:
            “get it on the shelves in time for the holidays; we’ll fix it later”
            sort of development project at ASUS.

        1. You can telnet into it and root has no password? Oops.

          Great work delving into this stuff. Thanks for all the posts.

    1. Give me a hint (like model name and/or number – or a product link).

      There seems to be a number of this things hitting the market that use
      the same board design, as if some ODM was producing a “reference
      design” board for product manufacturers to use.

      That would account for why this board is only partially populated
      with parts. ASUS only soldered on what their product required.

      And then, this RTD1073 is not the first video/audio processor that
      Realtek has produced with a MIPS core that runs Linux.
      In fact, the same kernel build as this board is running.

      So the W.D. product may be very similar or may be something that
      W.D. did “in house” and very different.

      Brad will be turning out a “user review” in the next few days but since
      his is a review unit, he will not be prying it open.
      That is why I am sticking to the “inside details” – I own mine. 😉

        1. It is an Embedded Linux device but I couldn’t find any details.
          Google cnet reviews for the review they did on the box, they
          put lack of eSATA and networking on their “bad points” list.

          The WD information on the user interface sounds like it is
          much different than this ASUS device.
          If WD will send Brad a demo unit, maybe he can do a side-by-side.

          1. Thanks for the quick reply. Just trying to figure out which device is the best bang for my buck.

    1.  The dude is pronouncing it wrong.  Some Asus moron in the US got it wrong, then started everyone pronouncing it incorrectly.  There is a video of a Taiwanese girl explaining how to properly pronounce it.  It is more like AY-sus.

  4. Still looking for something like this that will handle an MKV that has dual audio and subtitles. Have a decent Anime collection, but most devices and most streaming software have no way of selecting which audio stream, or of properly handling subtitles. Would love to find out that this is what I’ve been needing 🙂

  5. Nice. I have a Roku for watching Netflix, and this would definitely be complementary for a home media library.

    Some things I’d especially love to hear about:

    * How you network it and how that affects the output. I’ve heard you can’t run 1080p through anything but Ethernet or 802.11n. Are you planning on running cable, or using a wifi bridge? And what formats will work that way?

    * How intuitive the UI is. Some set top boxes are perfect from a spec standpoint, but are really unusable. Will the wife and kids be able to figure it out after I get it set up?

    * Format support. Will it play pretty much everything you throw at it, or are there limitations?

    * How well it downsamples HD media to SD. If you hook it up over composite to an old TV, do HD files still look good (as much as possible)?

    Thanks for whatever you can cover!

    1. Similar purpose devices, different SoC chips, both are MIPS cores.
      Your Roku has Wifi and a subscription agreement,
      the ASUS box does not have either, so its “wired network”.

      At least you do have the source code available:

      Found a set of 14 pictures of the Roku but did not spot the serial port
      connections in them. I did see something that looks like a JTAG port.

      Brad can get your other questions, I haven’t powered up mine yet.

  6. I wonder if it supports H264 1080p High Profile, all bitrates, MKV container, any USB hard drive formatting including NTFS, I wonder if it plays anything from the web, including perhaps provide a web browser and Youtube HD streaming support, BitTorrent downloading to external hard drive and RSS video podcast support, I wonder if the USB works for USB keyboard for text input as well.

    1. Out of the box? Brad will have to answer those, but. . .
      With 256Mbyte of flash and 128Mbyte of ram – a qualified “yes”
      Although you might need to roll your own firmware update.
      – – – –
      Set aside a gig or two of disk space for OS and you should be able to
      run any Linux distribution that supports MIPS. Enjoy.

    2. The https server has a “webtorrent” file in the cgi-bin directory.
      No hints as to how to make it work.

      Yes, it does ntfs, fat, ext2/ext3 and several others (MAC formats?).
      It should also do iso9660 but appears to be broken in the 1.07n firmware build.

  7. Since you have one, I suppose your question about legacy outputs is answered.
    It has legacy media outputs (L-audio, R-audio, Composite Video RCA jacks);
    and even includes the patch cord.
    For the other cords, your on your own.

    If you don’t want to pry it open –
    The processor is the RealTek RTD1073DD SoC chip.
    Which I think (unconfirmed yet) is one of these:

    No fan – although plenty of room in box to add one if you would like.
    It does have a header&pins for the Linux console serial port, with labels (3.3v ttl).
    The heatsink uses a double-sided gummy thing for thermal conductivity, I replaced
    that with some Arctic Silver after giving a good cleaning (the gummy stuff dries out with time).

    The “pry it open” details:

    1. Oh, one more hidden by the case bit:
      It has the outline and pads for a CF card connector – –
      No connector, No slot in side of case for card – both lacks “fixable”. 😉

      There is a German version that does include the CF card slot:

      1. Something that did not come through the translation clearly:

        That “eSATA USB” marked connector is really just that *both*
        an eSATA port and the first USB port.

        The USB port sized connector is the second USB port.

      2. Quote=”HDP-R1″ (In part):

        REALTEK ROM Monitor, Revision 0000.0202.0014
        – – – –
        Flash memory size = 256 MByte
        SDRAM size = 128MByte
        – – – –
        Linux version … gcc version 3.4.4 mipssde-6.03.01-200519
        – – – –
        Instruction cache 32kB, physically tagged, 4-way
        Data cache 32kB, 4-way
        – – – –
        CPU frequency: 405.02MHz
        – – – –
        eth0: RTL-8139C+
        Default address:, gw:
        – – – –
        Welcome to Realtek Linux
        etc. etc. etc
        – – – –
        Yup – that should be a pretty usable little computer.
        Certainly blows my NSLU-2 out of the water for resources on hand.

    2. Yeah, I tried to respond to your email earlier but it bounced back.
      I’m probably just going to use this demo model with the stock software, but
      let me know if you figure out how to do anything really cool with it!

      1. My e-mail address bounced? Dear me.
        Have been configuring a new, personal web-site today – I must have
        broken something. Thanks, I need to check on that!

        It is rumored to have 16M of flash and 64M of ram – more than enough
        to add features to it – will confirm that when I can (tomorrow?).

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