This is perhaps one of the best and most sensibly designed remote controls I have ever used, thanks to its ingenious jog dial-cum-navigation system with handy enter button at the centre. The jog dial has tactile and audible clicks making the operation more reassuring. The same jog dial ring can be pressed in four directions to act as a navigation key. The enter button operates with a rather loud and evident click.
Fully functional, easy to use remote
The iPod has a special white-coloured key and is given a prominent spot. After connecting the iPod to the O!Play Gallery, all the operation and navigation of the iPod gets transferred to it and is operable through the remote control. The remote also has many hot keys for direct access functions. One of the most annoying operations was to type something on the virtual on-screen keyboard, but Asus has realised this and has released a firmware update for the users to connect a special USB keyboard for this purpose to the player.
After initial connections, the O!Play Gallery was a breeze to set-up. I have had connectivity and sharing issues with most of the players I have reviewed. At times, nothing used to go right till at least two or three iterations, but with the O!Play Gallery, the connection was definite and reliable. Agreed, it took some time to recognise computers on the network but I do not know whether the culprit is my network or the player. The navigation system of the player is such that the moment you reach a particular destination, picture quality in terms of resolution and colour rendition was bang-on. There were no artifacts and the picture was excellent on motion and on the realism front. Even the black levels on HD television were just perfect and deep.
Asus is an experienced engineering company when it comes to sound and graphics cards and so the player performed very well on the technology front. The GUI and the background graphics are simply fantastic in terms of beauty and simplicity. Picture quality, in terms of resolution and colour rendition, was bang-on. There were no artifacts and the picture was excellent on motion and on the realism front. Even the black levels on HD television were just perfect and deep. There is very little fine control in the media player as far as the sound and video quality are concerned. So, most of the settings need to be carried out from the TV and there could be a problem with the same settings for other devices but there isn’t any way out here.
Not too shabby
We found the sound had good resolution and great multi-channel separation. On the two-channel, when compared to a dedicated CD player or an SACD player, similar content lacked warmth and imaging. It also must be noted that the music CD or DVD when placed in shared disc drive on the computer does not play on this media player. These have to be converted into other formats or ripped and saved in the shared folder, thus the media player doesn’t exactly ‘replace’ disc player in the true sense. I would strongly recommend this player to be kept reserved for the video and casual music playback if your choices are already spoilt by even entry-level dedicated audiophile sources.
Asus O!Play Gallery is one of the better media players that we have reviewed so far, especially looking at the super-sensible pricing. It has superb navigation and ease-of- use combined with the elegance and build needed to be a proud member of your AV rig. Advanced capabilities make it obsolete-proof for at least the next three to four years. Moreover, there are patches and updates released time and again, to keep it afloat and young.
AV MAX is a special interest audiophile magazine that focuses on reviewing high-end AV equipment like amplifiers, stereos, floorstanding speakers and related news
Updated 23 May, 2013, 1:46 pm IST
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