I got chance to try ASUS O!Play Air HDP-R3. Short words, it’s a digital storage player (you can use external HDD connected via USB or e-SATA or use the build-in card reader) and support RCA Composite or HDMI video output up to 1080p and analog or SPDIF out via Optical. Wired LAN also supported and for the R3, it support WiFi to. The core is based on Linux so completely upgradeable (or hackable).

It supports following formats:

  • Video: MPEG1/2/4,RM/RMVB,VC-1,H.264
  • Video File Extension: .trp,.mp4,.mov,.xvid,.avi,.divx,.asf,.wmv,.mkv,.rm,.rmvb,.flv,.ts,.m2ts,.dat,.mpg,.vob,.mts,.iso,.ifo
  • Audio: MP3,WAV,AAC,OGG,FLAC,AIFF,Dolby Digital AC3,Dolby Digital Plus,DTS Digital Surround,Tag ID3,Dolby True HD (downmix)
  • Subtitle: SRT,SUB,SMI,SSA,TXT

For you who is interested to read more, click here.

Enough the introduction, this is not an advertorial. Straight to the point, I connect it to my audio system. I also need small display to navigate the menu, so I use 3.5″ LCD normally used as car reverse camera display shown below. Not the highest or sophisticated resolution though’, but who cares the display quality anyway 😉 On the back is my Duelund CAST Silver capacitor as output coupling of my Aikido Preamplifier.

The Asus O!Play Air HDP-R3 shoot from the front. Small, lightweight, connected to my external HDD via USB.

The PCB board. Very simple and all-in-one package.

Below is the detail of the DAC. It uses Cirrus Logic CS4352. Mediocre class, but equipped with line driver so the vendor could minimize the parts count. I don’t know if this is a good news or bad news for a DIYer like me. We will see later.

How about the audio performance? From my short listening session, it has average sound, typically a PC based audio performance. For majority home-cinema application (which this machine is intended to), I believe the performance is from good to excellent.

But for dedicated audio listener like me, I would love some improvements here and there 😉

I love the mids, very thick, even slightly too thick somehow. On the contrary, mid-high is average, lacks of micro details. Bass is more than enough, although slightly less defined. Staging is average, not quite wide or deep. Separation also could use some improvement. I suspect the switching power supply used could be blamed for this. I will build an analog one and we’ll see how far this could go. Also, I will trace some more details on the PCB and see what we can play with it.