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We've just got our hands on the Asus O!Play HD Media Player -- an Apple TV-style box that lets you play digital media on your big-screen TV -- without those awkward disc thingies.

The premise is very simple. Connect the O!Play box to your telly via HDMI or composite video, slap a USB or eSATA storage device in one of the two ports at the side (or connect it to your wired home network), then marvel as high-definition movies splay themselves seductively across your television set.

The key words here are 'high' and 'definition'. Unlike the Apple TV, the Asus O!Play supports 1080p Full HD at 60Hz, trumping the Apple alternative's 720p maximum. It also supports a shedload more video file formats including those ending in .mp4, .mov, .xvid., .avi., .divx., .asf, .wmv, .mkv, .rm, .rmvb, .flv, .ts, .m2ts, .dat, .mpg, .vob, .mts, .tp, .trp and .iso. It'll also play (deep breath) MP3, WAV, AAC, OGG, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, LPCM, WMA, Dolby Digital AC3, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Dolby Digital & DTS pass through and AIFF audio files. Want more abbreviations? How about JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF and TIFF image support?

We tested the system this morning and found it relatively easy to use. Our only gripes are that it doesn't accept an internal hard drive, it made us jump through a few hoops to enable 1080p video, requiring a restart in the process, and the fact the remote control looks like it fell out of an 80s children's toy box.

The O!Play is available now for a very reasonable £86. Click through for more hands and more on.

Once you're up and running, the menu is easy to navigate. Simply press up or down on the remote to cycle between photos movies, music or settings.
Here we are playing a 1080p movie, which looked absolutely stunning. As you can see, we've elaborately recreated a scene from The Dark Knight in our own studio.
The slot on the right is USB, while the slot on the left is a hybrid USB/eSATA port. The latter is especially useful as it transfers data up to six times faster than USB.
At the rear, you get composite audio/video, optical digital audio, HDMI and LAN ports.


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