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Asus Bravo 220 review – media card

Sadly this product has failed to impress us, with most issues revolving around the proprietary software bundle.

To install the drivers for the receiver (and remote) you have to install a complete driver package … with outdated forceware driver. There is no way around this as the product is not even properly listed on the Asus support site … well unless you use a generic ENGT220 Asus driver from months ago (Forceware 191, not 197). We would want to see a seperate install for the receiver functionality.

Without trying to gloss over it, the software package is shockingly bad and just doesn’t deliver the end user a comfortable, intuitive experience. It is basically a remote control ‘front end’ for your ordinary media player and puts me in a position where I really can’t recommend it to any of our readers. Having a dedicated transcoding option which basically just ‘links’ to a trial version of Cyberlink software was just the icing on the cake.

The light sensor is also flawed, frequently I could experience shifts in colour and brightness which became distracting on our 600hz Panasonic Plasma screen, I ended up removing the Asus software completely, disconnecting the USB based sensor and just running the card with updated Forceware drivers. I would understand this more if I was using it in a room with fluctuating light, but I wasn’t. Thinking it might be a bad install, we unfortunately verified the issues on another system.

What solutions have Asus got? they can either ditch the buggy, unfinished software or get it fixed. I am all for cool gimmicks but only if they bring something viable to the table to enhance the user experience. Bravo Media Center fails on all levels and I am quite sure most people expect a full media experience, rather than a quirky front end for media players already installed on their system. It actually reduced functionality of Windows Media Player in our testing, failing completely to work with MKV files.

The card itself is a solid product and I really liked it, the power drain is low, the performance is decent and it doesn’t generate a lot of heat which is ideal in a small form factor chassis. It is a much better option than the Nvidia 210 series, which we feel is totally underpowered for any real world use.

In the UK now the card is around the £65 mark which is comparible to a reference design with faster clocks. If you want a silent version of the card however, this is the one to get, just do yourself a favour and run it natively without any of the Asus software installed.

KitGuru says: Remove all the optional junk, charge £10 less and this would score much higher. The card is solid, the bundle isn’t.

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Rating: 5.0.

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