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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > WD HD TV Live

WD HD TV Live
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Hawkeye_a
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Mar 25, 2010, 11:39 PM
 
I've been debating a set top box for all the media i've accumulated over the years. As some of you might know, i've been trying to choose between a PS3, AppleTV and WD HD TV Live.

The differences in detail were pretty annoying.... supported video formats, resolution, external HDD support(and formats).

So here's what it boiled down to, for me:
AppleTV
+Apple, supports h.264 and quicktime(and other apple supported formats)
+design and UI
+Compatibile with iTMS purchases(big plus)
-Not 1080p
-No support for other codecs like Xvid, etc. (officially anyway)
-No support for external USB storage(officially anyway)

PS3:
+Blu Ray
+Gaming
+1080p
-No support for iTMS purchases
-only supports FAT32 drives
-price(including a new HDD)

WD HD TV:
+Codec support
+HDD support (supports HFS+, FAT32, NTFS, etc)
+1080p
+price
-No support for iTMS purchases


I ended up getting a WDHDTV, yesterday. AppleTV was eliminated due to lack of support for 1080p and non-Apple supported codecs (most of my content is supported, but the convenience of supporting other formats has a lot of value as well).

The big debate was PS3 vs WDHDTV. My drives are all formatted in HFS+, and if i had to get a new HDD for the content via the PS3, the price would go up, well beyond what i'm willing to spend. I would also double up on HDDs, which is a waste imo. The BR and gaming were sweetening the dal, but could not justify the price+hassle+doublingup. Had my drives been in FAT32, i would have gone with the PS3.

I ended up choosing the WDTV because it supports almost all the formats of video, audio and images i need (so far the only one not supported out of the box is flash video). It supported HFS+ formatted drives. It was a fraction(1/3) of the price of the PS3+HDD. It's smaller than the alternatives, and it supports 1080p via HDMI. My only criticism thus far is the UI isnt as 'fluid' as FrontRow, and for some bizarre reason i cannot fast-forward or rewind videos with the .m4v extension(renaming them to .mp4 enabled it).

I'll post pics and my experience with it here. But so far i like the device's design (tiny, inconspicuous and quiet) the supported formats(file formats and drive formats) makes for a convenient media player for anyone(Mac or PC users) who come over to plug in their content, the setup was a sinch, and it didn't break the bank.

Cheers
( Last edited by Hawkeye_a; Mar 26, 2010 at 02:52 AM. )
     
mduell
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Mar 26, 2010, 12:39 PM
 
The tv's iTunes integration is neat for music/photos/DVD rips, but the quarter HD (540p) limitation for 30 fps content kills any real claim of supporting "HD".
     
cgc
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Mar 27, 2010, 06:36 PM
 
Funny, my Samsung TV can play ripped videos form a USB stick but it also cannot fast forward or rewind certain codecs though I forget which ones. I'll probably end up buying a Popcorn Hour but am very interested in your feelings on the WDHDTV device.
     
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Mar 27, 2010, 10:08 PM
 
I've been using a WD TV Live box for several months now and really like it aside from an issue that I had a while back where it spontaneously stopped being able to play any files at all. I would have to do a software reset on it every time I powered it up to make it work. I contacted WD support and they told me I could get an immediate replacement but as the problem mysteriously went away, and I can be lazy at times when something isn't urgent, I have bothered arranging the swap yet.

Incidentally, I have tonnes of video files that use the .m4v extension and have never had a problem fast forwarding or rewinding.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Mar 29, 2010, 09:58 PM
 
Update:
Disappointed.

While there is support for a wide array of video formats, there seem to be 'issues' with the ones i need. To elaborate:
-The first unit brought home was bricked, so i took it back to the store and exchanged it. the second one works fine.
-.m4v files cannot be fast forwarded or rewound. Been using my Mac and front row for the last few months, and this 'feature' was almost second nature to me. Renaming the file to an .mp4 seemed to fix the issue.....except some files loose sync of the audio completely (pausing/stopping and restatring the video does not fix it).
-.flv (flash video, like the ones you can get off youtube) do not work. (i have a few videos in this format, but not a major biggie)
-The firmware quality control is absurt. from the forums, upgrading the firmware can brick your unit(one specific version does this), but the quality is sub par....if they fix the ff/rw issue, the audio goes out of sync. Or something else breaks, etc.
-IMHO, after a few days of using it.....its an 'incomplete'(software at least) product. The vibe isnt that of a plug-n-play solution(ala AppleTV), but more of a hobbyist/hackable product (not my kind of thing) that tends to flake.
-The remote control is like a franken-remote, thats looks like your generic china-made plastic crap.

On the positive side:
-One MAJOR plus that i havent found in any out product of this class, is it's support for Mac file systems(HFS+).
-The unit is well designed and actually looks good (small, quiet, good industrial design, etc)
-the UI is simple enough (but very 'static', as opposed to fluid frontrow)

I'm debating returning it if i can, cause it's more of a hassle that i bargained for. It 'fit' into my setup with little to no change (no need to reformat drives, etc) and it played back almost all my files. the problem was it didnt do what it is supposed to do well. (inability to ff/rw, audio sync, etc).

I think WD took on a little more than it's capable of...... i really like the support for Mac users, but they seem to be trying to support too many formats initially (and getting none of the ones i use right (MP4)),and trying to support network streaming, as well as youtube, etc all at once, instead of getting the core functionality right, and building from there.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Mar 30, 2010, 12:31 AM
 
Update2:
As mentioned earlier i was considering returning this device and picking up a PS3..... problem with that product is, it doesnt support HFS+ and comparitively limited codec support. <sigh>. Apple TV is out cause the USB port on it is useless, and once again limited codec support.

This class of device is in limbo...disarray, imho. There needs to be a serious effort on making a definitive product in this space, as there isnt one which has it all....
AppleTV: software and UI is great, Wifi.
WDHDTV: external HDD support and codec support
PS3: DVD and Br-DVD playback support.
( Last edited by Hawkeye_a; Mar 30, 2010 at 01:02 AM. )
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Mar 30, 2010, 08:44 AM
 
Took it back and exchanged it for a PS3.
     
mduell
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Mar 30, 2010, 02:39 PM
 
M4V is obnoxious. It's a nonstandard extension Apple made up to use when an MP4 file contains AC3 audio, chapters, or captions I think. There's nothing special about the files, it's just an extension so you don't get weird errors in Apple's software. It's poorly implemented on all fronts: Apple for requiring it, other players for doing weird things when they encounter it.

Audio/video desync is even more obnoxious. I agree the product space is a mess between the game consoles that also media playback, Apple SDTV, popcorn hour/wdtv/etc, boxee box coming, TiVo S3/HD. They tend to support limited things well (Apple SDTV, TiVo) or support everything poorly (popcorn, wdtv).
( Last edited by mduell; Mar 30, 2010 at 02:45 PM. )
     
cgc
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Apr 3, 2010, 09:31 PM
 
I've heard nothing but bad things about using a PS3 as a media hub...XBox360 is way better according to friends in the know.
     
Hawkeye_a  (op)
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Apr 6, 2010, 10:55 PM
 
Blu Ray was a huge draw for me. Without it, the media hub would be incomplete.

My only complaint about the PS3 thus far, is the lack of filesystem support on external drives(currently it only supports FAT32). And a small quibble would be the way it presents the file list....as a list....a grid option would have been nice...but, as far as playback goes, no complaints.
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Apr 7, 2010, 10:49 AM
 
I'm partial to a TiVo with PyTivoX (Streaming from computer to TiVo with live transcoding. It's nifty), although it uses mplayer in the backend so it likely would not support Apple's FairPlay encoded stuff. For that I have an AppleTV (Watch eBay. You can buy them for cheap if you wait long enough).
     
   
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