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back to article Western Digital WD TV Live

We liked the first version of Western Digital's WD TV box. It was released in December 2008, barely nine months ago, but WD has already rolled out its successor. WD WD TV Live Western Digital's WD TV Live: now with networking on board... There's no substantial change to the functionality: WD TV - now called the WD TV Live - …

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I almost want one

All it needs now is support for watching iPlayer/4OD type streams and I'd buy this in a heart-beat.

I know I could get a small PC, but this would be cheaper, smaller, and quieter.

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Anonymous Coward

DTS ?

no word about DTS downsampling support ?

That's the only feature that I miss on the original WD TV.

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Bingo.

WD really should have built Wi-Fi in too, but it would rather sell you an optional USB wireless adaptor. Maybe that makes sense to WD's North American design team, but few folk in the UK have Cat 5 cabling on tap

No Sale!

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Anonymous Coward

Close... Not there yet

Great idea, it would be nice if there was wireless. Also, support for Netflix instant movies would be perfect.

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Linux

Linux based

Looks great - and appears to be linux based with a small modding community.

Sadly according to this chap http://chrishowells.co.uk/?p=68 it violates the GPL.

Shame - would make a fantastic mythfrontend

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Anonymous Coward

iTunes?

Does anyone use iTunes for this sort of thing? Why do companies implement this fringe support yet not include WLAN?

Unless you're fully-Macified, iTunes makes no sense at all. Closed file format, only works (properly) on Mac, gives far too much control to a company with practices that make Microsoft look like a Linux commune...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: iTunes?

Given how many iPod users there are out there, iTunes support is hardly catering for a 'fringe'.

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hmmm

or just buy a ps3 that does all this and much more.

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No wifi?

"but few folk in the UK have Cat 5 cabling on tap".

Thats right, we use Homeplug :)

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WiFi bad, powerline good

Don't miss the WiFi. Wireless is too unreliable for video streaming, at least in my house.

It would be nice if they had a version with integrated powerline ethernet (i.e. a single plug solution). Would save me having to buy a separate adaptor, as wire-free as WiFi but without the QoS issues.

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WTF?

WiFi

So does this take any WiFI dongle or does it require WD's own 'special' ripoff version?

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Boffin

Graphics horsepower

From the review:

"The WD TV's progress graphic animates slowly and slightly jerkily, again giving the impression there's not enough CPU horsepower for the UI. There must be, as the unit plays HD video perfectly well"

Actually this isn't necessarily true, since these embedded media decoder devices tend to have custom hardware decode blocks for the video, and separate planes for video and graphics (with hardware blending).

So it's very possible to have a system with decent HD video decoding capabilities and a rubbish graphics plane for the UI. It doesn't need much CPU capability because the video decoding is handled by dedicated hardware.

In fact this often happens in practice, since the silicon budget is hacked down to the lowest possible price, to make it affordable.

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@John Latham, Citizen Kaned and Paul 25

"Don't miss the WiFi. Wireless is too unreliable for video streaming, at least in my house."

Seconded that sir - WD would only be setting themselves up for a fail if they sold it on wi-fi ability. I cabled this joint a long time ago after abysmal wi-fi performance - even on 802.11n. Especially HD stuff which now streams merrily to my PS3 (seconded Citizen Kaned!)

Paul 25 - a PS3 also has an iPlayer client built in. Not stellar yet, but that's Sony's way - release something half-assed and improve upon it. I'm almost pleased with that approach...

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FAIL

Not buying one.

As far as I'm concerned, Western Digital failed to make a sale.

I have a WDTV (version 1) and I like it. Admittedly, I like it because I installed an alternate firmware (which is a wrapper around WD's firmware) on it which allows me to use both an ethernet adapter and a USB hub with it. Joy.

And then WD broke the USB hub support in their second-last firmware release. No explanations given. Apparently, USB Hub support is still missing on WDTV Live.

So, based on current WDTV Live owners' tests:

(1) it does have DTS downmix (for those that need it);

(2) no Hub support (I don't want to stream files and clog up the network when I can have my HDDs right next to the WDTV)

(3) still no decent subtitle support (no positional controls, no colour controls, displays subtitle comments, etc...)

Those last two means this is a "no-buy" option for me - I'll stick with my WDTV1 with the outdated firmware (I regressed when I realised Hub support was gone).

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FAIL

Re: GPL Violation

Yet another clueless corp intent on shooting itself in the foot through some old school control freakery.

One day one of the companies will come to understand the way the market works and they will make a killing from it.

What these numpties should be doing is *embracing* the GPL, get the source code out there and let enthusiasts improve on it.

This will benefit them in a number of ways. Free development resources being the obvious one but the other even more important benefit is the whole word of mouth thing that will result.

Initially it will be the geek hackers buying the product in order to hack around and do their thing. In turn, when the friends and families of these geeks see/hear/ask about the device which device do you think the geek will be recommending they purchase?

For gods sake it's not rocket science. The aim here is to sell the hardware. If opening up the software to the geek fraternity helps you sell more hardware then why the hell aren't you doing it WD?

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Goat Jam

Careful with the assumptions. It's by no means certain that WD has violated the GPL. Even the guy who *thinks* it might have doesn't own a product to check, and his accusation was made in January 2009, long before the WD TV Live's launch.

We will look into this.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Neoc

if by "hub support" you mean the ability to hook up two drives simultaneously, the WD TV Live does do this. I know, I tried it. And the contents of both drives appear as one in the UI.

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Flame

What about the temperature?

As an owner of a WD TV box, the one thing I was hoping to see mention of was whether this new version runs any cooler. I've taken to unplugging my WD TV from the mains when not in use as the heat output even when the thing is supposed to be in standby is pretty significant.

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Boffin

whats the actual ASIC it uses!

"The WD TV's progress graphic animates slowly and slightly jerkily, again giving the impression there's not enough CPU horsepower for the UI. There must be, as the unit plays HD video perfectly well, but the effect is nonetheless to make the box feel less consumer electronics smooth than it should be.

"

you forget tony, the CPU might infact be underpowered as the actual HD decoding will most likely be done by a seperate ASIC chip on the PCB i assume (until you pull it apart and actually identify the make/model of decoder etc with LARGE high quality pics of both sides of the PCB etc)

what speed ethernet, and does it know and use iSCSI in its firmware that a free freenas iSCSI LAN NAS SAN could be used?

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FAIL

theres NO High Profile AVC/H.264 capability

"That said, the list of formats the WD TV supports is extensive and here augmented with DivX - XviD has never been a problem - and our test file played just fine. We won't list them here -"

tony, theres a massive problem, theres NO High Profile AVC/H.264 capability mentioned on the site

they only do Base Profile, and Main profile, were as the generic quality freeware x264 everyone used today uses High Profile as its default out Unles you go out of your way to tell it to use the lesser MP and BP profiles, I.E perhaps not many real life AVC Encodes will play sloothly if at all on this or other restricted ASIC devices, you nned to test this with some BBC HD 720P and 1080P content to 25fps at least...

http://www.westerndigital.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=735

"Note:

- MPEG2 MP@HL up to 1920x1080p24, 1920x1080i30 or 1280x720p60 resolution.

- MPEG4.2 ASP@L5 up to 1280x720p30 resolution and no support for global motion compensation.

- WMV9/VC-1 MP@HL up to 1280x720p60 or 1920x1080p24 resolution. VC-1 AP@L3 up to 1920x1080i30, 1920x1080p24 or 1280x720p60 resolution.

- H.264 BP@L3 up to 720x480p30 or 720x576p25 resolution.

- H.264 MP@L4.1 and HP@4.1 up to 1920x1080p24, 1920x1080i30, or 1280x720p60 resolution.

"

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Boffin

@Gronda

Gronda asks "What about the temperature? " This is yet another device powered by a brick which will always be on. If the brick is hot, then it is consuming a significant amount of electricity. But how much? WD do not seem to list power use anywhere.

How can El Reg recommend a device with unknown running costs?

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opps yes there is ....

opps yes there is ....

HP@4.1 up to 1920x1080p24, 1920x1080i30, or 1280x720p60 resolution.

its a bit odd only tested and i assume certified upto P24 though, most x364 encoded 1080P comes in 25fps or 30fps it seems so far and its only going to get faster fps as time and the fard east AVC High Profile chipsets take off that are finding their way into netbbok and better devices with HD TV HDMI and related connectivity it seems.

it would still be nice to know if its got that iSCSI capability built in or whats that firware wrapper spoken about above, can that have iSCSI included IF they sort out a working tool chain and crosscompiler we can download and run off a liveCD or something on a generic x86 and make these bin files and easy install on these units..

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Re: @Neoc

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware@Wednesday 14th October 2009 07:55 GMT:

if by "hub support" you mean the ability to hook up two drives simultaneously, the WD TV Live does do this. I know, I tried it. And the contents of both drives appear as one in the UI.

--------

Yeah, I know you can plug a HDD into each of the USB ports... but that only allows 2 HDDs. I currently have 5x1TB HDDs (plus a USB key) plugged to my WDTV1 via a 7-port USB hub.

I *still* cannot understand why Western Digital seems to hate USB hubs. They appeared to have gone out of their way to "break" USB hub support in their 1.02.10 firmware.

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Law
Terminator

@ Chris Cartledge

Gronda is talking about the fact that the box runs extremely warm even in standby, when it's not meant to be processing anything - it's annoying, and I noticed the same thing... nothing to do with the power brick or anything, it's to do with their dodgy standby mode which seems to run the processor hot, even when it shouldn't be, it's very very annoying and so forces me to switch mine off every night too.

I run my wdtv/tv/xbox from a surge protector which has a single switch to turn them all off, when I'm done I just turn them all off at the switch, and no need to jump behind the tv either cos the multi-plug thing is hidden on a shelf under the tv. My phone/router/V+ box all run off a second adapter that is on 24/7... if you want to talk about pointless power draining, the V+ box constantly spins up the hdd and runs for about an hour late in the evening and at random points in the day too, even if there's no recordings and it's in standby mode (which as we all know, isn't off, but is meant to go into low-power mode at least!)... this is every single night... which sucks!! :)

I'm updating my wdtv to the new one I think, if only for the DTS decoding (rather than passthrough to optical, as is the case on the current one)... one question though - does anybody know if that is that just sprayed plastic around the back and edge, or have they put in a decent metalic heatsink style casing?? I hope it's metalic, because sprayed plastic always feels cheap and tacky.

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FAIL

@Tony Smith Re GPL

Point taken. But my point still stands. The companies making this stuff should be encouraging communities around their products, not trying their hardest to snuff them out.

Still a fail IMHO

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Asus O!Play?

After looking at the WD and various other players I eventually went for an Asus O!Play, which seems to be working out OK. It's only 80 quid, has more-or-less the same connections on the back, doesn't have a fan, never gets hot, has SATA, network and USB ports, and has played virtually everything I've thrown at it. OK, the menus don't look nearly as attractive as the ones shown here, but I'm just wondering if anyone here can say the WD is worth the extra money as I'm planning on buying another O!play.

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WiFi ain't mandatory anymore. It rarely works with HD content...

Given the difficulty of having a fast and stable WiFi connections -totally necessary for high bitrate content as HD- since there are so many devices that will interrupt them a lot of people is heading towards PLC -name it Homeplug- which is a lot more stable and has reached speeds of 200Mbps with the standard Homeplug A/V.

Why force customers to pay extra for WiFi when I'm most sure many won't need it? Many mediaplayer manufactures are going the same path and I don't blame them. If anything I will change ethernet ports to gigabit instead which is a lot cheaper to implement since you don't need another interface and since its cost has come down tremendously lately.

I've been a sysadmin for the last 10 years and have seen many standards and until WiFi n is a complete market standard and prices come down for adapters wireless makes no sense for home or office. Only when mobility comes into account.

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