back to article Western Digital WD TV HDD-to-HDTV adaptor

Streaming media players were all the rage a couple of years ago. They were a nice idea, allowing you to stream music and video files stored on your computer over your home network to a TV or music system. However, most of them were expensive and fiddly to set up, so they never really caught on. The next step was the ‘multimedia …

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Anonymous Coward

DivX/Xvid playback

Of course it plays DivX/Xvid videos, though I haven't tried *.divx files - sometimes called Ultra DivX. Even then I guess it'd play them if renamed to *.avi, you'd just lose the chapters etc. that Ultra DivX can do.

It sometimes has trouble playing early WMV files (I'm guessing old wmv1 and wmv2 encodes).

Biggest disappointment for me is the lack of component output

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Just out of interest...

How many of this type of unit *do* support MKV and h264? It seems to be the one thing that is almost non-existent - if this does indeed support everything it may just be awesome. Network port would be even better however. HTPC for £100? Yes please.

(although I do like having a full HTPC and WMC)

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Hahahahaha

Oh it's not April, well why would they announce this?

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So many errors in story and comments! Does DivX, XviD, mkv, ISO, VOB...

I'm so shocked at the poor information in this article, and the outburst of misguided comments ("no divx!?"), that I decided to register to post a comment.

I have one of these, and I know it *DOES* mpeg4 (xvid, divx, ...) in AVI container as I've tested it. Also does .srt subtitles in separate file (same basename in same folder). I also tested a ripped DVD in .iso, which plays the main video (but doesn't show the menu). From the forums that I followed on this player, others play MKV (720p, 1080p ...), MP4, OGG, FLAC, AC3, etc

Admittedly, this toy has issues - some of which (*) WD promised will be addressed by firmware updates. Others are simply out of scope (no Wifi, no DRM formats like Apple's). And sure, you can buy another device (Popcorn) at double+ the price.

But before shooting it down, people should really look at price AND features.

You want a full featured media player... sure, take your pick... but pay the higher price.

You're looking for a nicely priced media player that DOESN'T break the bank and plays a wide range of formats without getting too networky-complicated, and plays the new formats like MKV and does hi-def (through HDMI without HDCP encryption)? Then look closely at the WDTV.

For me, it hit the right balance.

(*) some of the current flaws: no support for more exotic charsets in subtitles (greek, polish, ...); some missing power features (doesn't power down the attached bus-powered HDD, when it's off); can't flip through DVD chapters or play DVD menu (but can do DVD subtitles);

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... audio sync problem

It works as advertised including MKV files (had to pick stereo audio/not digital).

However, out of 5 one-hour files, all start to obviously lose audio sync 5-10 minutes into the video.

This may be because I'm using a Cosair Voyager thumb drive. I haven't spooled a hard drive to it yet, but I bought it for thumb drive use.

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why bother

I have been eyeing a Philips DVD player at Costco, (this week on sale for $40) that has a USB input, and can read USB hard drives (not just thumbdrives) AND it can play DivX. AND it upscales ordinary DVD discs to 1080p if you want AND has HDMI outputs. The forums say that it works as advertised. I'd attach the link or at least the model number but the Philips site seems especially braindead right now.

So WD gives you much less for a lot more money. Maybe they will knock the price down once it hits the clearance bin. But it would have to be like $20. Not likely. FAIL

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Review is bogus.

Any review that mentions AVI (file encapsulation protocol) in the same breath with DIVX (a data compression protocol) deserves to be sneered at.

Let's get our nomenclature straight:

1) There are *codec* (COmpression/DECompression) formats such as DIVX, H264, MPG etc... these are use to take the video data and reduce it to a manageable size (there are also audio codecs, such as AAC, MP3, etc...); and

2) There are *file* formats such as AVI, MP4, MKV, MOV, etc... these are use to take video and audio (and in some cases, subtitling) data and hold them in a single file.

BTW: MKV stands for *Matrovska*.

Thus, and contrary to what MS would have you believe, it is perfectly possible to have an AVI file containing H264 video and AAC audio data. And (out-of-the-box) Windows Media Player would have a fit because while it understands the AVI *file format* it does not have the bits required to deal with the *codecs*.

Some people have stated the device will handle MKV and H264... I'll believe when I see it. More important to me is the lack of network connectivity (wired or wi-fi, I don't care: I's got blue cables in my walls at home as well as a wi-fi router for the laptop and Wii); lack of non-ascii subtitle fonts; and, from the sound of it, lack of support for dynamic soft subtitles.

Note: if you have no idea what I'm talking about, DSS are subtitles which are kept on a separate stream in the file (in other word, they are not embedded in the video stream) which also contain details for subtitle placements, colour, movement, etc... used very much by the better anime fansubbers to provide english translation for signs *next to the sign* as opposed to the default bottom-of-the-screen.

I'll stick with my Mozart HTPC running Media Player Classic and the CCCP codec pack for the moment, thank you very much.

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NO Ethernet =No fun

are they serious, £100 for a 2008 HD content player without Ethernet in todays LAN connected world, crazy, and more so that people here think this units good....

at least it seems it does play the AVC codec.

you mention containers but very little about the supported codecs, they are not the same thing......

YOU PEOPLE DO Know you can get an MS arcade360 that can network stream AVC/H.264 HD and connects to your HDTV/SDTV in several ways for £129 right? and you get to play games when your not streaming your video content.

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eh ...

How is not being able to play Apple DRM crippled files a problem ? Simply boycott DRM crippled stuff.

And if you want a serious mediaplayer : buy a Tvix6500 or one of the other devices made by Dvico.

Lots of players claim they can handle 1080. Sure they will output in 1080 , but has anyone fed them a true 1080 stream ? Like an M2T stream containing HDV video data ? Most of these small box media players roll over and die if they have to play that , simply because they don't have the horsepower nor the memory needed to tackle it.

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Anonymous Coward

Containter vs Codec

"Video -MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264)"

So it can play Xvid in AVI but not Xvid in MKV? 264 on its own or in MOV...

Slightly poorly formatted "video" list there.

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I don't get it...

The first and most important thing I don't quite understand:

Why would the company that produced hard disks that (through their software) would not allow you to copy music and video files onto them produce a player that plays music and videos from a hard disk? It's completely hypocritical!

The things that I've pieced together through skimming the comments:

.iso rips of DVDs don't work properly - playing the main movie only seems unlikely - surely it plays all the legal warnings and everything, otherwise WD would have a massive legal fight on it's hands...

I don't see support for rips of blu-ray discs, so that's out.

I haven't seen any mention of being able to update/add any codecs - I know this isn't a generally available thing on media players - but surely it's past time that it is?

No ethernet - by now media players should be putting Gb network cards in these players.

I'm not particularly interested in a new player until I see something that can play my blu-ray collection rips (ok, the blu-rays I will start buying once I can rip and play them from images).

Too many media players seem designed to play downloaded rips of poor-quality movie files, or just poor-quality rips of owned DVDs, or poor-quality recorded videos recorded off TV. Personally, I want quality.

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new firmware released. WD keeps its promise to support this device

Western Digital has released today a first firmware upgrade.... with a significant list of improvements. (pdf link: release notes: http://www.wdc.com/en/products/wdtv/releasenotes/WDTVreleasenotes101.pdf)

they've also stated that further upgrades are forthcoming, and have pledged to support this product for some time to come (as posted by user "ScottWD" on http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=15342049#post15342049 , who has signed some messages as Scott Rader, product marketing manager at Western Digital)

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Anonymous Coward

Moaning

It looks like there is now a good, and pretty cheap 1080p media player which plays lots of formats (that we want, xvid, mkv/x264 etc).

And now all people can moan about it.

ITS GOT NO ETHERNET (if it did, and then moan it doesnt have smb or something (which I would prefer of course)

ITS GOT NO HDD (its got 2x USB ports, stfu)

Isn't this something that could be brought out on newer versions, internal hdd, ethernet, wireless(for 1080p, have fun)

This is the first WD hardware I have seen (I think), and if thats the case, it looks like they are onto a winner from the start.

Support Ext2/3 in the future would be nice. More people should start supporting this to remove the evil of NTFS (Search IFS Ext2 everyone...)

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Audio Sync

Abstract8

I use an external 2.5" HDD and have played two hour programs in xvid format with no audio sync problems.

Your thumb drive is not up to supplying the speed or the files are encoded at very high bit rates.

So far my only problem is losing hdmi setup and having to redo and the HDD not powering down when the unit is switched off. I hope a firmware update will address these minor niggles. I did have to reformat my USB HDD from ext3 to fat32, but that was no big deal.

I think it is a great device and the video quality at 1080p is superb even when playing back content encoded at lower resolutions.

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