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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel

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In public news...

The Western Digital TV Live arrived yesterday. I had to filch the HDMI, Ethernet and optical audio leads from my PS3, as I don't have any more ports on my HDMI switcher, and more so my amp. The PS3 is rarely used, so I can sacrifice the cables for the moment. I can run it with a wireless USB adapter, but I suspect this will fall over when trying to stream 1080p stuff.

When I first turned it on it flagged a firmware update was available, which took around 10-15 minutes to download and install. Other than that it was fairly straightforward. I can access my desktop PC (essentially my media server) via shared folders, and so far it has played almost everything - I tested a 9GB MKV 1080p video, among other things, with multiple audio streams and subtitles and it looked great and worked perfectly.

The UI is also quick, which seems to be the complaint about a lot of media players.

Four disappointments so far:

1. I have a bunch of files from a compilation of MST3k that play via VLC, but won't play on the 360 or PS3. They *still* won't play on the TV Live, probably due to weird encoding, but that's still annoying. I'll probably look for another version to download and trash those I have currently, not that I've got the time to watch them anyway.

2. The startup time is longer than I'd like, and probably longer than both the 360 and PS3. Having timed it, it takes around a minute, during part of which the screen goes blank (not great design).

3. Despite having the ability to view Flickr photos it doesn't run them full screen! I suspect it's running them at 1:1, as they more or less half fill the screen (I tend to resize to 1024 * 682). This makes the function essentially useless, but I can still do this on the Apple TV.

4. For some reason my automatic HDMI switcher has stopped automatically switching. Logic suggests it's the Live TV that's caused it, but I have no idea why. I'm assuming that the HDMI cable puts out a signal that causes the thing to switch, and that somehow this is interfering with it. This is going to prove really frustrating long term, and might be a showstopper.

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Well the VMP arrived today and I got it set up at the end of the afternoon. Apart from a few wireless connectivity issues of my own making, the setup was really easy. William is currently watching The Jungle Book on it, streamed via wi-fi and powerline from the NAS box in the kitchen. Quality looks fine, but it's a 700MB DivX .avi and the TV is connected via composite, so it's not much of a workout. The WD is a bit taller than the VMP, but aren't they tiny?!

Yes, I was expecting something external hard disk size, much like the other WD products, bit it is tiny. The Apple TV is really tiny!

Only issue I've found so far is that it takes ages to start playing a file. Does the WD do that too?

2-3 seconds, or something like that.

Ah, the firmware update sorted it; much faster network browsing and file loading now. It plays just about everything with two exceptions so far:

1) Quicktime .mov files recorded off my camera. Video is fine but audio is very patchy. Strange.

2) It won't even display my Ong Bak .ogm file, which is kind of fair enough. I can probably repackage that into a more mainstream format.

My parents have suggested that they might like to get a media streamer so I'll be taking this round to theirs on Sunday for a test run on their LCD TV (720p IIRC).

And it does iPlayer and Youtube and, having put in my country and town, it even shows the local weather on the bloody homepage.

Yep, I liked that weather feature. The WD does weather, but on a separate page. Doesn't do iPlayer, but it does YouTube and a bunch of other things I've never heard of (and will never use).

I'm wondering what the encoding is on these MST3k files that causes such hit and miss play issues, although I'm not going to re-encode them.

If you're curious, try using the GSpot tool to identify the codec used - http://www.headbands.com/gspot/

Ah yes, I knew there was something out there that could read a codec! I just couldn't put my finger on it...

I always thought it was a myth and it took me ages to find, but it really does exist.

Praise the Lord!

Curiously the files are coming up with at least two formats, but not that make sense in respect of those that play or don't. I need to revisit in conjunction with the WD...

So those that work are encoded in DIVX, and those not in S-MPEG 4. Clearly the WD can't play S-MPEG 4. Poohs!

Note: 56 bytes unneeded bytes at end of file
DivX Style "packed bitstream" AVI
AVI v1.0
Interleave: 1 vid frame (33 ms)
Audio frames: Split across interleaves
Video: 533 MB (79.05%)
Audio: 133 MB (19.76%)
AVI Overhead: 7.98 MB (1.18%)
DX50 DivX 5.1.1

File Length Correct
OpenDML (AVI v2.0)
Interleave: 1 vid frame (33 ms), preload=496
Audio frames: Aligned on interleaves
Video: 600 MB (85.92%)
Audio: 89.2 MB (12.77%)
AVI Overhead: 9.14 MB (1.31%)
MP42 - S-Mpeg 4 Version 2

Hmm, interesting. Here's what I found on Google:


So it should be fairly straightforward to re-encode the files, or you could download them again from a new source.

Ta! I've found another torrent that seems to be completely different, so am downloading that.

Failing that I'll try the re-encode (I've not deleted the original set yet).

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