Mac/OS X User Feedback/Tips on WD TV Live and Asus O!Play Media Players
Click for Mini Pro Dual Drive!
Posted Jan 2010
Reports/Info last Updated: May 10, 2011
(Links to new Oplay firmware)
This page has reader replies to a request for Mac/OS X user feedback from WD TV Live owners in Jan 11th, 2010 news page. (At the bottom of the page are WD TV Live related reference links/pages - FAQ, supported devices listing, supported disk formats, WDTV Live related Forums (WD's and others), B-RAD's homebrew WDTV Live firmware page and his Inside look at the Live's hardware and firmware/design.) Bottom of page Reference section also updated with Asus O!Play/O!Play Air related links (product pages, asus forums).
There's also some reports from Asus O!Play users as well. (And one report on the WD TV (pre-Live) Model.)
Reader reports and Firmware Updates: (later info first)
If you have used a WD TV Live, O!Play/O!Play Air (or other media player for that matter), let me know what you think of it/how you're using it and if you have any buyer's remorse. Thanks.
(Another) ASUS OPlay/Oplay Air Firmware Update: (May 10, 2011)
As I'm posting this (5/10/2011 - same date as firmware files) Asus has not updated the product pages (download page) to include release notes. (And no release notes in the ZIP file download.)
Here's a link to Asus's Oplay Air forums and Oplay (R1) forums where you can follow any threads on the updates as users report there.
Western Digital WDTV Live v1.04.31 Firmware: (4/6/2011) Download link at the WDTV Live Firmware Updates page
"Release 1.04.31 (4/6/2011)
What's in this update?
- Supports Arabic, Hebrew and Polish languages user interfaces.
- Resolved playback problems with certain .m2ts files.
- Resolved playback problems with .vob files.
- Resolved YouTube problem where user playlists don't display.
- Resolved playback problem where the info bar does not hide in DVD on pause/resume/chapter skip.
- Resolved problem with Flingo stability.
- Other updates included.
Please see Release Notes (PDF) for details.
General Info: We have temporarily blocked USB mounting of Advanced Format (4k sector) HDD greater than 2TBs."
Western Digital WDTV Live Beta v1.03.22 Firmware Update (6/11/2010) - Eddie sent a note that earlier this week Western Digital posted a WDTV Live Beta v1.03.22 firmware update with some long-requested features like DVD menu support and fixes. (Although many Live owners are upset over their new "Plus" model that also has Netflix (US) support which is not added in the Live firmware.)
FYI: Eddie later wrote with this beta firmware his Mpeg4 movies (made using handbrake for AppleTV) FINALLY have chapter support. (Via Options button - the >| and |< buttons go to next/prev movie file, not chapter.)
Beta v1.03.22 - What's new:
- DVD navigation support.
- Mediafly network service.
- .mov chapter support.
- Wireless adaptor support for ASUS USB-N13.
- Security when mounting a network share on password protected local drives.
- File share group name - Network names must now match.
- Aspect ratio issues.
- Subtitle encoding for Big 5.
- Resume remembering previous audio selection.
- IDX +_SUB positioning issue causing video freeze.
- PGS subtitle becoming frozen while using the delay function.
- Network share intermittent detection issue.
- Undetectable 4 TB My Book®.
- Large capacity video file (.ts) unable to play.
- DVR-MS video stop when fast forward at 6x.
- Buffalo G300N not enumerating
See the linked page for info on applying the update and how to How to Roll Back to v1.02.21 firmware. (The latest official release to date.) Here's a link to the WD Live forums thread on the beta firmware.
New Asus O!Play Firmware: (6/11/2010) I've not yet updated my O!Play Air but posting a FYI on new firmware.
Here's the change list for the Air model (R1 similar) - no changes apparently from v1.15 to 1.16
"O!Play Air firmware update
- Add 5000 Internet TV Channels
- Add RSS News
- Add stock inquiry
- Add support for wireless headset (only ASUS HS-1000W is capable for current)
- Add support for external optical disk drive with homemade VCD/DVD (only ASUS SDRW-0D1S-U is capable for current)
FYI on Playback of 1080/60P Files from Panasonic TM700 (4/27/2010) I've had some recent questions if either of these players could playback the 1080/60P files (spec'd at 28Mbps VBR and progressive, not interlaced) from the new Panasonic HDC-TM700 Camcorder. (That's the flash 32GB memory model - there's also one with a Hard Drive.) Quick tests show the WD TV Live (firmware 1.02.21) played the files back fine - no apparent stuttering, appeared very smooth, etc. (appx 5min test clip). However playback on the O!Play Air (firmware 1.12) using SD card from the camcorder in the Air's card slot didn't fare as well - clearly not full framerate. It seemed a bit better played back from an HD (vs a class 6 SDcard) but still not as smooth as the WDTV Live IMHO. (To be expected I guess, the Live has a higher clocked processor and has been said since day 1 to have more horsepower than typical RealTek1073 players.) Of course the AppleTV can't handle these 1080/60P files unless converted/downsized.
WDTV Live Firmware 1.02.21: After 2 previous 1.02.xx beta/pre-release versions, WD has posted WDTV Live Firmware 1.02.21.
- Added Play To support for Microsoft Windows 7.
- Added external subtitle location options (Up/Down arrows).
- Added larger subtitle font size options.
- Added Western European language input for keyboard.
- Other bug fixes and product improvements (see release notes).
Here's the full release notes PDF. To read Feedback on this firmware, see this forum thread. (One of the later posts includes info on backflashing if need be - i.e. editing the ver file of the previous firmware.)
(To save space here, I removed the previous posts on the two beta test/pre-release 1.02.xx firmware versions.)
New Firmware for O!Play R1 and R3 (Air): Spotted this at the FTP sites (as usual not yet listed at the product pages.) I'm downloading the R3 firmware now to see if there's any change notes.
I wrote a reader with an R1 that's posted here before and asked if he'd tried the 1.24 firmware - he said he's playing with it now but hasn't noticed any real differences. (No release notes in the download but seem to be only some bugfixes - may have fixed previous HDMI issues with some Toshiba HDTVs. Also TimeZone change issue seems fixed here.)
Got to play with a WD TV Live again (notes on wireless networking, YouTube): (2/19/2010 - excuse any typos as I've had no sleep for almost 2 days)
Eddie recently dropped off his WD TV Live (w/.24 firmware) for me to play with, as I wanted to have a bit more time with it for a better comparison to my Asus O!play Air. (My earlier comments on the Air are below.)
I connected a Linksys WUSB600N (dual band) USB wireless adapter to one of the Live's USB ports to try out its updated YouTube support and see how it compared to the builtin N wireless (2.4GHz only) of the O!Play Air. (As I mentioned earlier with the O!Play Air's wireless connected to my 2.4GHz network, the Airport Extreme's base activity LED flashed constantly, even when not streaming and the player was idle.)
Despite (repeated) problems connecting to my 5GHz network (I have 1st model of AE simul-dual band base), I have to give the edge to the WDTV Live as far as Wireless even though you have to buy a separate adapter. (In the reference links at the bottom of this page is a WD support doc with their list of officially supported Adapters - although I saw two owners of a Buffalo adapter on the list that said it's not working for them.)
The Live's Wireless "Favorites" list is a nice feature, especially when a connection fails at powerup, etc. - saves the tedious button presses/using an on-screen keyboard to reconnect/retry.
And it has an option to make the WDTV Live shared on your network with a single button press (as well as an auto-login option to network shares - but I've not used that and there's a LOT of posts on problems with shares in WD's forums).
With the "share" option enabled, the Live shows as a network device in the Finder. That allows easy drag and drop file copies to/from the USB Hard Drive connected to it - but transfer rates were slow with a 2.4GHz connection. For my typical large file copies (GB's) I'd still use my usual 'sneaker-net' method. (Direct connections of the Media storage HD to the source computer for large file copies.)
As mentioned the night the .24 Live firmware update was released (see earlier post below), despite the previous problems w/YouTube logins being fixed, a common complaint with .24 firmware is no YouTube HD video playback and some videos not playing back due to a TV connection (content protection/rights mgmt enforced). Here's a post from the WD Live forums regarding YouTube HD playback:
Official WD answer:
"...I received a reply back from engineering. It appears that YouTube will no longer allow non-browser based players to play HD content. This is accordance with their rules and regulation that we have to adhere to. I apologize but you will not be able to play HD content from YouTube on the WD TV Live.
Western Digital Service and Support
I don't have a YouTube acct and the lack of YouTube HD playback wouldn't be a biggie for me personally but I know it is for many others. (I think some owners have reverted back to .17 firmware because of that.)
I like the Live's YouTube interface, which includes a column of previous saved search terms/history, video thumbnails, etc. which makes the O!Play Air's (recently added) Online media interface seem stone age in comparison. (As I mentioned last week here (below) - in Oplay Air 1.09/R1 1.21 firmware YouTube support code is commented out currently - although it does have options for Internet Radio, TV, weather, Picasa and Flickr. But I've only tested the Internet TV features.) Hopefully Asus will enable YouTube support in the next update and (like every media player) fix other bugs but the main gripes I have with the Air are its wireless performance and poor response to the remote when wireless networking is used. (That may be related to the infamous testing of network performance that it seems to do... but some of us think it's the processor not multitasking well enough to accept IR commands while doing wireless streams. Interesting however is a reader with an O!Play R1 w/USB wireless adapter said he's not seen that problem.)
Although 2.4GHz wireless connections with the Live (via Linksys USB adapter) were generally reliable, I was disappointed with repeated problems trying to connect to my 5GHz network here. But maybe other base/adapter owners have better results than what I have seen. (I suspect the Linksys Adapter/antenna perhaps, as my AppleTV in the same exact location has no 5GHz network problems.) My AE base is on the same floor (although the next room) and only about 10 meters away (line of sight) and works well (270 to 300Mb connections) with 5GHz airport wireless Macs and AppleTV on the same floor. At first repeated attempts failed to even connect so I moved the USB adapter (which has a 59in cable) as close to the base as possible (where it's literally looking at the base through the open door in that room). That finally got a connection to the 5GHz network - but on the next powerup it failed to connect. (Repeatedly.) I know 5GHz has less range than 2.4GHz, but this was far from a worst-case setup. My 5GHz wireless Macs connect reliably at greater distances, although I have seen similar problems with the same Linksys USB adapter on a PC downstairs. (Mentioned in the past here - so I use the 2.4GHz network for downstairs connections as it's reliable at that range.)
Regardless, although far from perfect I definitely give the nod to the Live as far as wireless/networking over my Air with its current (1.09N) firmware at least. (Although like most every player, the Live also still has some bugs/issues - including losing A/V sync with some MPEG4 videos I tried, even if not FF/Rev'd. The old tip if Pausing/Rev seems to resync though.)
BTW: I noticed with the WD Live set to Thumbnail mode, my movie files (non-DRM Handbrake conversions originally made for iTunes/AppleTV use) with cover art (pasted via file info in iTunes) is shown on the WD Live IF the file extension is .MP4, but not shown if the file has an .M4V extension. (.M4Vs also have no support for FF/REV as mentioned before - renaming to .MP4 enables that, but still no chapter support.)
But if I were buying now (especially if online content is a factor), I'd wait for the next generation of media players on the horizon like the Boxee Box. (Much better hardware/online content support - plus the boxee has a remote with a keyboard on the backside. That's a great idea.)
New O!Play Firmware Updates w/Online Media Support, and Source Code downloads: Just spotted these tonight (Feb 11th).
First, Asus now has the GPL source code on the download sections of both the O!Play Air (R3) and O!Play R1 pages.
The new O!Play Air 1.09 firmware and O!Play R1 1.21 firmware versions (dated Feb. 12th) should be on the Asus product pages soon, but here's the FTP links:
BTW - Some R1 owners have said 1.21N (NTSC) firmware update is reported as 1.09 in the system as well as showing (dimmed) card slot option. (A clone of the R3 firmware?). (Update: as of Feb 15th, the 1.21N firmware was no longer on the FTP site. Maybe it will be replaced w/1.21N with correct version, etc. info)
I flashed my (1.06N) O!Play Air with 1.09. A new Main Menu Option "Online Media" lists:
- Internet Radio
- Internet TV
Reportedly YouTube support is commented out currently in the code. (BTW: The WD TV Live's YouTube interface makes the O!Play's Online Media interface look stone-age in comparison. I finally had a chance to try the WD Live with my Linksys USB N wireless adapter tonight - very good performance with my network (AE Simul dual-band N base). And unlike when using the O!Play Air's built-in wireless, it didn't keep my Base's activity LED constantly flashing when the player was idle. Really disappointed in the Air's builtin wireless behavior so far. I hope they improve that in future firmware updates.)
I tried the new "Internet TV" option and it showed 100 listings from all over the world - including (to my Taiwan born wife's glee) - several Chinese broadcasts. I have no idea what 95% of the listings are about, but included were NASA TV (which I watched for awhile - helmet cam video of some sort of shuttle or space station repair/work), a "WildLife Channel", Fox Sports (and IIRC another sports channel), several BBC, Bloomberg TV AsiaPacific, NRJPopRock, HipHop TV, PartyPatrol (nl), HiLife TV (520K and 1020K versions) - more than I can list here. I suspect 90% of the channels I won't find useful (or usable) but this is a nice free bonus for a player I never thought would even have this feature. (Especially as I don't have CableTV - I use only OTA antennas.)
Quality on most channels I've tried so far isn't good, but my expectations were in check. (Some look like my old iChat video quality with a poor connection.) The Wildlife channel looked good (rez/quality) but stuttered with my connection tonight. (I have $20 a month 1.5Mb DSL - and a lot of 2.4GHz networks in the area. I've seen as many as 10 other networks in range at times. I've been meaning to do some channel optimization. And also try it with a wired connection.)
The online features seem a work in progress, as I've seen several cases where playback froze/restarted the O!Play. But I'm not sure if that's to blame on the Air's builtin wireless. (The worst 802.11N wireless performance of any device I've ever used, but I've already mentioned that earlier. I hope the next firmware udpate might improve that but I'm not holding my breath.)
I wish there was a way to create a "Favorites" list of TV channels instead of having to scroll through the entire list. (Thankfully the page down/page up tip works here also (>| and <| buttons).
Also added in the new firmware are Hue and Saturation options in the Setup menu/video settings. And there's now a "Power Saving" option in the System menu - default is off and has options for 5min to 120 min. (This is separate from the "Sleep Timer" feature.)
I think the R3/Air's Wireless setup options were tweaked a bit also and it now allowed connection to my AE Base's 2.4GHz N network without having to broadcast the SSID - BUT the Air's wireless still shows constant activity on my Base's LED even when the player is idle. (The Air's builtin wireless to date has been worthless for me.)
And someone else noted other changes I hadn't noticed - clock auto update (? where?) and a new subtitles font. Subtitles are not a factor for me but many oplay owners have been asking for an outline around subtitle text to make them more legible against some backgrounds. (Personally I wish there was a way to turn Subtitles OFF by default - as all my handbrake made movies show huge "Chapter #" text until I turn off subtitles)
Listing of Internet TV Channels and (non-permanent) Mods:
There's a complete list of the 100 Internet TV Channels in this Asus forum thread that also has a note on how to mod the listings, but it's not permanent - any changes (made via telnet) are reset to the defaults on each powerup apparently.
"You can add/modify TV channels by editing the following two files in /usr/local/etc/dvdplayer:
TVStationFavorite ---- TV channel names
TVStationUrl ---- the corressponding url (mms or asf)
But you have to backup the new files to someother folder and copy it back each time you turn it off/on"
Maybe in the future they will allow user mods/changes via the GUI (or at least store that config file on a connected (USB, esata or networked) drive.
BTW - with Wireless OFF (and Preview OFF), remote control response when scrolling through file listings seems improved (less delay) vs 1.06N firmware. (Previously I'd seen delays trying to scroll listings of movies as I mentioned earlier below. However with Wireless ON there's still response delays. And even when the O!Play is idle my Wireless base's activity LED flashes constantly if the O!Play Air wireless is enabled/connected - even when there's no wireless streaming and the O!Play Air's WiFi LED is steadily lit.)
(FYI: (Feb 25th, 2010) I stopped using the Air's builtin Wireless completely for the reasons noted - instead I'm using a PowerLine (AC) Network connection to the O!Play Air's ethernet port. See my mini-review of the Netgear XAVB1004 "Home Theater Internet Connection Kit" (w/4 port Ethernet switch) on the Mac user reports on PowerLine AC Network Adapters page here.)
(Update - Feb 14th) Here's the release notes:
"O!Play Air firmware update
1. Over 20,000 internet radio stations
2. Over 100 internet TV channels
1. Add BD iso navigation and subtitle identification
2. Add BD/DVD direct play by folder
3. Add hue and saturation tuning in video setup menu
4. Add Brazil language support
5. Add power saving function in system setup menu
6. Add WiFi manual configuration
7. Add My shortcut edit function
1. Fix UPnP bug: wrong data information
2. Fix Timezone setting bug: can't stop issue (NOT fixed in my experience)
3. Fix Clear key does not work when key in encrypted string
4. Improve JiPin 8042 HDMI compatibility"
WD TV Live Firmware Update 1.01.24 (Feb. 9, 2010) Available via the Live's online updater or the WD TV Live updates page. There's a WD Live forum thread on .24 firmware where someone posted the changelog (before it was listed at the WD Live Updates web page):
"...seems to be all about YouTube, from the release note:
Redesigned YouTube™ user interface to comply with YouTube requirements.
Resolved search results in YouTube to be in the same order provided by YouTube.
Added Flag Video feature to YouTube.
Added seeking controls (fast forward/rewind) in the YouTube player in 10 second increments.
Updated to the new YouTube Video logo throughout the application.
Modified YouTube video timestamp format to make it more readable.
Implemented add to playlist feature in YouTube.
Added Save search queries to save users time in re-entering search terms in YouTube.
alas, still no shuffle for video playback as in mp3
However users in another thread noted this update also has a downside:
"(in reply to a previous comment)
Do not take this version, 50 % of videos do not work on YouTube.
Indeed, before it could play most things, and HD stuff, now it seems most of the YouTube clips you find gives you this message: "This video is restricted by the video content owner and is not available on TV connected devices." Guess thats because WD has to follow some rules to stream YouTube, but it probably also means this YouTube access suddenly became a lot less interesting...."
I know Eddie (and many other owners) was hoping the MPEG4 A/V sync issue (seen after FF/Rev used even w/USB connected HD) would be fixed - some say it has been fixed. (Still waiting for Eddie to test that but had a reader reply to this post saying it's OK now.)
And as mentioned in the past here, if your MPEG4 video files are .m4v extension, renaming them to .mp4 enables FF/Rev with the Live. (The O!Play had working FF/Rev with either extension.)
Update: Some are still seeing A/V sync issues with .24 firmware on some files. Stereo audio setting (vs SPDIF) is an old tip that helped some said but even with stereo (via HDMI), Eddie said with his direct-connected USB port SSD drive one MP4 movie was fine all the way through (no FF/Rev used though), but playing a 2nd movie afterwards (again w/o any FF/Rev) had audio slightly out of sync after only a few minutes into the movie and gets worse over time. Pause and resume didn't help, but (another old tip) - Rev a bit and then play got it back in sync. But not heard back from him if it stayed in sync over time. (This was a .MP4 handbrake encode (AppleTV preset) from SD DVD.)
My First Impressions of the ASUS O!Play Air media player (firmware 1.06N but 1.09N didn't fix any of the complaints I had)
I had several mails asking what I thought of my recently acquired Asus O!Play Air (vs a friend's WD TV Live).
This is just my initial impressions/opinion - far from a detailed review of all its features. (My needs/usage is very simple - a direct connected Hard Drive with various movies (AVCHD, MPEG4, MKV) and Photos. I don't keep a computer running to stream content to it. Some music files also on the HD, but I'll rarely use it for that. However I have added notes on some simple tests of the Air's wireless/streaming from a Mac Pro via Yazsoft's Playback software.)
As I'd mentioned last month (after seeing a neighbor demo his WD Live) the main reason I chose the O!Play over the Live was it has an eSATA port (it has a USB and combo eSATA/USB port - vs 2 USB ports on the Live). I chose the Air model ($129.95, about $30 more than the O!Play R1) as it had built-in memory card slots (SD, CF, etc.) as well as built-in Wireless (2.4GHz N) - although the wireless wasn't a big factor for me, as again my main use will be direct connected HD (and occasional SD and CF cards).
There's dozens of media players in this price range and better ones coming (and owner forums for most of those sold are full of complaints about lack of vendor support/bugfixes/firmware updates, bricking, network/shares/streaming issues, TV issues, etc.) - this is just my experience/opinion on my choice. And I've not begun to use all the features of it, but again my needs are simple. For now (that may change in the future), I don't care about online content, signing up for services (even if free), etc. - for those that do I'd wait for new players due soon like the Boxee box, etc. - a bit more expensive but based on better hardware and with a far wider focus on online content/services.
(FYI: I've never had anyone else ask before (and it's not a supported codec per the Specs page) but just to confirm - the O!Play does not support Apple Lossless audio files. I don't think the WD Live does either. But this is a non-issue for me. The O!Play product page, specs tab lists these Audio codecs as supported: MP3, WAV, AAC (unprotected), OGG, FLAC, AIFF, Dolby Digital AC3, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Digital Surround.)
- Although the Realtek 1073 used by the O!Play doesn't have the "horsepower" of the WD TV Live's Sigma 8655, performance has been good IMHO with my SD/DVD Handbrake movies and some HD Camcorder (AVCHD) files - but I've had problems with 2 sample BR 1080P MKV videos (freezes or restarts - see notes below). The WD TV Live's Sigma 8655 can handle 1080P content w/high # of ref frames/higher rates better than the Realtek 1073 based players like the O!Play. However most of my content is not affected by that. (FYI: I've not re-tested 1080P BR MKVs with later O!Play firmware 1.09N or later WD Live firmware .24, which may include other fixes than what is in their release notes.)
- I'm happy with the Image Quality of the O!Play although in some samples the WD Live (IMHO) might have been a hair better. For my content (mostly AppleTV format MPEG4 movies, with some HD (1080) Camcorder AVCHD home movies) the O!Play produced a very good picture on a 1080P HDTV. (I disabled noise reduction in O!Play system settings - IMHO it helped on some samples.) The WD Live system settings had an option for 12-bit color (w/HDMI 1.3) that the O!Play doesn't list. I'm not sure if it supports that automatically or not. (I noticed in addition to the usual settings the O!Play has a "1080P 24Hz" option but not tried it yet.) Overall I think video looked great on both (better than I expected originally).
When the weather improves here I plan to see if I can borrow Eddie's WD Live for a day to do more side-by-side comparisons. (I had only an hour or two demo of it so far.)
- Update on direct-connected HFS+ Drive Tests:
When I first tried an HFS+ Formatted disk (SSD drive in a portable Quad Interface (oxford bridge) case via eSATA) - the O!Play didn't recognize it. (Turns out none of my Oxford bridge Quad IF cases work with it via eSATA port.) BUT after having another O!Play owner say his HFS+ disk was recognized, I tried again with an HFS+ disk in an eSATA/USB (only) Hard Drive Dock (via eSATA port) - and it worked. Drive recognized/browsable, etc. - but unlike NTFS, with HFS+ drives it shows hidden/system directories (/.HFS+PrivateDirectoryData, /.SpotlightV100, /.Trashes, ./fseventsd...) (BTW: I have _not_ tried deleting/renaming any files on it from the O!Play interface with HFS+ disks - I did with an NTFS disk.)
The latest HFS+ HD I'm using with it (in an eSATA/USB HD Dock) is a 2TB WD Green, which is MBR (not GUID/GPT) setup with a single HFS+ partition. (A long story - write me if interested.)
- For simple movie playback with my eSATA HD (direct connection), I like the O!Play's overall menu system/remote interface bit better than the WD Live. For video playback (my primary use), I just prefer simple file listings, but I've had a very limited time with a WD Live. However the WD Live has higher resolution interface graphics and a LOT more viewing options, including thumbnails for video and music - which the O!Play currently doesn't. The Live definitely has a much better Music interface when browsing a clone (drag and drop to ext HD) of my iTunes music folder (non-DRM/Plus songs and my own MP3s). The Live can display album cover/thumbnails for instance and just looked a lot more polished than the O!Play's display. (I've spent very little time with music on these players however, but the Live definitely won the Music display comparison.) There's even 3rd party (windows) utilities WD TV Thumbnail Builder / WDTV Thumbgen to assist downloading/saving thumbnail images for media files (and folders) so that they'll be visible when browsing via the WD TV.
- Unlike the Live, FF/Rev worked on the O!Play with my .M4V files without having to rename them to .MP4. (And as mentioned before - many WD Live owner complaints on A/V sync issues w/MPEG4 files especially after a FF/Rev using .11 and .17 firmware. Some have said that's fixed with Live firmware .24 released Feb 9th, but see notes above - some are still seeing that problem.)
- The O!Play has (sometimes) supported Chapters (>| and |< for next chapter/previous chapter) with my MPEG4 (.mp4) movies (Handbrake encoded/AppleTV presets). This worked some times (I've used various hard drives but with the same movie files) but not others - no idea why, but it's frustrating. Tested it originally with an NTFS format HD and was ok on some movies - tried later and just like the Live, the next (>|) button went to next -movie-, not next chapter. Even on some .MKV movies, unless I FF'd for awhile, the >| would go to the next movie, not next chapter. (MKV's on the Live at least have the Option strip's Chapter selection that works consistently. On the O!Play I've yet to find any other option for next chapter than the >| button.)
Thankfully the O!Play's "Skip" function (using Left/Right Arrow keys that border the "OK" button) works consistently with most video files I tried (but did not work my a BR/1080P MKV) and the O!Play setup menu has options for Skip durations of 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 minutes.
(BTW: Turning off Subtitles (via remote button/menu) seems to prevent the large white text of "Chapter #" when playing DVD rips. I wish there was a global subtitle off setting but have not found one.)
I didn't get to play with the Live long enough to dig into its options, but noticed on the O!Play that during the playback of a movie you can press the 'setup' button on the remote and change video settings on the fly. (Movie automatically paused and the setup options screen appears with a transparent background - change a setting then press setup again to dismiss/return to movie playback.) Display button during movie playback will show filename/index/Time (current position/total movie duration) and a 2nd press displays the movie's Video Info (codec/resolution/FPS) and Audio Info (Codec/#channels/Freq).
- I liked the WD Live's Video Info Panel w/Chapters selection for movie playback, although chapters were not supported on the Live with my MP4/M4V files made w/Handbrake.
- I prefer the O!Play's remote control's design over the Live's - it's larger and has a volume control. (But see below for complaints about lack of remote response w/wireless networking)
- The O!Play allows deleting/renaming files when browsing files for playback (using left arrow), without having to go into a file mgmt menu option. (Granted it's not something I'd use often though.)
- I rarely use Subtitles, but noticed the O!Play allows changing subtitle text color, size and position. (But I've seen some owners wish for a thicker border on the text.)
- The Asus Owner's manual (PDF) leaves a lot to be desired. It did not even list supported disk formats for connected drives, or any details on the 802.11N wireless (which is apparently 2.4GHz only) and what encryption it supports - some users have said their wireless problems were solved by not using TKIP.)
- Memory card slots worked (as expected) for viewing AVCHD recordings from my Panasonic SD6's SDcard, as well as 24Mbps files from a Canon HF11 HD camcorder's SD card. (Air model has CF, SD+MMC and MS+MS Duo slots.) Also used the SD slot for viewing photos. (Not tested the Compactflash slot yet, but assume it would be fine also.)
- I did see a very long delay when first changing the Time Zone (that some others had noted) - however a 2nd time (after power was out all day Sunday) had a very short delay. (BUT after doing a reset to defaults with 1.09N firmware trying to change the timezone resulted in another long delay - in fact after 20 minutes (of the spinning clock icon) I gave up and pulled the (power) plug. And this was said to be 'fixed' in 1.09. Tried again - same thing but thankfully pressing the "back" button got it out of that mode and Time Zone was shown as changed.)
- BTW: I'd seen an O!Play R1 (same design as R3 but w/o builtin wireless and card slots) user post that complained it did not power down connected USB drives when turned off (standby). I tested that Sunday night with my Air - it DID power down a bus-powered USB drive connected to it. I also saw a post in the Asus forum's from an O!Play (R1, not the Air/R3 model) owner that mentioned nearly 30W standby usage (??). I find that hard to believe unless he's also including a connected USB drive's power. The Asus O!Play (both R1 and Air/R3 model) Specs page notes "Power Consumption <10W" - the Air/R3 model's PDF user guide lists "10W" (and that's when active). The R1 and R3 specs page (and PDF manual) lists a 24W (DC 12v/2A output) AC adapter (that's 24W total), but my Air came with a 12VDC 3A output adapter. (For comparison, the AppleTV is reported to draw 25-28W in Standby, but it's got more hardware inside including a hard drive and I can definitely say the O!Play Air runs much cooler than my Apple TV. (The O!Play is cold in comparison, the AppleTV stays very warm even in standy.)
Although I currently use an AC powered eSATA HD Dock with the O!Play, I'm looking for a reasonably priced (not $20) combo eSATA/USB cable for use w/bus-powered eSATA 2.5in HD cases.
Blu-Ray/1080P Movie Problems I've seen (With both O!Play and WD TV Live): (Tested w/O!Play firmware 1.06N/1.09N and WD Live firmware .17)
- Freezes and/or Restarts with 1080P (Blu-Ray) MKV Files:
(These MKV files were done via MakeMKV beta 1.41 for OSX in case that's a factor.)
I've repeatedly seen freezes during playback (after 15min or so) of a Blu-Ray MKV of original "Die Hard" - Repeatable (eventually froze with both tries) with the O!Play (firmware 1.06N). Tests of the same file/Same HD Dock (but using USB Port) on a WD TV Live (firmware .17) also had problems - it restarts long before the movie is finished (goes back to start/menu) also - although it doesn't freeze.
(BTW: Even at $10 (Wallmart) this Blu-Ray disk is not worth it - another Very Bad Xfer to BR (full of artifacts, spotty video, etc). The std DVD I have from years ago looks as good.)
And I've seen a restart during playback of a 1080P MKV of 2 other BR movies on both the O!Play and WD TV Live (.17 firmware). After about 30min or so the movie either restarts to the beginning or reverts to movie file listing. (This still happens even with 1.09N O!Play Air firmware. Disappointing...)
Since both units show problems with these files I'd like to try another BD Rip utility.
FYI on O!Play Air Wireless N: (a big letdown)
- I've confirmed what I'd already mentioned - the Air's wireless N is only 2.4GHz. It did not see my 5GHz N network, even when broadcasting the SSID. As other owners have noted, you cannot setup the Air's wireless to connect to a network that the base is not broadcasting the SSID (i.e. for Apple Airport base users, the "closed" network option) - I temporarily changed my AE Base (simul dual-band model) to disable my usual "closed" network option and went into the Air's Network setup menu and connected to the 2.4GHz (WPA2 personal encryption which is AES, no TKIP) and it connected OK. I then powered off (via remote) the O!Play Air and set the AE base back to a "Closed" network again. After the base was back up, I powered on the O!Play Air and after a minute or so it -Did- reconnect to the 2.4GHz N network OK. (And did playback videos streamed from a Mac Pro using Yazoft's Playback software - see below.)
- Now I understand why some Air owners have said they felt like "slamming the remote against the wall" due to lack of response to the remote with wireless network/streaming. Saw that here. (Especially if preview is enabled.) It's 10x worse than the delay moving thru file listings with a direct connected HD (which also had a delay - see comment in my 'wish list' below)
And BTW - with the Air's wireless enabled/connected to my network, my Airport base activity LED flashes constantly although the O!Play's WiFi LED -doesn't-, even during Internet TV playback which clearly is streaming from WiFi. (BUT I have seen the WiFi LED go out at times - for instance when streaming from an Internet TV stream that suddenly freezes.)
And when playing a movie from the direct connected eSATA Hard Drive, the O!Play's "Storage" LED does not flash, although (of course) the connected hard drive's activity LED does. The only time I've seen the "Storage LED" flash is during powerup/reboot during first access to the connected HD. (Per the PDF manual, these LEDs should flash during any I/O but they rarely do. This was checked again with the Feb 2010 v1.09N Air/R3 firmware.)
Using a USB wireless Adapter with the WD Live does not have this problem and even though it would not connect to my 5GHz N network (even using a Linksys dual-band USB adapter) - a 2.4GHz N connection to the same network was -much- smoother than the O!Play Air's builtin wireless. (And didn't show the constant activity on the base's LED when the player was idle.) As of O!Play Air 1.09N firmware at least, the wireless is a total waste for me until they can fix the constant access issue.
Short Test of Yazsoft's Playback software via Wireless: (added 2/7/2010)
Sunday night (2/7/2010) I tested streaming a movie from my iTunes Library on an 09 Mac Pro (OS X 10.6.2) using Yazsoft's Playback software to the O!Play Air via its builtin 2.4GHz N wireless (connected to my AE Base's 2.4GHz 802.11N network (WPA2 encryption, no MAC address filtering, base on same floor as both Air and Mac Pro). Streaming an AppleTV preset Handbrake encoded movie worked fine (no dropouts, etc) but the Playback Trial/demo mode only allows for 30 min of playback. (Although this is not something I planned on using the Air for, at $15 for a Playback License I may bite on it for further testing. And there's been 2 updates to Playback since I first tried it.)
My O!Play Wish List: (still valid as of 1.09N firmware)
(Asus' O!Play Air forum and O!Play R1 forum have many other user's feature requests/fixes from owners that are using networking and other formats that I'm not currently.)
- Please fix the delays when scrolling listings of video files (seen even with directly connected Hard Drive Media source and NO wireless or ethernet connection). My first thought was simply adding say a 5 sec delay before trying to preview the file would solve that, but disabling preview doesn't help. Reportedly debug code is still in the firmware and it tries to benchmark any file selected almost immediately. (But at least adding a few seconds of delay before doing that would help.)
Update/FYI: With 1.09N firmware and WIRELESS OFF (and Preview OFF) this seems better.
- As many Air owners have complained about in Asus' O!Play Air forums, the response to remote commands with wireless enabled is frustrating. Often requires repeated button presses (and long delays) to register. (LOTs of Air owners complaining about that.) It's as if the processor is totally consumed with network access and can't handle any remote input. (Some think it's basically unable to multitask/process IR commands when doing wireless networking - saying even with the remote literally touching the case doesn't improve things (i.e. not due to remote signal strength) - although one owner said using an IR blaster seemed to help. That owner also said taking his Air apart showed the IR rcvr was canted back - not sure if that's common.)
BTW - A tip is to use the >| and |< buttons to page down/page up through long file listings but that won't help with delays accepting remote commands of course.
- Hide hidden files/directories when browsing HFS+ Disks.
- I'm not sure why it's happening (if anyone has a suggestion send a note) but I'm looking for a fix (or reason) for the constant (LAN) Wireless activity (Base's LED constantly flashing as I mentioned earlier) when using O!Play's builtin wireless. (I'm going to try again after a restore to defaults.)
- I'd like Chapter Support working with all my MP4/M4V files - their Chapters are supported on the (DRM'd out the ying-yang) AppleTV. (And ditto for the WD Live - it has no chapter support for these MP4 files either.)
- I'm not sure if its my MakeMKV created files, but currently NONE of my BR MKVs (1080P) will play more than 30min or so without a restart or freeze.
- Although the 1.09 firmware release notes implied it's fixed, I'm still seeing a LONG (infinite?) time to change the timezone setting. (Spinning clock icon goes on forever - after 15 minutes I finally pulled the plug. Worse than what I saw w/1.06N firmware. A 2nd try still had the spinning clock after 20min.)
- Support for a USB (wireless/RF xcvr) keyboard would be nice (for text entry/searches), as would USB/eSATA optical drive support.
- When Preview is disabled, use the extra screen space for file listings.
eSATA Case/Bridge Compatibility notes:
- My O!Play Air (w/1.06N firmware) does not work with the eSATA port on my Quad Interface (Oxford Bridge based) Voyager Q dock or EliteAL Mini case's eSATA port. It does work with an eSATA/USB HD Dock (ThermalTake model bought in 2008).
Problems some have reported that I've not seen (yet)
- Firmware update to 1.06N (NTSC) worked fine (using USB flash drive w/o any other files on it)
- No issues with HDMI (auto mode) properly detecting 1080P HDTV
- No A/V sync issues seen so far
Things I've not tested yet:
- I've used only HDMI connection to TV (for video and audio) - not tested the Digital Audio Out, Component video, etc.
- Most Network features (again not a big factor for me personally but the WD Live supports features like connected drive sharing and web streaming from Pandora Radio and YouTube.)
(Update: As mentioned in the post above on the 1.09 firmware update - Asus added "Online Media" support for Internet TV, Radio, Flikr, Picasa and Weather. Primitive in this first release (YouTube code commented out, no way to assign favorite TV streams, etc.) but a welcome (and unexpected) addition that hopefully they will improve in the future.)
- Not tested streaming content from other than the above mentioned trial of Yazsoft Playback software (UPNP mode, using the Air's builtin 2.4GHz N wireless connected to my AE Base 2.4GHz N WPA2 network) - and the trial is limited to 30min. (Many say Wireless is not suitable for streaming 1080P content). Again I never wanted to keep a computer running to play my media on a TV. (But I know that's paramount to many users - these media player forums are full of reports on that however although many complaints about problems.)
There's links to forums on both these players (and other related links) at the bottom of this page.
New Firmware Updates (Jan 15th) for Asus O!Play and O!Play Air Media Players:
I don't own one of these yet, but some readers reported on the HDP-R1 model. Both updates are dated Jan. 15th.
Note these had not yet appeared on their web site product page/download section as of Jan. 15th. (And for the Air, there's been no previous version posted that I saw, although was for the HDP-R1 model. I mention that in case someone wanted to go back to a previous firmware version after trying the new firmware. When they post these new versions to the web, maybe they'll also list a previous version.)
I'm getting an AIR model in a couple weeks so downloaded the new firmware but no readme/change log included. However an ASUS post over the weekend included this changelog from the R1 firmware (assuming R3/Air is similar):
1. Improve subtitle font support for the missing characters
2. Add in txt subtitle format support
3. Add in file and folder management function. Press left key to delete or rename it.
4. Add in 0.9x zoom out option
5. Add in sleep timer function
If any readers with an O!Play try the new firmware let me know if you see any pros or cons.
I'm especially interested if the firmware update for the AIR (HDP-R3) model addresses some of the issues I've seen posted in Asus' forums like (many) wireless complaints and some eSATA issues. (As usual with most anything, forums are full of problem posts.)
Asus O!Play Owner reports: Putting these two reports here - others are from WD TV/Live users
(BTW: O!Play reports updated (again) Jan 14th regarding firmware updates/disk format support and fixes for earlier firmware streaming from Snow Leopard machines. I'm baffled that Asus does not list supported disk formats on the product pages or even in the user manual PDF I downloaded. It's basic info that should be listed even on the web site IMHO.)
"I don't have a WD TV Live, but I do have an Asus O!Play HDP-R1. They both do essentially the same thing.
(The O!Play HDP-R1 has eSATA too - not just USB 2.0 like WD Live. The O!Play Air model has builtin wireless and memory card slots also.-Mike)
The reason why I chose the O!Play is because it supports rmvb files where the WD TV Live doesn't. Setup was an absolute breeze. I have it connected to the network and it accesses my NAS for video files. I have yet to come across a single video file that it can not play, this includes 720p and 1080p mkv files (some with subtitles).
So far, I've been extremely pleased with it.
If there was a local dealer here with the O!Play (either model) in stock (and assuming video/quality was as good), I'd consider it over the Live. (And even though the Air model has only 2.4GHz N, the memory card slots would be a plus for me - I'd prefer that model if I had a choice.) I know there's many other choices also (some more than I'd like to pay - like the Popcorn) but I hear all media players have firmware that's a work in progress. The Live attracted me based on the combination of local availability and price/features. (Lots of debate on that though.)
(added 1/12/2010 - updated again 1/14)
"I am excited about the WD Live. I currently own a very similar device, an Asus O!Play. One of the great benefits is the ability to play just about any format I throw at it, including 1080P content, on my television without tying up a computer to connect directly to the television. I have the O!Play pointed at several networked folders, including my EyeTV Archive folder and it plays the SD and HD MPEG2s without problem - no need to convert to MPEG4. One big tests for these devices, in my mind, is MKV H.264 files which both are capable of playing.
The early O!PLay firmware left something to be desired, but most of those issues have been fixed with later firmware updates. Based on reviews of the WD TV (the predecessor to the WD TV Live), the WD offers a slightly better UI. The Asus unit is going for $90-$100 on Amazon, though. I am interested to see if the interface is $30 better than the O!Play.
The WD TV Live also offers some Internet radio streaming which I do not use, and based on its inclusion of Bonjour might be slightly easier to set up.
One missing feature from both devices is the ability to stream NetFlix and/or Hulu. That feature would cause me to sell my O!Play and buy another device. I am waiting to see how the new Boxee Box turns out, and what sort of price that will be offered at. At a certain price, though, I start looking at used Intel Mac Minis to hook up to my television rather than dedicated black boxes.
(he later wrote regarding the Audio sync issues some have seen with the Live on MPEG4 files. Apparently some Live owners have not seen this but I have with repeated FF of movies as have some other owners, at least with .11 firmware and later.-Mike)
Just tried several movies ripped using Handbrake, both .m4v and .mp4. The O!Play handled FF/RW (up to 32x listed) and handled audio sync fine, even after five or six FF/RW on the same file. Also tried FF/RW with a few H.264 Blu-Ray rips and it handed that, as well.
One other notable difference between the WD TV Live and the O!Play is that the O!Play has an ESATA port for local connections, in addition to USB 2.0. (I mentioned that yesterday in above report when I added links to the 2 O!play models (the "Air" model also has Wireless builtin and memory card slots)-Mike) USB 2.0 has more than enough bandwidth for even high bitrate HD content, but it is nice having that option.
(I agree - I'd hope the faster eSATA interface might make general I/O operations more snappy. Even though USB 2.0 bandwidth is more than enough for movie playback, I'd still like to have an eSATA option.-Mike)
(after seeing a Dec. 4th, 2009 dated review of the O!Live that said even after a firmware update they couldn't stream from Snow Leopard or Windows 7 machines I asked Hank if he'd applied a later firmware update)
Yeah, I am using 1.17N, dated 7 Dec 09. Prior to that I had been using my Airport Extreme Base Station to serve the files via SMB (since that uses an older version of SMB and would work with the O!Play). With 1.17N the O!Play can access files directly from my machine running 10.6.2 via SMB.
That is the link to the Asus O!Live firmware page. Links to manuals are also on there.
(BTW: I downloaded the English PDF user manual there - and could not find one single word about what Disk Formats are supported. That info should be on the product page as well as in the manual. I really would prefer an O!Play over the Live but I'm baffled why they don't list this _basic_ info even in the user manual.
The WD TV Live supports NTFS, FAT32 and HFS per this WD doc although for the WD TV Media Library™ they note "Although HFS Journaled file systems are not compatible with WD TV Media Library™ feature, all versions of the WD TV can playback all supported media types by browsing the content via Folder View". One reader said that limitation did not apply to the LIVE model, but I'm not clear on that from WD's doc/comments.
Update: Hank replied the O!Play does work with FAT volumes. And a reader that just got an O!Play today wrote it supported HFS also? (He sent pix of volume listing, but I asked if he'd played back files from the HFS volume OK too.)-Mike)
Just a quick update - I can confirm that the O!Play can read FAT. I have used a FAT-formatted USB thumb drive (FAT32?) to view some movies. Not sure how big of a file FAT can handle (if you could use it for an BluRay .iso, for example), but it definitely handled a 1GB or so Handbrake .mp4
IIRC, FAT32 supports up to 2TB volumes (w/512byte sectors) and up to a 4GB file size. (That means if you plan on using larger movie files (like BR rips) they will far exceed that 4GB file size limit.)
Yazsoft's PlayBack Media Server Software: (FYI - Playback 1.2.4 released Jan 14th)
(Added 1/12/2010 - updated 1/13)
"Regarding WDTV Live and Mac, I came across a piece of software that I don't see mentioned on your relevant page: Playback by Yazsoft.
I bought this program within an hour of playing with the trial version. Basically it makes it easy to stream content from your Mac to the WD TV Live (and other devices I believe) without requiring that you share your drive via SMB. This includes iPhoto albums/events, iTunes, and Movies. Definitely worth checking out. I'm not affiliated with Yazsoft in any way but I highly recommend this program and at US$15 a pop well worth the money.
(a reader considering the WD Live (vs Asus O!Play) asked some questions)
I'm glad to respond to John's questions, although I am not really savvy when it comes to some of this stuff; I usually just use Google and follow directions. :-)
OS X (Leopard) & or AEBS doesn't directly support "Upnp" does it? So how did Peter get it to file share without SMB?
I have no idea. (It's DLNA?-Mike) What I do know is that I turned off SMB sharing (in System Preferences) on the external drive I was sharing to my WDTV Live and started sharing via Playback; Playback did the rest. This includes all of my iTunes playlists, iPhoto albums/events, etc. Playback has built-in sharing of iTunes libraries, iPhoto libraries, Aperture libraries, and also lets you specify other folders to share.
It should be noted that your content will now appear under WDTV Live's Media Servers menu, not the Network Shares menu.
Really, for a non-technical, set-it-and-forget-it person like myself Playback is the perfect complement to my WDTV Live. The cost of the trial version is an hour of your time, max; you'll be able to see if it's right for you by then. Like I wrote earlier, I bought it very quickly after trying it out -- and I rarely buy software online.
I hope this helps.
I saw this post in the WD Live TV General forum from another Mac owner on Yazsoft's Playback (although no info on his OS X version/mac, etc.):
"I am using the Playback Media Server from Yazsoft and though right now it won't give you access to Internet services, it will give you access to all your iLife libraries (iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie). Playback of video was also much improved with no stuttering on large HD video files over my network. It's $15 and requires no Network configuration, just turn it on (START) and it will be seen by the WD HD Live.
I've not looked at this software yet (not got a Live yet) but I'm guessing it's DLNA? (Ref: WD TV forum post titled WDTV Live DLNA and why you should use it.)
Tip for no (WD Live) FF/Rev function with some MPEG4 files:
I hadn't noticed this before but the MPEG4 EyeTV exports and Handbrake conversions I had tried w/WD Live that had no FF/Rev support (mentioned in my Jan 11th news post on WD TV Live) were .M4V extension (vs MP4) - a reader tip noted the extension was the cause of no FF/Rev function:
Just a few comments, I have both the WDTV Live and the original model.
With the WDTV Live, my sync issues only showed up in one file I have, .mp4 but was resolved by updating to the last 2009 firmware. (Last night WD released a .17 firmware update for the Live, but per chg notes it only "Improves the reliability of the WD TV Live firmware upgrade manager by incorporating a more robust method of upgrading firmware over the internet."-Mike)
The players have trouble FF and RW if a file ends in .m4v Manually changing the extension to .mp4 resolves this issue.
I bought the original model the week it came out in late 2008, and I have to say that it has been one of the most useful and reliable pieces of consumer electronics that I have ever purchased. I mainly use it for movie playback of Handbrake rips.
For music playback, I prefer an Airport Express and iTunes, especially if you have a large library and you are not using a playlist.
(he later wrote)
The last update I got was the .11 one. It actually fixed a video stutter in a troublesome PAL (25fps) mp4 video.
As far as audio sync issues, I haven't had many and if I recall correctly, I just restored the factory presets and rebooted.
A bonus of the Handbrake/WDTV combo is that I lived in Europe for several years and now I ripped all of my PAL format Region 2 DVDs and I can play them on a North American TV. I have a Philips DVD Player that can play PAL DVDs, but I barely even touch DVDs anymore. I buy them, rip them, then put them in storage. I use HandBrake's AppleTV format in case Apple ever updates the AppleTV. (I do the same (although I still have an AppleTV - have since v1.0).) Bought AppleTV and returned it 3 times, always had connection issues, even using Airport routers.
I can't recommend the WDTV Live enough for movie viewing. My friend took his family on a long vacation last summer, bringing the WDTV and a WD Passport drive containing about a hundred of his children's TV shows / movies. Quite convenient to keep the little ones entertained.
After getting this mail on the extension naming, I called Eddie to try that. He renamed a couple samples (TV show and Movie) to .MP4 and FF/Rev worked. Also asked he check A/V sync after FF - he said FF once w/TV show within a few sec re-synced audio. Tested with a Movie (full length) and said a 16x FF in the beginning of it showed audio re-synced but after appx 20 min of playback tried FF again and this time audio stayed out of sync. Pausing (twice) then play again didn't help he said. MP4 Audio sync is one of the most common complaints apparently (was OK with early firmware but a problem since .11 firmware owners w/the problem have said).
Mike, I purchased a WD TV Live after Christmas and have really been enjoying it. It has been able to play every type of video file I have thrown at it including ISO's with an attached (USB) 1.5 TB Western Digital hard drive. I have it connected to my Onkyo receiver using an HDMI cable.
When I initially hooked it up I got no video. It turns out that it is configured to use the included component video cable as the default. Using the component cable I was able to select HDMI in the video setup menu and then HDMI worked.
(I asked what firmware it shipped with, as Eddie's .11 (out of the box/recent buy) Live had .11 firmware and worked w/HDMI connection on the first hookup.-Mike)
I'm not sure what firmware it was shipped with. After I got the video signal working it did inform me of a firmware update to .11. I updated to .17 yesterday and haven't noticed any changes. According to the release notes the only thing that was affected was the ability to do more stable updates. They bricked a lot of boxes with their .12 update. (I mentioned that last week - WD quickly pulled .12 after problems like that back in early Dec.))
The only issue I have had is trying to stream video and copying large files over the network (wired and wireless). The video will start to play but will always stop after a few minutes. When copying video files it will usually quit after copying appx 100 MB of a 700 MB avi file.
I have it networked using a Buffalo WLI-UC-GN Mini USB network adaptor and have also tried a direct wired ethernet connection. It is able to play 5.1 DTS audio in MKV packages which is really nice. I haven't tried flashing using the 3rd party firmware. (See reference links section below for "B-RAD's" homebrew firmware page.-Mike) I don't see a need to access newsgroups or download torrent files on the WD TV Live. Pandora, You Tube, and Flicker all work well with the internet connection.
"Hey Mike, Funny coincidence. I just bought a WDTV Live last week and have been using it this week. It's completely amazing. :-) I've got it networked to my Airport Extreme base station (I ran Cat5e to the WDTV through the floor) so there is a very fast gigabit connection to it. It sees all my videos, music and photos from my Mac Pro downstairs (you have to turn on SMB sharing).
The box plays back just about everything (it stutters horribly on 720p and 1080p h264 .movs from my Canon 7D, however, and won't playback .dv video in .mov containers) and in full 1080p fluidly.
(I played back some AVCHD (max quality mode) from my (old now) Panasonic SD9 HD camcorder (16 or 17Mbps rates IIRC) and they were smooth as silk (output in 1080P mode to 42in HDTV). And also played some short AVCHD clips from a (much better quality) Canon HF11 (MXP/24Mbps recordings) on it - they were smooth as well. And I was honestly impressed at how good my EyeTV recordings (exported to AppleTV format) looked. Very sharp.-Mike)
I had initially planned to use it over wireless N with my Buffalo mini USB adaptor, but the connection was just not fast enough to stream fluidly. With gigabit ethernet, it is a dream. (is the Live's ethernet better than 10/100? The specs I saw just say "ethernet" but I really doubt its better than 10/100 - especially considering the price.) It is connected via HDMI to my LG 42" plasma screen, and downloaded 720p content looks FLAWLESS. Indistinguishable from watching blu-ray content, IMO. Most of my content is .mkv files encoded as x264.
HIGHLY recommended, especially given the light price tag. And the unit is so tiny. Hard to believe it is so powerful. And silent (no fan).
This report is from a WD TV (the model before the Live) owner:
I have the WD TV (not the live) and have been using it when I travel for about 6 months connected to a WD My Passport 500GB (2.5in/portable) drive. The drive is formatted as HFS but with journaling turned off.
(I linked in the reference section at page bottom here to WD's info on Compatible file systems for all WD TV models which has notes about Journaled HFS format limitations with WD TV (Media Library only related) - you can turn off journaling from the terminal or Disk Utility if needed - an old tip from the past here as a fix for some past Seagate drive/firmware issues.-Mike)
The whole thing had been excellent, and so far nothing I have tried has not played including avi's mp4's and lots of mkv's.
The only issue I have seen is on really compressed video (I have some episodes of Yes Prime Minister that were squashed down to 50MB each for use on iPods) - these seem fine on my MacBook Pro 17" when viewed on normal distance (not too much blocking image clear) but on the WD TV they are a lot more blocky, and the image is not as clear. That so far has been my only gripe. WD has kept on updating the firmware and it does seem to get better with each release.
Hope this helps, John"
HI Mike, I use the WD TV Live and have been very pleased with it. It plays a wide range of formats, and it will play over my wireless network from my iMac upstairs. The only "gotcha" I experienced was that I didn't have smb file sharing set up at first. Once I got that in place, it was smooth sailing.
If I have an external drive hooked to the WDTV, it's even possible to read the contents of that drive from my iMac upstairs and to add or remove content. To show pictures of the media files rather than generic icons, you need to put a jpg with the the same name as the media file in the folder.
(It will create thumbnails of photos automatically from what I saw - but for eddie's many photos (nearly 2000 IIRC, although thankfully in directory/folders by category) it took awhile initially. (Especially with high res images.)-Mike)
The interface is not so elegant as the Apple TV, but (unlike my Apple TV) it's not prone to sudden freezes when scrolling through files. It does support 1080P media with 5.1 sound and uses MKV files, so I no longer have to convert them to AppleTV format.
Highly recommended, especially at the cheap price!
Regarding the Apple TV "pausing" (some saw 'freezing') I too have seen that (mentioned in the past here on the Apple TV page) - IIRC when first scrolling through a list of videos. (Would literally hang until it generated a preview/thumbnail.) What was worse (that I saw for months in the past) was unnecessary re-syncing of movies after I'd played (or partially played) a movie on the AppleTV (next sync it would re-copy it to appletv again (sometimes over 40GB of movies recopied - via wireless that was painful - especially when it happened over and over). I thought I'd fixed that by unchecking 'remember playback position' option on all movies in iTunes lib - but think I've see it happen again once since. (In the last 6 months I've rarely used the AppleTV - switched off too. Although with this weather lately here I could use the extra warmth it generates even in standby LOL.)
(added 1/12/2010, from 1/11 mail - updated w/later comments)
I'm using a WDTV Live to watch programmes recorded using Elgato's EyeTV, and transcoded using Elgato's Turbo.264 HD. The WDTV (you do have the Live correct? (vs the original/previous WD TV model)-Mike) shows a lot of promise but is desperately in need of a firmware update to fix compatibility problems with stuff which it should nominally work with. However, the development programme at WD seems to have ground to a halt since they released a firmware update which bricked a significant per centage of devices (including mine). (he's referring to the .12 release I mentioned last week that bricked some Live's - WD quickly pulled it (implying the bricking problem was from applying via Network/Web update). I wrote him that Monday night (the 11th), WD released a .17 firmware update that per the change notes makes the firmware update process 'more robust'. Many owners were disappointed that other fixes were not included (such as MPEG4 A/V sync).-MIke)
An example of the problems with the current firmware is that most settings on the Turbo HD create files where the video (but not the audio) plays at (approx) double speed. Also, when browsing movies, you have to scroll through all the thumbnail pictures to get to the movies (or do without thumbnails). Not pleasant when you have a lot of films stored on a network drive and I'm on the verge of deleting all my thumbnails (which took a lot of effort to create) just to restore some semblance of usability to browsing films.
My current advice is to wait a bit to see if they can produce a successful firmware update and, if not, there seem to be a couple of devices coming up which are just as capable, and just as good value. If the next firmware update is successful, it would be an excellent device, but currently it looks like there will be no next firmware update leaving the device in a pretty mediocre state.
(he later wrote - in reply to my mail monda night on the .17 firmware update and questions.-Mike)
I should complain about lack of firmware updates more often - no sooner had I sent the e-mail than my WDTV announced that a new firmware was available. There seem to be no user visible fixes in this (some people are seeing faster interface responses but I think that is more wishful thinking) but more importantly, it has broken the dead-lock where WD didn't dare release new updates for fear of breaking too many units. (they released .11 in Nov. (which many say started the MPEG4 A/V sync issues - some have went back to earlier firmware to fix that) - then released .12 in 1st week of Dec (quickly pulled due to bricking reports) and now on the Jan 11th released another update (.17 - granted with only firmware update process fixes they say). I've had a lot worse update frequency (and support) on far more expensive devices (including my SSD, but that's another painful story).-Mike)
The OTA update is nice when it works - which is now hopefully all the time.
The biggest thing I miss from my old media player is the ability to play DVDs with full menu navigation. If you have an ISO of a DVD it will just play the longest track which doesn't work well if you have (e.g.) a TV series on DVD. This is somewhat ameliorated by MakeDVD which can rip a DVD to compatible MKV files very quickly.
Also, when browsing movies, you have to scroll through all the thumbnail pictures to get to the movies (or do without thumbnails). Not pleasant when you have a lot of films stored on a network drive and I'm on the verge of deleting all my thumbnails (which took a lot of effort to create) just to restore some semblance of usability to browsing films.
(I mentioned that the one I saw was set (in Settings/Video prefs) to "preview" mode, but was using direct USB connected HD (portable/bus powered) drive (not network access). He had about 80 or so Movies in that directory and scrolling seemed fine. (If you hesitated on a filename the preview window on the right side would start playing the movie - which was fairly responsive - no complaints personally on taht). But again not tested over a network.-Mike)
I would like to use thumbnail mode but it doesn't really work for me - the thumbnails don't provide sufficient info to identify the movie since the name of the file is not displayed unless you highlight the actual thumbnail - plus, over the network, it is too slow. It may be because I have never got to the stage where the thumbnail generation is complete, or it may be a network thing, but mine always starts all over again when I go to the drive.
Currently I'm on preview mode, but I'll be going back to simple browse mode when I next use it. The media library setting is too slow across the network with my current set-up so I turned that off immediately I got the device. It is probably okay if you don't already have an extensive movie collection.
I'm going across a network to a slow-ish NAS drive so mine will be slower - but it is fast enough if you don't have to wade through all the irrelevant jpeg files which are used to create the thumbnails when you are looking for a movie. This will probably be fixed fairly soon, but as you could probably tell, I was beginning to think that there would never be another firmware update. Prior to the bricking disaster the rate at which WD was fixing issues was very good and was part of the reason I selected the WDTV (Live).
I had a problem getting the thumbnails embedded in the files (because I don't have the tools) but WD have thought of that and you can create your own thumbnail using jpeg with the same name - but these files are listed along with the movies and it is painful navigating past hundreds of them across the network to get to the movies when you have already selected "movies: to browse the folder.
(I don't see this as a replacement for AppleTV (for several reasons) but to be honest I'd like to have one (but I would use it for USB HD file playback). The MPEG4 A/V sync issue (see here after FF'ing for instance, at least if done more than once.)-Mike)
It will work adequately over the network if you just use list mode for browsing and get rid of all the jpegs which I created manually to have thumbnails. I'm keeping them for now so that if they fix the issue of listing all the thumbnails alongside the actual movies, I dont have to regenerate them. However, I (nearly) have a script to generate them automatically - if I get that working I'll just get rid of them and stick to list mode until I know it's fixed.
(Not sure I'd ever play with the (unofficial) homebrew firmware (from B-RAD) though, but it's good IMHO that someone is doing this. Maybe he can fix some bugs that WD is slow to do (not just adding new features they didn't).-Mike)
These are relatively safe because the core of them is from the official firmware since that part is still closed source (as I understand it). However, for most people, there is no real reason to use the unofficial firmware since the bits which are bugged are normally in the closed source bits which end up in the unofficial firmware too. (But I saw some posts (a small %) that mentioned problems applying it (or apparent bricks) but the programmer kept asking if they had the listed (required) std firmware version before trying to apply his version.
But hopefully WD will keep releasing firmware updates. Granted the dec update (.12) was pulled and .17 seems to be just an improved firmware update (from web) fix.-Mike)
Yes - I'm a lot more hopeful now.
(I asked about the complaints on MP4 files having A/V sync issues (4-5 second out of sync audio some said) - EyeTV/HB encodings (.m4v) didn't show it but after renaming to .mp4 (to enable FF/rev) it did show up after a couple FF's with a movie (audio sync never recovered after 2nd FF - pause/play didn't help)-Mike)
Handbrake conversions seem to be good, but I'm using Turbo.264 HD. I can only get usable files by setting the "GOP Structure" to IP. The WDTV is currently fussy enough about formats that if you download a random file it is definitely not guaranteed to work. However, if you create your own, you can normally find a setting which works. I think the non-HD Turbo.264 is fine, and there are settings in Handbrake which can break compatibility - but the defaults are fine.
(I didn't see any option to remember playback position)
It does remember playback position...usually. (It didn't in tests with my EyeTV/HB .m4v files. Stopping the movie, then going back to menu/listing, then playing same movie again starts from beginning. Not tried it after renaming files to .mp4.-Mike)
You can use mkvtoolnix to convert mp4s to mkvs without re-encoding and apparently that works better for some people. I had no issues with FF/Rew with my files until this very latest update last night. Now I lose audio and video sync if I use any kind of random access. I'm not sure if file renaming/repackaging will fix that because previously I didn't have the problem. (Many people have seen the MPEG4 Audio sync issue since .11 firmware (some in the WD live forums mentioned going back to early firmware as the only fix to date.) Some (including reports here) said it was only seen after FF'ing or Rev'ing playback on the files.
I wonder if that will ever be addressed. I know there's many other media player choices (some claim are better than Live) but for $120 (and local store sold) I'm really tempted...-Mike)
I think it could be really good but currently there are too many minor niggles preventing me from recommending it. A few relatively small fixes would go a long way to addressing the usability issues but right now, it isn't as good as it could be. OTOH, for the price, I don't regret my purchase. But I saw some reports from CES saying that there would be similarly priced "media adaptors" coming very soon. There are some discussions on one of the forums about at least one of them, but I can't connect to it ATM (a new firmware release seems to generate too much traffic for the site to cope with).
Please feel free to ask if you have any more questions. I'm only too pleased to help especially as your site has helped me so much in the past 8^).
(added 1/12/2010 from 1/11 mail with later comments)
I have been using the WD TV Live for about two months now.
WD TV Live connected via HDMI to a 720p LCD TV.
WD Passport drive connected to one USB port.
Linksys Wireless USB Adaptor WUSB600N connected to the other USB port and on my 5GHz 'N' home network.
(I have one of these and was curious if 5GHz was supported. Good to hear. It's RALink N chip based, but unlike some the WUSB600N has dual band support.-Mike)
I bought the WD TV Live to play non-iTunes video files because:
1. I got tired of converting video in .mkv containers to mp4 format in order to view it on the AppleTV.
2. I got tired of having to patch my AppleTV to play non-iTunes video every time I applied a firmware update to the AppleTV.
Bonjour and networking:
The Macs on my home network see the WD TV Live and its attached USB drive without problems. I prefer to transfer my video files to the WD TV Live's attached drive for viewing rather than streaming it over the network as heavy network activity (between my other computers on the network) do cause streaming hiccups.
The one annoying problem that prevents me from using the WD TV Live from to take over completely from the AppleTV for playing non-iTunes video content is, like you noted, that FF and RWD during playback of MP4 files do not work properly resulting in the audio and video going out of sync. But I believe this will eventually be fixed in a firmware update. Hopefully soon. All other formats I use seem to play just fine.
Unfortunately, the MP4 FF/RWD bug prevents me from using the WD TV Live full-time for non-iTunes video content.
(I mentioned that playback of sample MPEG4 (EyeTV/Handbrake conversions to AppleTV settings) showed no loss of A/V sync over time - but as .m4v files didn't allow FF/Rev. (They do allow FF/Rev if renamed to .mp4 per later tip above - but then after FF twice with a test movie the audio did go out of sync, pausing didn't help. FF once on a TV show recording resumed sync after a few seconds (one FF try) but with the movie file a 2nd FF lost sync for the duration.)-Mike)
My experience is that when playing an MP4 encoded movie, the audio syncs perfectly even when I pause and resume. The audio only goes out of sync after I do a FF or RWD. And then from that point on, no amount of FF or RWD or pause and resume will fix it. The only way to get back in sync at this point is to play the movie again from the start.
The MP4s I have are encoded using VisualHub. (I asked what output settings used) AppleTV with H.264 encoding.
I just tried a few of the encoded MP4 movies. Some of them do not allow FF/RWD like you said while others allow it but end up with an audio sync problem. I haven't had a chance to determine if it is any particular setting that is different between the files that allow FF/RWD and those that don't.. (I suspect those that do support FF/Rev are MP4 extensions. EyeTV and HB AppleTV conversions I did have .M4V extensions (no FF/Rev support on Live with M4V files currently). Renaming the files to .MP4 enables FF/Rev, but if FF'd (at least more than once here) they lose sync just like what you saw.-Mike)
I will just keep mine and play the MP4 video on the AppleTV and the MKV ones on the WD TV.
I do not use the WD TV Live for pictures or music. I prefer the AppleTV for those.
(added 1/12/2010 - from 1/11 email)
I had it connected via ethernet to my Mac Pro. It can also use certain wireless USB. (see link below - reportedly Ralink chip based wireless adapters only?-Mike) It plays everything on my Mac. (that's not DRM'd)
It doesn't have the most elegant interface, but works as advertised. For some reason it only works with a HDMI 1.3 cable.
(he later wrote)
The songs (Apple no longer DRM them) (I guess the "plus" songs) I bought from iTune store played, but not movies (DRM). Also EyeTV recordings played fine without re-encoding. (I asked if he was able to use FF/Reverse button with them - that didn't work w/my EyeTV converted AppleTV format files.-Mike) it will read either Mac or Windows formatted USB drives.
Regarding supported format drives - here's what WD says in their FAQ item on Compatible file systems for all WD TV models
"What file systems are compatible with the WD TV HD Media Player (WDAVx00), WD TV Live HD Media Player, and WD TV Mini Media Player?
The WD TV HD Media Player (WDAVx00) supports NTFS, FAT32 and HFS file systems for media playback. There is a limitation with HFS Journaled file system and WD TV Media Library™ feature.
The WD TV Mini Media Player supports NTFS, FAT32 HFS, and HFS+ file systems for media playback. There is a limitation with HFS/HFS+ Journaled file systems and the WD TV Media Library™ feature.
The WD TV Live HD Media Player and WD TV HD Media Player (WDBABx) supports NTFS, FAT32, HFS and HFS+ file systems for media playback.
The WD TV Media Library™ feature supports NTFS, FAT32 and HFS (non-journaled) file systems. These file systems will allow the WD TV Media Library™ feature to aggregate the content and write the Media Library file to the connected storage device. Although HFS Journaled file systems are not compatible with WD TV Media Library™ feature, all versions of the WD TV can playback all supported media types by browsing the content via Folder View.
For instructions on how to disable Journaling on a HFS+ formatted drive, please see Answer ID 2615: How to disable Journaling on an external hard drive formatted as HFS+."
Related Links on Asus O!Play and O!Play Air: (O!Play models based on Realtek 1073)
(Links are work in progress - if you have suggestions send a link)
Related Links on WD TV Live: (Live model is based on Sigma 8655)