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 Post subject: WDTV Media Player (WDAVN00 or WDAVP00BE), USBHDD->HDMI
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:20 am 
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I'm surprized no-one has brought up WDAVN00 already. It's been around since November. This product would fit to both Silent Front and Green Computing since
A) it has no moving parts and
B) it consumes 1/10th of electricity a typical anternative.

What is it then? It's a box with two USB ports for generic USB Mass Storage devices and outputs for TV (HDMI, optical Toslink for 5.1 sound, composite). USB ports have USB power so you can use 2.5 inchers as well.

I reads USB Mass Storage devices (formatted FAT32, NTFS or HFS) for video (.avi, .mp4, .mkv, .wmv, etc.) and audio files, pictures and DVD images (.iso). It supports pretty much all common video codecs (incl. H.264/AVC and XviD) and audio codecs (incl. AAC, OGG/Vorbis, mp3). AC3 5.1 can be routed to a supporting Dolby Digital decoder via optical connection, but the box also downmixes it into stereo and sends it along with video stream using HDMI.

The biggest flaw I know of is that another 5.1 codec, DTS, can be routed via optical to DTS decoder but it isn't downmixed to stereo and sent via HDMI. If you want to play video with DTS audio and don't have a DTS home theater system, you'll be watching it muted with no audible channels.

Official product page:
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?DriveID=572

Review/autopsy:
http://maddhat.com/?p=31

As seen from that review, the "adapter" (like some people call it) is passively cooled and looks like a WD Passport, except for it's thickness. The "adapter" itself has no storage space (aside from stored firmware), which I consider a big plus: one less part to malfunction, to make noise, or to become obsolete. Calling it an "adapter" is quite misleading since the box actually decodes HEAVY H.264 encoded video in 1080p24 or 720p60. Most devices we call adapters only change physical connectivity, serialize bits, or stuff like that. This box has calculating power of P4 @10GHz clock and does it with ~10 watts. :)
(It is quite unfair to compare specialized decoder chip to general purpose CPU but I like to be unfair. And P4 sucks so bad.)

This product isn't the only box that does similar things. There's Popcorn Hour and Apple TV. Popcorn Hour uses same chip as WD TV to do the hardware decoding but it has network connection, etc. But it also happens to cost 2 to 3 times what WD TV does (depending on variant of Popcorn Hour). And Apple TV lacks H.264 and is otherwise inferior (like being stuck with internal 160-gigger when 2.5 inchers are available in capacities up to 500GB and 3.5 inchers up to 2000GB) unless you absolutely need iTunes support.

So, I made some queries for local retailers to find one that has short delivery time. I can easily find one that has low price but the cheapest one may well do it's own importing, and have 1+ month delivery when some other has 2 days. I hope I'll get mine within a week. I will be updating this thread.

Does any of you have this product?

EDIT: altered topic from "WD TV" to "WDTV" because people might search for WDTV and seaching "WD TV" returns no results as both search phrases are too short to be performed.

Also added alternative product number WDAVP00BE.

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Last edited by whiic on Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:38 pm 
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I haven't this but I use a hdd player that has also a sd card slot. Anyway it uses very little power, around 2w. Can play movies also by usb cable connected to a laptop.

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.10905


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:46 am 
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Well, I don't know how much WD consumes. All I know is that people say it becomes "quite warm". Quite warm is probably something 5+ watts but not more than 10 watts (average, peak may be bigger) because above that it would become scalding hot when not actively cooled.

5...10 watts for H.264 is impressive. Can 2W decode H.264? My Prescott can barely decode 720p with 3.0 GHz overclock (only missing a few frames), consuming 100 watts, and is completely incapable of decoding 1080p, while these low-power hardware decoders do 1080p with no missing frames and (literally) just a few watts.

I would like to know how much WD TV consumes but I have not found such specs, nor have any review I've read so far measured it from their sample.

___


That generic, nameless USBHDD+SecureDigital player is probably good for some purposes but probably not a replacement for a HTPC. Why?
- Composite AV, S-Video and VGA output = no HDMI = low resolution
- what codecs does it support? How about dual audio? How about 5.1 downmixing to stereo? And is this information reliable if manufacturer is unknown?
- no firmware updates (no-brand-name, unknown manufacturer)

If you don't have a flat HDTV but only an old CRT, this would most likely do the trick... you probably won't be watching 1080p Bluray rips encoded in H.264/AVC and encapsulated in Matroska container with two audio tracks and multiple formatted ASS/SSA subtitles from a 10 inch black-and-white telly anyway.

But that product sure is cheap. (Not that WD TV is pricey but it still costs double. And Popcorn Hour costs double/triple of WD TV.)

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 Post subject: WDTV reviewed
PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:12 am 
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I've been using WDTV for half a year now. Forgot to return to the thread to give my review of it.

Surprisingly WDTV actually delivers what it promises... and more. It does play pretty much anything so what is said about converting files to supported format, that's pretty much theoretical. The only exception I've come across so far is DTS audio codec and it's licensing limitations. DTS audio will be muted so playing movies with that audio codec is rather ... unsatisfactory experience.

But otherwise, pretty much any imaginable codec, containers, embedded subtitles, multiple audio, multiple subtitle, 5 channel to 2 channel downmix. It plays 1080p too. Some of the heaviest 1080p encodes fail to play without stutter but I've had problem playing them with quad-core computer as well. Might also have something to do with USB bandwidth. Another oddity was that when connected to certain PHILIPS LCD-TV and backlight is dimmed below 50...70% the remote control to WDTV starts gradually fail to control WDTV. I have no idea if I should rather blame the TV for creating too much interference of WDTV for having too small margin for interference tolerance...

WDTV appears to have become the "Topfield" of USBHDD-to-TV players... that is, it has firmware hacks, addon programs, and community of tweakers who are not afraid of voiding warranty to go beyond limitations of stock WDTV. Since regular WDTV can pretty much play anything (even the Vorbis audio in Matroska container bug was eventually fixed with firmware update) the firmware hacks focus on stuff like USB-to-LAN, USB-to-WLAN, changable background image and screensaver, and that with hacked firmware, it possible to run other software on top of the WDTV OS.

In the end, I think WDTV is about as awesome as a media player can be. It doesn't get too hot which means it's power consumption must be closer to 5W instead of 10W... but either way, it's still more ecologic video player than even a laptop. (That is, using laptop to stream video to TV. If you watch movie from laptop screen, you save 100...300W by not powering on the TV.)

Hardware video decoding (2D acceleration) is indeed very green... whether it's inside a computer to reduce CPU load, or separately to replace the use of computer altogether. Latter is of course better. And there is some major flaws in current applications of former: most GPUs have HW video decoding but unfortunately most software is incapable of taking advantage of it. You usually end up having to disable you codec packs and render a great amount of video undecodable to just get h.264 to decode on HW. A lot of user-friendliness lack in HW decoding on PC systems. Luckily, as WDTV has no software based video decoding, there's no need to worry about how the f### can you disable it and pass though to HW decoding.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:53 am 
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Awesome!
I've seen similar things that combine the functionality of the WDTV with a USB drive caddy, and have recommended them to friends who want cheap HDTV playback of xvid files. Yet I have never heard of or seen this product, I'm ashamed...
This product essentially negates the need to build an HTPC that will only be used for video playback. It is cheaper, lower power, and quieter than anything one could DIY build. Combine this with the ability to play files over a LAN (which appears to be the case with a firmware hack) and you have a silent ready-made HTPC solution for less than the cost of most HTPC cases alone! Add in the size advantage, the WAF, an easy-to-use UI with simple control (no need for mice/keyboards/specialist front-end software), and I can't believe this thing doesn't get more publicity!
Nice find man!

Image

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:17 am 
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Thanks whiic for the detailed review.
This device is a video player not more different than a DVD player and people here love they PC. It is true that it takes 5 to 10 time less power than a regular PC but it is very limited in is use and this is not extremely green (if you need a special device for each operation).
The x86 PC is not that power efficient but an extremely power efficient computer can be based on ARM and the best example I know is Tegra from Nvidia it takes only a bit more than one watt or about 3W in a typical netbook where the LCD is also included.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:56 am 
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electrodacus: "This device is a video player not more different than a DVD player"

Well, it's smaller. It's user-friendly. While pretty much all DVD players can play video from data-DVDs (in addition to video-DVDs) and also display jpeg images and play mp3s, not all DVD players have USB-ports for mass storage devices. Agreed, many of them have. But...

Do DVD players actually have this extensive codec support? I can play practically any video file on WDTV that I want to. And it's not just codecs but support for multi-audio, multi-subtitles, etc. Sure, formatted subtitles are still displayed unformatted on the screen but considering that new firmware updates keep being released, that's bound to be fixed. And you don't have to buy a new WDTV, just flash it.

DVD players don't always have user-friendly menus... and they don't all have processing capability for 1080p (considering DVDs themselves are just 480p).

"and people here love they PC"

I know. It's not a replacement for PC. You can't for example write this message to SPCR boards using WDTV. Also, people are lazy. If they have the movie they want to watch in a file on a computer which they used to download it, they are probably too lazy to copy it to a thumbdrive and attach it to a small box next to TV to watch it. (And doing that won't save electricity if you'd leave computer idling or torrenting for the time you're watching the movie.)

Be we shouldn't blame the technology. It's the current generation of users. WDTV is still a better solution than having TWO computers. If you have only one TV set in the household and your TV happens to be within HDMI cable distance of that TV set, then WDTV isn't a necessity.

"It is true that it takes 5 to 10 time less power than a regular PC but it is very limited in is use"

Indeed, but it's not intended to replace a PC. You need to have the files to play with WDTV and you can't just run uTorrent on top of WDTV OS... or who knows, maybe you can... but it certainly wouldn't be recommended. Afaik, at least some FTP clients are available for hacked firmware even though torrent might be unfeasible for such low CPU-power device.

WDTV is always to be used in addition to a PC in the same household. WDTV does reduce the need to keep the PC powered on, and it removes the need to place PC close to the TV.

WDTV (and other similar decoding boxes) certainly aren't a downfall of HTPCs. Especially in small apartments where one HTPC can both serve as the only computer and the only device that streams to HDTV set, HTPC will survive.

"this is not extremely green (if you need a special device for each operation)."

I don't think WDTV is a bigger source of pollution than
- single GPU
- 1/4th of a motherboard
- a power supply
- a hard drive
- 4 sticks of ram
- pick any other computer component of roughly the same size
- or a computer case

Those combined, your HTPC uses at least 10 times resources to produce than WDTV.

Buying a more efficient PC is often considered "ecological" by people who don't consider manufacturing in environmental load. WDTV is actually way better improvement to power saving AND at the same time it's manufacturing impact on environment is only one tenth of swapping a PC to new one.

"best example I know is Tegra from Nvidia it takes only a bit more than one watt or about 3W"

Is a sub 3 watt generic-purpose CPU without special video decoding capabilities even capable of playing 1080p?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:37 am 
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whiic wrote:

Is a sub 3 watt generic-purpose CPU without special video decoding capabilities even capable of playing 1080p?


Tegra 650 is able to play 1080p H.264 and VC-1 AP and can encode 720p H.264 so is relay good.
This is one chip computer.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:01 pm 
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WDTV is not a replacement for a computer but neither is Tegra 650. Try running XP on it, doing video-editing on Sony Vegas. Not much use for CAD, compiling programs or image editing either, not to mention occasional gaming.

And as Tegra doesn't quite qualify as a normal computer but rather just a comparable product to WDTV, I'd ask,
- can you get a complete Tegra based system for 100 bucks (plus cost of mass storage)?
- how big it is?
- and how much PCB and silicon dies it has?

Because I'm quite certain it's still on a whole different level in materials and price yet still not quite capable as the household's only PC.

EDIT: I meant that Tegra probably isn't enough for the only computer in the household. Like WDTV, it can be a secondary "computer".

EDIT2: I made a mistake in assuming Tegra just another low-power CPU integrated into standard PC motherboard. I made too many assumptions based on what electrodacus said.

I don't know if Tegra qualifies as PC. Why would it qualify if WDTV doesn't? After all, WDTV is running some sort of Linux.

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Last edited by whiic on Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:13 pm 
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whiic wrote:
WDTV is not a replacement for a computer but neither is Tegra 650. Try running XP on it, doing video-editing on Sony Vegas. Not much use for CAD, compiling programs or image editing either, not to mention occasional gaming.

It can be used as a replacement for a computer depending on your needs.
I will be able to run XP if the XP will be recompiled for ARM.
It will be able to use Windows mobile 7 and Linux.


whiic wrote:
And as Tegra doesn't quite qualify as a normal computer but rather just a comparable product to WDTV, I'd ask,
- can you get a complete Tegra based system for 100 bucks (plus cost of mass storage)?
- how big it is?
- and how much PCB and silicon dies it has?

I guess is possible to get Tegra at 100$ is about 150$ but including LCD and battery.
The system is see Photo the size of an SO-DIMM laptop memory.
Some more photos:
http://www.crunchgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/tegra1.jpg
http://www.cdr.cz/picture/47391/large
http://www.cdr.cz/picture/47392/large

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:30 am 
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electrodacus,
but again, if you run stuff on generic OS, you need proper players. Granted, vast majority of Tegra based products will come with some player. If the OS of Tegra system doesn't prevent installing of "non-approved" software to run on top of it then it not a futile attempt to try make it play videos that are unsupported by default player.

If WDTV doesn't play certain codec, you are pretty much f'ed unless they fix it in some future firmware. But luckily the codec pack is pretty extensive, especially on the codecs/containers that deserve support: h.264, xvid, divx, aac, ogg (audio codec), mp3 (audio codec), mp4 (container), mkv, ogm, ogg (container), mp3 (container), avi, wmv...

I can't really say the same about Tegra based Microsoft Zune HD for example. Reviews say it even lacks xvid codec and mkv container. So, in order to play xvid in mkv container you not only need to get a third-party codec but also a third-party media player (because container support has to be in the player itself, not the codec).

Seriously, what the f would I do with a media player that can't play DivX codec or anything in Matroska container? Most of video I have are in either
- xvid or divx, mp3, .avi or
- h.264 or xvid, aac or ogg, .mkv

So, is it possible to run third-party media player on Zune? I mean proper media player software like MPC. And how does HW decoding work with them?
Since DivX is not supported, I guess HW decoding for it won't work. So you need third-party codec pack as well. And you don't want the codec pack to intervene HW decoding of those (few) codecs that actually are supported. So there's tweaking involved, and you probably might need to tweak your codec setting every time you switch from watching HW decoded to SW decoded video. Not to mention that you can't probably SW decode shit with 1W CPU. Would you even be able to watch 480p xvid with that sort of CPU? Because if the HW decoding is only for h.264, then you have to do it in SW.

You may blame Microsoft for f'ing it up. Dunno. Maybe the chip has HW DivX decoding but M$ just screwed it all up. The fact it, you have to review a product by it's physical incarnation. Because we may be able to build our own computers but I don't think that many of us will be building our own Tegra systems from scratch. If the available OEMs ship solutions that suck, then there's no Tegra that does not suck.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:16 am 
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The Zune HD player is not for me is not flexible it also uses Tegra 600 so only 720p decoding. I need something that will be able to use linux easy probably a netbook using Tegra 650 that from my knowledge is not available for now.
About the 800Mhz 1W ARM CPU is quite powerful. I used in the past a small device Sharp Zaurus SL-C1000 that was using an older ARM architecture 0.5W at 624MHz and was able to software decode using linux and mplayer 480p Xvid so it will be no problem for Tegra. Was also able to play smooth at 520MHz but at original 416Mhz it was not very smooth and this was 4 or 5 years ago.
Tegra may even be able to software decode 720p but not sure (probably not).
ARM is much more energy efficient than X86.
Once Tegra will be available in netbook format there will be a lot of Linux fans that will port everything to ARM.
I only used Linux in the last 5 years so for me is all I need (but I do not play games and I do not use special programs that are only available for windows).
Software is also important. I will be able to play 480p DivX on a 300MHz pentium II 64Mb RAM using DOS and QuickView but I will have problem on a Pentium IV at 3Ghz 512Mb RAM using Vista.
See this video for a presentation of Tegra. some more video2 video3


PS: I have nothing against WDTV is just not for me. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:30 am 
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"I need something that will be able to use linux easy probably"
Well, this thread was about WDTV (and to a lesser extent other devices with same purpose).

"a netbook using Tegra 650 that from my knowledge is not available for now"
Why bring up a product that does not exist as an alternative to WDTV?

Tegra-based devices do deserve attention but they're so different, especially the netbook type devices with regular keyboard (versus those devices that look more like an iPod than a computer), that they deserve a separate thread.

And sure, WDTV can be used as a general purpose Linux computer via Telnet connection from another computer. Dunno, maybe it's possible to prevent loading GUI (and dump the idea of using WDTV as media player) and maybe there's support for USB keyboard with some variant of hacked firmware. So yeah, with firmware hacks, WDTV can be used as e.g. home fileserver, torrent seed box, or whatever you fancy. Or it can run those on background, run GUI on foreground and be able to use it as media player as well.

But at it's stock FW (or using just WDLXTV but leaving extra application packs uninstalled or unused) WDTV is like a Zune HD... but it actually works. (WDTV was out way before Tegra 650 and despite that it still had 1080p support.)

If you don't either install all the extra Linux stuff or choose not use them, it's like using a DVD player. Even a trained monkey can use WDTV via provided GUI. WDLXTV keeps GUI unchanged. Except it does replace background image for something a bit prettier than stock and add capability for loading any user-selected image as background (just name it specifically and place it in root dir of some attached storage device during boot), and minor stuff like that.

I have not, and probably will not use advanced features of hacked firmware, I just customized my theme to have anime characters in it.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:32 am 
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whiic wrote:
"I need something that will be able to use linux easy probably"
Well, this thread was about WDTV (and to a lesser extent other devices with same purpose).

"a netbook using Tegra 650 that from my knowledge is not available for now"
Why bring up a product that does not exist as an alternative to WDTV?

Tegra-based devices do deserve attention but they're so different, especially the netbook type devices with regular keyboard (versus those devices that look more like an iPod than a computer), that they deserve a separate thread.


Sorry to bring Tegra in your thread this will be my last post here.
This category is Green Computing I was thinking that Tegra is more of a computer than WDTV that seems more of an AV player.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:28 pm 
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Sorry for being late to the party but I just stumbled upon this thread and throught I might offer some information...

I have a WDTV running the WDLXTV firmware, I did some power consumption testing recently.

During Boot:
Min 300ma (3.60w)
Max 490ma (5.88w)

Standby:
440ma +/- 10ma (5.28w)

Idle/Screensaver:
460ma +/- 10ma (5.4 - 5.6w)

672x272 XVID, MP3 2ch AVI:
490ma +/- 10ma (5.7 - 6w)

720x304 h264, AC3 6ch MP4:
490ma +/- 10ma (5.7 - 6w)

1280x528 h264, AC3 6ch M2TS:
500ma +/- 10ma (5.8 - 6.1w)
Peak 520ma (6.2w)

1920x1080 h264, AC3 6ch M2TS:
520ma +/-20ma (6 - 6.4w)

I found it quite interesting that the difference between idle and 1080p decoding was about 80ma... less than 1w, the Standby power figure is also kinda surprising... you may as well just leave it on.

If your using a bus powered USB Drive like a WD MyPassport etc, then add another 100ma (1.2w).


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:01 am 
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Thank you for the power consumption data, bircoe.

I was aware of the fact that stand-by doesn't save electricity. I guess the idea is that it disables the HDMI interface so if you have connected WDTV to a desktop computer monitor instead of TV, the monitor goes into stand-by as there's no input to monitor. (For some sick reason normal TVs still lack the power saving feature present in computer monitors.)

Another benefit for stand-by is that it unmounts all USB storage devices (at least with WDLXTV firmware hack, not necessarily with original firmware!) so you don't have to use awful not of time browsing through the directory structures to find the safe removal icon for you storage. i.e just hit the red button on remote, remove your USB HDD.

Thus, (direct) power saving (within the device itself) is probably the smallest of the reasons to put it in stand-by.

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Antec 1200 | HX520W | Commando | Q6600 G0 @ 3.15GHz | Noctua NH-U12F | 8GB of RAM | HD 4670 (passive)
7 TB of storage: 1x 1st gen GreenPower (1TB), 1x 2nd gen GreenPower (1TB), 1x 3rd gen GreenPower (2TB), 1x 7200rpm F1, 2x 5400rpm F2 EcoGreen


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