Looking to buy a HD Media Player. There seem to be a bunch of options right at the $100 price point.
- the ability to play files from USB media (thumb drive or HDD)
- play regular Divx/xvid files
- play as wide range of HD media files as possible (MKV, ts, etc)
- playing ISO or video_ts directly would be very desirable - with menu support
- a reliable device - able to rewind, fastforward, etc, without much crashing
- network abilities optional. device would NOT be accessible via wired ethernet, but the ability to add a wireless networking device would be nice, but not worth much extra $ to me. Streaming Netflix, etc, or from another computer would be nice, but again, not worth much extra $ to me.
The options I've come across:
Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player
ASUS O!Play - TV HD Media Player
Seagate FreeAgent Theater+1080P HD Media Player STCEA201-RK
Noah Company MediaGate MG-M2TVD
Are there more worth considering?
By sheer number of threads, it appears that the WD is very popular.
What's your favorite? What do you think would meet my criteria best? Any good comparison page or chart posted anywhere?
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The first Media Player I bought was the WDTV first generation player. I was not thrilled with the quality of the firmware updates (had to revert to an older FW version because the new one would not recognise my thumb drive). Plus the remote is very small with limited functions. A couple of weeks ago I bought the Cinematube BV-5005HD and love it. I play portable Hard drives and thumb drives with this. I have played ISO's and the remote does have a DVD Menu button (works great). I also have the USB WIFI stick that they sell on Brite-View's website. This also works well. Like I said, I have the original WDTV player and am much happier with the Cinematube player.
I have the WD and the Seagate. Bought the WD first but in spite of the fact that it played everything thrown at it, it was short on features and even now could use a complete re-write of the firmware just to fix the bugs.
The Seagate was next and was a vast improvement feature wise over the WD. The new 1.45 firmware improved this device even more but it is also in need of a re-write. I was surprised that large companies like Seagate and WD couldn't find adaquate Linux software designers. For example the previous software would allow you to mute the volume from the remote but it wouldn't allow you to turn the volume back on without pulling the plug on the unit. It also had the ability to adjust the volume from the remote. The new firmware fixed the mute problem but now the unit volume control only has 2 levels of volume ...volume or no volume.
However, both units will do what my dvd players or PS3 wont do.... at least play NTFS hard disks with Hi def files (.ts .m2ts or MKV) without any problems.
If you can afford to spend a few more dollars, the AC Ryan Play On HD is well worth considering. It plays most file formats flawlessly, it does 1080p at 24 fps, plays DVD ISO's with full menu support, and will play main features on BD-ISO's. I had one for a few months now, very happy with it.
BTW, I posted some of the shortcoming and quirks of the WDTV Live here:
I have a first generation WD TV player (NOT the Live player that came out later) and I've been thrilled about it. However, I do NOT play ISOs from it. I did a test once just for the heck of it. If you have a lot of DVD ISOs to play, it would not seem to be your best choice. It defaults to playing the main movie and I don't know if it's even possible to access the main menu via an ISO. It can fast forward and reverse without crashing, play MKVs and Divx fine. Do note that the WD players do not support high def audio from BluRay rips - no Dolby Lossless, no DTS-HD. It's unclear if these will ever be supported as I don't know if the chipset is capable of playing them or not.
Thanks for the input re: software.
In spite of what I said, I do like both units but it is the little nagging things that make me wonder about all the different brands. Seems like they use the same chipset so what ever software each brand chooses would make them different and both the units I have still need new software just to bring them up to the standard you would normally find in a commercial electronics product.
Right now the Seagate forum is quite active re: the software changes and there are posts on how to write your own.
There are even requests on the site for firmware Beta testers. If Seagate starts introducing new software every 30 days, like Beta software in general, they could more than likely fix all the little things. For example,when I contacted support they knew about the problem with the second line of SRTs falling off the screen but didn't have a fix for it and it wasn't included in the new software. It's been a long time since I've had that problem with anything including $20 DVD players from who knows where.
Yeah, I like the WDTV Live too. Most of the problems I listed don't concern me. I don't need DVD menus, I don't have many MP4 files, I don't use playlists, etc. But prospective buyers should be made aware of them. Some of the problems will be show stoppers for some users.
There are basically two manufacturers of chipsets for these devices: Sigma and RealTek. Most OEMs appear to be using minor variations of the Linux based reference software. They aren't fixing bugs or making UI changes -- they're sitting around waiting for Sigma or RealTek to release updates.
I use the Seagate as it came with a 500 gig HD & only cost $99. It supports closed-captions & subtitles are continued automatically if you use a second file.
Do you know what chipsets the Seagate and WD use? They do seem very similar.
From what I've read the Seagate FreeAgent Theater HD is based on the Realtek 1037. The WDTV Live is based on the Sigma 8655.
Something Sony, of course.
I have a WD TV LIVE and an Asus o!play R3 (both are US street price about $100, the older oplay R1 is street $75). they are both connected to my server with about 10TB of different format and bitrate films. I also use playon on the server to the WD and Asus for netflix and HULU.
I do not think you would go very wrong with either WD Live or Asus R3. Both have minor quirks but both are quite functional.
Be aware that when people say the WD doesn't use DVD menu, this is not only about seeing the DVD's menu, but about all info in the .ifo. That means if you have a DVD structure file (the most common video format on earth), in either video_Ts or .iso, the WD will also not recognize forced subtitles or chapter marks which are in the ifo. A third problem exists with WD and ifo if you have simple rips of episodic (typically TV show) DVDs, in that they won't play in order without some fairly simple but somewhat time consuming editing of files before hand to pull out and separately save episodes.
WD live hands down. Does 1080p sup/idx display in mkv files, plays just about anything and is tweakable. Downside is that it does not play back wma lossless (not a deal breaker for me). It also has a awesome homebrew community that adds all kinds of features like bitrate display, ext3 mounting, cdrom drive mounting, usb hub support and a wider support for wireless adaptors. http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?PHPSESSID=27745a06b29e53279bbdd08675a5f6f9&topic=4938.0 Oh yeah if your screen goes 'blank' your player didnt die , it just defaulted to composite out (yellow cable) after a firmware upgrade.if all else fails read the manual
that is quite the extensive forum dedicated to the WDTV! However the WDTV Live + a wireless adaptor (I have no wired access in my living room) is the costliest solution. The Asus, Cinematube and Seagate models all include an ethernet port at the $100 pricepoint, not the $119 the WDTV Live is at. In fact, I can get a CinemaTube with the dedicated Wireless-N adaptor - both for $119. I seems that most of these devices all use the same 2 chipsets, and thus play the same files. While the case for the WD's does seem strong because of the community, most of the posts above seem to indicate that the others are just as good or better. Playing ISO or video_ts folders with menus would be a nice feature to have too... Hmm....
Previously in this thread Jagabo in response to one of my questions mentioned that these devices used 2 basic chipsets.
When I went to the Fat+ site there was ample discussion re: the different versions of the Realtek chip used by different brands. The 1073 chip he mentioned has about 6 versions with varying capabilities and prices.
So that is something to think about when comparing brands. What chip version do they use?
Another thing to think about is firmware updates. WD updates periodically. Seagate is constantly updating. I've updated both my players (WD and Seagate) and have found the updates make quite a bit of difference on how the units function. I don't know how often the other brands update their firmware or if they even do, but the firmware is a big part of these products.
Last edited by cal_tony; 13th Apr 2010 at 17:00.
Here's some of the chipset information I've found:
Asus O!Play: Realtek 1073
Asus O!Play HDR-R3: Realtek 1073DD
Boxee Box (Asus): Nvidia Tegra 2 (Arm Cortex A9 + Nvidia graphics)
Brite-View BV-5005HD: Realtek 1073DD
Measy E8HD: RealTek RGD1073
MediaGate MG-M2TVD: ??? Realtek 1073 ???
Patriot Box Office: Realtek 1073
Popbox: Sigma 8643
Popcorn Hour C-200: Sigma 8635
Seagate FreeAgent Theater+: Realtek 1073
WDTV: Sigma 8635
WDTV 2: Sigma 8655
WDTV Live: Sigma 8655
Xtreamer: RealTek 128X (modified Realtek RTD1283)
Thanks for the expansion.
And I will be waiting for the Boxee Box.
Yes, iboum.com is a good starting point.