Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WDTV Live review and troubleshooting

I got bored yesterday and bought a Western Digital TV Live network media player, to replace my weird Xbox360 bridged over a Squeeze Box media playing solution in my bedroom. To make it wireless I also had to get a Wifi dongle, namely a TP-Link 300Mbps TL-WN821N.

Problems so far:

  • HDMI -> DVI resolution issue (circumvented). My TV has DVI-in, so I used a HDMI to DVI cable to connect the WDTV box. The problem is that when I try to set the resolution (to 720p) the WDTV always fails and defaults back to 480p. So no HD...? This seems to be a known issue, but what's worse is that WD doesn't seem to want to fix it. My current solution is to use component output instead, which works fine at 720p.

  • The WDTV doesn't find my Network Share (solved). This took me all night to figure out... My Windows 2003 Server was just not showing up in the Network Share list on the WDTV box. It turned out that "NetBIOS over TCP/IP" was disabled on the Windows machine, so no fault of the WDTV. Enabling this made the server visible to the WDTV, and everything worked. For some reason this setting seems to be disabled by default in Win2k3, not sure why. To enable it, go to Network connection -> Status -> Properties -> TCP/IP Properties -> Advanced -> WINS -> Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP.

  • The WDTV sometimes loose the wifi-signal (ongoing). Sometimes, for no apparent reason, the WDTV drops the wifi connection. To get it working again I have to go to network settings, and reconnect to the wlan network. Not sure how big a problem this is going to be.

So, well, it's working but I have to use component connection and it sometimes drops the wifi signal. So what's positive?

  • Generally seems to be working well. Completely quiet, very small, but still powerful.

  • Nice looking and fast GUI, though the remote is a bit plastic.

  • Can play anything I've tried, even Full HD high bitrate MKV files over a wireless connection! (My DLink DIR-655 router reports the connection speed is about 200 MBit/s, the TP-Link dongle is doing its job.)

  • YouTube playback works well.

Missing features:

  • Spotify interface (guess I'm one of the few Spotify Premium subscribers...)

  • I'd like some better way to quickly skip ahead while playing videos... "FF" button followed by "Next" skips ahead 10 minutes, but it's not very intuiative.

  • Shuffle playback mode for videos, anyone? (Works for music, but not for videos, why??)

Bottom line... Unless the dropped wifi becomes a more serious problem, I'm generally very satisfied with my purchase. I also considered the Xtreamer, and according to most accounts they seems to be very similar. What finally made me decide on the WDTV was the fact that it, unlike the Xtreamer,  can use HFS+ formatted drives (though I haven't tried yet). And also that it was slightly cheaper and available at my local retailer (I would have had to order the Xtreamer online).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Subscribable calendar/ical generator

There are lots of subscribable calenders out there, but somehow they always seem to be missing some more obscure but still important days. For example, you wouldn't want to miss the start of Daylight saving time, or valentines day.

So I've made my own calender generator (admittedly inspired by ical.oops.se)! For now it will be most accurate for Swedish and Swiss holidays, but more will be added later. Try the subscribable calendar/ical generator here!