Sunday, August 29, 2010

WDTV Live - HD Media Player

WDTV Live! is the new entry into my home.

It is a full-HD (High-definition, 1080p) Media Player that can play most Video/Audio formats and codecs available today. My EEEBox was in this place earlier to me but EEEBox (B202) struggles to play anything more than 720p video (some frames in even 720p video also stutter if there is too much of a change from the previous frame). I really couldn't enjoy the half/full-HD videos using that. Also, I had to control my EEEBox from my mobile phone via VNC -- this did the job, but wasn't as comfortable as a TV remote. So decided to buy this player.

The choice was between XStreamer and WDTV Live! but I was convinced that I should go with WDTV Live for my needs (Why? is a different topic altogether, that I'm not touching right now).

This is how it looks:

Although small, this is a real monster. I did realize its power only after I played the full-HD (high data rate) version of Avatar (11 GB for 2 hours of video with DTS audio). It flawlessly played the full-HD movie without any glitch, while my EEEBox would hardly render a frame of it. It is connected to my home-theatre receiver via the optical digital audio connectivity (S/PDIF). It transmits the digital audio via the optical interface and the home theatre plays it well (Dolby-digital or DTS). Watching Avatar full-HD with DTS sound was a new experience at home! For those who don't have a home theatre or that doesn't support Dolby Digital or DTS, WDTV Live has a down-mixing support that converts high-end audio to Stereo.

WDTV Live uses the Sigma 8655 chipset, which gives it all its power. Btw, the most interesting thing is that it runs on Linux, but for you to enjoy a Linux node, you need to mod it to the unofficial firmware that exposes telnet. From then on, it's a whole linux box that one can play around with.

It can play media from a USB storage attached to it (no, it doesn't have built-in storage) or from a network. It supports Wired Ethernet and some fixed set of Wifi adaptors. I currently have a Linksys Wifi-adaptor, but that's not supported :(. Due to the lack of Wifi, I had to do some network-bridging to transparently connect my WDTV to my home network, so other devices also can access my WDTV and vice-versa (eg., I can remote-login into my WDTV's linux from my laptop). Media via network was the key thing to me. However, it supports only SMB (samba) based network shares (the unofficial firmwares do support other types; I'm already playing via a FTP share from my NAS).

The remote looks a bit less responsive to me. The UI looks really cool. A cold boot takes around 20-25 seconds (official firmware) and a warm boot takes less than 5 seconds (actually only the UI goes down when the device is powered off via remote).

This device has redefined my TV experience at home! Although I had Dolby Digital/DTS setup earlier, lack of full-HD was definitely a setback. Ah, that's past :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Heavy rain in Bangalore

Heavy rain lashed eastern Bangalore today noon. I was driving on the Marathahalli outer ring road then. Visibility was terribly low. My car's wiper could barely manage even at its full speed swing. I could barely see anything beyond 50 meters. Every car was crawling at 30kmph while the normal speed would be around 70-80kmph (the speed limit is 60kmph btw).

See the photoes. It was shot near Kadubeesanahalli junction, Marathahalli Outer Ring Road, Bangalore (15-Aug-2010, 2.10 pm.).

It was fun!! I've never driven earlier in such a heavy rain. It lasted at least 20 minutes like this.