Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WD TV the SONY HX1 best HD friend

So your puny computer has problems playing the clips from your camera.
Welcome to the club.

On my search for an affordable solution to play full HD files on the big screen I found an interesting gadget.
After learning the hard way that a media player with or without hard disk and a HDMI port does not necessary also plays  HD videos I needed to do some research on that topic.
In my case the media player enclosure did not even wanted to touch SVGA (800x600) or anything with a higher resolution. No way to ask for a down sampling or so. Just DVD resolution is the most these units want to play.

Visiting the guys at Trusted Reviews I learned about the Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player and the Popcorn Hour A110 and the brand spanking new Asus O!Play HDP-R1 HD Media Player.
The Xtreamer was mentioned in some comments and after a couple hours on the WDTV forum and the Xtreamer forum I had and idea what is possible today and what not.

We have a Media Markt here on our island and I got very confused there a couple days ago trying to understand what is the difference between a just player with a HDMI port and a player with also an HDMI port and a 500 GB hard disk and why the are costing exactly the same, why some have an antenna and others a connection to the ethernet and there are prices from 70 to way over 200 Euros - well you get the idea.
After my homework I decided for the WD TV because the Asus is to new to be here already and the popcorn hour is to exotic to be here. The Xtreamer would be 119 Euro and had to be ordered via mail.
Lucky for me the Media Markt had 3 WD TV just sitting and waiting for me and for 95 Euro I snatched one,  another one found a new home just a few minutes later.

Remember my confusion about these things a couple days ago?
I had nearly purchased a 500 GB or 1 TB SO Speaky HDMI (what a goofy name) from DANE ELEC for 119 or 149 Euros.
Well today when I snatched my WD TV the 1 TB had a new price. 99 Euro -  the 500 GB was still at 119 Euro.
For that money I got myself another 1 TB storage with a free basic media player.
Funny thing, I tried to find the codecs or resolution on the box. Nada not even on the small handbook anything.
On the drive is a handbook folder and there it states:

Hard disk fling system: FAT32
Media fles supported:
1. Subtitle: SRT, SSA, SMI
2. Audio: MP3, WMA, AAC, DTS
3. Video : MPEG1/2/MPEG4.XVID.DIVX.VCD.DVD(*.mpg;*.mpeg;*.dat;*.avi;*.vob;*.ifo)
4. Picture: JPEG, MJPEG
Memory cards supported: CF.SD.MS. MMC.XD in FAT32 or FAT16.  SDHC cards are not supported.
Output mode: Composite video, HDMI audio channels, Progressive scan video
USB port: High Speed USB 2.0
Audio Output: Analogue stereo
Video output: CVBS.HDMI .YPbPr
Picture resolution: 720*480(NTSC, YPbPr, HDMI)/720*576(PAL, YPbPr, HDMI)
Power consumption: 30W (Max)

So you see you have to dig deep to find out what these things are capable of.
I tried to find out if anybody tested one of the full HD hybrid cameras on the WD TV, but no luck.
So here for your information the WD TV HD will try to play the original video footage from the SONY HX1, the Canon SX1, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Panasonic GH1 in full HD resolution (video camera full HD in the case of the SONY).
I took the clips you see at: Movie Time - the 1080p competition HX1 vs SX1 vs GH1 vs 5DII and play them one after another in full HD resolution. The video quality on this You Tube clip is not good, but it is  just to see how well or not they are playing on the WD TV.
You will find more general info about the cameras and video clips here at the Camera Labs website. Also you can download the short clips for yourself on vimeo and compare for yourself.

The WD TV plays all 4 clips without stutter, it has just a problem with the uncompressed audio format what Canon still thinks it has to use in their videos.

Here the info if you want to compare the codecs from the cameras.

Format : MPEG-4 at 12.3 Mbps
Length : 67 MiB for 45s 545ms
Video #0 : AVC at 12.2 Mbps
Aspect : 1440 x 1080 (1.778) at 29.970 fps
Audio #0 : AAC at 128 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 48.0 KHz

Canon SX1
Format : MPEG-4 at 43.0 Mbps
Length : 194 MiB for 37s 866ms
Video #0 : AVC at 41.6 Mbps
Aspect : 1920 x 1088 (1.778) at 30.000 fps
Audio #0 : PCM at 1 411.2 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 44.1 KHz

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Format : MPEG-4 at 40.5 Mbps
Length : 139 MiB for 28s 700ms
Video #0 : AVC at 39.1 Mbps
Aspect : 1920 x 1088 (1.778) at 30.000 fps
Audio #0 : PCM at 1 411.2 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 44.1 KHz

Panasonic GH1
Format : MPEG-4 at 32.1 Mbps
Length : 145 MiB for 37s 888ms
Video #0 : AVC at 32.0 Mbps
Aspect : 1920 x 1080 (1.778) at 25.000 fps
Audio #0 : AAC at 157 Kbps
Infos : 2 channels, 48.0 KHz

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