Review: WD TV Mini Player

Western Digital WD TV Mini Media Player Model WDBAAL0000NBK-NESN

Recently, for a limited time, Newegg offered the Western Digital TV Mini Media Player for $40 including shipping. It is currently listed for $59.99.

The Mini is the little brother of the WD TV and the WD TV Live. The basic differences between the three is that the Mini is SD, and the WD TV Live includes networking capability.

The device has its pros and cons. It is very small, and can playback media from any USB drive formatted to FAT, FAT32, NTFS, or HFS. This makes it useful as a portable device, although the slightly larger WD TV and TV Live have much more functionality. The maximum resolution is 720 x 480 for most files. It doesn’t support MKV or H264 either. But it does support XviD, OGG, etc and a variety of other common formats.

It can playback not only video, but music and pictures.

This weekend, we field-tested it. It was able to playback everything within its defined parameters that we threw at it, including two movies, several Revision3 shows, and some audio podcasts.

Ultimately, this device is not something we’d have in our house. Quite franky we don’t need it. But it is a great device, for the price we paid, to stick in a bag and use to playback your digital media at whatever place you happen to be with a minimum of fuss. Reading reviews, two popular uses are to playback ripped movies and to hook into a car entertainment system.

We hope, however, that firmware updates bring additional features to this device in the future. Although we are not holding our breath.

Blu-Ray on Linux – Part 2

Blu-Ray Disc logo
Image via Wikipedia

After a lot of consideration between a dedicated hardware blu-ray player and a blu-ray drive, we prepared to take advantage of Newegg’s $49.99 Blu-Ray drive.

At the last minute, we changed to a $129.99 Blu-Ray burner, so we can experiment with blu-ray burning as well as play-back under Linux.

We installed it in a secondary computer, as opposed to our production system, and installed the MakeMKV beta for Linux. It compiled without incident, and was able to rip our test Blu-Ray video to a test drive.

Now, we want to emphasize this very clearly. WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF DISTRIBUTING ANY ILLEGAL VIDEO. Our intention is to be able to exercise our fair use and playback our legally purchased or legally rented videos.

It is a pain in the butt to have to spend this time ripping the Blu-Ray before we can play it. But that is the price we pay for our open-source lifestyle choice.

We figure, for our legally owned(not rented) Blu-Rays, we have two options.

  1. Rip the Blu-Ray, watch it, then delete the working files. This seems to make sense, as a single movie rip is taking up 30GB on a drive. How many of those is it worth storing.
  2. Do above, but create a lower-quality archival copy that can fit on a single DVD. Our first blu-ray came with a digital copy on a separate DVD that can only be played under Windows, so we might as well discard that disc and replace it with our on archival DVD.

Either of these, again, involve a fair amount of preprocessing and working space, however. In the meantime, however, we have a new movie to watch.