WD TV: Video “thumbs” rock, still needs VOB support


As promised, here is a quick review re: the best new and improved features in the latest (1.02.07) WD TV HD Media Player firmware update.

First and foremost, the addition of video thumbnails really takes the WD TV to the next level. The whole (or at least the main) point of digital video is convenience, so not being able to browse one’s movie library by DVD cover (i.e. visually) was a major let down…until now.

Getting thumbnails (.JPG files-only) to show up for self-contained video files (.MKV, for example) is easy: make sure the video file has its own folder (w/ the movie’s name, ideally) > put a .JPG image into the same folder as the video file > done.

Adding thumbnails to full DVD rips (.VOBs) requires one extra step: you must rename the .JPG file you want to use “folder.jpg” (literally, name the image file “folder” not the name of the folder) > drop “folder.jpg” into the main folder (the one that contains “AUDIO_TS” and “VIDEO_TS” folders) > done.

Now all you have to do is go into the WD TV video settings and select thumbnail view (as opposed to list view).

In addition to the new and greatly improved thumbnail support, the WD TV will now “spin down” any connected USB hard drive when you shut the WD TV (itself) off (whereas before, it would keep spinning), which is good for the life of the hard drive (and should lower power consumption). Also, subtitle support has been improved, but note: the default is to have embedded subtitles on (you can change this in the settings menu). That’s really it for now, as far as new/improved features are concerned. Oh, and supposedly overall navigation has been improved, but I never had a problem with it to begin with.

It’s a very positive sign that Western Digital appears to be listening to consumer complaints and requests. However, there are still a number of major features that could/should be added in future updates (take the poll below), including:

  • VOB (full DVD rips) support (i.e. access to root/title menus, chapter navigation, etc)
  • .MKV chapter (navigation) support
  • USB WiFi adapter support for streaming media (hacked firmware has apparently already achieved this, thus showing its possible)
  • Adding custom themes/backgrounds/screensavers support (there is a hacked OS X theme floating around, and an unofficial theme contest already out there)
  • 3rd party/universal remote support

Assuming WD continues to extend the WD TV’s capabilities (and following through on customer feedback), the digital-media-sky is the limit for this little HD box that could.

[poll id=”7″]

If you have other WD TV additions you’d like to see that haven’t been included, please leave a comment.