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       Software playback?
    lovelove
    post Jul 5 2011, 07:50 PM
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    Hi folks. I am hesitating between purchasing the D-Link Boxee Box or the WD TV live. I have read that the Boxee Box is future-proof, because it has software playback, i.e. when a new video codec (or major new codec version) is released, it can be easily installed via software update (thanks to Intel CPU) - whereas on other players (e.g. with Sigma or Realtek CPU) this is generally not possible, because they would need a hardware upgrade.

    Is this true?
    And if so, wouldn't I be better off purchasing the Boxee Box instead?

    Many thanks for your comments.
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    post Jul 5 2011, 07:50 PM
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    WDUser
    post Jul 6 2011, 02:45 AM
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    I am not sure about the Boxee Box, and whether new codecs can be added as easily as you said. For example, here's a file with unsupported codecs, and the user was told to re-encode it. Codec support on the Live and similar players of course cannot be updated as you rightly mentioned. So if codecs on the Boxee Box can be updated and reviews are good in general, go right ahead and get one.
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    lovelove
    post Jul 18 2011, 03:15 PM
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    thank you for your reply.

    QUOTE (WDUser @ Jul 6 2011, 10:45 AM) *
    I am not sure about the Boxee Box, and whether new codecs can be added as easily as you said.

    I was not affirming it, I just said I read it. It was a forum post by a non-descript user. Not necessarily a reliable source.
    That's why I wanted to come here to get alternative views on the subject, possibly better informed.

    QUOTE
    For example, here's a file with unsupported codecs, and the user was told to re-encode it.

    However your example isn't really a fair one. The file in question was DV AVI (which is not the same as AVI). Show me any stand-alone hardware player which can play such a file.

    QUOTE
    Codec support on the Live and similar players of course cannot be updated as you rightly mentioned.

    Why not? Why is it impossible for WD TV Live to support a new codec via firmware update??

    QUOTE
    So if codecs on the Boxee Box can be updated and reviews are good in general, go right ahead and get one.

    no idea. As I said, I don't have reliable info for that.

    that's what they said over there at the boxee forum:
    http://forums.boxee.tv/showthread.php?t=38941

    QUOTE
    To the technical query, yes it is true.

    Boxee does not use a traditional system on chip like Realtek or Sigma Design's players these are low power MIPS chips (extremely weak CPU's) coupled with a chip that handles all video decoding in hardware.

    The chip Boxee uses is an x86 Atom CPU (a weak x86 CPU at that but much more powerful vs Realtek/Sigma) coupled with a PowerVR GPU and the chip has built in hardware decoders for H.264, VC-1, MPEG-2 video no different really from your typical PC.

    Boxee could update their software with additional codec support but if the format is not one of the built in ones with hardware acceleration then it falls back to the Atom CPU which is not so great but can handle stuff depending on bitrate and resolution.

    what's your take on it?
    wishful thinking?
    reality?
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    WDUser
    post Jul 19 2011, 01:09 AM
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    QUOTE (lovelove @ Jul 19 2011, 02:45 AM) *
    Why not? Why is it impossible for WD TV Live to support a new codec via firmware update??

    Thing is, the firmware that WD puts out updates the Linux-based software part of the player, but the actual audio/video decoding is done by the hardware i.e. the Sigma chip. That chip's firmware (if it can even be flashed by end-users somehow) is closed-source (naturally), plus it's digitally signed and not easy to hack. So as far as we are concerned, might as well consider it impossible.

    QUOTE (lovelove @ Jul 19 2011, 02:45 AM) *
    what's your take on it?
    wishful thinking?
    reality?

    As mentioned on the Boxee forum, it uses the PowerVR GPU's built-in hardware decoders, and could fall back to the Atom (no hardware acceleration = severe performance penalty) for newer codecs. Know what, I am not too certain that Boxee will be releasing codec updates all that frequently, if at all (not least to maximise profit by possibly releasing updated models).

    QUOTE (twistybox)
    If you don't care about a decent UI, indexing your local content and metadata and above al else want to spend the least amount of money, then don't get a Boxee Box.

    Right... Guess this guy has never seen what custom firmware for the WD TVs is capable of, including moviesheets and UI mods (some of which are absolutely brilliant), app support (torrent directly from the box!), UMSP support to stream video from various sites and so on.
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    lovelove
    post Jul 19 2011, 12:04 PM
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    QUOTE (WDUser @ Jul 19 2011, 09:09 AM) *
    Thing is, the firmware that WD puts out updates the Linux-based software part of the player, but the actual audio/video decoding is done by the hardware i.e. the Sigma chip. That chip's firmware (if it can even be flashed by end-users somehow) is closed-source (naturally), plus it's digitally signed and not easy to hack. So as far as we are concerned, might as well consider it impossible.

    I was not talking about user hacking the firmware but WD updating it.
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    Rev Drew
    post Jul 19 2011, 03:02 PM
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    WD updating the sigma chip???

    not a chance, it's a hardware chip, there is no way of updating the hardware without replacing it - I doubt that is going to happen.
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    WDUser
    post Jul 19 2011, 11:09 PM
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    QUOTE (lovelove @ Jul 19 2011, 11:34 PM) *
    I was not talking about user hacking the firmware but WD updating it.

    Look, if we're gonna speculate and talk of theoretical things, then sure, WD could possibly work with Sigma and update the chips as they pleased (provided the chips can even be flashed more than once, like I said earlier). AFAIK however, WD at present simply buys the chips ready-made from Sigma (don't think they even get 'em customised in any way, since the same chips are to be seen in various other players as well). They then slap the chips inside their boxes and voila, instant player! (Well almost, but you get the idea. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif) )

    Frankly, given how awesome WD's own firmware development and QA process is, I am very grateful indeed that the core decoding is not in their hands to be botched up with every new FW release.
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    Rev Drew
    post Jul 20 2011, 04:05 AM
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    ^ +1!!!!
    amen to that WDUser!
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    bricebrock
    post Jul 25 2011, 11:13 PM
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    Hi,

    The Boxee Box by D-Link is just about the best way to enjoy TV programmes, movies, video and music from the Internet or a hard drive, on your TV. Watch the latest programmes, play videos from nearly any website, organise your personal videos, music, and photos into cool looking libraries, and browse the Internet, all with a stunningly simple qwerty remote. I think you should go for it.
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