Dear Western Digital,
It’s been a long day and I’m very tired, but before I go to bed this evening, I wanted to take the time to congratulate you for having built what is truly the worst piece of consumer electronics I have ever used – the WD TV Live Media Player. Not only is it the worst device I have ever used, you have managed to create something that has sucked countless hours, even days of my life away from me, in the quest to ‘just get that one thing working’. And in so doing I have been robbed (admittedly because of my own persistence) of precious time with my children, my wife, and my friends, time that I will never get back.
But first, a bit about me. I am in my thirties with a masters degree, gainfully employed and happily married with two beautiful children. I have enjoyed working and tinkering with computers and consumer electronics since the mid-1980s, and while not overly technical, I pride myself on a general ability to ‘sort out’ software and hardware issues with electronics, be they my own, or those of friends and family.
As such, I wasn’t too worried when your device failed to detect my ethernet connection when I first plugged it in. I tinkered with the manual settings and achieved success, and eventually auto-detection began working sporadically (I never could figure out why). When it failed to find my NAS – no worries! – I tinkered some more, and eventually by disabling my windows server and setting up a linux server, somehow was able to start streaming files to the device. I never could figure out how to get digital audio for my Vudu or Netflix accounts out of the s/pidf port, but hey, stereo is OK too I guess. The intermittent network conflicts with my Squeezebox and my wife’s iPad were annoying, but it wasn’t that big a deal to reset things from time to time. And when the audio from locally stored home video was horribly out of sync, hey, I recorded it myself so really, I knew what everyone was saying anyway.
Even the constant resetting and loss of accounts, and rebuilding of media libraries wasn’t that bad – I did it so many times that I got to the point that I could set everything up in a half hour or so – although by then guests tended to have lost interest. Bleary eyed, I have trawled your support forums and the internet for countless hours late at night, seeking solutions for all sorts of issues this device had. I could go on and on about the ways in which this device has sucked my life away over the past year, but what I really wanted to share was about the firmware update process. It really is ingenious – every update a tantalizing promise of a fix for one or more unremedied problems, and yet invariably the creation of several new ones that sent me back to the support forums seeking new answers. The wave of joy I rode after each successful update was amazing, only followed more spectacularly by my crash into depression upon the discovery of even more problems. But finally, I came to version 1.11.14. I tried to download it so many times, and each time got so tantalizingly close – 93% – that I thought surely I was meant to have it. But it was not to be, and I never was able to overcome the ‘network connection error’, despite seventeen attempts, interspersed with hard and soft resets, manual attempts, and everything else your support forum suggested.
So why am I writing all this to you? Well, as I said in the beginning, I am amazed at how poorly this device works, but even moreso at how such a device could be so engrossing as to consume a fully grown and reasonably intelligent man for so many hours with such futility. But more importantly, I wanted to provide you with the picture below to let you know that I did in fact determine a way to gain satisfaction from your device. I will admit it is a bit unconventional, but it is amazing how cathartic taking it down to my garage has been, and carefully smashing it to smithereens.
Now I don’t want other consumers to be deprived of the joy of owning such an amazing device, so I hope you don’t mind that I plan to let others know about it. And no, there’s no need to thank me – the simple act of destroying the thing that has tortured me for so long has already provided me enough pleasure. To be sure, my victory is somewhat Pyrrhic, but at least I can rest comfortably knowing that it’s all over now.