My New WDTV Live is Defective?

I’ve been trying out a friend’s WDTV Live (both latest production and beta FW) and its been working great with my home theater - HDMI connection to my  Denon receiver which drives a Panasonic plasma.

Today I received a new WDTV Live I purchased for myself and swapped out the loaner I was testing.

RIght off the bat, I noticed whenever HDMI Deep Color is set to 12-bits on the new unit, the screen flickers every few seconds and sometimes flashes of odd-colored patterns appear. This happens both in the menu and while playing media. In addition, when the unit is put into standby, intermittent flashes of green appear on the usually black screen. I’ve tried a different HDMI cable and the behavior is the same. Updating the original FW (1.01.17) to the latest production FW did not help. Both my receiver and TV support Deep Color. The other WDTV Live doesn’t have these issues  :(

Any ideas? Have I missed something?

I purchased the defective WDTV Live from a popular web-based retailer. Would it be wise to return and purchase from another retailer assuming they got a bad lot? Or is this likely to be just a random defective unit?

Don’t set it for 12 bit color – there are no sources for it (and unlikely to ever be).  Without a 12 bit source you’ll never see any improvement.

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I just Googled a bit and you’re right, there are currently no 12-bit per color-channel (36-bit color) sources. That’s good to know.

This is a bit off to the side …

My thinking is - for an HDMI transmitter to send 12-bit color instead of 8-bit color, it needs to add at least two bytes for every pixel transmitted (36 bits minus 24 -bits = 12-bits, then you round up to 16 bits or 2 bytes). To maintain the same frame rate, the HDMI transmitter and receiver both need to run faster (at a higher clock rate, 10.2 Gbps according to Even with an 8-bit source, going into the 12-bit mode is likely causing the transmitter to run faster - and the additional 4-bits per color channel are probably padded with zeros. This implies to me the hardware in the new unit is having problems running at the higher clock rate while the loaner unit is not.

I’ve designed DVI equipment at work and have seen the “eye tests” that DVI transmitters undergo. The eye test measures how “clean” a signal the transmitter can produce under specified conditions (including different clock rates). I’m pretty sure HDMI transmitters are subject to similar tests - my guess is the new unit would fail the eye test at the higher “12-bit” clock rate (10.2 Gbps) while the loaner unit  would pass.

Well, your logic is sound.  12-bit color requires HDMI 1.3, and both Live and Live+ are HDMI 1.3.  But there’s no difference in hardware between rev’s of Lives (not Live+) that would account for that.  They both use the same Sigma chipset, and the HDMI transceiver is actually on the chip itself.  

What COULD be an issue (and this is pure speculation) is that the newer revs have a deeper standby state.  If you’re seeing flashes when it’s OFF, that’s telling.  There should be NOTHING on the HDMI.   No volts, no bits, Nada.  I guess that isn’t the case. :slight_smile:  I wonder if there’s a way of distinguishing which hardware rev is which…

I wonder if you have a faulty unit?

You make a good point Tony. The standby behavior of the new unit seems to indicate its marginal. And the loaner unit definitely does not produce any flashes on the screen while in standby.

I’m new here, but read some posts that claim the newer deep standby units display their splash screens a little differently. Not sure if that’s from power-up or standby or both.

The loaner unit’s serial number is 100111xxx from Costco. The new unit is 100100xxx and came with the older 1.01.17 (1/11/2010) FW from CompUSA. Both units have the same power-up screens so I suspect neither are the newer deep standby versions.

Oh.  Good point.  :)

If you have the NEWER rev,

when powering on from the remote:

You’ll see the BIG WD splash, a brief blank, and then the smaller WD splash.

It’s identical to if you power it on with the power cord.

The older lives would be much briefer when powering on at the remote; only the latter splash.

Thanks for detailing the power-up differences.

Interestingly, when the new unit powers up from unplugged, the transition from the big WD logo to the small WD logo displays artifacts on the screen (3 long vertical screen-high stripes, followed by some red artifacts that look like snow). It consistently does this.

In comparison, the old unit’s video makes a clean transition between the logos - the background is just a plain solid black background. I only noticed this difference because I’ve been playing with the loaner for a few weeks.

 What does it do if you use Component or Composite output?  

 What does it do if you use Component or Composite output?  


I wasn’t able to try that before packing it up. Not sure it would have made a difference either way.

I did put up a video on Youtube that shows what the screen flashes look like:

I checked for loose/sloppy connectors but to no avail. Interestingly, slightly pressing on the plastic case seems to cause the frequency of flashes to increase/change. Perhaps there’s a bad mechanical ground or other connection inside the box.