VOB stutter - new hard drive needed maybe?

I need a new external hard drive anyway and am going to get one to see if it can improve the VOB stutter I’m getting with the current drive I’m using with the WD TV Live (it’s an Iomega Prestige and I do not know it’s transfer rate).  Any suggestions on what hard drive to buy?  With the WD TV Live, do I have to use a USB 2.0 and does that impose a limit of 480 Mbps transfer rate? 

No, you most definitely don’t need a “better drive” to playback VOB files without stuttering due to “slow transfer rates”. If it is stuttering it is for entirely different reasons, because even the slowest, lamest HDD can and will transfer data at an order of magnitude higher than its needed. The max bitrate peaks of audio/video combined in a DVD is around 10 Mbit/s, the speed of a 1x DVD drive; considering external HDDs can transfer around 20-30 MBytes/s, that’s at least 17x faster than required by the DVD video spec, so that’s not the problem.

If your VOB’s are stuttering there’s either something very wrong with your current HDD -as in defective- or those VOB’s are simply a bit quirky for the WDTV live, which isn’t known for its VOB reading prowess. You could try using a program like MakeMKV (freeware), which is a very simple program to use that will give you an MKV file with the same audio/video, but will probably be easier to read by the WDTV.

Thanks man.  Might be the VOB’s the Panasonic DVD burner I’ve been using for years is creating.  Problem is, I have over a thousand files, so converting them all is a drag.  I do have most in mp4 though, so I’ll give that a try and see if they still look ok in a compressed format. 

OK, so the mp4’s are rock solid and play perfectly, they just don’t look and sound as good as the VOB’s (overlooking the stuttering) and are so heavily categorized for iTunes that it creates a file folder navigation nightmare…  I’ll look at the converter you suggested and see if it can hold the quality of the VOB files and also batch process.  Or maybe I wait for stuttering issues to be resolved in the firmware?

Oh, and by the way, I did go out and buy a WD My Passport Elite, and the VOB’s were still stuttering.  You were spot on about it not being the drive.

Yes, like I said above, the WDTV live isn’t a champ when it comes to reading VOB files. Normally it isn’t so bad though, I can more or less watch a movie in VOB files, though sometimes it may skip half a second here and there. The problem is more related to the DVD structure of the source DVD, the more complex the structure (different angles, seamless branching, etc… ) the more likely there will be trouble. And ofc some ripping programs also modify the VOB files to strip angles or other languages, and may cause some problems of their own.

There’s several alternatives: if you don’t wanna reencode them you can keep them as MPEG2 video, with the program I mentioned above (makemkv), which will simply change the VOB container for MKV, keeping all the video/audio/subtitles/chapters, but only the main title. Or you can make an .ISO file with a program like ImgBurn, which is a great free CD/DVD burning program, and  it’s really easy to create DVD-video ISOs with your VOB files. Finally you could use another freeware program called DVDShrink. It’s supposed to be mostly to reencode DVD’s to make them fit in a DVD+R, but you can tell it not to reduce the quality of the video if you want, and use it just to reauthor the DVD. That will give you a simpler DVD structure, keeping just the main title, without multiangles or the other navigational mazes that usually plague DVDs, and can probably give a hard time on the WDTV.

If you wanna reencode your VOB files to a more efficient codec (like x.264) there’s several free programs too, like MeGUI or Handbrake.

Btw, if you decide to create x.264 encodes out of your DVD’s you’ll probably want to stick to the MKV container, because .mp4 is a bit buggy right now with the WDTV live, with some audio/video sync problems, though that’s likely to get fixed in a future firmware; I wouldn’t hold my breath about better VOB support though.

Yeah, re-working 1000+ files is not what I want to do, but I really appreciate the advice.  Good to know. 

It seems that after the device has been playing for awhile, the stutter reduces in frequency and length of skip.  To be honest here, I removed all the sister files to the VOB’s when I loaded…  it’s just VOB’s, no ISO’s or the other one ) BMP?). I just have them all (the VOB’s) gathered in one folder so I can just hit play and have them play in a batch.  Maybe I could add back the ISO’s?

Anyway, even with all the problems I still find this to be a pretty cool device.

The problem with the WDTV live is that apparently it ignores all the navigational info stored in the .ifo files, the ones that you erased, so not only you can’t navigate the menus etc… but the WDTV also fumbles in the VOB whenever there’s anything unusual in the timeline (like seamless branching, multiangles etc… ). It probably notices that the timeline is somehow messed up and then skips ahead to the next cell to catch up. Unfortunately that can’t be solved just by storing the files in an ISO, that only helps making things tidier; to fix it you’d need to remaster the DVD from scratch, or extract the video from the VOBs and put it in an MKV container with something like MakeMKV, though that one is in beta state and can choke on some DVDs.

With a program like DVDshrink, you can at least simplify a bit the content inside the VOBs, removing unwanted angles etc… but that will only smooth things a bit, it doesn’t fix problematic parts completely. It shouldn’t be that hard to remaster those DVDs with more comprehensive software apps and get rid of those problems for good though.

For what it’s worth, I had to create a few new files and made D1 mp4’s this time.  They work flawlessly.