I'd like to add some criticism of WD's support for SSA as well as it's implementation of Advanced SSA (aka _ASS subtitles) support.
Basically, SSA support is so crude it's at the point of it being questionable whether you can even call it "support".
What's lacking is:
- Support for Styles (no colour, no fonts, no karaoke animations / fades)
- Support for Positioning (WD Live only positions at bottom of screen, ignoring instructions within the SSA file)
- Support for Concurrent Subs (if there are multiple threads of dialogue, only the most recent line will show)
If you're a fan of animé, these are quite commonly used features.
WD's SSA 'support' makes the styled subs look like basic SRT, with all the same limitations of that format.
Here are some visual examples (originals screencapped from VLC; WD Live shots photographed from TV):
In the above example, the Top image is as the file plays in VLC (although PCH and Boxee Box can apparently manage this too).
The Bottom image is as the file displays on the WD TV Live range: plain, unstyled subs displayed just a little too high up the page by default.
In the above example, you can see in the Top image that there are multiple lines of dialogue that are meant to be displayed.
The 2 visible characters are talking and then someone off-camera speaks. Their line should be stacked on top of the other dialogue. The SSA file explicitly instructs this; the Live players don't understand this instruction.
As you can see in the Bottom picture, the WD TV Live units simply erase their dialogue from screen and replace it with the new dialogue.
Often in animé, you'll have goofy dialogue in the background while another conversation continues in the foreground. On the WD Live, you get a weird, disjointed mish-mash of two conversations that is hard to follow.
Another issue shown above it the lack of fonts. Many (most?) fansubs employ embedded fonts, for better or worse (Gintama's are quite nice). They're right there in the file, the player simply needs to use them.
Yet another example:
Here we can see the Live's inability to position dialogue where the SSA file requests it.
In the Top image, you can see that the lyrics for the opening song are displayed at the top, presumably because there's no existing dialogue there.
In the Bottom image, you can see the Live ignoring this instruction and displaying the subs at the awkwardly high bottom position it defaults to. In this case, the words are illegible because there is already text hard-coded into the video stream. The SSA sub has been created to avoid this; the Live ignores the SSA standard and the end result is subs that can't be read.
Here we see use of colour, fonts and positioning, in the Top image at least.
The WD TV Live units ignore all these things, so instead of an easily readable translation at the top we get black and white text printed over a large black and white background near the bottom.
So, in summary, SSA / _ASS support on the WD TV Live, Plus and Hub is a shambles.
I believe WD have been aware of this since the launch of the Live or earlier; it's been an acknowledged issue in the Ideas Lab for a long time and I would assume people complained about this on the Gen1 / Gen2 WD TV unit as well.
If you watch a lot of subbed animé on the Live, you're going to be annoyed on a regular basis.
Any player which nails SSA subs will gain a following from the animé community. Missed opportunity.