Well what can I say… apparently nothing new since this is happening to almost EVERYONE. I have an AppleTV and was very happy with it using XBMC, but it has one fatal flaw - it doesn’t play HD very well at all. If I wanted to stick with SD files I would be fine, but with a 50" plasma, I just couldn’t settle. Besides, I was getting tired of having to noodle around with patches and so forth and thought I would just buy something that handles it all right out of the box. So I figured forget patches and hacks and get something that just works out of the box, with no hassles.
The day I bought my WDTV Live (less than a week ago) I plugged it in and it immediately detected a new firmware update. I ran it and it rebooted fine. It was a bit slower than I had hoped but that’s not a big deal.
Today, after a fairly busy day at work I was really looking forward to getting home and watching my videos to wind down after a stressful day. Feeling happy that I wouldn’t have to mess around with conversions etc. to watch a nice HD stream, I sat down and turned on the WDTV.
POP! Another firmware update! GREAT! I thought! Looks like WD is really responsive with their product, and are rolling out updates fairly consistently. It seemed pretty encouraging, since although the WDTV Live HD plays HD very well, it’s rather lean on the usability features (despite the clean interface) and I was looking forward to putting in some feature requests that would hopefully be implemented.
For example, it would be handy to be able to skip ahead by 30 seconds etc. Another nice feature would be to be able to change the volume with up and down. My TV volume doesn’t control the stream passing through, so I have to get up and adjust my sound system. I also thought it was kind of dumb to have a file manager that couldn’t move files between two different sources - what’s the point if you’re just moving a file around in the same directory? Most people want to be able to transfer files from a SOURCE to a DESTINATION!! (XBMC has a lot of great usability features by the way)
Lest I digress, I’ll get back to the point (which really should be how great the show I WANTED to watch was, but I guess that will have to wait). In confidence and optimism I immediately fired up the firmware update. I patiently waited while it downloaded and did it’s slow install, figuring it would be worth it and then get on with my show. I went to check my email and came back to the blue screen with the WD logo on it, frozen.
The remote was unresponsive and it just sat there about a half an hour. I remembered last time it took a while, so I waited a bit longer, but finally after about 40 minutes I gave up, and cycled the power, hoping that it was just a reboot cycle issue and that turning it off would resolve it. NOPE!
So now I have this nice multilingual screen that tells me to insert a USB drive with firmware to recover the device. I download the firmware and put it on 4 different USB drives. Tried reformatting them all using FAT32 and still nothing. Sure, the USB drive’s light blinks and such for a moment but then nothing. I have no idea if this means it’s actually running invisibly in the background, or it’s just sniffed at it and walked away.
I tried calling WD support, but apparently they don’t like to be in the office when people are at home watching their media - in the evening. I guess we are supposed to call in from work during the day when we aren’t in front of our TV and magically fix it while away from the house?!? There should be a 24 hour support line, or at least something until say, 11pm for us regular “day walker” people who have day jobs to pay for these products that we use when we are AT HOME AFTER WORK HOURS.
it’s now been a good 3 hours of goofing around with this thing and all I have to show for it is a strong desire to restock this thing and buy the ASUS O!Play, which just happens to be on sale for $40 less than I paid for this device, more than enough savings to cover my restocking fee, which I will probably be able to get them to waive, since as far as I’m concerned this is a DEFECTIVE PRODUCT.
Now in WD’s defence, I can say that they couldn’t know that this would happen to so many people, but it shows a lack of testing, and in any case, their site should have a firmware restore kit easily found on their site. There is plenty of info on how to install a WORKING firmware update on a WORKING WDTV Live, but ZERO on how to RECOVER a bricked one, which might be a an entirely difference process. There should be a nice big fat download right there with the whole shebang, maybe even an ISO or a utility to properly format the stick itself and put the recovery files on it for you.
How’s this for an idea: with each WDTV Live sold, they should include a locked USB stick that will recover a toasted machine to factory defaults regardless of what happened. Then if something goes wrong, at least the user isn’t screwed or feeling burned.
So as far as I’m concerned WD, you have until I get home from work tomorrow to deliver a working solution that doesn’t require me to RMA your product. If I have to send it back anywhere, it will be to the store where I bought it, and I will come home the SAME DAY with a WORKING PRODUCT, rather than wait X days for something that will MAYBE work ok once again.
Honestly WD, I am genuinely rooting for you to deliver, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought your product, but I have to say I’m not too impressed with this experience at all.