Hacking the Western Digital TV media player

wdtv

Western Digital recently released a media player that attaches to your TV and allows you to play HD media straight from an external USB drive to the television. With a price point of about $100, it’s strange that the device hasn’t made more of a stir in the consumer electronics market. Of course, if it exists, someone will hack it, though. Clever hardware and software hackers have already managed to get an alternative firmware running on the device, allowing for packages like a web server, RSS reader, Apple trailer viewer, and other linux-based packages. It’s good to see a device with so many software mods so early into production.

Related: OpenPogo, an alternative to Pogoplug software

Comments

  1. djsashaz says:

    Nice…. How long has the hacks been around? I’ve seen this device for a while now, but never heard there were hacks until now…. Maybe a cheaper replacement to the apple tv? what do you guys think? This would be perfect actually!

  2. savant42 says:

    These hacks have been out a good long while now. The main advantage to this is that the hacks and firmware mods have had a chance to mature and are getting really stable. These babies really shine when you add a usb ethernet card (mine was $3.99 at Fry’s) and an NFS server to host files. I can stream 1080p mkv files over my lan and thy look amazing. No DTS downcoding, though, but that feature is promised in WD’s next incarnation of the player.

    Who knows, perhaps the firmware upgrades on the new WD will enable functionality on the old models.

    You can usually find these for $99, and they are definitely worth hacking around on.

  3. PsyKotyk says:

    Just picked mine up yesterday for $84CND at BestBuy. Let the cross-compiling begin.

  4. dustin says:

    do these hacks allow for .iso? i rip all of my DVDs to .isos and put them on my 500GB external.it would be nice if i didnt have to make them .mp4 or .avi or whatever first.

  5. Tim says:

    this would be an awesome mythfrontend

  6. accousticcoupler says:

    @dustin You should be able to mount them and play them the custom firmware is a linux build

  7. turkeyhaXor says:

    Looks like a cheap alternative to an apple TV. I would like to see ethernet/lan functionality though.

    @savant42, when you added the usb ethernet card, was that on hacked firmware?

  8. maddhat says:

    Found this one of the first few days it hit shelves and tore it apart with a friend. I’ve got pictures on my blog of the teardown for anyone interested in the hardware (it hit engadget a ways back so you may remember it). I haven’t yet but I’d like to at least replace the thermal paste on it. http://maddhat.com/?p=31

  9. nebulous says:

    I love my Popcorn Hour. I’m not running any hacks on it, but why would I? It’s fairly quiet, it scrounges around on Usenet for me, downloading what I need as soon as it’s posted, and it does 1080p HD content like a champ.

    With all that, though, the CPU is fairly taxed. Maybe a little box like this one would be nice. Sounds cheap.

  10. Sim says:

    you can mount .iso but it only plays the largest file, no menu support yet. I like mine a lot.
    You have to use the hacked firmware to run the lan.

    Like someone said it doesn’t decode dts but it is a 12 min stream-copied fix. Download Super from eRight software and xvid4psp and you can fix most errors quickly.

    A cool little trick that I don’t see posted a lot about the wdtv is that you can hit fast forward once and then hit the next button to jump 10minutes forward it works great on files that don’t have or don’t support chapters.

    I can’t wait to see more hacks for this

  11. media says:

    TViX seems to be superior to HDTV, and has also been ‘hacked’. See e.g http://www.binary-art.net and http://www.opentvix.com

    Christian M.

  12. savant42 says:

    tvix is also starting at double the cost of a wdtv.

    It’s not perfect, but for the price, it’s outta sight.

  13. Chuck says:

    As soon as it runs XBMC or Boxee, I’m sold.

  14. Alex says:

    I have

  15. Alex says:

    I flashed my WDTV and added a USB ethernet cable.
    Now I’m thinking about connect my Arduino to it so it would open it to many new possibilities.

  16. ed says:

    could a bluetooth dongle be added to this for wireless music capabilities or even connectivity for bluetooth devices like cell phones?

  17. Joey says:

    http://b-rad.cc/1017/wdlxtv-enhanced-wdtv-firmware-0-5-8 here is all the info u guys need have funn with this firm ware u can play ISO’S no problems

  18. Hi, nice post.. but can you help me add ur site in my RSS reader?? I cant get it done :(

  19. Driv3r says:

    I need something like this where I can put all my DIVX and Xvid videos on and rips of all my DVDs and maybe any video and then hook it to any TV with composite Red white yellow plugs and then sit back, hit play and enjoy. maybe ill cannabalize my iPod video for the HDD im replacing it anyways b/c I want a solid state ipod. but 30 gigs isnt gonna last long might have to find a bigger drive. the only other thing id add id a dvd reader drive so I can maybe use this to rip DVDs straight to the unit.

  20. Nancy says:

    need to know if you can use a laptop as the external hard drive and is there a hack

  21. Karl Wagner says:

    Anyone know if with this hacked firmware the device can play video streams from the Internet?
    For example, will it play shoutcast Video streams, or RSS links with video links like XviD, mp4 links, etc?

    Thanks

  22. Karl Wagner says:

    To be more specific, what I’m really looking for is to be able to play LIVE TV feeds on this device.

  23. Randy says:

    Do any of the firm ware hacks allow the ability to play the .DVR-MS file type used by Windows Media Center for recorded TV?

  24. Daryl says:

    hAS ANYONE FIGURED OUT A WAY TO USE THIS DEVICE AS A SLINGCATCHER??

  25. Pat says:

    How about the subtitles? Any changes?

  26. GZ says:

    This is for sale at 1saleaday.com for $45 to the door. It’s a refurb.

    Model is: WDAVN00BN

  27. tweedybird says:

    Does anybody know if there is an ipod hack for this yet? or if that is even possible? i want to try and hook up my ipod through the usb and play music through it like a music dock for parties.

  28. Malik says:

    is this software good for latest (2012) WD live tv streaming media player ?? or any other software hack is available ??

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