Computers & Electronics

Patriot Box Office vs Asus O!Play vs WDTV Live

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  • Dec 24th, 2010 9:44 pm
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Aug 3, 2005
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Patriot Box Office vs Asus O!Play vs WDTV Live

I've been doing some research and I'm trying to decide which one to buy. I've read a whole bunch of reviews, a bunch of forum posts, etc.

If you have used more than one of these, please let me know your experience with each device.

Also, does anyone know if I can use these to watch TV shows on ctv.ca or thecomedynetwork.ca?
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Feb 14, 2009
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specko wrote: You should really consider getting a Popcorn Hour machine instead...

http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/
Because those are about twice as much (on sale) and really don't do much more.

I have a WDTV Live and love it so far. I have it hard wired into my LAN and stream 1080i/p stuff. For watching streaming online content with the WDTV I'm stuck with Youtube (firmware). You can run a media server (play on, TVersity) on your PC and watch a lot more content (Spike, CNN etc etc) but those both cost $$.
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Nov 7, 2006
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If I were to get one device, I'd get the Box Office because it is the most portable/convenient and cheapest. I personally have the LIVE, good player but dangling an external HDD is a big turn off for me to consider it transportable.

$99.99 after rebate @ NCIX is pretty hard to beat...presuming they still have some and you get the $30 MIR.
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May 25, 2005
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Beware the Box Office has noisy ass little cooling fan inside if noise bothers you. I personal wouldn't buy anything with small noisy fans.
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I'm still not decided between Asus or WD... I mean, the WD seems bigger in size but since I'm going to leave it on the table I don't mind, I streams video from youtube! wich is really important for me. Now will the asus be able to stream youtube oneday (if it's not already able to..)?
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lil_azn wrote: I'm still not decided between Asus or WD... I mean, the WD seems bigger in size but since I'm going to leave it on the table I don't mind, I streams video from youtube! wich is really important for me. Now will the asus be able to stream youtube oneday (if it's not already able to..)?
The O!Play is bigger in size than the WD Live. Quite a bit bigger infact (almost double i'd say). The hew HDP-R3 is supposed to have youtube capabilities, and there is a possibility that they might add youtube capabilities to the current O!Play.
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Sep 3, 2009
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kennyt18 wrote: I've been doing some research and I'm trying to decide which one to buy. I've read a whole bunch of reviews, a bunch of forum posts, etc.

If you have used more than one of these, please let me know your experience with each device.

Also, does anyone know if I can use these to watch TV shows on ctv.ca or thecomedynetwork.ca?
I've had a WDTV (not a Live) since February, and an Asus O!Play since October. No experience with the Patriot. I also have a Hantech 300, although that's being given away.

I've had all these things hooked up to a Panasonic 37" 1080p LCD (TC-37LZ85) and a Yamaha 5.1 (HTR-6130) stereo. Everything is controlled with a Harmony 659 universal remote without problem.

PC to TV connectivity doesn't matter to me, so content is on external USB drives (I've got a couple of SATA docks and 1.5TB disks). I can't talk about the networking, although from the forums, I'd say both units are having problems with Windows 7 networking authentication.

Both units show 1080p perfectly fine. I've seen some people claim that the WDTV has a better picture, but looking at the same content displayed on both units, I can't see any difference. I mean, it's digital. Maybe there are some attributes of certain TVs that I'm unaware of, or maybe it doesn't show on a 37" set. But both pictures show beautifully. I downloaded the Panasonic TV 1080p video demo, and played it using both units; both show it flawlessly.

I've got a 5.1 sound system, and I use the SPD/IF optical for both units. Again, the sound is equal. The Asus has a volume control on the native remote, unlike the WDTV, if that matters. The original WDTV could not downmix 5.1 to 2.0, while the Asus can.

Both companies are criticized for poor customer service, having release destructive firmware upgrades, and being tone-deaf to feature requests. If these things do what you want, great, but don't buy one based on a promised feature. Some features have been "one month away" on the WDTV since February.

Both units can upgrade firmware from a USB flash drive. For both units, it's also a good idea to wait a week or two for community feedback about any upgrade before flashing your unit. WD is currently in the middle of a firestorm of protest because the latest firmware bricks (ie. breaks, irreparably) units, and WD wants people to spend $30 to send them the units before shipping out replacements. Spending $30 to get a three week old $100 product fixed doesn't sit well with people, as you can imagine. And Asus recently removed one of their firmware upgrades off their site, as well, due to negative feedback.

After a few false starts, both units support subtitles, both inline (in .MKV files and DVD/VOB images) and external (.SUB and .SRT formats). Both can set the subtitle size, position, and even mess with the offset sync a bit. The Asus can change the font colour, too (white/black/green/red/blue/yellow).

Okay, with all those caveats, there is good news. Both units play both SD and HD exceptionally well. Properly encoded videos present no problems. Generally speaking, if it plays on your PC, it should play on either unit. The Asus supports more formats (especially RMVB, important for Asian content) than the WDTV, but WD supports all major formats.

Except one: ISO. That is to say, DVD rips. That was the deal breaker for me. The WDTV can play ISO content, but not menus. If you rip a 2 hour movie to an ISO, that's no problem. If you rip a DVD with 4 TV episodes, the WDTV will only see the first episode. There's no menu support.

Since one of the reasons I wanted this thing was to digitize my DVD collection to a big hard disk for video on demand, that one hurts. I finally gave up on WD every supporting it (despite numerous promises), and got the O!Play just for that. Now I'm finding that I'm using the WD less and less, now that the Asus unit is there.

The WDTV had one advantage: when playing a huge file, there's a 10 minute skip feature. Neither the Asus nor WDTV can go to a specific time. The WDTV could fast forward 2x,4x,8x, or 16x times, and also has a "skip 10 minutes" feature. The Asus had skip 2x,4x,8x,16x,32x, but no skip. As of the most recent Asus firmware (Dec 9th; I just installed it today myself), Asus has the same feature (configurable, can be set to 5/10/20/30 minutes).

Physically, the WDTV unit seems more solidly built. Conversely, the WDTV remote is toylike compared to the Asus. The WDTV has one USB port on the side and one on the back; the Asus has both on the side, and one is a combo USB/eSata.

One thing I did note is that the WDTV runs physically very hot compared to the Asus. Not a problem for me, I have the unit on a shelf system, but people who've put them inside a stereo enclosure have reported heating problems. I don't know if the WDTV Live has the same issue as the original WDTV.

Obviously, the LAN issue could be a deal breaker if it doesn't work on the Asus. But based on my experience, I'd go with the Asus. Having said that, both are good units (with caveats), and you shouldn't go wrong whichever one you choose.

That's a general comparison; if you've got any specific questions, ask away.
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Jul 27, 2009
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Campbell River
Awsome detailed review. Thankyou very much billdehaan. You made my mind.
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Dec 23, 2006
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I have the Asus.. I am not decided yet as to how much I like it. For $100 it does everything it says. It plays all my HD content without a problem even plays ISO's and VOB/IFO files. My only complaint is the speed at which it does things. It feels like I'm back using a 486. I find it annoying having to go through 4 menus to get to my network shares. Its also quite slow connecting to my PC and generating the list of files in a directory. Other than the speed I would recommend the unit.
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Nov 7, 2006
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javis wrote: I have the Asus.. I am not decided yet as to how much I like it. For $100 it does everything it says. It plays all my HD content without a problem even plays ISO's and VOB/IFO files. My only complaint is the speed at which it does things. It feels like I'm back using a 486. I find it annoying having to go through 4 menus to get to my network shares. Its also quite slow connecting to my PC and generating the list of files in a directory. Other than the speed I would recommend the unit.
I have the LIVE and I won't call it exactly quick and it gets worse from there when the 'server' is busy doing something using CPU cycles. Often, it does not detect anything when a certain computer is really busy doing something else.
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Aug 10, 2005
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I concur with mr dehaan there.

I like both units a lot, but the O!play with the 1.17N firmware is pretty good.

It's the cheaper of the two options which is another nice 'feature'.

At the end of the day, the WD might sell better due to it being more of a brand name that the people will see at Bestbuys and Futureshops.

But at this point in time, I'd recommend the O!play over the Live.

^^ Also the O!Play can at least give you stereo sound where some videos will not play with any audio at all on the WDTV Live. (It was a WMV HD video with 6 channel WMA Pro... would not play sound on the WDTV Live, down mixed to stereo on the O!Play) <--- of course this could have been fixed in a recent firmware for the WDTV Live.

I haven't tried the Patriot yet... but if the fan issue is the only thing holding you back... I'd get one anyway, according to Hardocp... if you don't install an internal drive... you can disable the fan and it will still operate fine.
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no experience on Patriot Box Office... however, after a full day research during the holiday on WDTV and O! Play (R3), I bought a O! Play base on the pros and my needs.

I bought the O! Play base on the following needs:
- built-in wifi and ethernet port
- built-in card reader, USB port
- rmvb supported
- fully spport UTF-8 folder/filename (some reviews said WDTV can't do it well)
- Linux base
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Oct 6, 2005
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specko wrote: You should really consider getting a Popcorn Hour machine instead...

http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/
The upcoming PopBox looks to be a better option - only costs 129.99.

However, PopBox, PopCorn Hour, C200 don't support RMVB if that's important to you... but on the otherhand, PopBox/PopCorn Hour is the most polished product out there.

Another option is to wait for the Boxee Box or use XBMC.

I personally have an O!Play, it's OK, a little rough around the edges.

chinesedevil wrote: The hew HDP-R3 is supposed to have youtube capabilities, and there is a possibility that they might add youtube capabilities to the current O!Play.
HDP-R3 is the SAME as the R1 but only with WiFi and a card reader.
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personally i think all of these boxes are terrible. each have horrific looking UI's. i'm waiting for the boxee box because i'm used to using xbmc/plex/etc.

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