WeTek OpenELEC

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Review - Update

So this weekend I planned to work on some DVR features of this unit. That did not happen for the following reasons.

I moved the device upstairs and plugged it into my main TV which has the antenna feed. When turned on the time/date had reset to 1970 for some reason.

My local media configuration was still there, but the unit could no longer see the network shares. I checked the wireless settings and it did pull an IP, but I reset the configuration anyway to be safe.

I had to add a NTP server for time/date to update properly. I was then able to browse one of my servers, but not the other (both identical configurations). After a few minutes, the local workgroup was no longer browsable.

A reboot of the WeTek helped as it now updated the IMDB plug-in and prompted me about the Beta 3 update. The shares were still not accessible, even though I verified they were working on my laptop without issue.

By now I was too tired and half upset the box had so many issues so turned it off.

I am going to check forums to see what the feedback on the Beta 3 update is like. Maybe a clean install will fix these issues, but I hate to blow away the what seems to be a custom 5.1 install and break more than what gets fixed.

Tendak HDMI2AV

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tendak hdmi2av

This is something a little off the wall but I was so impressed with the results a short review is in order.

I do a lot of video conferencing. I have been putting standard definition Osprey video capture cards in PC's to allow the use of higher quality cameras and/or other video devices.

While upgrading to HD PTZ cameras I found out that a lot of applications will not support HD capture from anything other than webcams.

After trying many expensive HD capture cards, I was about to give up when I noticed good reviews for this device.

Tendak HDMI2AV converter promised to let me plug in my HD source on one side and output composite video on the other for $20.

No way was this going to work, but I purchased one to try anyway and guess what? It's darn near perfect.

Some reviews did mention the devices dying after a few weeks of use, so I have it doing a 12 hour burn in as I type this, but so far things work as advertised.

WeTek OpenELEC

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Review - Part 1

I got my WeTek OpenELEC box a few days ago but haven't had a lot of time to test it out.

When you plug it in for the first time a wizard starts and asks a few questions to configure the device.

The first issue that got me is it looks for your network. I knew it had wireless, but none of my access points were showing up. Turns out 'wireless' is disabled from factory. A quick check box fixes it, but you shouldn't have know how to do that outside the wizard.

Once up and running I was very impressed at the interface speed. Keep in mind my previous Kodi hardware was a hacked Apple TV 2 and a 2010 Mac Mini. I am still running the default skin but plan to test some of the more robust options.

What I liked even more is the remote. It is a custom version for OpenELEC and wow is it nice to have dedicated buttons for things like right click menus or even a 'home' button.

The second thing that caused some grief was mapping to my QNAP NAS shares. I don't know a lot about Windows other than it is a necessary evil for me to play games.

My local workgroup name has been TARDIS for years, and all my device names are somehow Dr Who related (actors, companions, etc). For whatever reason, the WeTek would not see this workgroup name.

After various attempts at different configurations I ended up having to set my NAS to 'WORKGROUP' and then all my shares were available. This is something I will revisit.

I let it pull all the meta data for my Movie library. This went MUCH faster then the ATV2, but not quite as fast as the Mac Mini.

I played a few AVI, MP4, and MKV files with no issues. Because the ATV2 is limited to 720p I don't have much content at higher resolutions. I plan to download Big Buck Bunny to test with for my follow-up review.

I like you can turn the device on/off via remote.

My WeTek shipped with OpenELEC 5.1.0 which I can not verify as an official version anywhere. Most forum posts said they were on 5.0.8, so maybe things are being tweaked as product is sent out. I was prompted to upgrade to the latest beta but am going to hold off until final release.

I did not have time to test the tuner, which was my main reason to purchase this device. Live TV and DVR functionality will be the focus of my next post.


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At a price of $35 it was hard not to buy one of Google’s latest toys, but including free Netflix for three months made it a no-brainer.

I have been very pleased with my other ‘straight from google’ devices, and the Chromecast is no different. Usability is still hindered by the lack of app support, but I expect that to change once the SDK is released.

Currently both Netflix and You Tube work perfect when launched from my Nexus 4 phone. Until the latest update, using a third party program called Fling would let the Chromecast play any supported video from your PC. Although this no longer works, Google said blocking the video playback was not on purpose. So for now, using your Chrome web browser is the only other way to get content on your TV.

Unfortunately as my Apple TV currently provides the above services, and until the SDK is available to make more apps, the Chromecast is going to patiently sit in the drawer. I have no doubt that it will eventually become my go-to device for TV media playback.


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Buying things for the new house does not leave much cash in my gadget budget. I really didn’t need to get this, but when the hype around a product is high and on release day it sells out within hours I can’t help but jump in for the ride.

Ouya markets itself as a game console, but it is really a customized android device. Because of this, unlike regular game systems, the little cube ships open from the manufacturer allowing any 3rd party software to be installed … and thus the cool factor.

Not having internet at home I was unable to get past the boot screen which was disappointing. The next day at work I logged in, downloaded all the patches, and created my user account. Ouya requires a credit card to be entered in order to continue, which I do not agree with but had to comply (too bad I misplaced my zero balance pre-paid Visa during the move).

So far I have installed XBMC, which in my opinion runs fast and was able to play back a few MP4 videos I had without issue. The other reason I wanted this device was to play classic games via emulator on a TV with a joystick, so those will be configured next.

A good community behind this device will determine its success as I don’t think it will be able to compete in the game market as intended. Time will tell, and luckily I can play along.

GoFlex Home

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While doing research on the PogoPlug, I found there were different devices that utilised the same base technology. One of these, supported by the Arch Linux Arm project, is the Seagate GoFlex Home. Staples had the 1TB version on sale for $80, which is a decent price due to the floods in Thailand causing higher drive costs right now.

I read the SATA interface would be faster then USB, and the integrated drive will save desk space. Also, with the OS booting from SATA, I can configure a nice swap file and have plenty of room to compile binaries. The main goal is to make this a Samba Server, hosting all my media files for XBMC endpoints.

I never used Arch Linux before, so I tried a standard install in VirtualBox to see how it worked. There are a few new commands to learn, but overall it runs very well. I also tested the GoFlex with Seagate’s surprisingly fast default disk sharing solution. After a few days of use I almost wasn’t going to modify the device. That changed, however, when I needed to do some remote work, at which point you fully realise the limitations without a proper OS.

Following these excellent instructions resulted in a default Arch Linux Arm install. I would point out the suggestion to make two partitions, which at first seemed unnecessary. However, if you need to start over, being able to format the OS drive without touching your data is a huge perk. The MAC address not saving and having to manually add the second partition to fstab were the only post-install issues.

Next, I went through the first steps guide to do some house keeping, and then the Samba guide which took care of my immediate sharing needs. I am very happy with the results, as the low power, near silent device sits on my desk. Time will tell if the little guy can keep up, but I have high hopes of long term success.

Apple TV

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What now seems like long ago, I hacked my Xbox to run a program called Xbox Media Center (XBMC). It allowed playback of music, pictures, video, and other media without the need of a PC, and it was awesome.

My wife likes to monopolise the living room TV, which is the main display for the majority of our media devices. Last week I broke down and picked up another second generation Apple TV for my office so I can watch Netflix. Sure there are other cheaper alternatives like Roku, or paying the $60 Gold subscription to Microsoft, but they can’t run my beloved XBMC.

XMBC is still awesome, so needless to say it’s time we “upgrade” the new ATV.

The first step is to save our SHSH info using TinyUmbrella software. This allows for the potential downgrade of firmware back to whatever was shipped from factory. This new unit was running 4.4.4 which is current for the time of this post.

After saving the SHSH info it is now time to jailbreak the device. A few different programs can accomplish this but owning a Mac I prefer using FireCore’s Seas0npass software. The latest version supports an untethered jailbreak of the 4.4.4 firmware and worked just fine.

Next, I have to SSH into the newly liberated device and install XBMC. I first made sure all the existing non-apple software was up to date, then a simple ‘apt-get install’ later and I was back to watching TV.

The last thing to do is to make sure all the new updates did not get erased by blocking auto-update from Apple. Easy enough.