The UX of DivX on my DVD or DirecTV

Wow, that title was a mouthful.

Ok, bottom line:  It sucks.

There is a term: convergence.  It basically means that I could get video on my computer and watch it on my TV or mobile device.  Specifically, it means giving my television (or connected devices) codecs and access to the internet.

First is DirecTV.  There are things I like about DirecTV.  Everytime I call about something they give me 3 months of free Showtime.  Their customer service is pretty darn good.  I recently bought the HD DVR combo from Amazon.  At first blush, it works fine.  Records and shows HD.  Woo Hoo!  No seriously, that was a big breakthrough for me.  I had two separate devices, one for HD and one for DVR.  This is WAY better.

Ok, so the first thing I did was buy a device to connect the thing to the internet.  I didn’t have an ethernet plug nearby and the device doesn’t support any WiFi built-in.  Problem:  Why the hell not?  A WiFi connection isn’t hard.  My Wii does it out of the box and that was much cheaper. It cost me an extra $100 to get this WiFi to Ethernet bridge.  That was difficult to configure, (Cisco products have the worst UI in the world.  THE WORST).

Once I got it hooked to the internet, I tried out this functionality that they have to connect to other networked devices in the WiFi network.  I have several, so this was an AWESOME idea.  I connected and it said, “Unable to access media”.  Now, I had to go to google to look it up.  What is wrong?  The community for this thing is all over the map.  I somehow lucked into it working.

So I tried to play a video.  It turns out the only codec is has is MPEG-2.  Problem:  Seriously??? MPEG-2????  Who the hell uses MPEG-2?  Can’t this thing have a codec?  There is a perfectly good DivX standard out there.  I can’t save all my videos in MPEG-2!  It would eat my hard drive up in seconds.

The user interface was awful.  No error messages, nothing.  The community is no help.  I had to find alternative solutions.  The USB port is no use, I can’t figure out how to make it do anything.  There is a SATA connection in the back.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.  I bought a SATA drive and everything. There is a small chance the SATA connection on the drive is busted, but I can’t deal with that anymore.

My DVD Player is a Philips DVP 5960.  It has DivX built in.  Yay!  It can play DivX files!  I have tried this and it works.  I plugin in my USB thumb drive and it just works.  Wonderful.  Ok, so what resolution should I use?  The DVD player can deal with HD.  480p, 1020i, it does them all.  But how in the wild world of sports can I figure out the right resolution to play a video so that it fills up the screen in 16:9 widescreen mode?  Problem:  There is literally no support I could find that made any sense.  I just tried about a dozen resolutions.  1920×1080, 1280×720, 852×480, 656×480, 720×576, 720×480, 720×406, 720×416.  They all had slightly different results.  Additionally the DVD player has a HDMI output.  I am using the HDMI output for the DirecTV, and the TV doesn’t have two inputs, so I am stuck with the 5 colored “other” kind of HD.  It’s making my head spin.  Anyway, the HDMI output enables some options in the DVD player that aren’t there for the other mode.  Problem:  Which is right?  What’s the difference?  Why isn’t this stuff explained in the manual?  What resolution works?  Why can’t my DVD have WiFi built in too?  Wouldn’t it be smart to have upgradeable software on a DVD player?

God, my head hurts from this craziness.  I have simple requirements:

  1. Watch all the Jets games.  Currently this is only possible with DirecTV Sunday Ticket.
  2. Watch anything on my TV that I can watch on my PC in HD resolution, wide-screen.
  3. Everything to be upgradeable and easy.
  4. Strong support/community
Is that too much to ask for?  Apparently, it is.
Wish:  If direcTV supported DivX, I wouldn’t bother with the DVD.  I would just figure out how to get it to recognize my PC.  Anyone know a guy who knows a guy?
UPDATE:  I asked DivX my questions on this page and got a horrible .NET error.  Nice.

Whatya think?