Western Digital was one of the first storage manufacturers to enter the world of media streamers. Their latest play in the market is the WD TV Live Plus HD media player. This model attempts to provide users with all their local media, as well as thousands of videos from across the web. We have seen several similar players from Western Digital, including the WD TV HD, WD TV Mini, and the WD TV Live.

Western Digital has a vested interest in getting these devices out in the market, since users who purchase these devices are more likely to purchase Western Digital hard drives (such as the WD My Passport, My Book models, etc.). Users buy these drives in order to continually feed the content to the media device. The media player and HDD product mix support each other. In fact, it is not uncommon to see these devices sold side by side at the local Best Buy.

The most prominent differences between the WD TV Live Plus HD media player and the previous generation of WD media streamers are DVD Menu Navigation and Netflix Instant Watch capability. There are also many other desirable features on the device. The WD TV Live Plus boasts one of the broadest feature sets we have ever seen in a media streaming device, including Netflix, Youtube, Flickr, Pandora, Live365 and MediaFly, in addition to full 1080p playback in a wide variety of formats. We will be covering these advertised features and also overall compatibility in this review.

The WD TV Live Plus retails for $149.99, however can easily be found for much less (at the time of writing NewEgg has it for $119.99). At this price, the Plus is hitting the same price target as the WD TV Live  before it. The WD TV Live can now be had for $109.99 and The WD TV HD which originally retailed for $129.99 can be found for as little as $89.99. The WD TV Mini has a very limited feature set. The MSRP is $99, but it can be found for $49.99. However, the mini is almost a different class of device geared more towards portability and SD quality content.

For those looking for a high definition device, there is an effective price difference of only $30 between the lowest end device (WD TV HD) and the highest end device we are reviewing today (WD TV Live Plus HD). There is quite a bit of incentive to spend that extra $30. The bit of extra cash gets you Netflix support, Youtube, Flickr, Pandora, Network video viewing support, Windows Play to Support, DVD navigation, and extra connectivity options (component).

What's Inside the Box?
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  • adamsteinberg - Saturday, July 31, 2010 - link

    I'd like to see which files you actually used -- it'd be good to have as a reference for the rest of us. Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, August 1, 2010 - link

    Most of the streams in the test suite are available with a search on Google (such as the infamous bird scene clip from Planet Earth / NMT DVD5 Test Disc contents) . Some of them are copyrighted, and can't be made publicly available.

    Instead of releasing files selectively, we think it would be better to avoid releasing the any part of the suite to the public. That said, media streamer vendors can and do get access to the files if they find that their units are unable to playback a particular stream in our review process.
    Reply
  • jmunjr - Monday, August 2, 2010 - link

    Did they improve on the WD Live's lousy network support? There was no cataloging of media via the network, only on loccal drives connected to USB. What's the point of network support if finding media requires manually navigating the network shares? STUPID.

    Also playing any music off the network is pointless as well as you have to manually navigate and it is impossible to even shuffle music effectively without putting it all into one folder with no subfolders. STUPID.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Monday, August 2, 2010 - link

    As I said in my post. I agree and this is important for people trying to serve multiple rooms. Or people that are not computer illiterate.

    Jmunjr, I would try out twonky. It makes things alot easier.
    Reply
  • jmunjr - Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - link

    Sorry if I missed that part of the article.

    Twonky looks promising. Thanks.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Monday, August 2, 2010 - link

    I bought the WDLive for the living room. I bought Twonky to make it easier to use. The most important thing is ease of use if I'm going to deploy them threw out the house. I don't want people bugging me about how to use it.

    Really it all comes down to being able to map network shares and have the player build a library. So the next person only has a simple menu, Video, Music.

    So if you could take the to talk about ease of use, I'd really appreciate that.

    Also any media server recommendations would be great.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Monday, August 2, 2010 - link

    Hah!
    The thing I had hoped to see was a built in TV decoder, and it does not even have it!
    Why even bother with the 'TV' in the product's name, when the only thing it can do is connect to LCD or Plasma screens via HDMI?

    I mean, if it really was a TV media box, the least it should have had was a TV and radio tuner (both digital and analog) to make it somewhat interesting!

    So far it seems nothing more than a harddrive with a low quality graphics card attached to it...

    I'm happy they invent things like this, but that's not fully what the average customer needs!
    Especially not when LCD's are becoming cheap, and you can buy a 28" LCD screen for under 300, and connect it to a TV tuner AND a pc at the same time.
    In other words as a media player it succeeds, but not to replace a home theater!

    People living in studio's would really want this TV decoder function added to the HD playback ability of this device, in ONE device.

    One thing that's bothering me the most is the amount of remotes that are on an average livingroom table. One for the TV, one for the VCR, one for the DVD, one for the blueray, and one for the sattelite or cable signal decoder.

    They could have made all this in one device, leaving you with one USB port for the blueray drive to watch blueray or DVD videos, one remote for the LCD and one for this device.
    Reply
  • Modelworks - Sunday, August 8, 2010 - link

    The WD boxes and most others use a chipset originally designed for DVR , IPTV, and set top boxes for cable and satellite service. When they were designed they were designed with specific codecs and industry standards. Do not expect them to play every combination of video that exist because the ones that will not play on the box are not following the specification. One thing that a pc allows users to do is update codecs. Often those updates are not to fix problems in the codec but to allow the codec to play content that has been encoded using options that are not part of the specification. People like to try pushing codecs and often that leads to files not playing except for those that have the same version codec as the encoder.

    If you like to play with codec settings and use files that do then a pc is the only option. If you stick to established specifications then the sigma based players are as good as anything.

    De-interlacing is not a strong part of the sigma chipsets and little attention is given to it in the sdk. Part of the reason for this is it was designed with playing back content that is already de-interlaced. Only Mpeg2 is given some real attention and the file has to be in the DVD specified format .

    If WMAPRO is important for you , you can visit this site to get the custom firmware that adds support for it.
    http://b-rad.cc/1249/wdlxtv-live-0-4-2-1/#more-124...

    DTS/Dolby support varies with players. Just depends on if they wanted to play the licensing fees or not . All the current sigma chipset can decode the format fine.
    Reply
  • IcetomLT - Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - link

    Very good review!. I think now Anandtech developed best testing for media players!

    Just one ask - is it possible to include HQV PAL 1.4a DVD tests (for SD signal). Because, now your HQV test shows only player's performance for NTSC type signal in HD resolution and doesn't show how good upscaling engine is used in player and if it supports PAL cadences.
    Reply
  • kojak40 - Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - link

    I have a question. Can I see the attached storage connected the the we live TV box on my computer. I want to be able to send files to the hard drive from my computer and or android phone. If I can't do that it's a deal breaker for me. Reply

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