Editor’s Note: This review replaces our original, published on June 9, 2010, in which the device earned the same numerical verdict. Our new opinion compares the Live Plus to three other new media-streaming devices: the Roku HD XR, the Seagate GoFLex TV, and the ViewSonic NexTV VMP75. Comments about the original review have been retained.
Western Digital manufactures three similarly named media streamers, but this is the only one that supports Netflix. The WD TV Live Plus comes a very close second to ViewSonic’s VMP75, by virtue of supporting the widest array of media file formats and containers in this field, being the only box to support Windows 7’s Play To feature (more on that in a moment), and having the second-best user interface, after ViewSonic’s.
If you have a PC running Windows 7, you can use Microsoft’s Play To feature to “send” media from your PC to the WD TV Live Plus. Simply add songs or videos to the Windows Media Player 12 playlist, click the Play To button, and choose the WD TV Live Plus from the list. That media will then start playing through Western Digital’s box. You might find this a little easier than searching for the same content using the WD TV Live Plus’s user interface.
Western Digital supports just a few more media codecs than Seagate and ViewSonic (although Seagate’s is the only one that supports MJPEG). Unlike View-Sonic’s box, Western Digital doesn’t include a full web browser, but its user interface comes a close second (Seagate’s UI looks primitive by comparison).
The WD TV Live Plus offers two USB ports, so you can connect older portable hard drives that draw more power than a single USB port can deliver. Most people, however, will use one of those ports to plug in a USB Wi-Fi adapter so they can connect the media player to their network and the Internet. Western Digital supports a wide range of third-party adapters, while View-Sonic currently supports just two and Seagate expects you to purchase theirs. The Roku, as mentioned earlier, has one built in.
The WD TV Live Plus will play just about any media, but if you don’t anticipate needing support for some of the more esoteric formats and containers, the ViewSonic VMP75 is the better buy.
This review is part of a Maximum Tech media player roundup which can be found here.