Western Digital WD TV Live Plus Review

Western Digital WD TV Live Plus Review

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.


Like the rest of the field, the Western Digital WD TV Live Plus features HDMI, digital and analog audio outputs, and composite and component video outputs.

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.

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AlNatural

Looks like a cool product

Go Natural

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jonathan200

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jimcurtis89

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jimcurtis89

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jimcurtis89

Excellent post , it helped me decide between these three products. thank you very much!

 

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jamevay

Wouldnt' any USB 2.0 wi-fi adapter work?

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FamousBlue

The only thing which is a bit annoying is their menu system - a bit cumbersome to navigate. I use dedicated iPhone application to control the device (i think developed by 3rd party developers - www.wdtvremote.com) - otherwise it just takes ages to find what you want to play... Otherwise - I just love the device. It plays all my media formats, substitles, etc.

 

 

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rcolbeck

I'm still waiting for these media players to start supporting CLOSED CAPTIONING from recorded TV and DVDs that does not have subtitles.

HDMI prevents Closed Captioning code (line 21) to be passed through to the TV to be decoded, so hence Set-Top Boxes such as Motorola, etc HAS to capture the CC code and convert it to bitmap overlay so it can be embedded with the video through HDMI.

We need media players (receivers) to do the same!!! There's a large market of deaf and hard of hearing customers. As well these with hearing loss later in life.

Otherwise, we need to keep advocating www.hdmi.org to allow CC to be passed through HDMI cable.

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Colt725

Attention WD TV Live Users,

We are pleased to offer prerelease WD TV product updates to make your
viewing experience better than ever.  We are limiting this to the first
few hundred people who download it.  Feel free to install it, but be
aware this is beta firmware that we are still testing, so use it at your
own risk.

Please post your experiences to this thread.  Do not contact customer
support for issues found with this firmware.

 http://www.wdc.com/wdtvlive_prerelease/

http://community.wdc.com/t5/Firmware/WD-TV-Live-Firmware-Version-103-22-Pre-release-Update-6-9-10/td-p/27362

/www.wdc.com/wdtvlive_prerelease/

 looks like this is included in the upgrade...:

What's new:

  • DVD navigation support.
  • Mediafly network service.
  • .mov chapter support.
  • Wireless adaptor support for ASUS USB-N13.
  • Security when mounting a network share on password
    protected local drives.
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stradric

I use PlayOn to get Netflix and Hulu on my WDTV Live.  It installs on your media server and then shows up as an additional media server on the WDTV.  It works fairly well.  Definitely a viable alternative to buying a new unit.

I'm reasonably happy with my WDTV Live.  For the price, it's a good unit.  But it's certainly not without its problems.  I'm not too confident with WD's software.  Frequently their firmware updates mess things up.  Only until recently did they fix a very common bug where MP4 with AAC audio would go out of sync almost immediately.  Aside from that, the interface is not too friendly or responsive.  And it generally seems like everything is hard-coded cheaply instead of writing extensible, high-quality code .  But hey, at around $100, what can you expect.  It does play 1080p video after all.  I think even my dual core laptop would have trouble with that.

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samduhman

 Seagate Freeagent Theater+ HD vs this WD media player which is the better option?

Perfect timing! This is exactly what I was looking for the bedroom TV. I have a Acer Revo 3610 mini HTPC for my big screen and it spoiled me. I now want ISO and Netflix playback in the bedroom but not spend $300. The only reasonable option I could find under $200 was the Seagate Freeagent Theater Plus HD media player

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igoka

Roku plays Netflix and cost just 80 bucks .

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samduhman

Roku sounds to good to be true. Does it do 1080P and play ISO formats?

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lancethepants

Let me be the first to gnash my teeth.  I just barely read the artilce thinking that it was a firmware update they had released.  It wasn't until I look agian the I see it's call the WDTV live PLUS.  What the crap is up with that?  I purchased the orignal wdtv, then the live version, but this is enough. I've only owned the live for a couple months and they pull this on me?  I bet this new box is excatly the same just with a different firmware (unless it's an onboard space limitation, but whatever).  Talk about screwing your loyal customers.  Atleast from the original to the live version is was a substantial upgrade, not just firmware, but  in the hardware. 

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stradric

Ya, I'm right there with you.  I've only owned my WDTV Live for around 6 months.  Already they have a new unit?  What kind of support can I expect to get out of my WDTV Live?  Even when it was top dog in their lineup the support was kind of shoddy.  Only what?  3 firmware updates?  They haven't even addressed all the issues yet.

My suggestion would be to wait for the Google TV box that Logitech is putting out later this year.  Logitech makes quality products.  And this one is high profile so it's likely to get the full support of Logitech's best people.  Plus it's backed by Google.  You know the interface is going to be hot.  Also, it's going to be able to be controlled by your phone, which means you get keyboard input.  No more using the remote to select individual letters.  Boy what a pain that is, eh?

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