Western Digital WD TV Live
HDD media player revamped with networking
Review We liked the first version of Western Digital's WD TV box. It was released in December 2008, barely nine months ago, but WD has already rolled out its successor.
Western Digital's WD TV Live: now with networking on board...
There's no substantial change to the functionality: WD TV - now called the WD TV Live - is a compact media player that has no storage of its own. Instead, you use its two USB ports to connect external hard drives, cameras and the like, and the WD TV will cast their contents onto your telly.
As before, the box has an HDMI 1.3 port and a composite-video output, though this time the three RCA jacks - yellow, red and white - have been replaced by a 3.5mm headphone-style jack that's converted to RCA by the bundled cable. WD TV uses the same mechanism to provide component-video support, which is new to this edition.
The big change, however, is the addition of an Ethernet port and tweaks to the firmware to allow you to access folders shared on your network. WD really should have built Wi-Fi in too, but it would rather sell you an optional USB wireless adaptor. Maybe that makes sense to WD's North American design team, but few folk in the UK have Cat 5 cabling on tap. WLANs, on the other hand, proliferate, and WD really should have integrated it into the box.
For a moment, we thought it had. The WD TV's Sony XMB-inspired UI contains a "Wireless Favourites" panel with in its Settings area, allowing the box to remember five separate WLANs' SSIDs and passwords. But no, this is only used if you have said wireless adaptor.
...but not wireless
Remembering multiple WLANs makes sharing content with chums child's play. Hook up your hard drive, connect your friend's, and WD TV's file management facility will let you select music, movie or photo files en masse and copy them from one storage medium to another. It's no drag-and-drop, but it's not particularly hard to do with the unit's small, nice remote.
@John Latham, Citizen Kaned and Paul 25
"Don't miss the WiFi. Wireless is too unreliable for video streaming, at least in my house."
Seconded that sir - WD would only be setting themselves up for a fail if they sold it on wi-fi ability. I cabled this joint a long time ago after abysmal wi-fi performance - even on 802.11n. Especially HD stuff which now streams merrily to my PS3 (seconded Citizen Kaned!)
Paul 25 - a PS3 also has an iPlayer client built in. Not stellar yet, but that's Sony's way - release something half-assed and improve upon it. I'm almost pleased with that approach...
WiFi ain't mandatory anymore. It rarely works with HD content...
Given the difficulty of having a fast and stable WiFi connections -totally necessary for high bitrate content as HD- since there are so many devices that will interrupt them a lot of people is heading towards PLC -name it Homeplug- which is a lot more stable and has reached speeds of 200Mbps with the standard Homeplug A/V.
Why force customers to pay extra for WiFi when I'm most sure many won't need it? Many mediaplayer manufactures are going the same path and I don't blame them. If anything I will change ethernet ports to gigabit instead which is a lot cheaper to implement since you don't need another interface and since its cost has come down tremendously lately.
I've been a sysadmin for the last 10 years and have seen many standards and until WiFi n is a complete market standard and prices come down for adapters wireless makes no sense for home or office. Only when mobility comes into account.
After looking at the WD and various other players I eventually went for an Asus O!Play, which seems to be working out OK. It's only 80 quid, has more-or-less the same connections on the back, doesn't have a fan, never gets hot, has SATA, network and USB ports, and has played virtually everything I've thrown at it. OK, the menus don't look nearly as attractive as the ones shown here, but I'm just wondering if anyone here can say the WD is worth the extra money as I'm planning on buying another O!play.
@Tony Smith Re GPL
Point taken. But my point still stands. The companies making this stuff should be encouraging communities around their products, not trying their hardest to snuff them out.
Still a fail IMHO
@ Chris Cartledge
Gronda is talking about the fact that the box runs extremely warm even in standby, when it's not meant to be processing anything - it's annoying, and I noticed the same thing... nothing to do with the power brick or anything, it's to do with their dodgy standby mode which seems to run the processor hot, even when it shouldn't be, it's very very annoying and so forces me to switch mine off every night too.
I run my wdtv/tv/xbox from a surge protector which has a single switch to turn them all off, when I'm done I just turn them all off at the switch, and no need to jump behind the tv either cos the multi-plug thing is hidden on a shelf under the tv. My phone/router/V+ box all run off a second adapter that is on 24/7... if you want to talk about pointless power draining, the V+ box constantly spins up the hdd and runs for about an hour late in the evening and at random points in the day too, even if there's no recordings and it's in standby mode (which as we all know, isn't off, but is meant to go into low-power mode at least!)... this is every single night... which sucks!! :)
I'm updating my wdtv to the new one I think, if only for the DTS decoding (rather than passthrough to optical, as is the case on the current one)... one question though - does anybody know if that is that just sprayed plastic around the back and edge, or have they put in a decent metalic heatsink style casing?? I hope it's metalic, because sprayed plastic always feels cheap and tacky.