This is doubly a pain because the box doesn't remember you journey through the menus. Visit YouTube, and then go and listen to some music, and you'll find that when you eventually go back to the Video menu, you once again start off on Local Devices. This will irritate anyone who stores everything on a Nas box.
More sober styling this time round
That said, the list of formats the WD TV supports is extensive and here augmented with DivX - XviD has never been a problem - and our test file played just fine. We won't list them here - the More Info link at the end of the review takes you to WD's product page, which enumerates them all. Suffice it to say, all iTunes friendly formats are catered for - except DRM'd files - along with MKV, Ogg and Flac for the open source crowd, and Windows Media for Microsofties.
Connected by composite-video, the WD TV's UI is a mite fuzzy, though video and photo playback was fine. You shouldn't expect staggering quality from composite, but we have seen better - even on the Apple TV, which doesn't officially support it. HDMI and component will be fine.
Connecting the WD TV to a network allows it to check for firmware updates - several were released for the previous edition - and to sniff out aforementioned network shares and servers. It will also operate as a server too, allowing you to view content on, say, a laptop while viewing something else (or the same video) on your TV. It'll happily pick up Windows SMB shares but not AppleShare or FTP - we tried all three.
WD wanted £100 for the first WD TV. The new one is £120, but the increase is probably the result of Sterling's plunge on the exchange markets as anything. Certainly, £20 is well worth paying for the extras the new model brings.
The WD TV grows up. The original was a great way of hooking up a hard drive full of content to your telly, but the Live makes it a fully fledged network media player, allowing you to hide the HDD right out of the way. It's not perfect - the UI is still a tad clunky and inconsistent in places - but it does the job. ®
More Network Media Player Reviews...
Western Digital WD TV Live
@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.