Western Digital WD TV Live Hub
Torrent on TV
Review Western Digital’s WD TV has always been one of the better streaming media players. It has an attractive graphical interface, supports an extensive range of audio and video file formats, and – with no internal hard disk – proved much cheaper than disk-based rivals such as the AppleTV.
Local store: Western Digital's WD TV Live Hub
Ironically, though, just as Apple has removed the hard disk from the AppleTV and cuts its price in half, Western Digital has decided to shove a big fat hard disk into the WD TV and jack the price up by almost £100.
The revised WD TV Live Hub costs £200 with a built-in 1TB hard disk. That’s the only capacity available, but the older, diskless WD TV Live is still on sale, if you’d prefer that. The inclusion of the hard disk means that the Live Hub is a bit larger than its predecessors, but it’s still small and neat enough to sit comfortably next to your TV in your front room. The hard disk makes a quiet, low hum when running, but you have to lean quite close to hear it, as it’s certainly not loud enough to be intrusive.
Unlike previous models, the Live Hub supports HDMI 1.4 rather than 1.3. However, like its predecessors, it delivers a 1080p output, as well as both component and composite video options. There’s an S/PDIF for digital audio output, and two USB 2.0 ports for adding extra storage or transferring files onto the internal hard disk. A gigabit Ethernet port provides network connectivity but, disappointingly, Wi-Fi is only available as an optional extra. There are no cables included at all, so you’ll need to provide those yourself.
Port options include HDMI 1.4 support
I was a little disappointed to see that the documentation and initial setup process weren’t as straightforward and easy as on previous models. The printed QuickStart guide does little more than tell you to download a second manual and a piece of software called the Discovery Tool from WD’s web site. The Discovery Tool locates the drive on your network and allows you to map a drive letter onto it – but only if you’ve got a PC, as it doesn’t run on Macs.
Next page: Firmware fix
The WD TV Live series is great
I picked up my WD TV Live from PC World about four months ago and I've been happy as larry ever since: It Just Works and it cost around £88, thanks to a "buy online, collect instore" discount. We've come a long way from when I used to have a PC sat under the TV: the little box is silent, tiny, accesses my samba network shares (die die die uPNP) and handles pretty much everything I've thrown at it.
This new one looks interesting, but I don't think it's worth upgrading to - while the new form factor is much nicer (wide+short = better for sticking under the TV), I've no interest in the internal storage (and you can plug USB storage into the older models anyway). OTOH, the new UI looks quite shiny; here's to hoping they backport it to the older model!
Two more things: WD recently released an updated firmware for all WD TV Live models which gives you access to several online services: Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Flingo, Live365, Deezer, Mediafly, Accuweather
Secondly, as the TV Live runs linux and WD have released the code under OSS, some nice bloke has released an "upgraded" firmware which turns it into a mini-server, able to run web-servers, download torrents and the like:
What the heck?
AVI, a format? Are you sure you are not confusing "format" with "container"?
AVI, MKV, MP4 -> containers
DivX, H.264, AAC -> formats
Personally never had any issue with the old one, but do agree that the new one looks nicer!