|Western Digital TV Live Hub Review|
|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by Mike Flacy|
|Thursday, 04 November 2010|
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Beyond Netflix and Blockbuster, you have Youtube, Pandora, Last.fm, Flickr, Live365, Accuweather and Mediafly apps at your disposal. Beyond Pandora (and the included functionality to like to dislike songs), there really isn't much that stands out in the pack. I also didn't care for Mediafly's interface and the convoluted navigation to try and subscribe to a podcast or other Internet content. However, I did like the internal Facebook application. The navigation is laid out well, perhaps even more streamlined than Facebook on the Xbox 360. It also includes the ability to upload content by connecting the camera / video camera to the Live Hub and directly uploading, pretty handy if you really aren't into spending time editing your media on a computer.
One of the problems I ran into with the Live Hub was trying to stream multiple HD files from different computers in the house at the same time over a wired network. I can understand the problems with trying to stream to wireless notebooks, but not being able to do this on a wired connection seems like an unfortunate mis-step if Western Digital wants consumers to use this as their server for the entire house. I also didn't care for the lack of functionality for transferring files via other sources like USB sticks or portable hard drives. You have to connect via an external computer rather than WD including a file transfer tool in the UI; perhaps in a future update of the interface. Finally, I'm still astounded that there's no built in Wi-Fi functionality at this stage in the product revision of the WD players. It seems like an obvious inclusion at this point for those without wired connections at their home theaters. (You can still purchase a Wi-Fi USB dongle to get access on the player, but that takes up a USB port and is an extra cost.)
The Western Digital Live Hub is one of the most fully featured media players I've tested in a while, something that may not bode well for the upcoming release of the Boxee Box later this month. While they really need to find a better partner for their downloadable DRM filled media, the player is a powerhouse when it comes to storing, cataloguing and playing an enormous variety of file formats. Also, this is the most user friendly revision of the user interface to date. If you are looking for a more robust platform to consumer digital media on within your home or even just your home theater, don't hesitate to consider the Western Digital Live Hub as your primary media player. (MSRP: $199.99) Highly recommended!