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WD TV Live HD Media Player Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
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WD TV Live HD Media Player Review

ImageIn the current age of media consumption, movies and television are being utilized in vastly different methods than five years ago.  Nothing is more of a testament to the changes in how consumers are viewing their media than Western Digital’s TV Live HD Media Player.  Improving on their first player (the WD TV Digital Media Player), the new TV Live builds on the strong file support of the first model and adds a variety of networking improvements.

RemoteWhen unpacking the unit, you will notice the small form factor of the TV Live is fairly identical to the previous model.  It also feels a touch lighter than the last one.  Different from the previous model, you won’t find composite red/yellow/white RCA jacks to output the audio and video, but you can still output to that format with the mini-jack output. 

You will also find a component output, a HDMI 1.3 port, an optical output and two USB ports (one on the back and one on the top).  New to this unit, there’s an Ethernet connection for wired access to your home network and the Internet.  The small (likely easy to lose) remote is identical to the last version of the player.  There’s no back-lit feature to the remote as well.

The setup forward for the WD TV Live has to be the DLNA compatibility.  When you hook the device into your home network, you have the ability to stream content off any media server, PC or storage drive.  The previous model only allowed you to play content off a USB drive or other storage deivce connected via USB.  Due to the expanded network access, you also have the ability to connect a USB WiFi stick to the device and connect to your network that way.

Setting up the WD TV Live is pretty much a breeze.  After you have made the appropriate network and audio / video connections, turn the unit on and watch the unit work its magic.  It automatically finds shared PCs on the network and directs you into their shared folders.    The interface is very similar to a previous version of Windows Media Center before it was graphically enhanced for Windows 7.  That being said, it can be slightly intimidating for someone that’s not a tech-savvy user.  I watched friends get lost in the menus from time to time.

Rear Panel

Similar to the previous model, the file support is off the charts!  There were only a handful of times that I had a media file that wasn’t compatible with the WD TV Live (usually a Divx encoded file).  In terms of video files, it can handle AVI, xVid, VOB, MKV, h.264, MOV, Matroska, WMV9, MPEG, etc…  Music is no slouch either with support for FLAC, PCM, OGG, WMA, AAC, MP3, etc.   It also has subtitle support, audio play list support and photo display functionality.  One really handy feature that was added to this version of the player is a preview function.  On-screen, it shows the file size and type as well as demoing a portion of the file.  It’s very useful if you are a habitual mis-labeler of files.


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