on July 20, 2010
I purchased the WD Live Plus HD Media Player to watch movies from my Windows Home server. I got tired of all the DVD's and no where to store them so I built a WHS from an old computer and ordered the WD Live plus. I ran a CAT5 cable to my LCD, hooked up the WD Live Plus and it automatically connected to my WHS. I was up and running in as little as 5 minutes streaming a video on the big screen. The 1st movie played flawlessly until I started to watch the 2nd movie. Towards the middle of the movie, WD Live started to freeze up. At first I thought it was my server so I rebooted the WHS and was back up and running again. Started to watch the movie and froze again. Now I'm getting very upset. Now I powered off/on the WD Live Plus and same issue. Some movies played with no issues and some movies just locked up. Now I'm getting upset with this media Player. I checked WD's website and could not find any solution to the device freezing so I ordered the "Asus O! Player" unit to replace my piece of crap WD live Plus. I was already to mail it back and connect the Asus O! Player but something told me to check the WD support website one more time before I mail back WD Live Plus HD Media Player.
I found this on their site:
"When playing a movie over a Network location on a WD TV Live HD Media Player, the video may slow down
When playing a high bitrate movie from a Network location (computer or NAS), after a period of time, the video may slow down and jitter.
Samba (the method the WD TV Live uses to read a network location) cannot play back high bitrate movies.
If this problem is encountered there are two solutions:
1. Try playing the content from the Media Server selection on the WD TV Live HD Media Player. This may require installation of a Media Server on your computer. Windows Media Player 11 has a built in Media Server. There are other alternatives such as TwonkyMedia, and TVersity which may also work for these videos.
2. Copy the high bitrate content to a USB drive, attach the USB drive to the WD TV Live HD Media Player and play the content from the local drive".
I said Hmmm, "playing a high bitrate movie from a Network location", well this was my problem. I went to TVersity and they explained how the software transcodes any video depending on your network speed and devices for proper streaming settings. So I installed the software on my WHS. During the installation it prompted to install the additional AC3 codec. So I installed it on my server. After installation completed, I configured TVersity to use my Video folder on the WHS and behold video was streaming to my LCD with no issues. Actually I believe the video quality is slighter better now than it was before.
So I'll take that back about calling the WD player crap. Now I can say I'm very happy with WD Live Plus and will give it a 4 star rating now. TVersity is excellent software for streaming videos and will help any media player handle video streaming. Oh did it mention that it's free! So go ahead and purchase the WD Live Plus HD Media Player and install TVersity on either your WHS or desktop/laptop and the 2 together they'll make a perfect couple.
on August 3, 2010
Before I get started, let me give you some background. I've owned 2 WD Live (non-plus) models for about a year. I upgraded the 2 non-plus models to (2 of them, so you can't blame faulty hardware) plus models, which was a big mistake. The reason I did this was that the WD Live is a great product and I wanted to add Netflix support.
So let me start with the positives
*It plays practically everything
*The interface is simple and straight forward
*Support for Youtube, Pandora, Netflix
*Streams 1080p with no issue
*Really easy to setup
Now for the negatives
*The firmware is buggy. There hasn't been a single firmware released since the product has been out either.
*If your networked drive is asleep, the Plus will hang at connecting 95% of the time (non-plus wouldn't do that). You have to do something else on the device before trying again or turn it off and on again to try to connect again - It's like it caches the info
*Takes like 30 seconds to turn on (non-plus takes like 2)
*Menu navigation is slower compared to the non-plus
*It won't remember the place you stopped in a movie/show if you turn off the device (non-plus didn't have this issue)
*Netflix - you can't 'search' for a movie. You can only pick from the selection that is presented. If you want add other movies, you have to do that from you computer.
*If you drop connection while connecting to Netflix, then the device will not try the connection again after you fix network issue. You have to shut off the box and turn it back on
*You can't customize what network devices to show on the menu. It shows all devices on your network (same issue with non-plus)
So I would suggest skipping the buggy Plus version getting the WD Live Non-Plus, because that is a great unit, and do netflix via your tv, wii, ps3 or 360.
UPDATE After 6 months: Western Digital has issued updates to this device, but broke other things and made things worse. If you have bought this device, I would suggest a custom firmware from b-rad. This fixes most of the complaints I listed above.
on June 14, 2010
I just got the WD TV Live Plus and I have to say that I've finally found the perfect media streamer (for now).
I've had the WD TV Live (not plus version) for about 5 months and it's served me well, streaming up just about every type of movie file that I've ever encountered. When I purchased the non-plus version, the only two features that I really wanted that it was missing was NetFlix support and full DVD menu support.
Yes, I am a bummered that my existing non-plus version can't support NetFlix, but I very well knew that what I purchased it.
Please Note: Most of the non-plus version marketing material says that it doesn't support full DVD menu navigation, but WD just came out with a firmware update that DOES add DVD menu support - Kuddos to WD for listening to their customers and giving them what they want.
Regarding the NetFlix support, the PLUS version has a different chip inside of it that is required for NetFlix support (something about copy protection). The non-plus version does not have the required chip in order to support NetFlix so if you read some rants about WD trying to !@#$% their customers, it's probably non-plus owners who feel cheated that they have to buy a new product to get NetFlix support.
I understand their frustration, but the truth of the matter is that there is nothing WD can do in order to get the non-plus to support NetFlix.
On the other hand, they *have* just added DVD menu support to the non-plus version, so anyone who says that they stop supporting the older products doesn't know what they're talking about.
To the point of the review, the NetFlix supports both queue playing (when you already have stuff added to your play now queue) AND browsing.
This is my first NetFlix player (other than my PC) so I can't really compare it to other NetFlix players. I know the Xbox also supports browsing, but I think that most other stand alone players do not support browsing.
The activation process was surprisingly easy (I just went to the NetFlix site and entered a code the Plus gave me).
Regarding HD content, I'm not 100% sure if the Plus supports this, but last night I was viewing some 30 rock episodes and it looked *really* good, better than viewing a DVD.
When starting to view a NetFlix video, it took about 15-20 seconds from when I clicked on play to when the video started playing. I don't know if this is good or bad. No streaming issues once it started playing. My device is connected directly to my router.
I also played around with the new MediaFly feature. Never heard of it before. Basically it aggregates some audio and video podcasts by topic. I saw some CNN and NPR content which is cool.
Overall I'd say this is the best media streamer ->currently<- on the market.
I emphasize currently as I REALLY wanted to get a POPBOX, which sounds like a better option (at least on paper), but it still isn't out and I got tired of waiting for it to be released.
Lastly, I know I didn't cover other aspects of the PLUS, but other than NetFlix support (and I think MediaFly support) the plus and non-plus devices are identical so go read some non-plus reviews for more info :)
[UPDATE June 21]
A few people correctly mentioned that the DVD menu support for the non plus version isn't officially out yet since it's still in beta.
You can see the entire thread of people who have download the beta version and successfully played DVDs with menus on the non-plus version here:
on March 27, 2011
Trying to decide between an Apple TV and the WD TV Live Plus?
Both are great devices that basically perform as advertised, I recommend them both. Each gets 4 stars in my book. Interestingly enough, for two devices that are supposed to do more-or-less the same thing, I found them to have very different capabilities and uses. I use both regularly, depending on your setup and planned uses, one will likely be far better for you than the other. A detail review is on my website blog, but here is the bottom line:
Get the Apple TV if:
* All (or at least most) of your music and videos are already in iTunes. The Apple TV will play everything that your iPhone, iPad, and iPod can play, but not much else.
* You can connect it to your home theater receiver or TV via HDMI. The Apple TV only has an HDMI video output. Optical audio output is also provided.
* You want to impress your friends by streaming and controlling your media from you iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (AirPlay and the Apple Remote app)
* You only have a wireless network available to your home theater AND you don't want to buy a USB WiFi adapter too.
* You want everything to "just work," or you feel comfortable with Apple stuff and don't want any new challenges in your life. The Apple TV is easier to use and has a simpler, sleeker interface.
Get the WD TV Live Plus if:
* You need to connect your media streamer to your home theater rig via something other than HDMI (it can output to HDMI, Composite A/V, Component video, and digital optical audio).
* Your media is in a non-apple supported formats (MPEG-2 from DVD rips, .ts or .m2ts BD rips, AVIs, WMV, WMA, VOB, MKV, FLV, FLAC, OGG, etc.)
* You want to play 1080p high def video and new HD audio formats (DTS-HD, Dolby HD)
* You want to play media that is on USB hard disks, thumb drives, Windows media servers, or DLNA servers.
* You don't mind paying extra for WiFi capability
* You don't have (or need to play) protected media (m4v iTunes purchased videos, m4p protected audio, or other DRM protected media)
on December 16, 2010
WD TV Live Plus
Western Digital WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player WDBABX0000NBK-NESN
I have been using the WD Live+ for several weeks now, and am ready to write a review.
********* EDIT **********
One BIG factor I forgot to mention about the WD. NO VOLUME CONTROL on the remote (nor is it a feature of the WD Live Plus at all).
All volume must be controlled either by your TV or receiver remote, depending on how you connect it to your media center.
I found this to be a particularly embarrassing issue when watching a 'video' at midnight and not being able to lower the volume quickly. :-)
The Asus does have volume control, which can be lowered to a sufficient level BEFORE playing the video.
In order for WD to enable this feature, they'll have to flash the firmware and completely rework the remote control, as there are no buttons for volume.
Included in the box -
+ WD Live+ itself
+ A/V Cables
+ Install CD (why?)
- No HDMI cable
- No TOSLINK optical audio cable
FIRST POWER ON:
Once I had connected the power, network, HDMI, and TOSLINK cables (all 3 cables not included), I powered the unit on.
It came up, in what I thought was a fairly long amount of time (compared with the Asus O!Play Air in the bedroom).
The menu showed a new firmware update was found and asked if I wanted to install.
Went through the firmware update and about 2 reboots.
The reboots took slightly under 1 minute each - no change from the initial boot.
Got another message about a firmware update.
I looked at the current version and compared to the new one.
Looks like the firmware updates are done in steps. No problem.
Updated again, went through the reboots.
About 15 minutes total for both firmware updates, now I'm ready to explore the menus.
I tried to explore the network computer shares when it first booted, but it found none.
Went to networking, which by default is set up for DHCP. Great - my router assigned an IP.
There's an option to run through and verify various networking functions work. All green checks.
Then I wonder why it didn't see my computers.
Go back to the network, and now it picks up all of them, including the 'Media' share on the router.
-Power cycled WD Live+ unit
-Went to network shares: Nothing.
-Checked network settings - still getting green checks...
Tested one more time.
-This time I waited about a minute before doing anything in the menus.
-Now it sees the shares. Interesting.
Apparently the user must wait ~45 seconds to boot, then another 45-60 before using the networking features of the WD Live Plus. Not a good sign.
After setting to 1080p, 60Hz, I queued up some videos.
Tested MKV, DVD (on hdd), AVI (divx and xvid), MP4, and MPEG. All worked fine.
Then I threw a MKV video with DTS audio. Nothing. Tried another - same issue.
Note: Found that my TOSLINK cable wasn't properly connected. Now I have that going to the receiver and have sound through the receiver only - not the TV. The receiver has a center, so not a big deal... or is it?
Now that the TOSLINK cable is going to the receiver and the HDMI to the TV, there's an audio sync issue.
It's slight, but enough to notice that it's off.
So I have to turn the TV volume all the way down to enjoy a video that is not DTS. Ok, not a good solution, but an acceptable work-around for now.
In all, video playback handles all the 1080p you can throw at it. Even my dual core computer with a 9800GT lags a bit with some of them, so cudos to WD for using such a capable video chipset.
Audio has gotten to be such an easy thing lately. There are a lot of options available from various vendors.
The WD Live Plus doesn't disappoint. It did 5.1 music with no issues. Even simulated 5.1 from a stereo mp3 file sounded decent, and was played through the surround speakers. Good job guys. Some audio players only played the stereo files through the front L/R speakers, so it's great this one handles the full surround.
Used several apps, including Pandora, Netflix, Mediafly, and a few others.
The video on all apps is not 1080p, but you can't expect that yet. Maybe in the next 5 years.
Netflix - After setting up account info, it logs you in automatically and takes you to the Instant Play videos. Navigating is just ok, since you use the arrows and OK buttons to look around. Down-side is no search function. Guys writing firmware - ADD A SEARCH FOR NETFLIX.
Pandora - Entered account info, and it logged in quickly. Selected 'Quick Mix', and it started playing the channels I had previously set up on my PC. Sounds great, and an added bonus - NO COMMERCIALS (at this time).
Another good feature of the Pandora app is the login screen. When first starting Pandora, it lists all the users that have previously been logged in. Select your profile, and you'll be listening to your music in seconds.
MediaFly - Flipped through the various channels, watched a few videos. Some are interesting, others suck. Can't win them all. Otherwise, it looks like this pulls video off other websites and full-screens them on your TV. Good for NOT seeing all the ads from around the web.
Youtube - Looks like Youtube. Videos are low quality, as you'd expect from the web. Only problem is, even though most videos give you a 480p or 720p option on the browser, there appears to be NO OPTION to increase the video resolution. This means you're watching the 320p (or even worse, 240p) video on your humongously humongous big screen TV. Can anyone say 'BLURRY'? That's one feature that should also be included in the next firmware revision.
Another thing to mention about Youtube. It looks like content can be viewed, as long as there is no copyright on any of the material (audio track included). If it has a copyright, it doesn't show up in Youtube for the WD Live Plus. I guess they can't make their ad revenue if they did show it.
Other apps are available, and I suggest checking them out. Depending on your tastes, you'll like some more than others.
Comparing this to other players (Asus O!Play Air, Boxee Box), the $99 price point gives this a clear advantage over the $199 Boxee Box, and is on-par with the Asus (although Boxee has a great remote and does ship with HDMI in the box).
Features on both the Asus and WD Live Plus are comparable, with the WD winning in the internet apps department.
The Asus wins on boot time, network location, and some navigation (it has shortcuts you can configure).
The WD Live Plus is worth $99, but it would be nice to see HDMI included by default. Who needs L/R audio cables anyway? This isn't a VCR connected to a CRT TV.
Recommendation - Power on the WD Live Plus first, then your TV, then receiver, etc. It might be booted and have access to the network file shares.
It's not a Boxee Box, but it's also $100 less. I can deal with a few minor navigation issues and have 2 for the price of one Boxee.
I read some of the firmware update notes, and apparently this supports USB keyboards.
I connected my bluetooth USB adapter and tested. Works great! Any time you need to type, just click away instead of going through the mind-numbingly slow on-screen keyboard.
on May 9, 2011
lol... so many of these reviews are entertaining to me.
In this review, I'm only gonna discuss things that others have not. I've been using WD's since they first came out. I own 2 Gen 1's, 2 Gen 2's, and a "plus" version. They were SUPER buggy back then, infact, at one point they were upgrading the firmware almost every week! It is a fantastic little box but requires tons of patience. Every issue you read in these reviews, either there is a fix for, or the user doesn't quite know what they are doing. You will read about a lot of people having network issues but I can assure you it is because they don't really know how to network a device and are relying on DHCP to solve all their problems. Like it or not, networking is complicated. Between TCP/IP (subnetting), Netbios broadcasting, firewalls, wired vs wireless, rj45 connectors, DHCP, elecro mag interference around lighting and conduit, network conflicts, and ignorance, soooo much can go wrong and any one thing will halt your device. It takes a lot of knowledge and research to smoothly run "media servers" over a network and have them ALWAYS work but if you do things right, this box works flawlessly. The biggest complaint I would have about this box is that when you view a movie folder over the network, you will see ALL files in that folder instead of just video files, even if they are hidden files (this doesnt happen when the drives are usb'd into it or if you browse them through the media server option. Got a stable media server running off win 7 64bit but it was super unstable with XP and Vista, AND with the media server option it will not use your thumbnails but rather it will create its own thumbnail clips from the video. Furthermore, scrolling through the network share option seems speedy but scrolling through the media server option is super sluggish. Learn to use the search button and be advised that firmware update will allow you to use a usb keyboard). It kinda sux if you have 2000 movies in a folder including .sub files and thumbnails (some might think it won't play the movie when instead they are trying to play a thumbnail). On that note, let me say that some of the greatest features of this box is it's subtitle support. It supports multiple languages, lets you move the subtitles to any screen location, let's you change the size and font, let's you adjust the subtitle up to 20 sec forward or 20 secs back in the case that they don't fit (this happens alot when you dowload subtitles from web sites rather than create them yourself), and it has a subtitle interface that gives you more options than any other. My girlfriend is chinese and speaks little Eng so this is crucial! The only way for her to watch a movie with me is to rip it and download the chinese subtitles. WD is just what every foreigner needs!!! Anyway, This is a really great product no matter how you slice it. I have mine hooked to 2 local drives, each 2TB and full (now switched to two 3TB drives and working gr8). With this config, first thing you should know is it takes a LONG time for WD to build an index of the files and will act buggy untill it finishes, so... When you turn it on, wait 10 min before using it if you are an impatient person. If it appears to be frozen, it's not! Just wait it out and it will free up after 5 or 10 min. Remember, this little thing does ALOT and it takes time. ALSO, be aware that the device does not yet support 3TB drives, though I'm sure a firmware upgrade will fix that one day (fixed). I know there are others like me that were super PO'd about not having Netflix on older versions but it IS on this one and it works GREAT as expected.
So, below i will just throw down some things people might want to know:
For those of you that said your WD won't save movie stop points, I can guaruntee it's because the .WD folder that stores that info has become "read only" for some reason (or corrupt). Change that and you're back in biz! If all else fails, just delete the entire WD folder on a computer then plug it back into WD and let it rebuild.
If your drive is FAT32, it will become buggier as the drive fills. NTFS is a much more stable file system. Folks like to keep it FAT32 so it works in their XBOX and PS3 but they just have to let that go at some point (usually the point where the drive crashes, which happened to my brother). FAT32 was originally designed for 32gig max and you should stick to that idea because there is a reason for it. Also, fat32 has a 4gb file size limit which means NO BLURAY FILES CAN GO ON IT (nor can the larger DVD's) unless you dumb them down and in the world of HIDEF TV's, you don't want to do that. For DVD's, the dif between an 800 res and 600 res is HIGHLY noticeable on a high def TV. Dumbing the bit rate down will also effect the noticeable quality of the video. Fat32 with a 2TB drive is HIGHLY slow, unstable, inefficient, and Microsoft says, "DON'T DO IT". FAT systems were invented at a time when it was unfathomable to have file sizes and hard drive sizes like we have today and that should be all I need to say. Furthermore, MS insists that you should leave 20% free on any hard drive or it will become unstable, not to mention that you can't defrag it once it goes below 15%.
WD runs at it's heat capacity so can easily overheat when on top of a cable box or HD so keep it away from anything hot. When it over heats, it hangs.
I find that rips work best as avi's using xvid with mp3 audio. If your vids don't fast forward and rewind smoothly or they hang up when you try, your format sux and you need something with less compression. The harder a device has to work to de-compress files, the less resources it has to manipulate them. avi with XVID and MP3 seems to play in everything... xbox360, ps3, samsung TV built in media player, media player for XP/Vista/Win 7
It DOES support thumbnails if you simply give the file the same name (case sensitive). If you change a thumbnail but it doesn't update, just go into the \wd\thumbnail folder and delete the old one, then it will auto update the new one.
A corrupt video will totally freak the wd out. If it just starts to act freaky as you're scrolling through the vid menu, there is a corrupt video prob causing it. In my experience, it only freaks when the corrupt video appears on the screen menu so it's kind of easy to weed it out.
Also, if the WD freezes constantly, it will surely be a troubled network connection. If it senses the network connection going up and down constantly, it will use all its resources dealing with that. try to wiggle/jiggle the connection or change cables.
This is a biggie... If setting up multiple WD's on a network with the intent to stream from each other, you MUST give each WD a unique name ie, WDTVLIVEPLUS1/WDTVLIVEPLUS2/etc... Each network device requires a unique name or can not be seen on the network.
One thing about WD TV that totally confuses me is that when you plug the WD in, it turns on. Therefore, if your power goes off then back on, the WD will leave itself on. I wonder if that's the reason they tell you to unplug it if you're not gonna use it regularly.
ok I'm tired now, I will continue on later. I could obviously right a book on this thing!
UPDATE: On 5/12/11 they did a firmware update for the original WD and WD gen2 that now allows for 3TB drive support. V1.05 update is a must! But I'm told that if you do this update on the plus ver you will lose your netflix so be aware of that. My plus has not auto updated yet.
Shawn Spector, MCT
on December 25, 2010
I've been using wdtv plus for the last one month. This media player plays all of what media
files I have. Videos, Music, Pictures. I've connected a 500gb hard drive to this player and
got a perfect HD media player. I'm even considering buying a 2TB hard drive to have a bigger
media library. These are my pros and cons from what I feel.
1. Plays all types of media formats
3. Resumes playback where you left of on videos
4. Netflix support
5. Shares the hard drives on network, so you could copy files through the share
6. Youtube integration and apps like Pandora radio, Live365, Blockbuster etc.
Now coming to the Cons:
1. No SD card support, but I guess you could connect it using a USB reader (need to buy
2. No wifi
3. Can't use without remote
4. Virtual Keyboard hard to use using remote. Heard the latest firmware supports usb keyboard.
5. Youtube playback could be better (HD Quality, Playlists support)
Hope this review helps.
on January 25, 2012
the product is a piece of crap , i am using The HD media players since 6 years , i've had before the buffolo HD multimedia theatre , after 5 years it stooped , now i am using the Iomega 1TB HD media player and it is Great , so i wanted to buy one for my children and i decided to buy the WD tv live plus , i received the product and i tried it , it worked , after 5 hours i tried to use it , it would not work , it showed me a message please insert a usb hard disk with the firmware to be able to use wd tv live plus , i've downloaded the latest firmware and installed it , it worked for 5 minutes and the thing began to shut down and reboot , i shut it down , after 1 hour connected it , it worked , once i've connected it to the net it shut down and began to reboot and freeze again . after 4 hours of working on it with softwares updating many versions and still not working , i found the solution by installing the latest firmware which is 1.06.16 and than downgrading it to the oldest version 1.03.29_B and now it is working ( i've used it for 3 hours only and i tried to boot it and shut it many times and it is working , until when , i don't know ) but i did not connect it to the net , anyway the oldest version don't have many features for the net media .
the problem is that i cannot return it back because i live abroadand it was sent to me by DHL and if i want to resend it , it would cost me 3 times the price of the item .
i Guess this product cannot support updates , and even if it can , it's not the case of mine . so i don't advice anyone to buy this piece of CRAP , you would be spending your money in vain .
GUYS I FOUND THE SOLUTION FOR ALL THIS REBOOTING AND FREEZING ISSUES
ANYONE WHO UPDATE THE FIRMWARE MUST FOLLOW EACH UPDATE RELEASED AFTER THE LAST ONE UPDATED ON THE WD TV , OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS .
IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEM ISSUE , YOU SHOULD DOWNGRADE THE FIRMWARE TO THE 1RST RELEASE WHICH IS VERSION 1.03.29_B THAN YOU FOLLOW EACH VERSION RELEASED UNTIL YOU REACH THE LAST ONE . THESE ARE THE VERSIONS RELEASED UNTIL NOW BEGINNING BY LAST 1.06.16, 1.05.04_B, 1.04.31_B, 1.04.22_B, 1.04.17_B, 1.04.10_B, 1.03.49_B, 1.03.29_B . SO IN ORDER TO MAKE YOUR WD TV LIVE PLUS WORK CORRECTLY YOU SHOULD DOWNGRADE TO THE 1RST FIRMWARE AND FOLLOW THE UPGRADE BY INSTALLING EACH VERSION FOLLOWING THE NEW ONE . IF YOU JUMP A FIRMWARE VERSION , YOUR MACHINE WILL NOT WORK CORRECTLY BECAUSE EACH FIRMWARE IS SOLVING A PREVIOUS ISSUE SO YOU SHOULD FOLLOW UP EACH VERSION . NOW MY MEDIA PLAYER IS WORKING WELL AND MOST PROBLEMS ARE RESOLVED , ANYWAY FOR THE MOMENT , BUT I GUESS IT IS GOOD SINCE IN THE BEGINNING IT WAS CAUSING SO MUCH PROBLEMS .
I GUESS I WILL BE JUDGING THE PRODUCT AS A GOOD PRODUCT . BUT AT THE BEGINNING IT CAUSED ME SO MUCH HEADACHE !!!!!
on August 31, 2011
I have had the WDTV for over 9 months now, more than enough time to figure out its long-term strengths, weakness and quirks. I did a lot of intensive research before buying--okay, fine, so I checked specs for a couple days on the Internet. Still, I wanted for a device that would support a lot of formats AND have a USB port for my portable 1TB hard drive. After almost going for the Roku, I finally settled on this little set-top, even though I'd heard that Western Digital's media players tended to be buggy. In hindsight, I'm pretty sure I made a good choice, though not the most convenient one...
THE GOOD: So far, the WDTV has handled nearly every file format I've thrown at it. Everything from full HD .mkv files to FLAC audio to Ogg Vorbis files have played well on the unit. DTS CD rips will play as well on the WDTV. Particularly useful is the WDTV's ability to navigate Video_TS folders and play full DVD backups complete with menus & special features. (I was scratching my head trying to figure out how to play my beloved Region 2 & 3 kung fu imports in upscaled 1080p on my PS3, which does not support PAL. So much for that!) The internet features work well, although I hardly ever use them, and there are a lot of great free features like MediaFly and internet radio stations. Obviously, it also supports NetFlix, YouTube and Facebook. The device will also support content stored on an SD card (provided that you have an SD card reader with USB connection).
THE BAD: The WDTV does not support wireless streaming, and even with a good signal and the dedicated ethernet connection, streaming playback can be buggy at times. The following two points are not really faults of the device, but FYI, the initial scan of a hard drive connected via USB seems to take forever (not surprising for a large hard drive with a lot of stuff on it, but still). The box also does not support some proprietary formats like Real Audio (*.ra, *.rmvb) or Apple Lossless audio files (*.m4a).
THE UGLY: The interface and menus are drab and EXTREMELY laggy. Things have improved somewhat with the last two firmware updates, but unfortunately the WDTV still doesn't offer an experience anywhere near the vibrancy or intuitive ease of the Roku or Apple TV menus, even as it trounces them in supported formats. The search option is pathetic and it takes a loooong time to enter characters. Hopefully, you are a patient person because some formats can take a while to load. The menu structure is a bit illogical; for example, there is no option to delete items from the main drive menu (you have to go down two submenus to File Management and rifle through your folders from there to find the item you wish to delete, but you can only delete items from one subfolder at a time, and after each file deletion within a particular subfolder you're sent back to the main File Management menu to repeat the process; it gets old rather quickly).
Bottom line is, if you are looking for an easy-to-use, good-looking player and want nothing more than basic functions out of it, or if you hate fiddling with gadgets and just "want the thing to PLAY already" (my mother's words), then you should try the Roku or the Apple TV. If you want a real workhorse that isn't pretty but can do anything you ask of it, this is your box right here. For the money and its functionality, I'd say you can't beat the WDTV Live Plus.
on July 9, 2011
It baffles me how this box of awesomeness is currently sitting < three stars. I have five of these guys in my house. Family room, kids bedroom #1, kids bedroom #2, our bedroom, and the basement. My brother, who bought them after seeing mine, currently has four in his house. My father also has one. I also have a couple of friends who have them and every one of us absolutely love this device. At our house, they're on daily, usually the front room gets the biggest work out. At night, my wife and I will watch shows off of it before we got to bed. I honestly have zero qualms with these WDTVs. I can't say a thing bad about them. I stream x264, xvid, DVD iso, our entire library of family photos, family videos (AVCHD), and my extensive music collection. My mother in law was just over and was floored at how good the movie we had on looked. She couldn't believe it was coming from that little box and there were no discs involved.
I've been streaming media to my TVs since about 2003 when I first started dabbling with the Xbox Media Player on my hacked original Xbox systems. That eventually turned into the open source project Xbox Media Center (XBMC) that it still going on today. A few years ago I felt the need to start streaming HD media and the poor old Xbox couldn't keep up. It was really a tough decision as I had five Xbox systems throughout my house all running XBMC. But I gave the WDTV Live a shot and was throughly impressed. Now all my old Xboxs are stored away in the basement and I have WDTVs in almost every room.
This is one device that truly makes my life easier. No modding, no manual updating, no constant tinkering. Just turn it on and enjoy.
* * * * * <== That's five!