Western Digital was one of the first storage manufacturers to enter the world of media streamers. Their latest play in the market is the WD TV Live Plus HD media player. This model attempts to provide users with all their local media, as well as thousands of videos from across the web. We have seen several similar players from Western Digital, including the WD TV HD, WD TV Mini, and the WD TV Live.

Western Digital has a vested interest in getting these devices out in the market, since users who purchase these devices are more likely to purchase Western Digital hard drives (such as the WD My Passport, My Book models, etc.). Users buy these drives in order to continually feed the content to the media device. The media player and HDD product mix support each other. In fact, it is not uncommon to see these devices sold side by side at the local Best Buy.

The most prominent differences between the WD TV Live Plus HD media player and the previous generation of WD media streamers are DVD Menu Navigation and Netflix Instant Watch capability. There are also many other desirable features on the device. The WD TV Live Plus boasts one of the broadest feature sets we have ever seen in a media streaming device, including Netflix, Youtube, Flickr, Pandora, Live365 and MediaFly, in addition to full 1080p playback in a wide variety of formats. We will be covering these advertised features and also overall compatibility in this review.

The WD TV Live Plus retails for $149.99, however can easily be found for much less (at the time of writing NewEgg has it for $119.99). At this price, the Plus is hitting the same price target as the WD TV Live  before it. The WD TV Live can now be had for $109.99 and The WD TV HD which originally retailed for $129.99 can be found for as little as $89.99. The WD TV Mini has a very limited feature set. The MSRP is $99, but it can be found for $49.99. However, the mini is almost a different class of device geared more towards portability and SD quality content.

For those looking for a high definition device, there is an effective price difference of only $30 between the lowest end device (WD TV HD) and the highest end device we are reviewing today (WD TV Live Plus HD). There is quite a bit of incentive to spend that extra $30. The bit of extra cash gets you Netflix support, Youtube, Flickr, Pandora, Network video viewing support, Windows Play to Support, DVD navigation, and extra connectivity options (component).

What's Inside the Box?
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  • Anubis - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    The 360 or PS3 combined with Tversity or PS3 Media Server can transcode ANYTHING, even real media Reply
  • beginner99 - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Your PC is transcoding so that the ps3/xbox can read it. With wd tv live you do not need to transcode at all. Transcoding isn't exactly ideal especial for HD content. will probably use quite a bit of cpu juice. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    I think anyone looking into these is probably going to have a computer that's up to par for that purpose though. I might actually look into getting a used 360 for that purpose. Reply
  • BigDH01 - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Can the 360 playback full bit rate blu-ray rips? What about audio? DTS support at all? I haven't tried TVersity or WMC lately from my 360, but last time I did I was extremely disappointed.

    http://support.xbox.com/support/en/us/nxe/gamesand...

    The 360 is great as long as your needs fit into that little world. As far as I know, TVersity simply converts your videos on-the-fly into the confines of the above limitations. Because of this reason, I use the WD TV Live to stream my media and am much happier as a result.

    It'd be nice if MS tried to optimize the 360 at all for media playback, but dreaming for that is like dreaming for Softsled.
    Reply
  • saiga6360 - Friday, July 30, 2010 - link

    OR they have NAS devices that do not have the CPU power to do transcoding. Not that they should. What's the point of a streaming device if you have to transcode? Reply
  • nonmiraj - Monday, August 02, 2010 - link

    Even using TVersity with the 360 you're storing and playing movies through your computer and then streaming them. Streaming HD movies, that's a "Stupid" / awful idea, anyone that suggests that isn't streaming HD movies. And forget it if you're ever planning on fast forwarding, rewinding or pausing doing that.

    Get a media player like this WD and do it right.
    Reply
  • gigahertz20 - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Wirelessly streaming HD movies (4-15GB mkvs h.264 codec) using TVersity to your Xbox 360 sucks, just does not work. I messed around with TVersity at a friends house using my laptop to stream a few movies to his Xbox 360 and it just did not work that well. Maybe if you have a built in wired network it would work fine, but not wireless. Reply
  • Anubis - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    pretty sure streaming 1080p over wireless doesn't work for anything, even if everything is N based it still has issues, PS3 has the same issue as 360 does with it. Wired works fine for both. Reply
  • beginner99 - Friday, July 30, 2010 - link

    for normal mkv's it woprks on n. I do it. but on a 5 ghz seperate network for streaming only. Reply
  • anachreon - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    The idea that an xbox 360 is a replacement for any of these devices is absolutely laughable. Reply

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