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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  • EarthwormJim - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    The size is nice, but I don't see how this can really compare to the ~$200 ion systems you can get/build. Sure it's cheap, but it's so much more limited than a full computer. Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    It's much easier to use than a full computer, and has a remote control. My wife can use this as easily as a DVD player. I looked into getting an ION system, but was going to be $250 for the cheapest system (book size), whereas the WD Live was $109 when I bought mine. It works great - has played everything I've tried. It also has excellent zooming features. Reply
  • Phynaz - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    This.

    An easy to use appliance that doesn't require any effort on the users part as far as education.
    Reply
  • greenguy - Sunday, August 29, 2010 - link

    Exactly. I have a WD TV live, and it has been awesome. It uses next to no power, and plays pretty much everything (other than Thomas the Tank Engine) we have thrown at it. Very impressed, very easy to use. Reply
  • wdtvblogger - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    It has a great iPhone application that acts a remote control (http://www.wdtvremote.com) - much easier than the hardware remote control. It also allows extra features on your WDTV such as playing SHOUTcast radio... Reply
  • EarthwormJim - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    I forgot to add, I do thoroughly enjoy reviews like this though. Even if the product is crummy, bring on more!! Reply
  • beginner99 - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    So this thing is like identical to the non-plus version which I own. The wmapro thing is a non-issue. It's almost never used and there is a converter available online to mkv which is pretty sweet (=works and is fast).

    The issue I have is mainly the network problems. If you intend to use it in a network, well prepare for issues. I use it wireless. Bandwith is no problem but connection just drops now and then. see wd forum. it's a common issue. supposedly also happens in wired mode. It' s not really reproducable. Sometimes ti just works, sometimes it drops several times during a movie.

    The limited youtube content can also be an issue because what often is blocked are offical music videos and trailers. Eg. the things you would actually want to watch on the tv. Fun stuff, normally in crappy quality, I usually get to by links when browsing on my pc. For me this is not a killer, I bought it for streaming but after a short look at the youtube feature I never used it again.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    This website lets you create thumbnails for movies to make browsing through the folders more interesting. It creates a file with the same name as your movie, which the WD Live knows to use as a thumbnail for the movie

    http://www.wdtvc.com/2009/04/04/wd-tv-movie-thumbn...

    This is good for doing a few movies at a time. There is also a thumbnail generator for auto-generating thumbnails for a whole movie collection:

    http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Video/Othe...
    Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    I notice you did image quality tests on 1080 output, what if you are using a native 720p screen, such as a projector?

    Do these caveats still apply? I would assume less so because the down-conversion should happen after the de-interlacing.

    Excellent review, this thing is on the short list of simple gadgets for HD video that the Luddites in the family can operate (and not break doing so.)
    Reply
  • probedb - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    I'd be interested in a review of the Play!ON as it appears to be a much better player.

    I'm also surprised so little attention is paid to deinterlacing in these devices. I rip my DVDs to MKV without compression meaning the streamer must deinterlace so surely it wouldn't hurt for a manufacturer to a good quality one with maybe some ABT chipsets in there?
    Reply

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