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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  • ganeshts - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Niall,

    Have you tried playing Blu-Ray backups in MKV or M2TS formats on the Amlogic chipset? I believe the Amlogic chipset uses IP from Chips & Media, and that IP is just not powerful enough to decode Blu-Ray spec encodes (high bitrates). Admittedly, the last time I did research on this was 6 months back.

    That said, we will try to get hold of such devices for review here provided they have a presence in the US. One of the Realtek streamers is up next :)
    Reply
  • Decaff - Friday, July 30, 2010 - link

    Care to announce which Realtek streamer that is? Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, July 30, 2010 - link

    The only one supporting Netflix :) No guarantees when it is going to appear though :P Reply
  • tech6 - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Another great home theater review - keep them coming. AT is one of the very few sites that actually does any meaningful testing of HT devices beyond taking them out of the box and switching them on. Reply
  • EddyKilowatt - Monday, August 02, 2010 - link

    Agree. The tech-blog scene needs more *reporters* and fewer *stenographers*.

    I've read several reviews of the WD Live family, and this is pretty much the first time I've seen the Video Quality issues mentioned, at least in any objective way.

    I'll be picking up one of these gadgets in a few months, but sure hope they'll fix the networking bugs as I'll mostly be streaming from a Windows Home Server.
    Reply
  • Mumrik - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    "For those who value low power consumption this device certainly fits the bill, consuming almost 8 times less power than an HTPC at idle and 5 times less power at load."

    That kind of expression really does make no sense at all when you talking about using LESS. One time less would be zero - are you talking about 1/8 and 1/5 of the power?
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Monday, August 02, 2010 - link

    And yet, our amazing human mind made perfect sense out of it. Also it didn't detract from the article at all.

    But I guess technically you are correct.
    Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    I have an older model. I primarily use it when going down to the shore.

    It is TINY and fits easily into a backpack. the only problem being file storage. Getting the external HD, power cord and other things can be a real PITA.

    But that may also be a thing of the past as SD gets cheaper. Carrying a few 32's and an adapter may make bringing Anime and the like much easier.

    The only problems I have with the older one was lack of network connectability. It is all USB. Having something that can be hooked up to a router and stream whatever you have (along with custom subs) is a godsend.

    I am just pissed that most of these guys came along AFTER I made my $700 Shuttle box a year or two back!

    I have not read the full atricle yet, but I am guessing the Pandora Playing is just their Pay service (like Slimline?)

    Has Logitech jumped on this bandwagon? Can we get comparitive reviews soon? Can you mow my lawn?

    ;)
    Reply
  • puckalicious - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    I noticed the test suite contains only 1 test for DVD playback, and only from an ISO file. What about DVD video_ts folders on a hard drive? Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    puckalacious, We will add this in the next version of the test suite:

    1. DVD folder playback
    2. Blu-Ray folder playback

    Thanks for your suggestions.
    Reply

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