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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  • bah12 - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    But does it work? Or did you not try at all? Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Cameron will try them out and update by today evening :) Reply
  • bah12 - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Good deal thanks! Ripped my collection a few years back (old Media Center HTPC + MyMovies). MyMovies DB got corrupted so it basically just sits there. Waiting for an inexpensive streamer and some sort of software to catalog the movies. Easier to just grab the DVD off the shelf. Pity really, because it was a lot of work.

    Hoping something like this would do the trick, it would be nice to see the cataloging options. My project was a few years back, and getting the meta data (album art, genre ..) was a pain. Has it progressed enough today so that it can do it off of folder name? Or better yet even track sampling like .mp3's do when they auto get the album info.
    Reply
  • cbutters - Friday, July 30, 2010 - link

    This test that was suggested is now updated in the article. Reply
  • AgeOfPanic - Sunday, August 01, 2010 - link

    Does Blu-Ray folder playback also mean that you can hookup an external Blu-Ray player (e.g. the ones that you can buy for a laptop) and browse through the folders of a Blu-ray disk? Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, August 01, 2010 - link

    This is usually not possible on most devices because AACS is unsupported in these type of devices (sub-$200). You need Blu Ray players such as C-200 or the Dune Prime for folder playback on attached Blu Ray drives. Reply
  • pjladyfox - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    You guys get major kudos from this girly geek and prove why Anantech is the first place I usually come to for reviews followed by everyone else. This has got to be, by far, the most detailed and comprehensive testing suite I've EVER seen regarding NMT's and media streamers. Now I'm dying to see a roundup from you guys, using this testing suite, to see how the other boxes stack up. ^_^

    To other review sites: THIS is how you not only build a testing suite but review a NMT and media streamer.
    Reply
  • JNo - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    Hi great review - love the detail on the compatibility and also video quality - that's rare.

    I would urge you guys to google then get and review the Xtreamer. It's made and sold directly by a Korean company but is really great value and powerful. It has a very active user community, some of whom who work directly with the manufacturers on the new firmware updates.

    As for streaming - I'm all for it... in theory. Apart from being rubbish at understanding and setting up networks, I won't even consider wireless streaming of hd content with all the problems I keep reading about. And whilst wired network streaming is a lot better, it can still have issues and relies on your computer being on for this to occur (noise, power etc) - and not all of us are dedicated enough to have a home NAS system.

    I simply put a 500Gb 2.5" HDD in my xtreamer which, while costly initially, allows me just to transfer films and tv shows to it knowing that I, or my wife, will be able to watch them stutter free whenever, whether or not the computer is on. Once you've got a bit of a collection on it, the streaming thing becomes irrelevant.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    JNo, Thanks for your suggestion.

    Xtreamer has been on our sights for quite some time now. We are taking steps to see whether we can test it out, but no guarantees :)
    Reply
  • docent - Thursday, July 29, 2010 - link

    my one year old ASUS HDP-R1 can play DVD menus from ISO files, what's interesting it can even play menus from BD - functionality that is still not supported on WD media players. WD TV Live Plus is an inferior products - Asus HDP-R1 or newer model HDP-R3 ( with embedded WI-FI ) are much better Reply

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