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  • Methusela - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    What is a media streamer roundup without the latest WDTV? Just because you had another Sigma-based design from a different company? WD is the market leader in sales for network media tanks/streamers. Reply
  • loox - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Surprised here, as well. I honestly believe that there is no way the WDTV has been tested extensively by Anandtech (or else it'd be here).

    Like the folks at Anandtech, I too have spent YEARS finding a decent solution to playing multiple media formats on my HDTV, beginning with Lacie's Silverstream device.
    Ultimately, I settled on the WDTV (gen 1), then the Plus, and sticking with the WDTV Live.

    It just works. It works with my TV, my HDTV, hotel room TV's, My friends TV, My Parents TV (its very portable), HDMI, HDMI w/ Optical audio out, 7 ch. PCM, Bitstream Passthrough, Component HD, Composite SD, my Sony Amplifier/Receiver, DTS, DD, can stream DNLA content, as well as the iTunes server content on my WD My Book World Edition. Blu-ray ISO's, DVD ISO's, WMV, AVI, MP4, MKV, and the list goes on.

    It also supports Windows 7's PlayTo functionality and streams Netflix and other online content in HD with considerable less buffering/lag than any other solution.

    My conclusion is that at this moment, for watching (or listening to) media on a Television set (not so much internet browsing) the only superior solution to a WDTV Live is a good HTPC or quite laptop with recent hardware.
  • Souka - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    I have a networked Brite-View unit....great product except for the interface....kinda basic.

    but that being said, I've been able to play pretty much any video file I've tossed at it.
    Friends with WD units have compatibility issues with various files, but I don't.

    I'm not a huge video watcher....except when I'm bettween jobs..heh

    my $.02
  • ganeshts - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    This review is primarily meant to finish up coverage of the review units we have had for a long time. The WDTV Live Hub has been extensively tested and reviewed here:

    In addition, the WD TV Live Streaming Media Player has been with us for the last 1 month or so. Still some pending issues to fix up in that player, and I am waiting for a stable firmware from WD before reviewing it.
  • jonyah - Monday, November 28, 2011 - link

    Funny, I think the same thing, but replace WDTV with PopcornHour. There is no match for the latest PCH (now the A-300). WDTV just seems like a little plastic toy box in comparison. Yes it's twice as expensive, but with that you get something that supports everything, integrates with IMDB, has apps addons, etc. Reply
  • pseudo7 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Nice round up, though it would be nice to XBMC in the review round up (especially after next release).
    There are number a commercially available boxes:

    Plus shed light on a nice opensource project
  • kolepard - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Agree. XBMC is a fantastic piece of work, and I'd love to see it compared in the roundup. The Boxee software is based on XBMC, and one of the reasons I purchased a Boxee was that they support the XBMC project. Reply
  • Rainman200 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Well those are PC's not really off the shelf boxes, XBMC is getting there though to a point were a set top box running XBMC is viable.

    The Arm linux port of XBMC is making progress and Sigma Designs are porting XBMC too so in the future you might see XBMC powered players like a WDTV Live that use it for GUI rendering and jukebox creation.

    Hopefully the Pulse Eight guys can cook up an low cost Arm set top box that runs XBMC.
  • pseudo7 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Hmm The pulse eight box seems "off the shelf" as there is no assemble required.
    Also you can get the xtreamer ultra with openelec preinstalled (and hense XBMC)
  • Boopop - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    I concur, I've been a fan of XBMC since the early days when it was only available on the original Xbox. It would be nice to see how the people here think it compares! Reply
  • kolepard - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Could you mention where you found a Boxee Box for $90? I can't seem to find one for much under $200, and at $90 I'd purchase additional units.

  • gplracer - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Looks like a media pc is still the best choice. Reply
  • Matt355 - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    I replaced my HTPC after I purchased the Boxee Box. It serves my Needs Perfectly and uses far less electricity, its never gone over 15w and is easier for other family members to use. Reply
  • jbm - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    Indeed. No full 10bit-Support=fail for fansubs. What use is a streaming device when you cannot play your current video downloads. Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    I am sure we will see more such offers as time goes by.
  • Matt355 - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    I purchased my Boxee Box from Best Buy for $89.99 last week. They price matched Comp USA, who was sold out. No doubt Amazon will be offering it at that price soon also.
    I must say I had not really considered it at $179.99 but if I had Known how good it is I would have Gladly payed full price, It plays everything. even video I had Problems With on the WD Media Player, it applies dvd and album art to music and video files and has channels for streaming live content from the internet and only uses 15W under full load, far better then my HTPC it replaced. I only wish now that I had purchased a second one while it was on sale.
  • mcturkey - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    The biggest issue I have with all of these is the fact that if you truly want to move to a whole-house entertainment system, none of them support streaming CableCard tuners and the DVR functionality that provides. Of the Media Center Extenders that exist with this capability, only the 360 is still supported, and it requires a Windows 7 system with a fair bit of processing power and memory to transcode newer formats on the fly.

    I am about to take the plunge on moving to 360s for streaming from my HTPC for movies/tv shows/cable. If someone would just make a proper media streaming box with the kind of native codec support that these streamers have and make it an MCE, they could really make a killing. But I'm not going to have multiple boxes for this stuff. I'd build HTPCs for all the rooms, but you lose out on proper whole-house DVR capability, and you have to manually assign tuners to each box, making it more of a hassle to use than it should be.
  • Matt355 - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    Boxee Box will be selling a dongle that plugs in and allows recording of over air TV, I tried the X Box 360 Solution and gave up. There is no excuse for the 360 not supporting more codecs. That sad, I can point my Boxee Box to any folder on my Windows Home Server or Macbook, So you could record on 1 PC or server and point all your Boxee's to it and stream to any room. All codecs are built in to Boxee Box. Just like WD Media Player. so no transcoding and no re encoding required. Reply
  • CU - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    Mythtv can do that. You setup a backend somewhere, and then install frontends at each TV. Reply
  • mcturkey - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    MythTV doesn't work with CableCard tuners, though, which is necessary for making whole-home DVR and TV support work. The only software that has been certified by Cable Card Labs or whatever they're called is Windows Media Center :( It's not just playing back recorded stuff (which requires extenders under WMC due to copy-never flags), but also sharing tuners for live TV. I'd much prefer to use HTPCs for this as I'd never need to worry about codecs and transcoding--not to mention having more control over the interface. Reply
  • Rainman200 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    I'm not too surprised to see Boxee come out on top, much of the media streamer industry is very behind the times.

    That said I would have liked to have seen a HDI Dune player included given their reputation for stability and image quality to see if they live up to the claims which Boxee comes away with the top spot in this article.
  • Memphist - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    I have used the Xtreamer Products and have found them to be the best for playing all formats. I have yet to find a format it can not play. It appear to be compatible with every format conceivable. I have a Sidewinder an Xtreamer Pro.

    I read these review for a laugh at how much they cost and how many CODECs they can't play.

    My TV is a Panasonic and Blu ray player a Sony, neither can play half the the CODEC mix that the Xtreamer's can play.

    If you're new to Media Streamers do your self a favor and look at the Xtreamer Products first and compare the rest.
  • pseudo7 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    I've never liked xtreamer products, of which I have only owned the original xtreamer but it was enough to shove me to building my own HTPC and installing XBMC (neither of which I had done before.

    My biggest niggle is that they have a great website with great text, pics and videos put there products seems lacking.

    The xtreamer ultra can ship with openelec which runs XBMC... I can see it heading to XBMC a lot more.
  • Destiny - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    If you're new to Media Streamers it is best to AVOID Xtreamer brand - there are many alternatives out there from other brands. My experience with them is not good and maybe others may have better experience.

    Comparing prices for Xtreamer Products to what is available here in the USA - the costs are the same after VAT, International Shipping, and Customs fees if ordered from Over Seas Shop... plus the Xtreamers that are available here in the USA is not really lower cost that what is exactly available that is using RealTek chipsets... plus the codec is the same for all RealTek chipsets because they share the same RealTek SDK - no need to review a twin...

    Plus a quick google search for Xtreamer would show customer service is horrible combined with marketing gimmicks... You'll fair better with AC Ryan and even better with Med8er using the same RealTek chipsets...
  • SlyNine - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    How it organizes the library, and how easy someone who never touched it before can get to the movie (on my network) that they want to watch. Reply
  • juhatus - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    How about testing oppo-93, something more of a "top-end" streamer/blu-ray.. pretty please :) Reply
  • plonk420 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    do these output 24/48 or 16/48? Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Please look at the Sampling Frequency entries in the Audio Codec section. The POHD2 and NTV550 are faithful, but Boxee Box is not. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    The quest doesn't continue - the answer is an HTPC, and software has finally become decent enough that it's not a huge hassle like it was in the past. Although more expensive than these boxes the near-unlimited flexibility of something like a Zacate-based HTPC cannot be beat. Reply
  • Deanodxb - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    ...of the problems users face with these players.

    I have purchased two Boxee Boxes, one for playback of material by USB and one for playback of material through a wider network of NAS boxes.

    Boxee updates firmware automatically, without any user intervention. The last update lost all SMB shares, prevented me from adding the shares again and lost all scrapped media. Multiple users have complained to Boxee about this and their customer service has got worse and worse. They have done nothing to respond to customer tickets raised on this issue and are more concerned with pushing new products such as dongles and live TV.

    Check out this link and read the comments to see what I am referring to:

    I ended up re-flashing to old working firmware and blocking the auto update address in my router. Boxee works great but all manufacturers should know that customers aren't their beta or alpha testers.
  • slyck - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    D-LINK.... the only reason I need to never purchase a Boxee Box. Reply
  • Master_Sigma - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    Do any of these devices support playback of 10-bit h.264 encodes? I watch alot of anime fansubs and that community has already started moving over to that standard (most NEW fansubs being released nowadays uses 10-bit encoding). My PC can play them fine but I was wondering if there was an off-the-shelf playback device out now that supports them or if I would buy/build a little HTPC, like the ZOTAC Zbox Nano (hopefully with Llano), to do the job. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    Please look in the Video Codecs Compatibility section under H.264 ; Both Boxee Box and NTV550 play such videos with a blank screen. The POHD2 plays with blocking artifacts. You have to rely on PC for playback of such streams for another year or so (at the least) Reply
  • Master_Sigma - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    Herp, derp. That's what I get for not reading. Thanks! Reply
  • Nogib - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Well if those fansubbers weren't complete elitist dicks we wouldn't have this problem. I've loved being able to play 8-bit h.264 encodes on my WDTV Live Plus as well as my netbook (AMD Ontario acceleration is flawless!). But no, can't run this 10-bit garbage on those. Instead of waiting for proper hardware support, fansubbers assumed we all either have HTPCs or love to sit at a computer desk to watch shows. And once one group started doing it the others all followed suit to make sure their e-penis measured up.

    You can tell I'm only slightly bitter about them changing from 8-bit to 10-bit when there is zero benefit....
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, December 06, 2011 - link

    They do it for free. Don't like it? Go learn Japanese and not have to rely on fansubber to feed your anime needs. Why are you whining about something that you get for free anyway? Reply
  • geniekid - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    As others above me have said, it looks like an HTPC is still the most capable media center. That said, for the prices of these three alternatives, I would be hard pressed to recommend building an HTPC unless there's some functionality you just can't live without or you're a hobbyist like me :) Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    And a great summary of the state of the market

    Which, for media streamers, sucks.

    These are not consumer grade devices and the rate of progress is such that I doubt they ever will be.

    On the other hand it is now possible to build or buy a PC that doubles as a proper part of an AV system, that works well and gets better and better. Problem is it takes a bit of work to get Windows 7, XBMC or whatever OS you prefer, to work they way you want.

    Zotac nano AD10 is a fantastic bit of kit (please lose the fan though) and close to perfect given its very small size or if you want something larger, AMD Motherboards are a great start and there are some really nice cases out there (for example love look of Wesena, just not convinced by build quality/design)

    Sadly you get what you pay for
  • thudo - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    I own this and its quite fantastic for $99 and getting GREAT reviews. Devs are also the only in the biz to rapidly response to suggestions from the customer. Sure its NOT perfect but it works quite well.

    Maybe it was too new (Oct 03, 2011) to be reviewed by Anandtech.. :|
  • Destiny - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    This is a roundup of updates to reviews and articles written for these players on AnandTech from almost a year ago. So basically it is an updated review after the Writer gave them ample time for firmware updates to bring them up to par because at launch they were all horrible and not market ready.

    The Pivos Aios uses the same RealTek 1185 chipset as the AC Ryan that is reviewed here. So features and codec support would be the same because the RealTek SDK does not offer any much difference in custom firmware... so basically it would be a same review as the AC Ryan as mentioned here...
  • NewCityVegas - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    What interests me most right now are small boxes coming out of China that seem to combine a wifi media box with a TV tuner selling for about $120.

    I wish I could see a real review of one of these. Here's a promotion piece (called a review) from a vendor:

    note: there seems to be auto spam filter that can't tell legitimate interest but here is the link in a clumsy format:

    kom /
  • dbrons - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    After trying one of the realtec players I bought a Dune Smart B1. It plays iso, folders, most everything. I suppose the Dune layers cost more but it would be interesting to see them compared. Reply
  • cjs150 - Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - link

    Zotac Nano AD10
    VIA Artico 1150

    Both out, similar price. Alledgedly can act as perfect HTPC especially if like me you have a NAS box to act as storage.

    Stick an SSD in them and tell us what you think.

    Are these a great addition to a real AV rack. Can they deal with Blu ray playback, light gaming (but on big screen) play virtually every type of media we can throw at them.

    What is the noise and temperatures like - no use if sound like a jet taking off.

    What are they like with Windows 7, XBMC or Linux in them. How easy is setting up a remote controller for them.

    Xmas is coming I want toys!

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