Western Digital has become a noted player in the media streamer market over the last two years. Instead of resting on the laurels received for the WDTV, they have continued to introduce new products periodically. Their flagship product lineup started with the WDTV. Introduced in November 2008, it used Sigma Designs 8635. The second generation (2G) product (WDTV Live) added a 100 Mbps wired ethernet port. It used the next generation Sigma chipset, SMP 8655. By then, Netflix became an indispensable requirement for media streamers in the US market. This led WD to introduce the WDTV Live Plus, a 2.5G product which used the Macrovision enabled SMP 8654. The Netflix feature was incidentally enabled with a firmware update by Seagate in their FreeAgent Theater lineup. This caused consternation amongst many WDTV Live users. Despite this, WD continues to enjoy a good standing in this market.

Today, Western Digital is introducing their 3G flagship product, the WDTV Live Hub. Priced at US $199.99, the product builds upon the features of their existing flagship product, the WDTV Live Plus. The new features in the WDTV Live Hub include

  1. 1 TB 2.5" internal hard drive
  2. HDMI 1.4
  3. Wired Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) interface
  4. Media Server capabilities
  5. Improved user interface and UI framework
  6. Support for Blockbuster On Demand (rental and purchase)
  7. Remote control over a HTTP interface
  8. Support for scraping / cover art (media library information) download without the need for a PC

Ever since Western Digital started introducing products in the media streamer space, we were puzzled as to why no specific features were designed in to enable easier usage of WD hard disks (similar to what Seagate does in its lineup). With this product, WD manages to fix up that issue by integrating a non-user serviceable hard disk inside. The other features (such as support for HDMI 1.4 and GbE) are evolutionary in nature, and as per market expectations. With these new features in mind, let us proceed with the rest of the review.

Unboxing Impressions
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  • ganeshts - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    I know these aren't in the piece yet. I will try to get those figures in as soon as possible. Reply
  • casteve - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Ganesh, when you do have a chance to add the power and noise levels...be sure to include power used when off/sleeping/idle. Thanks! Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Sorry for the delay, but the power consumption numbers are as below:

    1. Power off, adapter connected to the mains (WDTVLiveHub visible on the network) : 7.7W

    2. Power off, transferring files to WDTVLiveHub drive over the network: 9.4W

    3. Power on, running 1080p video / playing Netflix: 10.7W

    4. Power on, running 1080p video, transferring file to internal drive at the same time: 11.3W
    Reply
  • dman - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    I'd be interested if it had recording capabilities at this price point. Well, I'm sure a lot of people would be... I just say it because I really don't need the built in HDD on this device since it's not recording anything.

    It's nice that they've updated the interface, something the previous generation of WD devices have been asking for, however, with Google and Apple getting serious in this space I think WD has been moving a little to slowly here.

    Lastly, did they finally include a 30s skip function or is it still just FF/RR while watching shows and the huge 10 or 20 minute (I think) skip?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    The LiveHub has the ability to navigate to any time instant in the video file. There is an option for a x16 forward / rewind too. No explicit 30s skip as far as I can see Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    Really? That's getting up into well-connected blu-ray player pricing - not to mention the nettops you can put together for nearly that much... Reply
  • dandar - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    I have an Iomega Home Media NAS. It has gigabit port and it's also limited to an average of 10.6 MB/s. I was getting slightly above 8 MB/s on 100 megabit router so it's a slight upgrade, but a far cry from what I expected (ie 50+ MB/s). They both must have similar bottleneck between the HDD and the network interface. Reply
  • Aikouka - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    If I'm understanding your setup properly, you have a computer and the Iomega Home Media NAS plugged into a 100 Base-T router. Regardless of your NIC's capable speed, you'll never transfer faster than the hardware **between the two points** allows.

    A 100 Base-T system is theoretically capable of up to 12.5 MB/s (100 / 8).
    Reply
  • dandar - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    No, I had it hooked up to 100 megabit router, then I hooked up a gigabit switch in preparation to wiring my house up for nas serving a PS3 and Cinematube. To transfer the files I hooked up my laptop to the switch as well. I haven't tested read speeds yet, but write speeds increased from 8+ MB/s with both my laptop and NAS on my 100 megabit router to 10.6 MB/s with both on the gigabit switch, which incidentally meets what Anandtech got with this box and what other websites got when testing WD Mybook World.

    Ps. The switch shows both devices connected with gigabit protocols so getting write speeds equivalent to what you could get on a good 100mbps connection is pretty disappointing. Having said that, read speeds should be around 27-30 MBps. Anand or should I say Ganesh should test that and update this review.
    Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    That shitty 25mm (sleeve bearing?) fan is going to get really loud, really soon. It's too bad they didn't keep it passively cooled. Reply

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