We have put the WDTV Live Hub through the paces, and it does appear to be an interesting product. Though it might not satisfy the large set of people clamouring on AVSForums or the WD forums, requesting new features and demanding fixes, it does appear to make for an ideal gift for the non-tech savvy friends and relatives in the upcoming holiday season. WD must be lauded for getting the user interface and media library aspect right this time around. This is sure to pull many consumers who are not aware of / have no necessity for features such as full HD audio bitstreaming, MKV PGS subtitles etc. Fortunately, for WD, these type of consumers are the bulk of the purchasing public. We expect the WDTV Live Hub to continue giving WD the success that the previous products in the lineup have provided.

Before wrapping up the review, let me enumerate the pros and cons of the WDTV Live Hub:

Pros:

  1. 1 TB hard disk bundled, enough for most non-tech savvy users' contents
  2. HDMI 1.4 support plays most existing 3D content on 3D TVs
  3. Expanded online services compared to previous generation product
  4. Improved user interface compared to previous products in this lineup
  5. Supports sync of USB drives and digital camera contents to internal hard disk through USB
  6. Easy control of playback and interaction with the streamer through Web Remote and USB keyboards
  7. TrueHD bitstreaming and WMA(Pro) decode work fully

Cons:

  1. Many bugs existing in previous generation products still left unfixed
  2. GbE port seems more like a marketing gimmick, rather than actually adding to the performance
  3. Content can be transferred to the internal hard disk from a computer using the network only
  4. Can't stream multiple HD streams from the Live Hub, though the specifications seem to indicate that it is possible
  5. For a flagship product, WD should have tried to provide full HD audio bitstreaming / Blu-Ray ISO support / advanced media streamer features

The Live Plus is inherently capable of many of the new features of the Live Hub, as the main SoC in both products is the same. Will the new features be ported to the old product? Only time will tell. In the meanwhile, if you are already planning to purchase a WDTV Live Plus, it is better to put in some extra money to purchase the Live Hub. It costs less than the combined price of a 2.5" 1 TB hard drive and the WDTV Live Plus standalone. The end user will have to put up with some quirks of the WDTV lineup, but, based purely on the price to performance ratio, the WDTV Live Hub will be hard to beat.

Teardown and Analysis
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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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