Western Digital WD TV Live high-definition media streamer

Western Digital's first network-capable media streamer is inexpensive but versatile

Western Digital WD TV Live
  • Western Digital WD TV Live
  • Western Digital WD TV Live
  • Western Digital WD TV Live
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Inexpensive, extensive format support, easy to use

Cons

  • No integrated Wi-Fi, limited photo viewing options, no Gigabit Ethernet

Bottom Line

The latest version of Western Digital's WD TV media player is better than ever. It boasts an Ethernet port and has ability to view YouTube videos and photos on Flickr. The WD TV Live's extensive format support will let you access almost any movie, photo or song.

Would you buy this?

Western Digital's WD TV Live is a tiny and inexpensive high-definition media player that can access a wide variety of video, audio and photo files from both local and networked storage devices. It is extremely easy to use but lacks wireless connectivity, so it may not suit all home theatre setups.

The WD TV Live media streamer is slightly larger than the WD TV it supersedes but, as it lacks internal storage, it is still one of the smallest network-capable media streamers available. It has two USB ports for plugging in external hard drives or flash drives formatted with NTFS, HFS+ or FAT/FAT32 file systems. You can also plug a supported wireless dongle into the USB ports. It doesn't support a large range of devices, however, and a dongle jutting out the side of the media player can be an eyesore.

The WD TV Live can stream media from shared folders on a network (SMB, AFP and Bonjour are supported) and DLNA-compliant devices thanks to its Ethernet port. Unfortunately, it's only a 10/100Mbps port instead of Gigabit Ethernet, so it isn't ideal for streaming high-definition media or copying data between a network source and a local hard drive through the media streamer.

Output connections include HDMI 1.3, digital TOSLINK audio and breakout cables for composite and component cables. The WD TV Live media player is capable of outputting a full 1080p HD resolution.

Western Digital includes the same tiny remote control that is bundled with its other WD TV offerings; it feels firm in the hand. Though the buttons can feel rubbery and resistive at first, we have found they become less resistive over time.

The WD TV Live media streamer's user interface is slightly sluggish but is still extremely easy to navigate; even this reviewer's mother could use it. Media is accessed by selecting audio, photo or video categories and source (local, shared network folders or DLNA sources). Each type of media can be viewed as a list or thumbnail gallery, and videos can also be viewed in a preview mode. Unlike the WD TV Mini, however, video previews include audio and continue to loop even when the media player's screensaver starts.

Photo viewing options are also better than on the WD TV Mini, but there is still room for improvement. The ability to view local and network photo libraries by tags, folders and dates makes it easier to navigate, but slideshow options are minimal and the lack of transitions detracts from the viewing experience.

The WD TV Live's network capability means you can also access your YouTube, Flickr or Live365.com account. The interface for each service is tailored to the media player, but you can still utilise all of the regular features you would find if you were accessing them in a Web browser. WD TV Live users get a five-day free trial of Live365.com's commercial-free VIP access, though you'll have to enter your credit card details and you will automatically be charged at the end of the trial unless you cancel. Australian users can't access the Pandora music service.

Western Digital's WD TV range has always offered extensive format support and the WD TV Live media player doesn't disappoint. This tiny box can play most popular audio, video and photo formats, with Real Video and DRM-protected content being the only striking omissions. Unless the majority of your videos and songs are from the iTunes Store or similar, chances are you'll be able to play all of your media files on the WD TV Live.

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