A very popular category, the one of the media players, allows us to watch movies, play music files and view photos from the comfort of our living room, directly to our television. One of the most popular media players is the WD TV Live media player.
Western Digital was founded in 1970 and their headquarters are located in California, United States. The company is one of the top hard disk manufacturers in the world.
Let’s take a quick look at the WD Live specs:
File formats supported
AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9
JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PNG
MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS
PLS, M3U, WPL
SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI
Full-HD 1080p video playback and navigation – This is the real thing; Full-HD 1080p playback. Sit back and enjoy the spectacular picture quality of brilliant high definition video and the crystal-clear sound of digital audio. Use the included remote control to make your entertainment choices using our crisp, animated navigation menus.
Play a wide variety of file formats – WD TV Live supports a wide variety of the most popular file formats. No need to spend time transcoding.
Play videos, music and photos from the Internet on your big screen TV – Explore and watch YouTube videos and Flickr pictures on the big screen. Rock out to thousands of radio stations via Live365 and discover new music with Pandora radio.
Access files anywhere on your home network – Play movies, music, and photos from any PC or drive on your home network. The Ethernet port connects this player to your home network through a wired connection or via popular, supported WiFi adapters (sold separately). Ideal for use with WD’s My Book World.
Turn your USB drive into an HD media player – Play content from most popular USB drives, and digital cameras, camcorders, and portable media players that can be recognized as mass storage devices. Optimized for My Passport portable hard drives.
Collect without limits – There’s no limit to the size of your media collection; just add more USB drives for more space.
Play media seamlessly from multiple USB drives – Two USB ports on the player let you connect multiple USB storage devices and access them simultaneously. Our media library feature collects the content on all the drives into one list sorted by media type.
Transfer files easily – Copy, move or delete files stored on a USB drive, a network drive, your camcorder, or a camera to the attached USB drive using the on-screen menus.
Show photos and movies directly from your digital camera or video camera – Works with digital cameras, digital video cameras, in fact, any digital imaging device that supports Picture Transfer Protocol.
[12:01:02] natasha: HDMI 1.3, composite video and component video output – The HDMI port lets you connect to the highest quality HD TV or home theater. Additional composite (RCA), and component outputs ensure compatibility with virtually all television sets.
SPDIF digital output – The optical audio output sends digital signals to your AV receiver for the best surround sound experience.
Play a world of media on your TV!
WD TV Live supports a list of popular online services that delivers Internet content onto your HD TV.
YouTube – Broadcast yourself. World’s #1 video sharing website.
Pandora – Free, personalized Internet radio playing only the music you love. Enter your favorite songs or artists, and enjoy stations created just for you. Rate songs as they play, because Pandora caters to your tastes and adapts stations to your feedback on the spot.
Flickr – Share your photos. Watch the world.
Live365 – Listen to thousands of commercial-free Internet radio stations! Live365 has broadcasts from Radio Disney, Santana, David Byrne, Pat Metheny, and Paul Oakenfold, as well as stations created by music lovers just like you!
Easily browse through popular genres such as rock, hip-hop, jazz, and new age. Or discover treasures in some of the less-traveled styles such as gospel, comedy, anime, Hindi, trip hop, 30s, glam, tribal, Celtic, and 100s more.
WiFi ready– Supports wireless network connection with optional USB wireless adapter.
Ultra-compact design – Fits easily into your entertainment center.
From the above we understand that the WD TV Live has complete media capabilities and can easily become your multimedia center.
A Closer Look
The WD TV Live comes in a colourful card box, on which we see an actual photo of the media player and we take a general idea of what the menu looks like.
At the back side we find a more detailed report of the products main capabilities and features.
The package included the media player itself, a remote control with batteries, a component AV cable, a composite AV cable, the power adapter, a user manual and a software CD.
The player itself is well built and has a nice black finish, while the remote control is simple but pleasant in hands and easy to use.
We see the connectors at the back side – power, USB 2.0, HDMI, optical, ethernet, av out, YPBPR. Note that there is one extra USB 2.0 port at the side of the player. There are ventilation holes around the player’s body that help the hot air to be extracted out of it.
A Closer Look – Interface
Installing the player was not a real problem. Within minutes we got it connected with our Samsung Full HD television. Notice that the HDMI cable is not supplied, you have to buy one extra. The player’s main menu is simple, fast and easy to use. The remote control response is fast and generally the navigation is pleasant.
Under the settings, you find the system setting which includes some basic settings, including the subtitle encoding.
Under the network setting menu, you can configure the player so it can play content shared on your network. There is also the ability to use wireless network, but this requires to buy an extra wireless usb dongle, as WiFi is not embedded in the player.
It is also quite easy to configure the internet connection, either wired or wireless through the check connection tab.
Once the internet connection has been configured, we are ready to use WD TV Live’s internet capabilities. You can watch videos on YouTube flawlessly, and also listen to streaming Pandora radio.
Playback Quality and Verdict
The surprise with the WD TV Live is that uses the newer Sigma 8655 chipset, which offers superior playback quality and performance compared to the former WD TV model.
Overall the WD TV Live played any format we wanted it to play with ease and with very satisfying playback performance, whether it came from a USB flash drive or from our network. Of course the quality tops when you use a Full HD TV and a compatible movie file. Videos from YouTube played flawlessly, images from FlickR were easy to use and streaming radio was never a problem.
Costing around 95 euros in Europe, we would say that the WD TV Live is worth the money, as it is a complete media center. We were a little bit disappointed that it does not have WiFi embedded and at the lack of an HDMI cable, but these are not real problems as they can be fixed easily.
(+) Supports nearly all file formats
(+) Smooth playback performance
(+) Network capabilities
(+) Easy to configure and use
(-) Lack of embedded WiFi, USB WiFi adapter has to be bought separately
(-) Lack of HDMI cable
Thus, we give the WD TV Live a rating of 9.0/10 and our Editor’s Choice Award.