Western Digital TV Live Plus

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
August 26, 2010
Manufacturer
Western Digital
Product Page
TV Live Plus
Views
50673
Western Digital TV Live Plus
The WD TV Live Plus plays it all. Throw any media file you have at it and it will easily play it and more. Internet content? Sure. Netflix? Yes!

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Page 1
Introduction

You're sitting down on the couch and want to watch some of your network content. Even better, you want to watch the unlimited content of the internet. Western Digital has your needs covered. They have released some media player in the past, but the WD TV Live Plus is the newest media player to arrive. Not only does this media player do all your network and internet needs, it packs in streaming Netflix support for the ultimate combination of media prowess.

About Western Digital

Quote

We are thousands of people worldwide working to help you collect, manage and use digital information. Our reliable hard drives and solid state drives are just about everywhere that digital information and content is found, from computers to external and portable storage devices, and from digital video recorders in living rooms to sophisticated medical, military, aerospace, manufacturing and telecommunications systems. Our customers are some of the largest companies in the world, as well as you, who could be using a WD drive right now.

Our high-capacity, durable drives securely store your videos, music and photographs on computers and are quiet, frugal on power and deliver your content fast. Because so much of what you do is now recorded in digital form, WD makes it easy to safely store and share the articles of our lives, and to make duplicates to prevent loss. WD designs and markets plug-and-play external storage devices that expand the capacity of our computers and personal video recorders. They carry a WD label and are found at retailers worldwide. We also make media players that enable you to enjoy your digital content on the biggest screen in your house – your TV.

Businesses take advantage of WD’s high quality and reliability with our enterprise drives in their servers and expansive corporate storage systems, quickly providing critical information to their workers. WD’s green storage leadership enables these businesses to significantly reduce their data centers’ carbon footprint, while increasing their capacity and saving money with lower power consumption.

Specialty applications requiring long lifecycles and the strictest controls on data protection and downtime prevention such as medical devices, military and aerospace equipment and telecommunications systems rely on WD’s embedded drives for uninterrupted service and peace of mind.

We understand the importance of the data you trust to your drives. We focus our passion, knowledge and innovation on products that reliably keep your information and content safe and secure from loss.

http://www.wdc.com/en/company/index2.asp


Packaging

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The Western Digital TV Live Plus is packaged in a pretty sleek black box with yellow accents. Sadly, there are multiple languages on the box even though the target market is the USA. There are a variety of different logos for services including Netflix.

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The back of the box contains some additional information and specifications. It supports 1080p and lots of online content.
Page 2
Specifications

  • File Format Support
    Video - 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
    Photo - JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG
    Audio - MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS
    Playlist - PLS, M3U, WPL
    Subtitle - SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI
  • Note:
    - MPEG2 MP@HL up to 1920x1080p24, 1920x1080i30 or 1280x720p60 resolution.
    - MPEG4.2 ASP@L5 up to 1280x720p30 resolution and no support for global motion compensation.
    - WMV9/VC-1 MP@HL up to 1280x720p60 or 1920x1080p24 resolution. VC-1 AP@L3 up to 1920x1080i30, 1920x1080p24 or 1280x720p60 resolution.
    - H.264 BP@L3 up to 720x480p30 or 720x576p25 resolution.
    - H.264 MP@L4.1 and HP@4.1 up to 1920x1080p24, 1920x1080i30, or 1280x720p60 resolution.
    - An audio receiver is required for multi-channel surround sound digital output.
    - Compressed RGB JPEG formats only and progressive JPEG up to 2048x2048.
    - Single layer TIFF files only.
    - Uncompressed BMP only.
  • Interface Ethernet, HDMI, Composite A/V, Component video, USB 2.0
  • Height 1.57 Inches
  • Length 3.94 Inches
  • Width 4.94 Inches
  • Weight 0.67 Pounds
  • Amazon Link, Newegg Link


Take note of the "note" in the specifications. The TV Live Plus only handles pictures up to 2048x2048. This isn't such a big deal if you have an UPnP AV server that can resize pictures on the fly. It will handle larger pictures, though. It just errors out on some of them.

Marketing Summary

Quote

Stream movies and Internet video to your HDTV.

Play media from your home network and the Internet on your big screen TV. Plus, enjoy access to your Netflix unlimited membership and other premium content. Don't confine your movies, music, and photos to your small computer screen. Experience them as big as life on your TV in Full-HD 1080p with WD TV Live Plus HD media player.

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=832


Package Contents

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Starting off the contents of the WD TV Live Plus is the literature and CD with information on it. There are some rubber sticky feet to place on the Live Plus when you determine which orientation you want to use.

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The second layer has the TV Live Plus along with the remote, two AA batteries (generic), the AC adapter, non-standard component cables, and non-standard RCA composite cables. If you'll notice the audio-esque jack attached to the component cable, that's the end you insert into the Live Plus. It saves space, but we don't like proprietary cables.

cable.jpg


Here is a close up of the two cables with the strange ends. You can pick these types of cables up at RadioShack, but we always prefer standard RCA style cables rather than the breakout style.
Page 3
Live Plus Remote

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The WD TV Live Plus gives you a good sized remote for controlling the unit from afar. In fact, like other media players, it is the only way to control the Live Plus. You get the standard menu controls as well as player controls. There is a power button, and the always important home button. When you navigate too deep into menus, the home button gets you back very fast. The batteries are installed like any other remote in the back.

WD TV Live Plus

iso.jpg


The WD TV Live Plus is small (watch the video to see) and is bathed in the traditional Western Digital flair of silver and gray. The small size of the Live Plus allows it to live in any setting. The remote is IR so you'll need to be able to see the the front of the unit to control it. Even so, with the size, you can put this anywhere and the color scheme will go with most home entertainment setups.

usbreset.jpg


One side of the Live Plus contains one of the USB ports along with the reset button. The WD TV Live Plus has two USB ports, but this one is more accessible for plugging in while the unit is in use while the one on the back is more for always plugged in action.

ports.jpg


The back of the Live Plus is where all the action takes place. From left to right: the AC adapter port, the second USB port, the HDMI 1.3 port, the optical audio port, the ethernet port, the composite/audio port, and the component port. Yes, the last two are the small jack looking ports. The cables included are break-out cables. They are proprietary. Don't lose them. The HDMI port is standard so use that if you can.

side2.jpg


The other side of the Live Plus has the labeling and the various certifications and such. You can place this side down or the true bottom. It all depends on the orientation you want to have.
Page 4
Testing And Use



We are prominently going to feature out video review at the top of this section for the specific reason that it is the easiest way to show you how the Live Plus works and feels. Feel free to leave us some feedback on Youtube or join our forums and post your thoughts.

Reviewing all the features of the WD TV Live Plus is one of the hardest things to do. We've had this product for about a month and have yet to try all the specific features, but the ones that we have tested work great.

Let's start with one of the best features and the most important. The streaming Netflix support is excellent. Just like the "»Netflix Player," the Live Plus handles Netflix streaming content with ease. It is like an application built into the Live Plus that you activate to your account and you're ready to watch streaming. The streaming service on Netflix is one of the best things to happen to home entertainment and we're very satisfied with the way it works on the WD TV Live Plus.

The internet content doesn't end with Netflix. You get full Youtube support. You can easily access the ASE Labs Youtube channel! We did notice a few hiccups from time to time. You can see in the video review that Youtube timed out once. This is the internet, after all. You can search for videos and have favorites to bring up all the time. With Youtube, you've got endless amounts of content ready to go.

There's even more. Pandora streaming radio is ready to go on the WD TV Live Plus, as well. Flickr support is included and there's more features than we can even list. Do you want additional content? The Live Plus gives you access to MediaFly to give you a wide range of viewing content.

The USB media support is excellent. While you are able to use any number of USB mass storage devices, the real and best way to use this is on a network with some back-end streaming servers. One very interesting way that the WD TV Live Plus entices you to place it in the center of your media hub is that it can accept nearly all USB media such as cameras and camcorders. Using the on-screen file management, you can copy the contents of the device to a network share. This is an easy way to watch and backup the content all in one place. You need the infrastructure with network shares, but if you're buying this device, chances are you already have that.

UPnP AV streaming is where it is at for local network media. Take any good server (such as the MythTV UPnP AV server or the Synology DS-210j) and the WD TV Live Plus can play pretty much any content you can throw at it. It is really the best way to use the unit. Throw up content on your server and the Live Plus will be ready when you are.

If you don't have a UPnP AV server, but you do have network shares for videos and music, you're still good. The Live Plus can handle network shares directly. This is a great feature since not everyone has a UPnP AV server sitting on their network, but most networks have network shares ready to go. Western Digital really got the support right for the TV Live Plus.

We did encounter some errors. We found a way to lock up the audio playing of the Live Plus by trying to play a stream from our Synology DSM-210j (an OGG stream). It failed to play, but then the unit failed to play all the audio files until we power cycled it. This is a pretty weird edge case, but we report what we find.

The media support was excellent. There was nothing it didn't play. Seriously, name something you think it can't do and it probably does it.

Conclusion

For $150 MSRP (cheaper at Amazon, Newegg at $120!), the WD TV Live Plus does it all. Seriously, it does. You do need to pair this up with a network storage server to really unlock the full feature-set of the Live Plus, but the internet content alone is amazing. Netflix support works great and having the entire catalog of Youtube ready to go is great for entertainment all the time. Pair this up with an UPnP AV server and it becomes the media player for your digital life. Western Digital has a winner with the TV Live Plus. We are amazed with the media support and it speaks loudly about how well Western Digital makes a product. Well done.

ASE Labs would like to thank Western Digital for making this review possible.

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