WD TV Live Hub review - WDTV Live Hub
Western Digital Network Media Player
WD Network Media player with built-in 1TB hard drive
The latest media player launched by the renowned media storage company, the WD TV Live Hub allows you to enjoy movies, music, photos and videos on your TV. And you can connect to multiple internet services, such as Facebook or Flickr. Like its WD TV Live Plus predecessor, you can stream media files to it across a wired network from your computer or NAS. However, the Live Hub also has an internal 1TB hard disk, so you can store files locally; plus it acts as a media server, so you can share those files to other devices on your network, whether its a desktop, laptop, ipod, xbox, ps3, ...
The WD TV Live Hub
The WD TV Live Hub multimedia player provide a fairly simple design. It is smaller than a DVD or Blu-ray player. Its front surface is glossy while the top is matte black. The WD logo illuminates when the device is powered on.
The hub has a HDMI 1.4 output, two USB ports (one is on the front panel to be more accessible), a Gigabit Ethernet connector, A/V composite, YUV Component video and Optical audio outputs. Thus, the device can be connected to most TVs, whether it's HD or not.
Wired to be wireless
The TV Live Hub is "WiFi-Ready": a WiFi USB stick (not included) can make your network wireless.
1TB internal drive
WD Live TV Hub has an internal hard disk capacity of 1TB. Since this is a network hard drive, my family is freeing up space on their laptops/i-devices by storing most of their files on it.
Not a fan of the fan
There is a fan at the rear of the unit which cools the intenal components. Earlier WDTV Live products were passively cooled using a heat sink. Fortunately, it does not seem too noisy, but sometimes 25mm fans like this one tend to be noisier when they age.
The menus and configuration options
WD designers offer a very nice interface: Mochi. Indeed, once powered, the WD TV Hub provides a very pleasant home menu a banner at the bottom of the screen that lets you select the type of media to watch or access services connected. Other themes can be downloaded; I used the default theme. The screen can also be changed. To do this, specifically created images are available or you can use your own images. I appreciate that little touch, too rarely seen on this type of product.
The Settings menu allows you to change the settings (obviously) of the WD TV Hub. Thus, we can adjust the definition display up to 1080p 50/60p or 1080p 24p. The most demanding user will appreciate. We can even adjust the colors for each HD mode. Note the hub's compatibility with the Deep Color standard.
Photos and music are also benefiting from numerous settings such as slide show duration, transition type, the type of display for media in the browser, whether to display information about the song, the opportunity to continue playback of music beyond 15 minutes, etc.
For network settings, it is possible to configure and verify the connection, to enable or disable the UPnP function to play media shared on the network, whether to enable the iTunes server, whether to activate the shared media server, to define a workgroup for the network and configure a proxy.
The WD logo of the front panel may be turned on or off from the Settings menu of the device.
Connected services and networking capabilities
The WD TV Live Hub provides access to several online services:
- Blockbuster On Demand
- Live365.com (Internet radio)
- Mediafly (media)
- Pandora (photo sharing)
The WD TV Hub is DLNA UPnP compatible. This means that you can play content that is stored on a hard drive connected to the network (either on a computer, a device or a NAS) directly on your television. It also means that you can play media that are stored on the Hub's internal hard drive on a computer (Windows and Mac OS) or another device. I tested these two features. The first case is not a problem since the WD TV Live Hub allows you to easily select the media type to read: local or remote.
For the second feature, I used my Galaxy Tab from Samsung as a reader for a movie stored on the TV Hub's internal drive. Please note, external hard drives or flash drives are not visible on the network scanned by the tablet. I had to use the AllShare Android application.
Supported formats are those that are accepted by the tablet. MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 do not work, for example. But no problem for MKV files (MPEG-4) or DivX and XviD, even HD. The WD Live TV Hub can be turned off during playback. Photos and music can also be read this way. I appreciate it. Be careful not to move the tablet: you risk to lose the signal and have to restart it back from the beginning.
I tested the compatibility of the WD TV Hub with many multimedia files locally (from a USB key or external hard drive) as well as remotely (via DLNA UPnP), the data then being stored on a computer of the network.
Note that the WD TV Hub can inform the user about the presence of new media, by type.
To read the contents of a USB key or external hard drive, you must first select the type of media to read. When using the File browser, only a path of the internal hard drive is accessible.
For images, I was able to display JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIF, GIF. Oddly BMP and TIF files would not display their thumbnails, yet it worked for other types of media. I have not managed to read a 24MP JPEG file.
For music, I could play MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS.
For video, the player supported all types of media I fed it with: HD DivX, MOV, TS, M2TS, MKV, H.264, MPEG-1/2/4 and that, up to 1080p. ISO DVD formats are also supported. It failed to read an image from a Blu-ray and a Blu-ray 3D (VMC) backup, not supported by the reader.
The same media could be read from the network.
When playing media, this WD media player consumes about 15 watts on average. When it's idle, it consumes about 12 watts. That's a lot for an idle device...
The remote supplied with the WD TV Live Hub sits comfortably in your hand thanks to curves on its back that makes room for the index. And holding it is comfortable even if I would've preferred the Back button to be located below the navigation pad, not above. The keys fall well under the thumb. I regret that it's not backlit and that there are no buttons to adjust the volume which would have been a real plus. In the darkness, I can still differentiates the keys though. For the volume, you must use the remote control of the corresponding device.
Overall, the Western Digital Tv Live Hub is a an excellent "all-in-one" media-player/storage-device/media server package. With a price tag under $200, it is an excellent value!
Get the WD TV Live Hub from amazon.com
Media Center / Media player with 1TB internal disk drive.
- media player with built-in hard drive
- Remote control with batteries
- AC adapter
- Quick Install Guide
- Standard or high definition television with HDMI or composite video connections. Cables not included.
- Home network and broadband connectivity for online services.
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