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Western Digital WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Third Generation - Review

WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Page 1: Introduction - Features - Setup

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Photo of Front View with Included Accessories

WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Photo of Front View with Included Accessories

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Photo of Box - Front and Rear View

WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Photo of Box - Front and Rear View

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Photo of Front and Rear View

WD TV Live Streaming Media Player - Photo of Front and Rear View

Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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Western Digital is well-known for its hard drives and other computer peripherals, but they are also making a big mark in home entertainment with their successful line or Network Media players, such as its previous WD TV Live Plus and current WD TV Live Hub. Now, Western Digital has introduced its third generation of the WD TV Live Media Streaming Player, that provides both a physical design update and adds new features. For more details, keep reading this review. After the review, also check out my supplementary Photo Profile.

Features

1. Core Function: Network Media Player that features content streaming from the internet or home network for viewing on a TV and home theater system.

2. Internet Connectivity: Wired Ethernet or wireless WiFi.

3. Internet Streaming Services (at the time this review was published - some services are free and some require paid subscription):

TV/Movies - Blockbuster On Demand, CinemaNow, Flingo, HuluPlus, and Netflix.

Music - Live 365, Deezer (non-U.S. users), Mediafly, Pandora, Picasa, Shoutcast Radio, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio.

Misc Videos - Daily Motion, YouTube. Added via firmware update: Vimeo

Information and Social Networking - Accuweather,Facebook and Flickr.

4. Inputs: 2 USB (1 front/1 rear), Ethernet/LAN.

5. Outputs: 1 HDMI, 1 Digital Optical, 1 AV (3.5mm).

6. Video Output Resolution: 1080p.

7. Audio Codec Compatibility: MP3, MP2, WAV, PCM, Dolby Digital (2 channel), Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, FLAC, WMA, WMA Pro, AAC, OGG Vorbis, AC3, APE.

8. Audio Container Compatibility: AIFF, MKA, OGG, WMA

9. Video Codec Compatibility: MPEG 1, MPEG 2, MPEG 4 (ASP, AVCHD, H.264)

10. Video Container Compatibility: AVI, VOB/ISO, ASF/WMV, MKV, MOV, DAT (VCD/SVCD), FLV.

11. Photo File Compatibility: GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIF/TIFF.

12. Subtitle File Compatibility: SRT, SUB, SMI, ASS.

13. Playlist Format Compatibility: PLS, WPL, M3U, XML (iTunes), CUE.

14. Advanced functions: Audio lip sync, Subtitle color, image position and timing adjustment, Password-protected parental controls for specific online services

15. Included Accessories: Quick Start Guide, Remote control with batteries, RCA to 3.5mm AV cables, AC Adapter.

16. Suggested Price: $99.99

Hardware Used

The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:

TV/Monitor: Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 37-inch 1080p LCD Monitor

Video Projectors: Vivitek Qumi Q2 HD Pocket Projector, and Espon MegaPlex MG-850HD (both 720p projectors on review loan).

Projection Screen: Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 80-inch Portable Screen.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Audio/Video Cables: Accell and Atlona cables.

WD TV Live Setup

The first thing to notice about this latest version of the WD TV Live its extremely small size. At just 4.9-inches (125mm) Wide, 1.2-inches High (30mm), and 3.9-inches (100mm) Deep, the WD TV live can just about fit in the palm of your hand, making easy to fit in just any small space that might still available on a crowded equipment rack or shelf.

Once you place the WD TV Live where you want it, just plug in the provided AC Adapter to supply power, connect an HDMI (preferable) or supplied AV connection cable to your TV or home theater receiver. Another audio and video connection option provided is to connect the HDMI output directly to your TV or video projector and separately connect the digital optical output to your home theater receiver for the audio portion. This is practical if your receiver does not have HDMI connections. However, keep in mind that Dolby TrueHD bitstreams (if you encounter any) can only be accessed via HDMI.

After making your audio and video connections, the next step is to then use either the Wired Ethernet or built-in WiFi option to connect the WD TV Live to your internet router/home network. I found that using either the wired or WiFi internet connection was glitch free. Using the wireless option, the WD TV easily found my router and automatically proceed through the internet access setup procedure. For those that do experience any difficulty with the automatic process, you can go through the steps manually.

Once setup the home menu page is displayed on the screen, with the current time and weather displayed on the top right corner. Along the bottom of the home menu page a bar that provides navigation to the following menus: Setup and Advanced procedures (see more details), Photos, Music, Video, Services (see more details), Games, RSS, and Files.

The Photos, Music, Games, RSS, and Files menu display a listings (either in text, icons, or thumbnails) of the items to be accessed, just scroll and click to view or play.

Now that you have an overview of the WD TV Live, its time to check out its performance.

Proceed to Page 2: Evaluation and Final Take.

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