Western Digital WD TV Live – Next Generation Streaming Media Player Review

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The All-New WD TV Live

WD TV Live

When I first heard that Western Digital was going to come out with an updated WD TV Live box, my first reaction was, “Really?  Why?”  The original WD TV HD media box is still a rock-solid device that plays almost every kind of electronic media.  With a price point well under $100, the Western Digital TV Live (and TV Plus) is an easy way to extend content from the internet to your living room.

WD TV Live Box

Today, Western Digital is launching their new WD TV Live Streaming Media Player.  The first thing you notice with this new generation is that Western Digital has changed the form factor rather dramatically making the new player more sleek than the original WD TV. Along with the form factor chance, Western Digital has integrated Wi-Fi directly into the box. With the built in wireless-N, you no longer have to worry about getting a compatible dongle or placing the player near access to an Ethernet cable. 

WD TV Live Top

Another big change to this next-generation player is the additional online media partners that Western Digital has rolled out with the unit.  Netflix, Facebook, YouTube, and Hulu Plus are almost standard for ‘smart TVs’ and media players today and the new WD TV takes these offerings up a notch to include applications such as Spotify, Pandora, Blockbuster On Demand, and TuneIn Radio.  These are fairly new services to come to the set-top playing field that transcend a normal ability to play MP3s or video content.

WD TV Live Generation 1 & 2

Here, we see the latest-generation WD TV Live sitting on the older WD TV Live Plus. The original TV Live Plus measures in at 1.57″ x 3.94″ x 4.94″ with a weight of 11-ounces. The new Western Digital WD TV Live Plus measures in at a slightly slimmer 1.2″ x 3.9″ x 4.9″ with a weight of 7-ounces. When it comes to outputs the arrangement of connectors is different, but the WD TV Live Plus has the same general connectivity as the original.  WD did remove the component port though as they include a component adapter cable that plugs into the AV output.

WD TV Live Generation 1 & 2

The fact that Western Digital made an effort to partner with an up-in-comer shows just how dedicated they are to stay ahead of the competition.  For those that don’t know, Spotify is a music streaming service that is cross-platform with over 15 million song titles in its catalog today.  Spotify allows you to listen (and share) your music content via your PC, cell phone or home audio system. All your songs will be synced between each device so no more having to use a cable or USB adapter to get your music from your pc to your cell phone to your work laptop. Spotify has been very popular in Europe and we think it is set to make a major splash in the U.S. 

Here is our Media Player Comparison Chart and you can take a quick look how the Western Digital Live stacks up to other popular media players on the market today.  (Click for larger image).

Media Players Comparison

WD TV Live Key Features:

  • Dimensions: Height: 1.2 in (30 mm)
  • Depth: 3.9 in (100 mm)
  • Width: 4.9 in (125 mm)
  • Weight: 0.42 lb (0.19 kg)
  • Media Formats Supported:
    • 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
    • Picture – JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PNG
    • Audio – MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA/WMA Pro, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG,Dolby Digital Plus, DTS
    • Playlists – PLS, M3U, WPL
    • Subtitle – SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI
  • 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 2048×2048.
  • Single layer TIFF files only.
  • Uncompressed BMP only.
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