The WDTV Live is the most complete offering so far from Western Digital’s line of media players. It’s quite similar to their WDTV Mini but this one can play and output Full 1080p HD videos and has the capability to connect to a network via Ethernet cable (or WiFi adapter) to read media files off network drives.
WDTV Live has a very small form factor making it extremely portable. I brought it on our vacation trip and i find it very easy to store and unpack.
The remote control is also compact and very straightforward to use. The search button can be your friend if you have a huge library.
There are two USB ports available for you to connect external drives, one on the side and another at the back.
At the back, you also have the option of using a composite (Red, White, Yellow), component (Red, Green, Blue) or an HDMI connection to your TV. You will also see the SPDIF connection, LAN port, and AC port behind this small player.
The box comes with 1:3 component and composite cables to keep the cables simple. You have to purchase your own HDMI cable though.
I have tried other media players out there and the interface on the WDTV Live is quite intuitive to use. It reminds me of the Sony’s XMBC interface which is simple yet effective.
Once you select a source, you can view all media, sort via media type, via folder or via date modified which is very handy if you want to see the latest movies that has been added. There’s even a search function which is very useful if you have a huge library.
Media File Formats
Western Digital claims that the WDTV Live has the capability to play most media file formats out there compared to their two other media players. I tried it on .mkv files with no problems as well as .rm files. I do however found that it can’t play my old .mov files but Apple trailers are plays without a hitch.
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
I haven’t played with the WDTV Live as much as I want to (network performance) but it’s a very handy media player that you can easily move around the house. I still prefer a NAS/Media Player combo though.
As a stand-alone media player, it’s diminutive size makes it a worthy consideration for the mere fact that you can easily bring it with you on trips along with a USB drive for your movies.
Another thing that I like about it is that you are not restricted to a proprietary WiFi USB dongle for wireless networking. If you have a house with a central media storage on a wireless network then the WDTV Live would be a great choice. Buy multiples of the media player and put one in every room with a TV on it.
What’s certain about the WDTV is its large community making it easy to get support, get frequent firmware updates (which is critical if there are new codecs) and access to some developed plugins to further customize your media player.