Western Digital WD TV Live Hub - New UI, WiFi & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Western Digital WD TV Live Hub

Summary

Our Score:

8

As for the UI, dubbed 'Mochi' by Western Digital, it is mostly successful. By this we mean the colourful new interface is certainly the best we've seen in a WD TV device to date (and Western Digital told us it is likely the UI will come to older models via new firmware), but it still has its fair share of irks and quibbles. Notable amongst these are the slightly ponderous scrolling through the homescreen dock (often animations must complete before you can continue to the next option) and the icons for the red, yellow, blue and green shortcut buttons are a little small and vague until you get used to the layout. The good news is Mochi is XML based so it is extremely customisable with user created themes in the pipeline and hopefully plenty of scope for little tweaks.

Less easily fixed is the lack of WiFi. We know the true home cinephile is likely to watch nothing but 1080p, but we'd argue home cinephiles are likely to stick to Blu-ray. For the media player fans out there, however, Western Digital's decision to omit the convenience of WiFi is baffling. The official reason is to keep costs down, but with WiFi such a commodity these days I'm sure we could've put up with another £5 on the price tag. That said as it stands your best bet remains Ethernet over Power which will add another £50+ to the total outlay or a wireless n adaptor for around £30 (the Linksys WUSB600N is compatible). Skip these two options and you'll be forced to run an Ethernet cable from the Hub to your router - wherever it may be.

A few other irritants: the flashing WD TV logo on the front of the Hub is distracting, especially as it runs when in power saving mode - though it can be switched off in the options. Meanwhile Gigabit Ethernet may be a nice sticker tag, but we found it hard to get it streaming at speeds anywhere near the limits of 10/100 Ethernet so it is a boast in name only.

Verdict

On paper the WD TV Live Hub appears to be the complete opposite of the new Apple TV and so it proves - both in good ways and bad. The good are fundamental deal makers: comprehensive codec support (if no more extensive than previous WD TVs), extended functionality via the media server, USB keyboard support and http controls which could provide invaluable for third party apps.

On the flip side the UI, while gorgeous to look at, isn't as intuitive as that of the Apple TV and the lack of WiFi is a disappointing and, in our opinion, poor compromise when the product is so competitively priced. Ultimately the pros of the WD TV Live Hub do indeed outway the cons so if you want a media player with local storage this is definitely a top choice. If, however, you can do without the internal hard drive the older WDTV Live HD is still one of the best out there, especially now its price has dropped.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Value 9

A Scotland

November 10, 2010, 3:35 pm

I have always wanted to like media players. The idea of simplifying your media life. Unfortunately the reality is that they just seem to add extra clutter and complication. The problem with local storage is that you run out of space too quickly and you have to back everything up regularly.





Much prefer Apple's streaming model for my purposes but it needs a couple of years development before it really works. Also they charge too much for the rentals due to a lack of competition.





For the time being the media centre and new Zune content on the xbox are the best bet for me.

Lamboy

November 10, 2010, 3:44 pm

The perffect companion would be.....


http://www.trustedreviews.com/...





The WD powerline can give you the extra pazazz without wireless (ie slow) streaming. I can feel an addition to the santa list coming on!

JohnBeeBee

November 10, 2010, 7:53 pm

Is this suitable as a Windows Media Centre extender? Even if it is just to play recorded TV files directly or even better to stream files which are in the process of being recorded on a seperate WMC. My main TV is attached to my media centre PC and I am after a device which I can attach to another TV and watch stuff that I have recorded on my media centre.





Any chance of TrustedReviews reviewing any media centre extenders? If general media streaming devices such as the WD TV Live Hub is unsuitable then I need to know what's the best of those that are suitable.

DrDark

November 10, 2010, 10:36 pm

The original WDTV is still the 'Best Value' device I've bought in the last year or so. I think it was just under £65 off Amazon at the time. Still use it almost every day {large anime collection...}





@Gordon: I thought they added RMVB support to that "mini" edition they made. The one that couldn't run 1080p. Odd that they should take it out.

lifethroughalens

November 10, 2010, 10:56 pm

I have the WD TV Live networked through some Solwise Homeplugs, with a 2TB HD plugged in one of the USB ports, and it's been absolutely brilliant.





I'm just annoyed that WD doesn't do a deal to support the BBC iPlayer or LoveFilm, then it would be perfect.

Goodmane

November 11, 2010, 9:25 pm

From the spec list, this won't natively play Windows media center files which I believe are .dvr-ms in vista and .wtv in Windows 7.





This has always been my main criteria also, as there are blu rays with built-in dlna functionality and usb ports for direct playback. Unfortunately I bought a DMA2100 extender way back when. These days I would get a 250GB (i.e. silent) XBox 360 without hesitation. Just waiting for a freeview HD PC tuner...

JohnBeeBee

November 12, 2010, 2:39 pm

@Goodmane - thought as much about the format support. Are you saying there that there are blu ray players with dlna functionality that will play media centre recordings? That's another option I've been looking out for. I'm kitting out a lounge I've just refurbed and need a TV, surround sound system and blu ray player and so have been looking at all of these options to see if any have built in dlna with support for .dvr-ms files but have been unsuccessful so far.





@TrustedReviews - how about an article reviewing the options for extending media centre functionality throughout the home. Options I can think of are XBox 360 (was aware the new one was quieter but not aware they were silent when performing MCE extender duties - is this true?), DLNA product with MCE recorded file format support (are there any out there), dedicated MCE extenders (do any support vista or Win7 media centre?), custom built or off the shelf PC (most likely with a mini or micro atx motherboard with built in HDMI and integrated graphics supporting 1080P playback). My number one criteria are silent or near silent operation, looks good under the TV, 1080P support (just waiting for Freeview HD tuners for media centre). Other criteria are obviously price, ability to play files whilst they are being recorded on the main media centre box, and ability to play blu rays.

Terry 10

November 12, 2010, 9:20 pm

I use a Sumvision MKV2 media player with a Samsung S2 (500GB) drive and Corsair Voyager GT 16GB flash key for storage. This is connected to a Home Cinema system and it works a treat. If the WD TV Live hub is anything like the same quality, then it is good.

scipio

November 12, 2010, 10:34 pm

Odd that Western Digital didn't include wireless n considering Dlink's Boxee Box offering does.





@JohnBeeBee - "My number one criteria are silent or near silent operation, looks good under the TV, 1080P support (just waiting for Freeview HD tuners for media centre)".


Sounds like the TranquilPC media centre which now has BlackGold DVB-T2 tuners and optional blu-ray drives (but the price is steep!)

JohnBeeBee

November 18, 2010, 12:49 am

@scipio. Thanks for putting me onto Tranquil. I had come across them before and although it's probably not the solution I'm after (too expensive) I've been waiting for ages for someone to release DVB-T2 tuners for my media centre and it's finally happened.





In the meantime I'm going to keep looking for a TV or Blu-Ray player that has the right level of DLNA support to allow streaming of recorded TV. There must be some out there as there are some that support Win7 PlayTo functionality but it seems they just don't shout about it sufficiently. That way I keep the numbers of boxes to a minimum and don't spend a fortune. Failing that some research into a PS3 abilities are in order or I just go for a BluRay player and new Xbox.

heimi

January 5, 2011, 12:45 am

Anyone got this baby working with streamed 3D content yet? I know its HDMI 1.4, but does the unit actually support 3D viewing (with a 3D compatible telly, of course).





Cheers!

CloudMaker

October 6, 2011, 2:46 pm

Its a shame you marked this down because of a lack of built-in wi-fi. A lot of us don't want wi-fi on everything.

For the hundreds of thousands of people out there that are made ill by wi-fi (myself included), we want the choice of whether to add wi-fi or not. For those that want wi-fi, you can simply add a dongle with no change in performance or reliability. If it was built in, those that don't want it can't remove it. (please don't say wi-fi can be disabled! This DOES NOT turn it off on any device other than an IPhone 4. It just disables the ability to log in. This is an almost universal mistake caused by poor marketing and generic wi-fi codein both Windows and Linux!)

Anyway adding Ethernet over power ("Powerline") if you are not wired for ethernet is much more reliable, and its faster.

I'd like to see more equipment that allow us to have the choice.

tushar

February 20, 2014, 11:13 pm

I have a denon 1312 amp, and sony bravia 42" 1080 HD TV, i am in love with watching cinema... is it a good choice or u suggest something else? Just want to watch what i have. can i get a full 5.1 dolbyD full HD experience? experts help.

Vesuvius

April 2, 2014, 12:42 pm

509 Pound???? Is this a typo?

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