There are also three different view options, now, for browsing your media either as a list, as thumbnails or as a list with a preview on the right. This makes it quicker and easier than ever before to find your media, though again the search process is slowed down by using the onscreen keyboard, and does rely on you having all your media correctly named.
Other new features include the ability to copy, delete, and move files from one attached device, or network location, to another. The WDTV Live also supports Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), which is the standard used by digital cameras to let other devices read the contents of the camera when connected over USB. Essentially, you can plug your camera straight into the WDTV Live and view the pictures on it – assuming your camera also supports PTP.
When viewing media, you can zoom into and pan around images, and video can be fast-forwarded, rewound and skipped through by chapter. All these operations are performed almost instantly, which makes it easy to locate a video playback point without overshooting it, for instance.
As with the original WDTV, the WDTV Live has little in the way of sophisticated video processing to improve image quality but it still produces a very watchable picture. Indeed, assuming you use a digital connection and rely on your TV’s native picture processing, it can be very impressive. Likewise, audio quality from the inbuilt analogue outputs is fine but we’d recommend using the digital outputs where possible.
So that’s pretty much it for the WDTV Live in terms of functionality; it’s a tidied up version of the original with network connectivity. However, there’s one fundamental area that hasn’t been updated and that’s its file format support. The original was hardly lacking on this front, but there was one omission that many people wanted: RealMedia Variable Bitrate (RMVB). With this latest version, RMVB support still remains absent. For a full list of supported file formats, please refer to the next page.
If the lack of RMVB support was the only factor letting the WDTV Live down, we’d still recommend it . After all, it offers more functionality than the previous version for the same price. However, one device in particular, the Asus O!Play HDP-R1, not only offers support for this format but also undercuts the WDTV Live by £20. Sure, it’s not quite as well made or easy to use and lacks the online services, but we’d happily take that on the chin and pocket the extra £20.
The Western Digital WDTV Live is a worthy successor to the barnstorming original, adding support for networking and making playing your multimedia files on your TV easier than ever before. However, other devices on the market offer the same and better functionality for less money.