Western Digital jumped on to the local media streaming bandwagon quite early in the game. With better codec compatibility and a more stable platform compared to other vendors, the WDTV lineup caught the imagination of the consumers. Over the last few years (coinciding with the rise of Netflix), US consumers have tended to prefer over the top streaming solutions. Recognizing this trend, Western Digital has been strengthening their media streamers portfolio with the appropriate features.

Today, Western Digital is introducing the latest addition to their WDTV lineup, the new WD TV Live Streaming Media Player. Its roots (in terms of both hardware and firmware) seem to lie in the WDTV Live Hub which received praise from us last year. The industrial design has been updated, and the main hardware addition seems to be the integrated wireless network capability. The internal hard drive has been removed. Local media streaming compatibility seems to be retained.

Like the Roku 2 XS, the new WD TV Live has support for single band (2.4 GHz) 802.11n wireless only. However, the network port is Gigabit. Also, Western Digital PR claims that the new WD TV Live (as well as the WDTV Live Hub) supports 1080p video along with Dolby Digital Plus audio for selected Netflix titles. This is something we hope to evaluate and report back soon.

The new premium service making an appearance in the WD TV Live (as well as the Hub) is Spotify. As the PR reproduced below shows, the unit offers the full Spotify experience including account management and the social features (such as sending songs to your friend's inbox). In addition to YouTube, the new media player (as well as the WDTV Live Hub) gains access to DailyMotion, a service quite popular in Europe. The last few firmware releases for the WDTV Live Hub have also brought some simple games like Sudoku and Texas Hold'Em.

Priced at $99.99, this unit seems to cover all the media streaming aspects missed by the Roku 2 XS. It probably doesn't have the fan following of the Roku or the developer support that Roku provides. We also don't have much hope of it solving the DTS-HD MA bitstreaming issue. However, for the general consumer, Western Digital seems to have lined up a winner at a sweet price point (they could have chosen a better name, considering that the WD TV Live was the name given to the second generation player in the WDTV family). Stay tuned for our review of the new WD TV Live Streaming Media Player.

Press Release [DOCX]

Product Brief [PDF]


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  • SimpJee - Thursday, October 6, 2011 - link

    Popcorn Hour does it. I have the A-110 which I got years ago, and the only thing it doesn't support is 3D blu-rays and FLAC (all the new models handle this)
  • n0b0dykn0ws - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    Thanks. I saw the press release for the A-300 this morning (I haven't fully read it yet).

    It might be what I'm looking for.
  • quielo - Thursday, October 6, 2011 - link

    I would really like to see an article reviewing the local file support for the various media players. I have the WD Live, Seagate Freeagent, and Patriot Boxoffice though the SF seems to be broken now.

    They all play a variety of files though the Seagate will play some that the WD does not and vice versa.

    I am looking for a local media player (internal drive or USB/eSata attached) that plays every file ever created. I have no interest in streaming and will probably not network the device if I can avoid it.

    Also I like to be able to delete files from the remote control which only the WD seems to support though not very well. The WD offers a file browser and video browser modes. From the file browser mode it's possible to launch some video files while others that will play from the video browser will not launch from the file browser. I have no idea why.
  • CupCak3 - Thursday, October 6, 2011 - link

    Really? This is a must for me in getting a streaming box (mainly since I have Prime). I've been holding out on getting a Roku hoping that a decent competitor would emerge which supports Netflix, Hulu+ and Amazon VOD.
  • war59312 - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I'd love to see how it compares to the Boxee Box! :)

    Please use Firmware (4 October) when testing against the Boxee Box.
  • NeBlackCat - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    .. it'll do until the flood of cheap Tegra 3 boxes next year.
  • mrsmegz - Saturday, October 8, 2011 - link

    One of my biggest peves of these media players is how slow they navigate large directories. When i have 100's of folders in my Photos or Movie's Directory and viewing them 10 at a time, it makes the device completely useless to me. I have not seen a player other than Boxee Box or ATV2 w/ XBMC that can effectivly browse the large directories. A nice feature I like for this is the "accelerated direction arrows" on long press that scroll faster the longer you press.
  • IdBuRnS - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    I the new WD TV Live box a week ago (I'm just reading this review) and have been very happy with it. I bought it specifically for playing h.264 MKVs from my WHS on my Samsung LED LCD and it's been pretty much flawless and my 1080p Blu-Ray rips looks fantastic.

    I used to use my PS3 to playback the media from my WHS but having to transcode/re-mux all my MKVs was way too bothersome and all the media apps that I've used (Twonky, TVersity, PS3 Media Server, etc) all gave me issues.

    The only issue I've had so far is the interface for YouTube, trying to search for videos using a remote is tedious and just frustrating. Since it's not a feature I really care about it's not putting a damper on my use of the little box.

    The only downside(so far) is the lack of component video compatibility, something the previous model had. The Samsung in the bedroom has HDMI but my older Sony XBR downstairs does not. Monoprice has a converter for about $35 that I'm waiting for them to get back in stock so I can use the WD downstairs in the living room.
  • pugalenthi28 - Saturday, October 29, 2011 - link

    may i know how to get this product in INDIA ? and what would be the price of it.
  • chasesuperstar - Thursday, April 23, 2015 - link

    Great article Ganesh. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your WD TV Live by using UnoTelly or similar tools. :)

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