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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  • SlyNine - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    How will it organize my library on MY network, and how easy is it for other people to get on and access my files. Reply
  • n0b0dykn0ws - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    "We also don't have much hope of it solving the DTS-HD MA bitstreaming issue."

    I'd pay $100 more for bitstreaming of DTS-HD MA, Dolby Digital TrueHD, and ripped Blu-Ray playback.
    Reply
  • Golgatha - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    That's called repurposing an old C2D type computer. Just purchased a $179.99 refurbished E3400 Celeron based system because I'm tired of all the limitations these toys impose on my viewing of content served up by Tversity. Pretty much the only media player guaranteed to play all content the way you want it is a HTPC. Reply
  • n0b0dykn0ws - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    I have a HTPC right now.

    I want a streamlined device that does not need maintenance or patches, does not need to be restarted every once in a while, does not experience crashes, etc...

    Windows 7 + Total Media Theatre + Media Browser = everything I need + bugs.

    With the Radeon 6570 I have in my primary HTPC I can stream lossless.

    I also don't want to transcode to FLAC because not all devices/software supports FLAC, and I don't want to keep two copies of a movie on my server.
    Reply
  • Snotling - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    "I want a streamlined device that does not need maintenance or patches, does not need to be restarted every once in a while, does not experience crashes, etc..."

    yeah, they call it the "utopia box" no consumer electronic product is so simple anymore that it won't need updates or won't "ever" crash. Thats the whole point of updates, to make sure you get the functionality with fewer crashes and fewer security concerns.

    There is this toaster that also cooks bagels... it probably won't need an update.

    I bet you don't ever want to pay for movies and music either since you paid for the HTPC or media thingy... find a good utopian girl and get married to her so you can move in her country.
    Reply
  • n0b0dykn0ws - Friday, October 07, 2011 - link

    Troll fail. Firmware releases do not equal patches/driver updates.

    I know there will never be a perfect player, I just named what I'm willing to pay for one that does a few things right.

    And why would I not be willing to pay for movies? Ripping does not equal piracy. I have two young children at home who would love to destroy discs if given the opportunity. So I built a file server, ripped my collection of titles, and stored the discs. Any time I buy a new movie or tv show I do the same thing.
    Reply
  • KWIE - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    Actually it will play Blu-Ray ISOs AND seems Dolby TrueHD is not an issue:

    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1738/3/
    Reply
  • mckirkus - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    The problem is DRM. Pretty much all of the online video rental services limit you to low def if you're using a PC because they're easier to hack. Amazon VOD to name one. Reply
  • Golgatha - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    Also, I repurposed a Bluray drive from another system, and am using a GT 430 for lossless audio and video playback of Bluray discs. The total price is really more like $250-$260 dollars (got a really good deal on the video card awhile back), and I suppose I've already paid for Arcsoft TMT 5 on the software side of things, but that's a sunk cost for me already as I have another HTPC, desktop, and laptop I use that software on. Reply
  • Sivar - Thursday, October 06, 2011 - link

    Re-encode your ripped Blu-ray audio to FLAC.
    FLAC is a supported format and is superior in terms of file size to ALL lossless audio formats supported on Blu-ray.
    Because only the audio is being transcoded, the process is quick. Because FLAC is lossless, there is literally zero audio quality dropped in the process.
    Reply

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