Western Digital WD TV Live Hub Review

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One day while sitting in an office going over TPS reports, someone over at Western Digital heard a voice. It whispered, "If you stream it, they will come." After hearing this, he marched into the board room and pitched his idea for a streaming media player, and thus the WD TV series was born. Now whether or not it actually played out like this is irrelevant (it didn't); what matters is that Western Digital did build a line of streaming set-top boxes, and the customers have certainly shown up.

Western Digital's WD TV Live Hub, which is what we're looking at today, is the company's fourth generation media streamer, and it's the most fully functional to date. Unlike the previous generation WD TV Live Plus, as well those that came out before it, this latest iteration adds several welcome additions, including a built-in 1TB hard drive, a built-in media server to stream content to multiple rooms, and more apps than before, including the ability to download movies and TV shows from Blockbuster On Demand.

The idea here is simple. Just plop the WD TV Live Hub into your home theater, connect it to your home network, and proceed shuttling movies, photos, and music back and forth from any of your network-connected PCs to the set-top box, and/or from the set-top box to any of your network-connected PCs. And while you're at it, you can tap into your Pandora account, Facebook news feed, watch Netflix videos, and a whole bunch more all without the complication or cost of integrating a true home theater PC into your living room.


 
WD TV Live Hub
Specifications & Features
 
 CPU   Sigma Designs 500MHz
 Platform  Mochi
 Internal Storage  1TB
 Video Formats
 AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG 1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (H.264, X.264, AVC, MPEG 1/2.4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG 1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, H.264), M2TS, WMV9
 Photo Formats
 JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG
 Audio Formats
 MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital DTS
 Playlist  PLS, M3U, WPL Subtitle -- SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI
 Connectivity  Gitabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, HDMI, Composite A/V, Component Video, Optical Audio
 Dimensions  1.25 x 7.80 6.10 inches (H x D x W)
 Weight  1.22 Pounds
 OS Support
 Windows / Mac

Perhaps most impressive right off the bat is the number of video, photo, and audio formats the WD TV Live Hub supports. Western Digital warns that you won't be able to play "protected premium content such as movies or music from the iTunes Store, Cinema Now, Movielink, Amazon Unbox, and Vongo," but pretty much everything else is fair game.

We also like that Dolby Digital DTS is thrown in the mix, and the various connectivity options are a definite plus. It's clear that Western Digital put a lot of effort into making sure its latest media set-top box would integrate seamlessly into just about any home theater/network setup (sans Linux).

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