The first time we fired up the WD TV Live Hub, we were prompted to download and install the latest firmware, upgrading from version 2.02.16 to 2.02.19. You're not forced to upgrade if you want to roll with an older software release for whatever reason, but all of our testing was performed with 2.02.19.
What should be apparent from the get-go is that this isn't the WD TV Live platform as you know it, and that's not a bad thing. Gone is the rather drab background of previous model, and in its place is a vibrant UI Western Digital calls "Mochi." Shown above is the default wallpaper, which you can change using one of WD's pre-loaded images.
Navigation is a breeze, both in usability and in performance. Your options are laid out in a scrollable, horizontal bar at the bottom giving you access to Services, Videos, Music, Photos, Files, and Setup.
Western Digital pre-loaded the 1TB hard drive with a handful of photos and videos, but you'll quickly want to jump in and start adding your content or streaming media to and fro. One way to do this is to dig into a menu head -- Photos, for example -- and hit the red context menu on the remote control. This brings up the Select Content Source menu, of which you can choose from Local Storage, Network Share, or Media Server. If you're sharing files and folders on your home network, the WD TV Live Hub can tap into them and play them back on your swank HDTV.
Alternately, you can load up content stored on the Hub's 1TB hard drive and view it on any PC in your home network, and using the Web-based Twonky front-end, you can manage files on your media box and perform a handful of other tasks.
The Hub doesn't come with a robust app infrastructure like you'd find on the Android or iOS platforms, but it does come with a handful of networked services to keep you connected while kicking back with a cold one on the couch. Pandora? Check. Blockbuster On Demand? Check that too. Other goodies include Accuweather, Facebook, Flickr, Live395, Mediafly, Netflix and YouTube.
One thing we have to point out here is the po-dunk version of Netflix. As implemented, this would have been awesome a year ago, but the inability to search for titles is inexcusable.