Western Digital Gets Cozy With Netflix On WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player

When Western Digital starts a new line, they usually stick with it for awhile. Just look at the My Book line; it's WD's primarily external hard drive family, and it has been around--mostly unchanged--for years now. It has become a brand itself that consumers know and can relate to, and now the company is looking to extend their WD TV line in a similar fashion. Following the original introduction in 2008, WD updated the line with the WD TV Live earlier in the year.

Now, they are accelerating the rate of new introductions by adding new features to the WD TV Live that debuted earlier in 2010. The all-new WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player doesn't differ much from the older versions, but one major new component is probably making existing owners consider the upgrade: Netflix. Just like Roku's family of boxes and the Xbox 360, the WD TV Live Plus now supports Netflix Watch Instantly, which is Netflix's streaming service that enables most subscribers to watch a wide variety of content on-demand by simply streaming it to their host device.

In addition to Netflix, the WD TV Live Plus HD media player also enables users to stream personalized Internet content from YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Live365, as well as the MediaFly network which includes daily podcasts from CNN, NBC, MTV, ESPN and other online content providers. As with other WD TV units, this new one also lets consumers tap into their media library at home and stream local/networked media from their drives/PC to their HDTV. There's also support for the Windows 7 Play To feature so users can initiate and control the streaming of video, music or photos to the media player and home entertainment systems from any Windows 7-based PC on their network.

So, are there enough new features here to make you bite? It's available now for $149.99 if so.

WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player

Features of the WD TV Live Plus HD media player include:

  • Full-HD 1080p video playback and navigation with the included remote control and crisp, animated navigation menus;
  • Access to thousands of TV episodes and movies to watch instantly for any Netflix member with an unlimited subscription;
  • Wireless ready to support wireless network connection to your home network with an optional USB wireless adapter, which is sold separately;
  • Supports a wide variety of the most popular file formats with no need to spend time transcoding;
  • Play videos, music and photos from the Internet on your big screen TV and discover new music with Pandora Internet radio or listen to thousands of radio stations via Live365 Internet radio, daily podcasts from the MediaFly network including CNN, NBC, MTV, ESPN and other online content providers;
  • Ethernet port for wired or WiFi connection(2) to access files anywhere on the network to play movies, music, and photos from any PC or drive on a home network;
  • Turns a USB drive(3) into an HD media player and plays content from most popular USB drives, digital cameras, camcorders, and portable media players that can be recognized as mass storage devices;
  • Unlimited media collection, just add more USB drives for more space;
  • Two USB ports that allow seamless media playback from multiple USB drives displayed in a single list and sorted by media type;
  • Windows 7-compatible Play To feature enables users to stream Windows 7 computer files to the TV through WD TV Plus HD media player;
  • Transfer files by copying, moving or deleting files stored on a USB drive, a network drive, camcorder, or a camera to the attached USB drive using the on-screen menus;
  • Works with digital cameras, digital video cameras and any other digital imaging device that supports Picture Transfer Protocol;
  • Advanced navigation options including thumbnail and list views, media library and search;
  • Photo viewing to create custom slide shows, zoom and pan and search;
  • Movie viewing with fast-forward, rewind, pause, zoom and pan, view subtitles, and search;  
  • Music playback with fast-forward, rewind, pause, shuffle, repeat and search;
  • HDMI® 1.3 port, composite video and component video output(4) for the highest quality HDTV or home theater;
  • SPDIF digital output that sends digital signals to your AV receiver for the best surround sound experience; and,
  • Ultra-compact design to fit easily into a home entertainment center.