WD TV Live Hub melds media player with networked hard drive

Many are surprised to learn that Western Digital’s TV HD media player doesn’t incorporate a hard drive. Neither do any of the subsequent media players the company has produced in the nearly two years since the TV HD’s official unveiling. Well, until today, that is. The new WD TV Live Hub is different. Inside its low-profile casing, which measures just 6.1" x 7.8" x 1.25", lurks a terabyte of local storage courtesy of a 2.5" hard drive.

Like WD TV variants that have preceded it, the Live Hub offers robust multimedia playback support covering all manner of video, audio, and picture formats. HD video playback is supported at 1080p resolution, and multi-channel audio can be passed over the device’s HDMI port or its S/PDIF audio output. That HDMI port conforms to version 1.4 of the standard, by the way, and it’s not the only output available. The Live Hub also has component and composite video outputs, analog audio outs, plus a couple of USB 2.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

The Live Hub’s built-in networking component allows the media player to stream content from other devices and share its wares with other systems on the network. Western Digital will also publish a list of compatible USB Wi-Fi modules (some of which support 802.11n) if you’d rather be connected wirelessly. WD does, however, warn that your mileage may vary when trying to stream 1080p content over a wireless connection.

Of course, the Live Hub’s networking aspirations extend far beyond your home network. The device is primed to work with numerous online services, including Netflix, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Pandora, and Blockbuster’s On Demand rental system. Everything is handled with a simple remote and a couch-friendly user interface that Western Digital has made fully customizable. Users will be able to browse themes through the UI, and they can build their own using an SDK that WD will release on its WD TV Live Community site.

Interestingly, WD collaborated closely with Best Buy on the Live Hub and will be selling it exclusively through the company’s stores. Expect to pay $199 when the Live Hub hits shelves October 31. That’s pretty cheap for media player with built-in networking and a terabyte of storage, especially for folks who don’t want to fiddle around with more expensive nettops that are rarely set up to be controlled from the couch.

Comments closed
    • PetMiceRnice
    • 9 years ago

    Chances are that I will buy this.

    • tygrus
    • 9 years ago

    Sounds good, but I want something to be able to record to it’s HD. Pointless if all it can do is playback and file streamer.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    dont newer TV’s already supply these functions? i’d rather save 2 c-notes and apply it towards a new tv if that’s the case. i dont need an extra box and extra wires hanging around.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    Hmm, I think I’ll stick with my Asus O!Play and my Patriot Box Office. The one feature that I care about which they lack is Netflix streaming–which would be nice. But, the PBO can take an internal HD and the Asus can take an external eSATA drvie. Both can serve those drives over the network. Both have BT clients.

    The WD devices have been a step behind and overpriced for a few generations, now. Other than the minor NAS aspect of this device, what does it do that a $150 Blue-Ray player doesn’t? Oh, yeah, it won’t play Blue-Ray discs. Samsung, LG, both make good devices for less than this. Plus, they come with *real remotes*.

      • insulin_junkie72
      • 9 years ago

      A 2.5″ 1TB hard drive is about $120 by itself, so that’s certainly bumping up the cost.

      The GUI looks much nicer over older WDs, as that’s always the Achilles’ heel of most of these things.
      (The GUIs on most of the cookie-cutter Realtek clones like the Asus, Patriot, Viewsonic, et. al are even worse, from what I’ve seen)

        • willmore
        • 9 years ago

        Why would they use a 2.5″ drive? This thing looks big enough to fit a 3.5″ drive. I’ll have to look at the specs again to see if it’s thick enough. A 1T WD Green would make sense in one of these And, those are much, much cheaper.

        I’ll give you the interface issues with the realteks. They’re not horribly pretty. The Sigmas are normally better. Then again, for me, the remote makes a lot of difference. The usefullness of my PBO over my Asus simply due to the remote having the right buttons is pretty spectacular. Having full DVD menu navigation is a big plus.

          • insulin_junkie72
          • 9 years ago

          I imagine because of heat/power consumption/cooling concerns (although this does have a thin cooling fan on the bottom).

          The chassis is pretty slim; it’s about half the height of the WDTV/Live units. A 3.5″ drive wouldn’t fit as designed.

    • elmopuddy
    • 9 years ago

    I have the WD Live Plus.. its great, I can watch everything off my WHS quite easily.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    I wish one of these would come out that could play Hulu natively.

    I have PlayOn on a Windows PC that just sits under a cabinet and runs nothing but that to stream Hulu via DLNA. Roku does Netflix and looks great… except it can’t play DLNA. They just added a PlayOn specific channel, which is great, except I’m trying to get rid of that server. AppleTV can’t play DLNA OR Hulu. WD Live can’t play Hulu.

    I want to turn off that PC since thats ALL it does. I want to take the 360 out of the bedroom so I can actually play it on the 7.1 setup, but we watch way too much netflix and hulu in bed at night.

      • StuG
      • 9 years ago

      Is that what this is essentially? and HTPC?

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        I’d say it’s more like this is what HTPCs are trying to be. As Corrado pointed out, leaving an entire computer running to do something so simple is pretty silly and people shouldn’t have to do that in this day and age.

      • Palek
      • 9 years ago

      Buy a somewhat higher-end Samsung TV and you will get what you want. Samsung supports Amazon VoD, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu and I don’t know how many other VoD services, and they have very good USB/DLNA multimedia format support.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        I have a 50″ 1080p samsung plasma and a 42″.720p samsung plasma. Not buying another tv. Plus I don’t want to pay for hulu plus, play on is $5 a year and plays regular hulu just fine, I just wish there was a single set top box that did those three things. Roku just added a play on channel but it still needs the server running.

          • Palek
          • 9 years ago

          I guess you’ll just have to “suffer” with your 50″ PDP and all your equipment. Oh, the hardships we must endure… 😉

          (For the record, I don’t really like Samsung TVs, but they are incredibly feature-rich.)

          • insulin_junkie72
          • 9 years ago

          For non-PC playback, Hulu requires Plus (and only Plus) on supported standalone devices. It’s a Hulu mandate, not up to the hardware companies.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 9 years ago

      Too bad playon looks like crap.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        Not sure what the problem with yours is, mine looks fine. The ads look like crap when playing from hulu, but the actual content video looks fine.

        EDIT: There are quality settings you can adjust depending on the speed of your hardware that PlayOn is running on. Maybe yours were set low?

          • Usacomp2k3
          • 9 years ago

          I’m just saying that I have yet to see streaming quality come close to that of even cable (except Vudu and the xbox VOD).

    • HyBry
    • 9 years ago

    If that thing has built in BitTorrent client with remote access I’m sold.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      The knicker-knackers of tomorrow will astound. We shall call such a device a /[

        • 5150
        • 9 years ago

        ASCII and ye shall receive.

        • ew
        • 9 years ago

        Not only that but you can practically build one yourself for 200 bucks!

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 9 years ago

    I’m not much of a home theatre / media networking nut but this looks tempting considering the price.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      it is an interesting looking box. You might have to torrent on your other computers, but since i can access network drives, you should be good to go! all i need is a TV, and then i can invest in one of these!

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