Western Digital has become a noted player in the media streamer market over the last two years. Instead of resting on the laurels received for the WDTV, they have continued to introduce new products periodically. Their flagship product lineup started with the WDTV. Introduced in November 2008, it used Sigma Designs 8635. The second generation (2G) product (WDTV Live) added a 100 Mbps wired ethernet port. It used the next generation Sigma chipset, SMP 8655. By then, Netflix became an indispensable requirement for media streamers in the US market. This led WD to introduce the WDTV Live Plus, a 2.5G product which used the Macrovision enabled SMP 8654. The Netflix feature was incidentally enabled with a firmware update by Seagate in their FreeAgent Theater lineup. This caused consternation amongst many WDTV Live users. Despite this, WD continues to enjoy a good standing in this market.

Today, Western Digital is introducing their 3G flagship product, the WDTV Live Hub. Priced at US $199.99, the product builds upon the features of their existing flagship product, the WDTV Live Plus. The new features in the WDTV Live Hub include

  1. 1 TB 2.5" internal hard drive
  2. HDMI 1.4
  3. Wired Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) interface
  4. Media Server capabilities
  5. Improved user interface and UI framework
  6. Support for Blockbuster On Demand (rental and purchase)
  7. Remote control over a HTTP interface
  8. Support for scraping / cover art (media library information) download without the need for a PC

Ever since Western Digital started introducing products in the media streamer space, we were puzzled as to why no specific features were designed in to enable easier usage of WD hard disks (similar to what Seagate does in its lineup). With this product, WD manages to fix up that issue by integrating a non-user serviceable hard disk inside. The other features (such as support for HDMI 1.4 and GbE) are evolutionary in nature, and as per market expectations. With these new features in mind, let us proceed with the rest of the review.

Unboxing Impressions
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  • dandar - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    It's loud already, but I have it in a basement closet along with router, gigabit switch, cable modem, print server. two printers and a copier so I don't care. I didn't get it for the looks, I got 1TB NAS for $99 shipped from Amazon. Can't beat that.
  • Saltbread - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    Could we have video of you actually navigating the menus and pulling up the test suite as you use the product as well please. Also some video walkthrough of Netflix, Youtube and Pandora please. Otherwise great article; I didn't even have this on my roundup for consideration until now.
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Will try to get that in for you over the weekend.
  • bahamakyle - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    The feature table says that the unit does not have stereo (audio output I am assuming). But the rear of the unit has stereo RCA outputs (you also refer to them in the article).

    Thanks for the review :D
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    Ah! The perils of working late into the night with a looming deadline :)

    Thanks for pointing out the issue. It is fixed now.
  • bahamakyle - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    no worries :)
  • AmdInside - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    Can you guys post a review of the Sony SMP-N100 Network Media Player with Wi-Fi? This is the deice I am most interested in and would like to know how it fairs to the WD Live products.Thanks.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    We had requested Sony for a review unit. They were initially interested in us carrying a review, but later stopped responding.

    Anyways, from what I see, if you are looking for online content, the Sony one is better than any of the WD Live products. On the other hand, if local media compatibility is important, the WDTV family is miles ahead.
  • AmdInside - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    Thank you very much for the reply. Appreciate. Anandtech rocks.
  • PAPutzback - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - link

    What else is there to read? Why would they choose a company that is quickly disappearing from the face of the earth.

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