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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  • ganeshts - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    We will try :)
  • chris1317 - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand,

    It would be really good if you could get a hold of a review unit from Dune. Some of their new players look really good. Allthough the MAX is maybe a bit expensive some of the other players are quite reasonable.


  • ganeshts - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    We will request them for a review unit :)
  • daskino - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    very nice review, enjoyed reading about your visit to SIgma Designs offices. more reviews like this please.
  • Finite Loop - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Can you measure the network speed with something like 'bing'?

    We can measure a speed of about 150Mb/s using an acryan mini which only has a 100Mb nic installed.
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Finite Loop,

    We used the best and most reliable benchmarks in business, the Intel NASPT and IOZone. I am not sure bing is a reliable indicator, as you have observed yourself :)
  • Finite Loop - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Absolutely. The graphs coming from the switch counters also didn't concur with the results of bing. After about 2 minutes of bing reporting 145Mb/s it does actually settle down to around 95Mb/s. It is however one of the few devices that manages to 'cheat' bing for as long as it does; likely due to the binging host being on a gigabit connection itself.
  • Lu-Max - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Last night Best buy was showing it at $229, I even called my local store and verified it.
    Today it is listed at $199, model #WDBABZ0010BBK
  • funtasticguy - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Great review although I'm wondering: does the built-in library feature display the cover art of a movie and gives you the option to display the movie description as well like XBMC? This would be my killer feature for a portable media player.
  • rogress - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    And is the built-in library only for USB attached (and internal drive) media - or will it scan your network shares also?

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