Closer Look: WD TV Live
The WD TV Live is a $89.99 (Newegg or Amazon) compact digital media player designed to play high-definition video at up to 1080p (1920×1080) resolution, as well as Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound audio. Western Digital (WD) includes the following items inside the WD TV Live kit: media player WDBHG70000NBK-HESN, WD TV HD Media Player Remote Control WDTV001RNN, 2x AAA batteries, composite A/V cable, 110/220V 18W AC power adapter WDPS038RNN fitted with interchangeable North America socket attachment, and a quick install guide.
On the front of the unit is a small translucent plastic window, with a low-output LED light that unobtrusively shines to indicate power state without compromising the device’s elegant appearance. A High-Speed USB 2.0 port is available up front, beside a recessed ‘Device Reset’ button that restores system settings to the factory firmware default values. Additionally, users may toggle between NTSC and PAL by depressing this button for 10 seconds.
The infrared remote sensor is located behind the darkened front window, so positioning the device with a direct line of sight will yield the best performance. WD TV Live is not designed with built-in control buttons, such as you might find on DVD/BD players, so all functions of the device are controlled by the remote. Because WD TV Live features a built-in 802.11-b/g/n wireless adapter that utilizes internal antennas, keeping the device out in the open serves to also improve Wi-Fi reception.
WD TV Live measures only 3.9″L x 4.9″W x 1.2″H, and weighs a mere 7oz without attachments. An infrared media-center remote control is included with the kit (shown below in actual size), that measures 6.5″L x 2.3″W x 1.2″H and fits comfortably into the hand. For best results there should be a direct line of sight between devices, which can degrade if you or the device is positioned at an extreme angle. The remote control requires two AAA batteries (included), and features a robust set of multimedia functions. Soft rubber keys are adorned with white labels, but the remote does not offer button glow or backlighting. As a unique extra, WD TV Remote software is available free for download to WD TV Live owners who want to replicate the remote’s functionality on their Apple iOS and Google Android phone or tablet devices.
In addition to the remote control, WD TV Live supports keyboard input for some services such as Facebook and YouTube or can be used for renaming files. In testing all of our wired and wireless keyboards offered this functionality, but mouse movement was not supported even when integrated into the keyboard.
With so much real-estate available on the front and sides of WD TV Live there is certainly room for items like additional USB ports, a multi-card reader, or an eSATA port. Unfortunately these items were not included because Western Digital needed to maintain a conservative power profile while reducing the unit’s heat output. All other input/output ports are located at the rear of the device.
You’ll find the majority of connecting points along the backside of WD TV Live (version WDBHG70000NBK-HESN). The AC power adapter input shares space with an optical SPDIF digital audio port that supports high-definition 7.1 surround sound output (TosLink cable required/not included). Nearby is a RJ-45 10/100 Ethernet port, HDMI 1.3 digital A/V output, and the second available USB 2.0 port. WD has made provisions for obsolete component video outputs by including an analog AV output for the included composite cable bundle.
WD TV Live is one of two media players available from Western Digital; the other is the WD TV Live Hub which adds an internal hard drive and DLNA streaming to any device. Both offer the same playback features and streaming media services, but only WD TV Live includes built-in Wi-Fi functionality. In the next section, we put the WD TV Live to the test…