Review: WD TV Live Hub

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Here’s the next new thing from Western Digital, the WD TV Live Hub. We reviewed the WD TV Live last year and we gave it a 7.5 out of 10. Now, the WD TV Live Hub includes a 1TB hard drive to store your movies, pictures and movies on, so you can move it from room to room or even to your mates house and you don’t need to rely on external media or a network connection.

The Live Hub can play almost any format you throw at it but it still doesn’t support iTunes playback or anything protected by DRM.

  • Score:

    8.5 / 10

  • The Good:

    Plays nearly every format, great interface, connectivity

  • The Bad:

    No WiFi, No iTunes Support, No AirPlay

  • Bottom Line:

    Great device for everyone!

Hardware

The Live Hub is much slimmer than the original WD TV Live, however, it’s about double the size length wise than the original. However, this means the device can fit anywhere in your home theatre setting. WD went for a brushed metal look on the top of the device which a shiny black look on the front. The WD logo glows when the device is on, however, it is a little bright (I didn’t look into turning it off, however, hopefully you can). There is a USB 2.0 port on the front of the device to allow you to quickly plug in a camera, usb drive or WiFi dongle without having to pull the device out and plug it in the back.

On the back you will find another USB 2.0 port, optical audio, HDMI, Gigabit ethernet, Composite A/V and Component video. WD have included a lot of connectivity options for whatever setup you have, however, we are disappointed that WiFi isn’t inbuilt as standard as many people don’t have ethernet connectivity near their tv or home theatre. Inside the Live Hub, is a 1TB hard drive, which is for transferring your movies to. I didn’t make much use of this as I have a central media server, however, if you had a friend with a movie on his USB drive, you could easily copy it to your Live Hub for watching later. It’s a good feature but I didn’t use it.

The supported formats are below:

  • Video – AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9, FLV (h.264)
  • Photo – JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG
  • Audio – MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS
  • Playlist – PLS, M3U, WPL
  • Subtitle – SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI

So as you can see, you can throw anything at it and it will play (almost).

Software/Playback

The interface of the WD TV Live Hub has improved enormously! It’s a huge improvement over the original interface and it’s also much faster. The interface is absolutely beautiful and very easy on the eye. Picking music, movies and pictures is easy and fast. There are a number of features that are worth noting, for one, there is built in Facebook! You can post status, look at pictures and post pictures right on your TV. As well for US users, Pandora and Netflix are available through the interface. You can also listen to internet radio through 365.com, look at photos through Flikr and watch YouTube videos.

Another thing that has also improved is the quality of the videos. The WD TV Live is great, however, the quality is a little degraded. The Live Hub is much better at streaming things in quality. I played a 1080p test video and it played fantastically without fault and looked great. I was very impressed with the quality of the playback. Music played as expected, clear and good sounding and pictures where displayed in full screen and where also clear.

Conclusion

The WD TV Live Hub is a great addition to the range of media players from Western Digital. It’s a great improvement from the WD TV Live. It’s an extremely powerful device, extremely easy to use and very portable. If your media library is huge or if it’s small, the WD TV Live Hub is just for you…