Western Digital WD TV Live 2011 review
The original Western Digital WD TV Live was a great media streamer (we gave it a Best Buy award when it was launched two years ago), but the new version, which bears the same name, is even better.
The box is slimmer, squarer and small enough to easily hide away near your TV. Crucially, it now has built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, so there's no need to run a network cable to your router or use HomePlug adaptors. There's now a front USB port, so it's easy to play files from a flash drive, but there have also been upgrades internally.
The new processor, along with 512MB of RAM means the box can run WD's new Mochi interface. We first saw this on the WD TV Live Hub and liked its intuitive, good-looking menus. It's not quite as good as the Apple TV's interface, but it comes close.
We also like the new remote control, which sits nicely in the hand. Our only gripe is with the tall, rubbery buttons which are needlessly difficult to press. Still, it's easy enough to use a learning remote, such as One-For-All or Logitech's ranges, if you really can't get on with it.
As well as being able to play local content and files stored on your home network, the Live also has a variety of internet services. For video, there's YouTube, plus a second app which lets you access YouTube videos via Western Digital's own interface. There's also Dailymotion, Flingo and Mediafly. Audio services include Spotify, Deezer and several others for accessing internet radio. Naturally, the box also supports photos, with the online service being Google Picasa. Unfortunately, there's no UK catch-up TV, but BBC iPlayer could be added in the near future.
It isn't easy using the on-screen keyboard to search for videos, radio stations and music tracks but, fortunately, USB keyboards are supported. We hope that WD will release an app for controlling the Live from your iOS, Windows Phone or Android device. The iOS Remote app is one of the reason why Apple's TV such a joy to use.
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