Smart TVs are right around the corner. Every single manufacturer wants to make one and it’s only a matter of time before these models hit the market. When they do arrive, they’re bound to be priced at some exotic amounts. There are a few of these already in the markets. What if you wanted a similar Smart TV experience on your existing TV. Then, you look at something like the WD TV Live Hub.
WD TV Live Hub - Even more connected
Now, the WD TV family of media players has been around a long time now. Initially, they were among the first media players to hit the Indian arena but we soon saw variants of it including the WD TV Live which included network and internet support. The new WD TV Live Hub looks to enhance this experience further.
WD TV’s success was somewhat short lived as a ton of alternatives were manufactured. The newer products added better format support, could allow you to fit a drive in the player and do a whole load of other things.
A full-sized remote control
WD seems to have worked on some of the lacking features for sure. To start with, and to answer a query that many users had, yes, the WD TV Live Hub has a hard drive in it and a one terabyte one. You no longer have to go out and buy a separate drive to store your media. There’s wired network support as well so you can store and access your media on the other computers and network storage devices on your network. Wireless network support is present but you’ll need to use a compatible USB Wi-Fi adapter for it to work.
The core purpose of a player is its ability to handle all sorts of formats, codecs and file resolutions. The WD TV Live Hub supports all of the popular formats such as AVI, MP4, MOV, MKV and many others including Flash (FLV) and also WMV9. Audio format compatibility is never really an issue but the FLAC support should please the audiophiles amongst us. Support for playlist formats such as PLS and M3U is also present.
There are two USB ports, one at the front and one at the rear which should take care of storage needs.There are no eSATA ports though. An HDMI port, component and composite connections for displays are present as well. The USB ports on the player can also be used to connect a keyboard. Using some of the web features on a keyboard is much simpler than using an onscreen keyboard.
Online media content streaming is possible on a number of services some of which include Flickr, Facebook and Youtube. Some of the content can also be uploaded to these services. Many of these features are fun to use but the novelty sort of washes away after a while. Some of the other services such as Pandora for example are available only to US residents.
Interface and Design
In terms of design, the WD TV has transformed into a flatter device as compared to the previous models. The body is predominantly plastic and since there’s a hard drive in it, it takes up more space than usual.
A flatter, cleaner, minimalistic design
The interface on the WD TV Live Hub is a lot better than previous version. It’s as attractive as many of the interfaces found on some HTPC software.
The bundled remote control is a lot larger, a lot chunkier than usual and has many more buttons to play around with. Some of the buttons including the numerical button set can be customised to operate certain functions of the player.
The video playback performance itself is flawless. As expected, every format we threw at it played back without any glitches. The interface itself unfortunately isn’t nearly as good. While it looks pretty, the menus take ages to switch especially while accessing shares and attached drives. This is bound to get really annoying over time. There is a small drop in video quality but it’s negligible. It’s a little more obvious in photographs, especially when you zoom into a really large image.
Priced at Rs. 11,990, it does come across a pretty expensive media player to own. The Xtreamer range of devices are priced at roughly this price range but they have a few more features in place. An inbuilt 1 TB drive is a nice thing to have. The web content features are fun to play around with, but we'd like them to be advanced. A full-flegded web browser would be nice to have. But, it has to be said, this is one of the more complete HD media players we've seen in recent times.
Updated 22 May, 2013, 4:34 pm IST
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