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Western Digital WD TV Live review: Western Digital WD TV Live

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The Good Low price; simplicity; appealing user interface; good format support.

The Bad Occasional inability to play files; networking functionality isn't as simple and well-designed as the Popcorn Hour A-110's.

The Bottom Line Like its little brother, the WD TV, the Western Digital WD TV Live is a bargain-basement media streamer capable of handling video up to 1080p. Unlike the more basic WD TV, the Live adds an Ethernet connection and the ability to stream files over your home network. While it's not as simple or well-designed as the Popcorn Hour A-110, it does its main job well, easily moving video from your computer to your TV

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8.3 Overall

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The Western Digital WD TV Live is a new version of the previously reviewed WD TV media streamer. It's got one major addition, though: the ability to communicate with computers on your home network. Thankfully, the addition of this massive new feature hasn't added to the price significantly, as this device retails at a very reasonable £100 or so.

Amazing price
While products like the Popcorn Hour A-110 cost about £200 in the UK, the WD TV Live can be found online for less than £100. We aren't pretending that the WD TV Live is quite as flexible, though. It lacks much of the A-110's Internet functionality, for example, although it can play YouTube videos, which is quite a popular feature and one that works very well in this case.

Teeny tiny
Design-wise, the WD TV Live is remarkable compared with any other networked media streamer. It's so petite that it almost defies belief. The good news, however, is that, despite its size, it has the performance and connectivity of a much larger machine.

As you'd imagine, there's a 1080p-capable HDMI output and a network connection. Because the network port takes up a big chunk of space, the composite video and RCA audio sockets have been removed. The good news, however, is that, while the RCA jacks have gone, a pair of 3.5mm mini sockets replace them. One jack handles standard-definition video and audio, and the other handles component RGB video. The optical audio output remains unchanged from the WD TV's, as do the rear and right-hand-side USB sockets.

Adding the WD TV Live to your network is no trouble at all. The whole process is designed to be as simple as possible. We found that, within seconds, the WD TV Live had obtained an IP address over DHCP and was able to see other computers on our network.

The WD TV Live's network port means it has less room for other connections than the WD TV (on top)

But we started to have problems when trying to get video from a computer on a network containing numerous PCs. While the WD TV Live was able to see our machine, we couldn't connect to its shares, even with the right username and password. We were, however, able to use Windows Media Player to share our video, music and photos, and watch them on the WD TV Live. For most people, this is probably the way they will opt to access their video anyway. Do be aware, though, that, if you're using Windows Media Player to share, it will only send video it can understand. This means that, with certain versions of Windows, you won't be able to send MKV video to the machine -- a problem we encountered ourselves.

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