When it comes to media players that are designed to replace HTPCs for media consumption without the high price, most people end up buying one of the many HD media players out there. The list of manufacturers that make these devices is almost never ending; some of the commonly known players are ASUS, Patriot, Seagate, and Western Digital. The only problem with all of these solutions is that all of them require you to plug in an external drive via USB in order to gain any kind of local storage. The problem with this is that USB 2.0 is a bottleneck and adding an external drive creates even more clutter and takes up even more space. Many people have wondered when the day would be that the big hard drive players would finally integrate their hard drives into one of these media devices to make their use more seamless. That day appears to be today.
The WD TV Live Hub media center features a full HD 1080P media player coupled with a 1TB built-in network hard drive. This means that although the device will be larger than previous versions of the WD TV line of media products, it will still be smaller than having an external drive hooked up to a WD TV media player. The WD TV Live Hub adds new features on top of the already existing lines of WD media products and brings some of the best things from all of them together. For example, the new Live Hub allows for users to instantly rent or purchase the newest releases through the Blockbuster on Demand service the same day as the BluRay/DVD release. This is in contrast to almost all other media players out there that limit you to only using your own media, the exceptions being the new Apple TV and Google TV that gives you marketplace access. In addition to the Blockbuster on Demand, WD has also added the ability to have social media functions including connecting with Facebook.
As if all of that wasn?t enough, the WD TV Live Hub also retrieves the metadata of all your media files, which gives you added information that you would normally have to search online for. Most of the features of the WD TV Live Hub are mostly carried over from other WD media products, like the ability to act as a media server and the ability to stream content to their mobile devices using third party applications. The ability to personalize the user interface to your own likes and wants is also one of the things that set the WD TV Live Hub apart from the other WD TV Live offerings.
As far as the hardware itself goes, the WD TV Live Hub supports a wide array of outputs ranging from composite video and component video all the way up to HDMI 1.4, which enables the ability to play 3D content as well as 4K content [we?re very excited about this]. In addition to that, it features two USB 2.0 ports that allow for seamless playback from USB storage drives, camcorders, and even digital cameras. It also has optical audio out to allow for surround sound audio at the quality you?d expect. When it comes to internet connectivity the WD TV Live Hub is connected via a gigabit Ethernet port in the back. It also has Wi-Fi readiness when an appropriate adapter is purchased. We would have really liked this device to natively have wireless N from the get-go, but we guess that will be saved for the next version of the Live Hub.
The WD TV Live Hub will initially be available exclusively through wdstore.com and BestBuy.com as well as all 1,093 Best Buy stores nationwide carrying a manufacturer suggested retail price of $199. Hopefully, we will get a chance to review this media player soon.