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Western Digital TV Live Hub WDBACA0010BBK

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      06.03.2011 03:12
      Very helpful



      Good if all you want is a media player to hook up to your TV and play music/photo/video files.

      The Western Digital TV Live Hub is the latest in a series of digital media players from Western Digital. I own both this model and the D-Link Boxee. The short of it is that I much prefer the Boxee, although the TV Live Hub has some punches of its own to throw.

      The WD TV Live Hub comes with an in-built storage of 1TB. This is great as it means that you do not need to dedicate one hard drive to your media centre (assuming you do not have a NAS box, which you may well do). Transferring content to the TV Live Hub is simple - just plug in your hard drive to one of the two provided USB ports, and click copy. Viola.

      Connectivity is excellent. It supports HDMI, composite and component output (the Boxee lacks the component ouput, which may be significant if you do not have a full HDTV). There are two USB ports, which allow you to connect extra hard drives should you need to. At this point I feel I should mention that currently, there is a major flaw with almost all media players I have come across (including the Boxee). They work on 32-bit systems (as I understand). This means that until a firmware update becomes available, they will not be able to read content from a 3TB external hard drive, which requires a 64-bit operating system. This is quite a big disadvantage, in my opinion, as the very people likely to buy 3TB hard drives are those who might well be buying products like the WD TV Live Hub.

      Video output is decent - 1080p is definitely a plus, and given Apple TV lacks the ability to output in such a high resolution, this is one thing the TV Live Hub has going for it. The media centre played every video file I threw at it. However, the TV Live Hub stretches video files to fit the screen (I'm not sure exactly how it does it). This means that there is a significant drop in video quality between viewing on a laptop screen and on a TV screen. In contrast, I have not noticed this drop with the Boxee. Grain tends to be more prominent as well. To be honest, you will get better video quality by connecting a laptop to your TV.

      Audio quality is also good. There is optical connectivity should you need it.

      A glaring omission in my opinion is the lack of wireless connectivity. In this day and age I really see that as unacceptable for a media centre. There is an ethernet port, but I am not sure how many people have their wireless routers close to their main TV. This is more of an issue if you have networked storage, as the online content of the TV Live Hub is dire compared to that of the Boxee.

      The biggest drawback to the TV Live Hub is the user interface, termed Mochi (don't even get me started on how dire that name is...). It is a nighmare to use as it is cumbersome. Navigating through all your video files will take you a long time as the search function is nearly non-existent (due to an almost-inoperable on-screen keyboard - not qwerty but abcde style). In addition, although the tab "files" supports folders, the "videos" tab (which contains all the movie information downloaded from IMDB) does not. This makes scrolling even more tedious. Another complaint is that in order to get movie information, you have to manually click on each file, then "dowload info", which is a very time-consuming process when you compare it to Boxee's automatic indexing system. The UI itself looks ok, although as you may have guessed by now, I much prefer Boxee.

      Bottom line: if you can affort the extra £20, I would recommend the Boxee over the TV Live Hub. However, for £160, the TV Live Hub includes 1TB storage (the Boxee does not) and will do what it says on the tin. If that's all you need, and you don't particularly care about how it looks or how it navigates, I would recommend it.


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