Western Digital Debuts WD TV Live Plus with Netflix

Western Digital isn’t new to the digital media adapter/extender market, but the company is historically known more for its external hard drive products than its ambitions in the living-room entertainment wars. At least it was before today.

This morning, Western Digital announced a new WD TV Live Plus HD Media player with full 1080p resolution and Netflix access built in. While the company makes no bones about joining a slew of other gadget folks to offer Netflix content, they also highlight the ways it can one-up the competition. To start, it’s got that 1080p playback.  But Western Digital also brings in the ability to connect the WD TV Live with your in-home network. In other words, you can fire up your favorite Netflix video, or watch content stored on any connected hard drive in the house.

Unlike the Roku, the WD TV Live doesn’t have embedded Wi-Fi, but that can be corrected with a wireless adapter sold separately. Otherwise, consumers can use a wired line for Internet connectivity, or plug in any USB-enabled drive for access to local content. The USB port is a major plus in conjunction with the Internet content available on the WD TV Live. The same combination has been alluded to by the Roku folks, but we haven’t seen the reality yet. Meanwhile, like the Roku (thanks to a recent software update), the Western Digital product also lets users browse Netflix content and add movies to their Instant Queues right from the TV screen. No PC required.

The MSRP for the WD TV Live Plus HD media player is $149.99. It’s available on the Western Digital site, and through “select retailers.” Amazon lists it for pre-order at a price point of $125.43. More deets below.

Also check out Technologizer and CNET for some hands-on impressions. We’re getting our own review unit here at ZNF in the next week, so stay tuned.

WD TV Live Plus Specs:

  • Offers content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Live365, and the MediaFly network
  • Supports Mac and PC streaming; compatible with Windows 7
  • Includes one Ethernet and two USB ports, as well as an HDMI 1.3 port, and composite video and component video output
  • Playback at 1080p resolution

9 thoughts on “Western Digital Debuts WD TV Live Plus with Netflix”

  1. I suspect owners of the WD Live for about $25 less aren’t going to be thrilled about this.

  2. You used the word “extender” in your first sentence, but this isn’t a real extender in the Windows sense, is it?

  3. I might be wrong, but from what I have been able to find out, the only difference between this and WDTV Live is an additional hardware chip that does nothing but offer DRM for “premium content”. It is running a slightly newer OS (giving ripped DVD menu functionality?), but hardware spec-wise that chip is the only difference that I can discover.

    Once again, thanks to DRM, we get to pay more for less functionality. Yes, this one does offer Netflix, but WDTV Live apparently could also except for that DRM chip.

  4. Oh, do any of the WDTV HD/Live/Plus play DVD menus now? That strikes me as a silly capability to have left out, especially since other media players will play menus at the same price or even lower.

    I know the WDTV Mini doesn’t play DVD menus — I bought a Mini on super cheap sale as an experiment in tiny media portability. I’m calling it a failed experiment at this point. It will play files from my DVR PC, but with a slightly noticeable audio sync problem. I transferred several shows from my TivoHD and decrypted them to straight MPEG. Windows Media Player will play the MPGs just fine. The WD TV Mini plays them with no audio, and the video looks like my digital cable looks when it has transmission or sat downlink problems — about 50% of the picture is obscured by crawling macroblock and green squares, even though various software products on the PC will play the same files flawlessly.
    So no way I’d risk the money on any WDTV HD unless I knew it would play files which came from a Tivo & digital cable.

  5. new Western Digital isn’t new to the digital media adapter/extender market, but the company is historically known more for its external hard drive products than its ambitions in the living-room entertainment wars.good tv wdtv and hd unless.ok

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