The applications that have are included on the Live Hub include Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, and Blockbuster on Demand. The only new features that the Live Hub brings to the table compared to previous models from both WD and competitors are the addition of Facebook and Blockbuster on Demand. While the addition of Facebook is definitely a welcome improvement, we found its actual performance to be sluggish at best and useless at worst.
The time that it took for the Facebook application to load simple pages was so long in some instances that it would've been better off not to use it at all. The addition of the Blockbuster on Demand, though, is something that is both interesting and welcome.
The WD TV Live Hub basically sells itself as a bastion of anti-DRM supporting file formats like MKV, yet it also sports a service like Blockbuster on Demand. The addition of this service is likely going to improve the usability of this device for the general consumer as Blockbuster continues to close more stores and move more towards an online model. Furthermore, it promotes the use of the device as a content delivery engine and not just a media player.
The good things about the applications on the WD TV Live hub are that the Netflix application loads faster and looks better than it did on the Xbox 360 which is a very welcome improvement considering it is part of a Netflix happy household.
Meanwhile, applications like Flickr and Pandora worked flawlessly as they should and didn't really deviate much from other streaming devices. As a disclaimer, we also want to mention that some of these added features may have been included or will be included in some previous streaming devices like the Live Plus via firmware updates.
The only glaring problem that we noticed during our use of the Western Digital Live Hub was that its gigabit network port is not quite performing at a gigabit when transferring files to and from it. When tested, 20GB of video files took 40 minutes to transfer to the Live Hub… while the same file transferred over the exact same network to a different device took 27 minutes. There is a definite performance loss somewhere when it comes to data transfer over gigabit. Yes, this will still be faster than 10/100 but no it is not true gigabit speeds.
The Western Digital TV Live Hub actually has a lot of value even when considering the $199 sticker price. This device is traditionally more expensive than almost all of its other competitors, but when you consider that most of them are priced around $100 or more and lack a 1TB HDD and quite a bit of functionality, that disparity quickly disappears.
The price of a 1TB 2.5" HDD alone is $120 retail and adding that to any streaming device would already break $200. Furthermore, one of the most effective ways to see the value of the WD TV Live Hub is to combine the prices of the two devices that WD offers that the Live Hub really combines into one device.
Those two devices are the WD TV Live Plus and My Book Live. These two devices purchased separately would have the same functionality as the Live Hub but would run up a cost of $250 and would simultaneously take up much more space. As a result, the Live Hub not only saves money but it also saves space.
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