Review: WD TVĀ® Live Plus

The folks at Western Digital were kind enough to lend me a TV Live Plus player (WD TV Live). The TV Live Plus Player is an excellent add on for families, particularly families on a budget (that would be most of us, right?).

Here’s what the TV Live Plus is. It’s a little box that you attach to your television. It’s very small actually at 5 in x 4 in x 1.5 in, you could throw it in a bag when you travel.

So what you do is take this little box, plug it into the wall, plug it into your TV with cables or with an HDMI cable (I’d recommend that), and connect it to your router with an ethernet cable (or buy the wifi add-on, but trust me you want the ethernet cable for this). After you’ve done this you go through a very simple set up process with your favorite online entertainment channels, and voila, you’re streaming them all to your TV at Full-HD 1080p.

What’s new and different about the TV Live Plus is that you can actually pick out your Netflix movies from the unit. I know this might not seem revolutionary to you, but other brands and older players did not have a full integration, so in the past if you wanted to order a netflix movie, you’d have to go online to Netflix, add a movie to your queue, and then go back to your device and start streaming it. This is much better, much smarter. I have a competing brand’s player, and I’m enjoying this quite a bit more.

Did I mention it’s small? It’s the silverish device on top of the Playstation.

The TV Live Plus also streams YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Live365, as well as the MediaFly network which includes daily podcasts from CNN, NBC, MTV, ESPNĀ® and other online content providers. I’m pretty sure those folks at MediaFly must be so embarrassed that they aren’t streaming Momversation… right? (please???) Last night the kids and I watched about a half hour of Annoying Orange webisodes on the family room TV. The orange really is annoying, I’m including an episode here so you can get a good idea of just how much I love my children.

Did you see that? Now imagine watching eight episodes back to back with your son screaming “More! More!” and your daughter imitating the orange for hours thereafter.

I noticed that on Netflix there are tons of cartoons available. If you’re in TV mode with kids, this would save you a fortune, and you don’t have to watch commercials. Woot!

The TV Live Plus retails at $149, and has two USB ports so you can connect your hard drives to it and stream your own content. This is wonderful for home movies, music libraries, photographs or in store advertising.

It is imperfect in that the picture quality is not as good as what I get from my HD DirecTv input. However, I would compare the picture quality of this system to cable television. It’s a nice picture, but it’s not the crazy sharpness that prodded us into getting HD DirecTv. My husband is We are absolute snobs when it comes to watching sports on TV. So long as you have a good, fast internet connection the TV Live Plus will give you a nice high quality picture. If your internet connection drops out your picture will become more pixelated, but you will not experience buffering (you know the delay you sometimes get with online media), so if you’re enjoying a movie you might not notice very much at all. I think a short term drop in picture quality is MUCH better than a buffered movie.

Considering that we spend close to $140 a month to have DirecTv, I think a $149 TV Live Plus would be a great investment. If you couple it with an $8 a month Netflix subscription it’s a high quality, low cost solution.You could get it without netflix and just enjoy the free music services on it, and youtube. I think you can rent a number of movies on YouTube.

As a complete aside, I love that you turn the device off when you’re not using it. Unlike satellite and cable TV, it doesn’t bleed you of power day and night. I get really worked up about devices that run hot when no one’s using them, and this one shuts down completely. I appreciate that.

I’m thinking this could also be a great addition to any dorm room. You know… when the kids aren’t studying… because they’re studying most of the time, right?

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  1. Fancy box. I’m still a die-hard Roku fan. They recently updated their UI to include in-place search and queue management. :)

  2. I forgot all about having a slingbox until I read this.

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