Western Digital WDTV Live! Review

Who still watches TV nowadays really? almost everyone i know today watches content from the internet such as youtube and fan subs J dramas/K dramas/Anime..etc..etc.. You will be pretty confused if you are in the hunt for a HD (High Def) player today – just a quick google and trip to your local store – there are probably 15-30 different brands to choose from! I am going to make your life easier – – – i will tell you what you REALLY want to know….not a PC MAG style geeky style review of HD players so lets begin!


This is the ONE thing that i really didnt get from reading all the online and magazine review – WDTV is REALLY SMALL! This is one major factor to me as you my living room is small and the entertainment space is already cluttered enough… check out the pics below to see how small the unit really is!

Side by side comparison with 3.5inch Hard disk.

just slightly taller ..

Still not convinced? see this then…

WDTV Live vs AC Ryan mini and TVIX mini..... WDTV Live is still smaller!


Veeeeeeeeery simply. Really just 1,2,3! plug in the power, plug in the hdmi cable to your lcd/plasma tv and connect your hard disk! i was up and running in less than 5 min! The retail box comes with Composite and Component Cables. Now if you wanted to get the 110% out of the WDTV LIVE,  all you have to do is purchase a HDMI cable and THROW away the cables that came with the box 🙂   .

NOTE : Dont be a FOOL and pay RM XXX for a HDMI cable. They all work the same, no matter the size,brand or price. I suggest you pay NO MORE than RM60 HDMI cable ok! you can get it at jusco or even lower at those electronic shops.


I am very very happy with WDTV Live – it ATE UP all the files i threw at it and played them flawlessly! The ONLY (and only) file type that WDTV Live cant play is RMVB (Real Media) files, which frankly i dont give a horse shit about because 99.9% of all RMVB files out on the interweb is of crapshit quality and the only country left where people still use those file format is china.

Whats so great about WDTV Live #1 –SUBTITLES!

If you go to techie forums, you will find that one of the top questions asked about WDTV Live is – Can it handle subtitles properly? This is because a lot of people got burned buying cheaper no brand players only to find that it doesnt handle subtitles very well!

I can safely say that WDTV Live plays all subtitles without any problem. One nifty feature is that you can actually move subtitles up and down during playback!  This is pretty nifty ! I always hated shows where the subs are right in the middle of the screen sometimes. With WDTV Live…you can just press the down arrow button during playback and it will shift the subtitle down bit by bit till you happy with it! (See Below)

This is how the sub for AVATAR appears during the movie. as you can see, the sub is quite high up, almost middle of the screen

just by pushing the down button on the remote, i can push the subs all the way down on the screen! great!

WDTV Live even managed to display subtitles proper when it didnt play back on my PC ! i have tried soft sub (seperate subtitle files from the video such as .srt files)  and also hard sub files (subtitles encoded into the video)  and they all worked perfectly 🙂

see? on WDTV Live the subs appear correctly!

Image from PC. As you can see, the chinese subtitles appears as squares.WDTV Live plays the same file with proper chinese subs!

Whats so great about WDTV Live #2 – Downmix AC3 to Stereo

Some of you will buy this for your folks (good on ya! ) , where the LCD/Plasma TV is the only source for Audio and Video. Since LCD/Plasma TV can only output sound in stereo, it is important to get HD Player that can support downmix digital/5.1/dts/true hd audio to stereo automatically!

Whats so great about WDTV Live #3 –  User Interace/Experience

Right, first of , I have seen quite a few HD player User Interface/Menu before…and they are….downright bland.

WDTV Live User Interface is really simple. Its not perfect but its really simple to operate and its easy to view your files (movies, songs, photos) in either List, thumbnail and even preview format! Granted, there is a sliiiiiiiight lag (around .3millisecond) that most people will not notice and its not really that a big deal really.

Whats so great about WDTV Live #4 – Dim Lights…

One of the most under rated feature of WDTV Live : taking a cue from high end AV equipment in minimizing the lighting effect of the unit. WDTV Live only has two minimal lights – Power ON light and USB connection light. Both icons are small and dim enough that you cant even notice it when watching your movie which is great! My other HD player (AC Ryan Mini) has this blinding BLUE and RED light that is terribly bright – really annoying when you are trying to watch a movie with dim light setting. So why dont i just turn it 45 degrees you say? well, if you do that, you will have a hard time controlling the HD Player as the remote is an infrared type that needs to have direct path without anything blocking its way. so there.

Cant see the light? GOOD! You wont get distracted from your movie!

Whats so great about WDTV Live #5 – Easy to use remote!

This sounds like ass kissing but its not. WDTV Live have one of the easiest to use remote ever.

Dont believe me? check out the comparison between the AC Ryan remote and WDTV Live :

simple, clutter free.

try finding the play button...

Yeah, go figure. While i appeciate that the AC Ryan remote has a lot of commonly used button on the remote, i didnt find myself using them! and when i did, i always struggle to understand why they made the commonly use button (PLAY) and volume as one of the SMALLEST BUTTON on the remote. yeah….go figure…really…

Pros : A very versatile player with great functions, easy to use, frequent updates and great after sales service (hey, this is Western Digital after all!)

Cons : no HDMI cable included.

Summary : WDTV Live street price keeps getting cheaper by the day (RM390 as we speak) and you will be kicking yourself in your nards if you pay the same price for a lesser known brand product!

Rating : 8.5/10

a big thanks to WD in providing a unit for review.


About xcarpathia

Just a normal average malaysian joe

Posted on July 12, 2010, in THE GOOD and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. My WD player (Gen.1) not playing well in subtitle. It will hang (not smooth & no sound) when i on the subtitle, it will be normal when i off the subtitle, especially for those mkv movie with 1080p, but for some mkv movie 720p also facing the same problem.

    Another problem is for some mkv movie (recently downloded) it totally cannot play. eg for 1. TOY STORY 3 “HUBRIS FILE”, 2. THE EXORCIST “SINNERS FILE”, 3.PRINCE OF PERSIA “HUBRIS FILE” and etc. Please advise. Thanks

    • Agree with you that certain files dont play on the wdtv but they also dont work on other players either. this is an issue with the mkv file encoded. if you have digital out (dts) and not stereo, the movies that you have problems with will play just fine.

      as for the subs, i dont have any issues at all so far…so many its a wdtv live better feature….

      • I had tried to change the audio from stereo to digital, but those movie still cannot play. I using WDTV (Gen.1). Is there any other solution?

      • Its a problem with the file leon 🙂
        i have already tried another file and it works 🙂 ( 4gb hubris)

  2. for those movies cant play on WDTV but play find on PC.
    Is it because my WDTV is the Gen.1 player and cant support those file (even i changed the audio from stereo to digital)?

  3. I know this web site offers quality dependent posts and extra stuff, is there any other website which provides these things in quality?

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