To the original poster to answer your question if it’s worth it ?
I would normally have said yes and no - but out of PRINCIPLE I would tell you to save your money for now. Don’t get it - a box that promises to support so many formats and yet has problems with a lot of things - even if you don’t use youtube or internet options, it goes to show how POOR the support is at WD for ANY products, not just this one. The unit’s hardware has great potential - problem is firmware and the built-in media player is absolutely horrible. Quality is mediocre - even for a un it that price, If you are using analog outputs, don’t waste your money! it seems too much filtering is applied to outputs which softens the image considerably - if you are using digital video and audio outputs, it’s a lot better - although the decoding process is again not optimal and doesn’t come even close to that of your PC.
For these reasons and the lack of WD’s support, bring us bad firmware one after the other, not listening to customer feedback, taking so much time to release firmware, not offering new features, but only very few minor fixes for firmware we wait ages for, I’d tell you it’s bloody not worth it IMO - at least not for now…but from experience i know that they won’t do anything about it. MUCH like ADS didn’t bother fixing any issues with its ADS Instant DVD product line…it seems to be a trend !
The WD Live should have been a great product, but is plagued with bugs and bad quality and a bad firmware.
As far as competitor products, I can’t recommend you a product either as the quality is similar or worse.
I have done a test with a few HD files, divx, etc…using a PC and the Tsunami MPEG Xpress encoder with a dual processor and full CUDA support, and encoded a few mpeg-4, HD, WMV and other files to DVD format, viewed those on 3 different dvd players hooked up to both composite and component. Then I used the same original non converted files to play directly through my WD Live, using the same type of connectors on the same TV…and I was shocked to see the difference. Eventhough the 1st test involves recompression, the quality was amazingly sharp and clean, the sound was crisp, it was really nice to look at ! Test #2, the same non recompressed source file, which normally should play better actually delivered a disappointing result ! Poor image scaling, slightly overcropped, significantly softer image, noisier in some areas, in other words poor video output and average audio! This proves beyond doubt that either the chipset used is of bad quality, despite their claimed specs, OR the unit is somehow post processing the video and making it worse…Maybe if we had an option to turn these off, ?
Don’t waste your money, mate !
If you can, buy it from a costco or any local store where you can return the product. do not open any software that comes with it, you will not need it. So get it, try it and return it to your store if you do not like it. Who knows, maybe some people enjoy subpar picture quality - because they have nothing to compare it with. But I urge people to run the same tests to see for themselves. I even took the SAME AVI files to play with one of my DVD players that supports DivX, and was shocked that the file played so much better, crisp, razor sharp, clean, audio/video and the same one was softer! On the WD Live you will also notice that there is no difference at all in quality from composite ro component - on a DVD player you will notice the difference why is that ??? What use is it to offer component output on a unit that delivers the same quality as using a composite out - makes no bloody sense.
Get it and see for yourself. Good news is that it plays back quicktime and WMV files fine - quality is good on those. for files of the same resolution too…pathetic.