I was hesitant at first to buy this product because of the very bad level of support from WD with their other products, but after reading the specs I was very excited so I went ahead and purchased it on the fact it played back so many file formats and supported USB keys and hard drives.
First thing that gets noticed is how SMALL the unit is, actually quite small for a unit that decodes HD and all those other pformats. Remote control is small and very simple to use.
I quickly noticed the flimsey nature of the device and remote control, with contact buttons that are cheap and WILL stick after a short period of use as they get worn out. Good news is that you can buy those remotes cheap !
The box itself - looks like it's made of sturdy aluminium and has vents to the sides. Problem is with the connectors, they are very flimsey and fragile and soldered to the motherboard inside the unit. You have to be EXTREMELY careful with plugging USB keys or other devices, they do not "lock" into place and are very loose. Eventually with the plugging and unplugging of the USB keys, the connector will get more and more loose and poor or no contact will be made.
Same for the set of adapter cables for component and composite connectors, at first they fit tightly and locked into place which is good - BUT after a few plugs and unplugs the contacts inside also get loose and you will get distortions and other problems with the image as the connetor is not making a full grip as it used to. It is very obvious they cut some corners with build quality here. I have a $60 Toshiba DVD Player with amazingly rock solid connectors that have been abused and still working ! Why did WD opt for the 1 -> 3 type of cables beats me, those connectors are so fragile as opposed to the standard yellow/red/white individual connectors.
The flimsyness and fragile nature of the device is not just limited to the physical build but now moving on to the performance of the unit!
Unit is successfuly updated with latest WORKING firmware .11 - Oh and about firmware, the whole fiasco with the .12 firmware and .77 with 2nd gen devices is testatment to WD's poor support in regards to this product. How is it that this issue was not stopped by their teams of engineers - isn't there ANY form of quality control at WD ever ?!?!?!
Upon turning the unit on I was quickly shocked to see how poor the user interface and background is....I could easily see the dithering, the visibile gradation and a background that looks like a 16 color image !!! This unit can play HD and full color video FFS the least they can do is add a decent background!
The unit is ridden with bugs, inconsistencies and incomplete features.
First things first - Since this unit has 480i support and composite outputs, it means it should support both LCD and CRTs !!! Maybe the WD engineers forgot about the overscanning nature of a CRT TV's signal, which means that playback of video with onscreen text gets CUT OFF from screen view into the overscanning area. This is something WD needs to address..... Even their OWN menu - Example when hitting eject and select a drive, you can see at the bottom right corner of your screen "USB " and the 1.1 or 2. is cut off in the overscan area of the TV ! This has nothing to do with aspect ratio - I have properly set the aspect to normal (4:3).
What the hell kind of unit will not allow yout o GO TO a specific time ? Even the cheapest of players do so. If I want to jump to 20 minutes in my movie, how hard can it be to use a GO TO option and jump to a specific time during playback !
Lack of processing options - My cheap Toshiba DVD player has brightness and sharpness controls...... The lack of video controls like color intensity, hue, sharpness, is surprising, considering the chipset supports these functions internally !
I have downloaded a fair amount of WMV HD files from the WMV showcase sample site, the videos play fine, but no WMA audio support or WMA Pro support ? It says (digital), eventhough audio is set to stereo. Audio works fine for any other format, but many if not all of my WMV HD files did not play their audio ! INCOMPLETE support !
What the hell kind of unit that supports VOB and VOB ISO does not support DVD !!! I would like to be able to view my stored DVD VIDEO collection on my HDD, a lot of it are home movies I have transfered to DVD format with menus...........Your unit plays VOB files....how ridiculous that it does not support DVD specs or at least support PROPER playback of a VIDEO_TS folder with navigation menus and DVD chapters !!!
IWhat about the quality of the chipset used....... If I compare to a CHEAP nova DVD player that cost me $30, and a CHEAP toshiba DVD player that cost me $60, their output are AMAZINGLY sharp and crisp next to the WD Live player.
The WD Live unit outputs crap quality video !! No matter what connection is used - The low quality is especially seen when outputting MPEG-2 encoded files, even at the highest bit rate. I have recorded pristine footage from a 3 CCD high quality DV cam to DVD. Viewed the DVD on my toshiba DVD Player and many other DVD players, and the output was clear, razor sharp and CLEAN. Outputting the same MPEG-2 file through the WD Live, and the output was GARBAGE. The image was MUCH softer as if it is going through some excessive filtering or simply a piss porr quality chipset....quality is blurry/soft, Quality for viewing AVI files xvid/divx also is very poor. All these MPEG files I tried were professionaly encoded at 720x480 and played fine on other players....no matter what bit rate was used. As far as quicktime HD even through the regular composite outs, the image was good and the decoding performs better than other codecs. What a shame.
Photo support.......again a joke ! Transition effects are a joke too as one would expect a much larger amount of wipes and other effects. again the decoding of pictures is not optimal and output is not good at all compared to playing the same JPGs on my same toshiba DVD player costing half.
Unit allows you to zoom and pan your video display, but only by huge increments - that is insane ! It would be great to being able to control video height, width and position at pixel level, this would compensate for the overscanning of your TV.
Also, the internal scaler used is the worst i've seen in a digital playback unit.
All in all it is apparent that such a unit would have a very limited life span.
Overall the unit is poorly constructed, lacking most important features, output quality is subpar for both video and audio, buggy, and lacking proper support.
I would strongly advise if you decide to buy this unit to use permanent connections to a network or HDD and to use HDMI and digital audio connectors, but even so it is my observation and opinion that the unit has LOTS of potential but appears to be an unfinished product that needs serious work ! If you are fussy about quality, you should hold off buying this product, particularly if you want to view non HD content, even on the best standard CRT TV through composite or componenent connectors, the chipset used is poor.
Post processing options like sharpening would be very useful.