WD TV LIVE HUB Almost Perfect

After trying the WD TV Live/Plus Media players and discovering they cannot stream Blu-Ray video I purchased this new device by WD. The WD Live Media Hub does everything the media players do plus streams high bitrate Blu-Ray video. The main reason that network streaming is possible is the included Gigabit Ethernet port. A 10/100 Ethernet port will not stream Blu-Ray Video. Don’t even try with a wireless network adapter as you will quickly see you need a wired Gigabit connection. I was able to share a Blu-ray DVD drive in a networked computer and stream the Blu-ray program to a remote TV cleanly without blanking audio and choppy video. You can also stream Blu-Ray & DVD iso files directly as the Media Hub will play them without mounting them into a virtual drive. You can also stream from a shared virtual drive with an iso image mounted. So forget the D-Link Boxee and the TV Live/Plus Media players with the 10/100 ethernet port unless you only need Standard Definition DVD streaming capabilities.

The WDTV Live Hub Media Center is built solid and has a small quiet fan on the bottom for cooling. The WD logo on the front flashes with activity and can be turned off permantly in the software. Interface menus are stunning and the remote is a good size with quick access to your Blu-Ray audio tracks and closed caption options. It will play all Blu-Ray video formats and audio tracks to a compatible Digital Surround Amplifier. If you are looking to go directly to just a TV with stereo speakers you will need to set the audio output to stereo. (Almost Perfect) If your Blu-Ray video only has Dolby Digital True HD audio and no Dolby Digital (AC3) audio track, you will experience no audio. Switching audio streams may only offer alternate languages. This is the only problem I came across with as PCM, DTS, DTS HD and Dolby Digital (AC3) audio tracks all worked perfectly when using just a TV. Most Blu-Rays that have a Dolby Digital True HD audio track also have Dolby Digital (AC3) track as the first audio stream. Star Trek 11 does not have DD AC3 just DD True HD as an example and no English audio was available except for 2 channel commentary. Music, picture and internet service streaming are easy with 10/100 ethernet port so no bottle necking is expected with the included Gigabit port. Nothing else streams as well without using a computer. The included 2.5 inch 5400 RPM 1TB is icing on the cake, where can you get one of those, but from Western Digital. Sweet!

The WD TV Live/Plus Media players will play back Blu-Ray video if you connect it directly to the USB 2.0 port. You will need a large drive as most Blu-Ray files are 25 -50GB in size. It just won’t stream a Blu-Ray unless you compress it to DVD size and that will take about 6-8 hours per file.

Great review - Did you design the hub?

Actually there is a gigabit port but the speed is cut down by the firmware / cpu etc so it does not really work as a gigabit. You can also play a .iso image on the WDTV live.


Is it possible that the Dolby Digital True HD audio is only available on the optical output?

mathia wrote:

Is it possible that the Dolby Digital True HD audio is only available on the optical output?

I don’t think Optical supports HD audio, there’s not enough bandwidth for anything but the DD5.1 core.  

You’ll need to be outputting via HDMI direct into an AVR capable of decoding it.

Eagle Eye and Iron Man Blu-Rays also have Dolby Digital True HD as the main audio track. Other Blu-Ray titles like 10,000 BC, Apocalypto and Blue Planet have Dolby Digital (AC3) as the main audio track and Dolby  Digital True HD as the second (English) audio track. If the only English audio track  is Dolby Digital True HD then you can only use the HDMI (pass through) or optical output  with a digital surround amp. If you set the WD TV Live Hub’s audio output to stereo mode, no core audio is available from the Dolby Digital True HD stream.  I was told this by the WD support rep. I’m no expert in the audio surround modes but would expect that it could be worked around in the future. DTS-HD Master Audio does have a core DTS audio track and the WD TV Live Hub will provide a stereo audio feed when in stereo mode over the HDMI and RCA outputs. When the WD TV Live Hub is in stereo mode my Yamaha HTR-6180 amp detects the audio as PCM, Dolby Pro Logic II, 2 channel audio. DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution audio and Dolby Digital (AC3) audio all output as Dolby Pro Logic II. Just the Dolby Digital True HD is an issue. Hopefully it can be corrected by engineering with a firmware update.

For those asking about the optical output you can normally only send it to a digital surround amp most TV’s do not have an input for optical or the capacity to decode surround signals. If you don’t have HDMI inputs, component video (Red-Green-Blue cables) and optical audio are your next best connection choice. RCA (Red-White-Yellow) inputs can be found on most current TV’s and analog amps.

Is there any posibility that the Dolby Digital True HD can be downmixed to stereo for use with a TV ?