Media player clients that sit beneath your television and pick up content from network devices such as NAS drives are nothing new. But with its WD TV Live Hub Media Center, Western Digital has pushed things a little further. It’s a smaller piece of kit than you may be used to that comes with a pair of USB ports and assorted outputs including HDMI. It’s also a breeze to set up: we had our test unit up and running in a matter of minutes.
Switching on for the first time, first impressions of the user interface are very, very positive. The system makes it easy to customise how you want information presented to you, allowing you to pinpoint what type of content you want. Thus, you can connect the Media Center up to a wired or wireless network (although you’ll have a to provide a separate, supported USB adapter, which you don’t have to do with some of the unit’s admittedly more expensive rivals), or you can connect a USB flash drive into one of the available ports. Whichever you choose, it’s not hard to get material up and on your screen quickly, with movies, music and pictures all supported. For that, Western Digital deserves ample credit.
The added bonus then comes in the form of the unit’s 1TB of internal storage. This is a real boon, extremely quiet in operation, and allows you to copy movies, music or images to the unit directly. It cuts out any network hassle, and it’s, again, pretty easy to get material copied across to the internal disk (you’re asked, for instance, whether you want to copy media off a flash disk as soon as you insert one). We encountered a couple of problems with it struggling sometimes to copy large swathes of files via our wireless network (and managing the deleting of large numbers of files is a little fussy, too) – but these were a minority of occasions.
One point at which you will hit problems, though, is when you have a lot of files on the disk – especially if you don’t organise them well. Browsing can be a bit arduous, and while there is a direct search function, it still needs a bit of work. Given that there’s the potential to store 1TB of files here, that’s a failing of the device.
Overall, though, our impressions of the WD TV Live Hub Media Center 1TB are very positive. File support is very broad, 1080p output is supported, and you get a remote control thrown into the bundle that’s worthy of the name. It’s also a very convenient device that might lack support for the likes of iPlayer, but is stable, easy to use device that will be a happy fix for 95 per cent of people, 95 per cent of the time.
Company: Western Digital
- It does a lot, with very little fuss.
- When the internal hard disk is loaded, it can be hard work to keep everything organised.
A good value, compact media hub, whose small size belies its power.