Frequent Advisor
Posts: 49
Registered: ‎12-25-2009

WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

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 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 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.



Occasional Advisor
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎12-13-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

Yes, there are some remaining bugs and missing features, but the WDTV Live does a much better work for me than my Netgear EVA8000 (which I will sell on eBay). So far I'm happy with this tiny device and glad to see further enhancements in upcoming updates.


Best regards,



Occasional Collector
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎12-26-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

Yes, the support sucks.

The documentation is almost nonexistant.

Didn't you research the file format issues before purchase?  I would have thought that most people would have done some research and seen if it would play the formats they wanted and accepted that it doesn't play everything.  It's far cheaper than any other media player out there.  There is a cost versus benefit thing, you know?


I can't speak for everyone else, but why are you using this like it's portable? How often do you move it around?  I HAVE made a virtually permanent connection like you suggested because I'm using it between my home theatre system and my PC.  ie. once set up, I don't have to move it.  How many people would be moving it frequently enough to damage the connections?  And if it's moved that often you're going to damage the connections on any piece of AV equipment.


Frankly I think you should return it because it's clearly not suitable for your purposes.  Perhaps you could send it to me instead?  Since you hate it I could find a home for it.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 6,793
Registered: ‎12-09-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

[ Edited ]

I agree that Western Digital have been very quiet about the problems and that there could be a lot more support. However if you had properly researched the product you would have found out its limitations. The instruction manual is online and you would have found there was no GOTO etc

I don't understand your comment about the 'size' of the unit.. Its modern electronics and the size really has no relationship to it being able to play HD. The USB sockets are no different to any other USB sockets on computers etc. so why should they fall out. Again USB sockets are designed for constant replacing but if you are worried simply use a short extension lead and plug into that instead.  The phono plugs for the TV are standard devices and I have never had any problem with this type of plug which has been used for years. 

I understand your disappointment with the unit but lets not be too picky.


Frequent Advisor
Posts: 49
Registered: ‎12-25-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

Ok.  I did all the research before buying it, and all I wanted is a unit that will playback different formats I can watch on my TV, to avoid converting them to DVD (time consuming). My main concern is the output quality SUCKS....and we are not talking about price here, as the same MPEG files play with razor sharp quality out of a unit costing HALF the price, only it doesn't support the extra formats.


The chipset quality used is crap obviously, and particularly for MPEG decoding.   The image has an overall noisy / grainy feel and is not too sharp.   I can clearly see visible noise on any output.......even on very high bit rate video, the same video played from another standalone unit are noise free and clean, so this comes down to 2 things....poor chipset used in this product, poor software used internally.   I have an ADS Instant DVD which is a small box, encodes and decodes, has outputs too, and I've played the SAME mpeg-2 files, and my God what bloody differences do I see, pristine, clean, razor sharp playback, on the SAME TV !  


The memory capacity for the firmware for the WD Live is not fully used, there is a LOT of room left for enhancements.......this is what bothers me, why the hell didn't they add a GOTO support, which is very basic and easy to add !!!  When you watch a video fast forwarding is very annoying, ANY player would let you quickly jump to any segment of your video.


ALSO - why the hell support VOB playback and not support DVD Menu and chatpering support ?!?!?!?  There is more than enough memory on the unit to add these SMALL features.


There is SO MUCH features the chipset used can support but only a fraction of it are exploited.!


But putting aside all the quirks, the biggest disappointment is image quality !    I've seen better decoding quality from FREEWARE based codecs !


This is why I said this product has a lot of potential but is unfinished and poorly tested.   The unit's output is horrible, IRE levels are wrong (speaking of which there should be an option for IRE 0 / 7.5 setups).


WD reminds me of ADS, poor support, and they stopped releasing new driers and updates too quickly.


Then you have another person releasing homebrew firmwares and WD ALLOWING this, knowing that this kind of thing voids your warranty and can harm your unit and his firmware sucks anyways as it is more of a cosmetic change and not feature based.


What is actually POOR is WD's firmweare - I'm sure the internal chipset used when programmed properly can deliver much better picture output.





Posts: 13
Registered: ‎12-08-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

You probably should return your WDTV Live. I have a Mini, a WDTV live and a Patriot Box Office. Of the three the WDTV Live has the best quality video. Maybe yours is defective. Yes, the firmware could be better. These things take time. I have to think your freeware codecs weren't all that great or you wouldn't have purchased this. As for me I didn't want a computer sitting in my living room with it's fans and the constant required updates. There is always a price to be paid for adopting a new technology. If you can't deal with that this would be a great time to bail out.

Frequent Advisor
Posts: 49
Registered: ‎12-25-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

LOL the free codecs is in relation to playback from my computer !


I wanted a box to allow me to transport clips to a usb drive or to network and view things on my TV !


Look at the forums all around, my box is NOT defective, tis is a FLAWED product and everybody is having problems with audio clipping and other issues.... it is clear that WD is NOT acknowledging and not listening to any of its customer or even want to fix or improve the product, they've made it clear and it shows.


actions speak louder than words you know.


Try playing back an MPEG-2 720x480i through your WD Live and see for yourself - it's as if the box is applying softening to the video - it looks significantly softer when output through the WD Live, even when using component connectors.


I play the same MPEG-2 file through my Toshiba SD3990 and the quality is razor sharp clean like the original MPEG-2 was intended to be.


It is clear that the box is meant to be used with native HD content only and HDMI...... the internal scalers  and ADCs truely SUCK !


Occasional Visitor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎12-26-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

My opinions as someone who recently upgraded to a Live from a 1st gen WDTV:


The remote:  I've used a 1st gen WDTV daily since launch (it has the same remote) and the remote still functions like new. While only time will tell in the end, I have no complaints so far.


The connectors:  On my 1st gen, the USB connectors were about as tight as most other devices I own. On my Live, the rear socket is a bit looser, however the side socket is very tight and requires some effort to remove a plug from it. As for the 3-into-1 style connectors, the 1st gen device has the individual Red/White/Yellow sockets, but it did not support component, only composite. The connectors on the Live were likely chosen due to space issues when component output was added.


 The firmware: Agreed, the .12 fiasco was certainly disheartening, but my overall experience with updates on the original device was pretty good. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt this time, but obviously they need to prove they deserve it or I'll move elsewhere if anything bad happens again.


The user interface: On the 1st gen device, the interface was fine, because the whole deal behind the WDTV was originally that it was a minimalist device. It played media and that's it, no fuss, so it didn't need a complex interface. However with the live, the interface could probably do with a redesign, or at the very least, reconfiguration of the menus. As for the background image, when I first turned on my Live I thought my TV settings were wrong, as the image looked like it had been badly scaled. Turns out it's just a poor image. I may be in the minority, but I actually like the design of the background, I just hate the quality fo the image. It most definately needs to be replaced, even if it's just with a higher res version of the same image.



Unfortunately I've never used either of my WD TV devices on anything but a 16:9, LCD TV and 16:10 LCD monitor, so I can't speak to the quality of lack thereof of any other format.


As for the in-video navigation, this is something myself and others have been petitioning for since the first device. It's not a deal-breaker for me, but better seeking and skipping in video/audio files is certainly welcomed.


Processing options & output quality:  Again, not something I can speak to that much. On my TV and Monitor the picture quality has been fine, although I don't have much in the way of high end equipment, so maybe "fine" to me is actually "bad" to someone else.







Honored Contributor
Posts: 566
Registered: ‎12-01-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

Your language and choice of words (and spelling) doesn't really come across as credible.


Whilst their support is somewhat lacking, the device is performing perfectly well.

WDTV Live needs: Better in-file navigation. Arrow keys to skip back and forth 10/30 secs in AVIs/MKVs/Mp4s/Mp3s.
Frequent Advisor
Posts: 49
Registered: ‎12-25-2009

Re: WD TV Live - An unfinished product of poor quality - My review and explanations inside!

Whilst the unit works for you it doesn't mean it works for everybody.  I never said the unit doesn't work, the quality is bloody poor.  A unit that claims to process HD video and can't play any format with half decent quality irks me....when my toshiba SD3990 costing half the price plays my xvid/divx AVi and MPEGs at amazing quality.


Don't talk to me about spelling that is rubbish - and besides the point here - video quality is very bad, I'm not just talking about the background image used, but the processing of your video especially AVI and MPEG files.


Why the bloody hell do quicktime movies play in better quality, at same res......  they play fine yet they don't support all audio formats, what a rubbish this piece of equipment is poorly tested poor support.


The Live has over 94MB of free space, plenty of space to add more feature and completly redesign thie firmware......


WD is a second ADS !  They will liekly leave us all hanging and stop supporting the unit and no longer offer ANY upgrade, like ADS abandoned their ADS Instaant DVD and left everyone in the dark.


Time for a little reality check mate.


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