Apple TV or WD TV Live Plus?
I am considering creating a Media Library to store and play movies from a network drive, currently use iTunes for my music in MP3 format, and am thinking of getting an apple airport to connect my stereo to the computer but otherwise do not use apple products. Is there any comments and suggestions?
--From the Forum
There have been numbers of similar questions like above since Apple TV 3 was released together with the new iPad on March 7. The Apple TV 3 comes with a new design which makes it looks like a small media box. And it is more powerful with the support for 1080p playback, and includes a completely redesigned UI with iCloud integration.
And WD TV Live Plus has been released for a long time with the 1080p video playback. If you have a large library of HD video files in various formats, this box will easily play them on your HDTV. It'll stream Netflix and Pandora too. But the WDTV's interface isn't gorgeous, and it's not a reliable way to stream video from other computers around your house.
Design and Connections
Western Digital WDTV Live Plus has power and USB activity lights on the front but it comes with zero built-in storage. Instead, there are two USB ports. Having two ports is useful, because you can attach a large hard drive like the 320GB WD My Passport Essential and still have a one free for flash drives or a Wi-Fi adapter. The box connects to your HDTV using component, composite, or HDMI cables. There's also an optical audio out for 5.1-surround sound. Video output ranges from 480i to 1080p, depending on what your TV can support. Network connections come via an Ethernet port or the aforementioned USB Wi-Fi adapter, which is sold separately.
The Apple TV 3 is a tiny black, square puck measuring 0.9 by 3.9 by 3.9 inches (HWD) and weighing 9.6 ounces. The around back of it are connectors for the power cable, HDMI, microUSB, optical audio, and Ethernet. Even the remote is identical, a slight, simple silver wand with a navigation pad and play/pause and menu buttons. The Apple TV uses the new iOS 5.1-based interface right out of the box. You can install the same interface on the old Apple TV, however, and get the same features and menus.
The WDTV Live plays almost any DRM-free file type such as WMV, AVI, MOV, MKV, MP4, and M4V files and allows you switch between multiple audio or subtitle tracks in your files. It'll even play VIDEO_TS folders ripped from DVDs, complete with navigation. The WDTV Live's support for streaming files from PCs around the house is buggy, unreliable and a bit frustrating. It gets one thing right: the device publishes itself as a shared drive, so you can copy files over from Windows 7 PCs without using Sneakernet. The Windows 7 "Play To" option offers a relatively easy-to-use alternative, but there's a bug in the WDTV's Play to support that sometimes requires a reboot before you can properly use the feature. I contacted Western Digital, and the company is investigating these problems.
Video services include access to your iTunes libraries, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, and MLB.tv. It's a good selection, but Hulu Plus would really add to the device's functionality. Considering Apple sells most recent episodes over iTunes, though, the absence of Hulu makes sense.
Overall, the WDTV Live Plus is a mixed bag, but it might work for you. If you're looking to play a wide range of downloaded or ripped content from an attached hard drive, or you want to play Netflix, YouTube, or Pandora music on your TV, the WDTV Live Plus delivers—just not elegantly. If you have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, the benefits are even more apparent thanks to AirPlay support and the ability to use those devices as a remote. It still doesn't have a particularly large selection of non-Apple services, but a good-looking, dead-simple-to-use interface helps the Apple TV keep its customers’ choice rating.
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