Western Digital has revamped its media player offering this week, serving up a new budget streaming box for home theater buffs. The company's latest WD TV Live nettop box is priced at only $100 and has a slightly different feature set than the existing $200 WD TV Live Hub. The cheaper unit sheds the 1TB internal hard drive and lacks support for multi-room streaming, but it gains integrated Wi-Fi connectivity.

Because it forgoes the storage drive, it's also quite a bit smaller than its sibling, measuring only 1.2 inches tall, 4.9 inches wide and 3.9 inches deep (versus 1.25 x 7.8 x 6.1 inches). In conjunction with its wireless connectivity, the WD TV Live's smaller frame should allow you to stuff the device into any crevice of your home theater setup. Despite walking through a shrink ray, it supports the same array of file formats:

  • Video - AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9, FLV (h.264)
  • Audio - MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS
  • Playlist - PLS, M3U, WPL
  • Subtitle - SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI


The folks at Storage Review dissected the device in their recent write-up, revealing a Sigma Designs SMP8670AD-CBE3 processor with 512MB of DDR2 RAM (four Nanya NT5TU128M8GE-AC chips if you must know), and the device's operating system is reportedly stored on a 2GB NAND chip. That's not as beefy as some of today's full-blown Intel or AMD-based HTPCs, but it's plenty sufficient for high-bitrate 1080p videos.

Connectivity includes dual USB 2.0 ports (one in front, one in back), HDMI, Optical and AV outputs, as well as gigabit Ethernet -- just enough to attach an external storage device or pull content from a network. The WD TV Live's software has reportedly been overhauled and it offers a broad spectrum of dedicated apps for popular Web services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Facebook and more.

We've heard great things about the nettop's local content support and we've only found one ding against its online offerings: there's no app for Amazon's services. Western Digital says it's working on adding more streaming content, so maybe that'll come in the near future. The WD TV Live ships with a remote control and RCA cables, though you'll have to supply your own HDMI cable (they're cheap enough these days).