WD TV Live Plus
Western Digital (WD) is probably most known for producing hard drives and other computer storage devices—not a company that you'd expect to see producing home entertainment solutions. However, the WD TV supplies a series of home entertainment options, most notably the WD TV Live Plus.
The WD TV Live Plus offers a series of features. It allows you to store personal media (music, photos, and video) on an external USB hard drive that can be played on your TV using a simple remote. Ethernet comes built in, but a number of third-party USB WiFi adapters allow wireless access. If the unit is connected to a home network, you can play media stored on any Mac or PC in your home, as well as other network-attached storage (NAS) devices. Western Digital certifies its own NAS devices and USB hard drives for use with WD TV Live Plus, but USB hard drives and NAS devices will likely work as well.
Accessing content on your computer(s) or network-attached storage relies on the structure of files and folders on each device, as opposed to libraries such as those used by iTunes or Zune software. This design can make navigating to specific content a little challenging at first, because you need to locate the specific folders containing the content you want to play. The process is fairly straightforward, though.
Beyond your content, the WD TV Live Plus also allows access to online content including Netflix streaming, YouTube, Pandora, Flickr, and Live 365.com, making it a solid and low-cost option for accessing your personal content as well as a range of online sources.
A/V connections supported: HDMI; component; composite analog audio/video.
Pros: Access local content without needing home network or Internet connection; access to content from multiple devices in the home as well as Internet content; wide range of file formats supported.
Cons: Doesn't include native wireless connectivity; navigation of multiple devices can be a bit daunting at first.
Best for: People who want a simple solution that can work with a variety of file formats, multiple computers, and dedicated media hard drives; anyone who wants simple access to a set of Internet services.