Choosing a Set Top Box Like The WD TV Live

A number of set top boxes are becoming popular for video watching on the television. Two of the more affordable boxes are something many should look into. These are the Western Digital WD TV Live Plus and the very popular Apple TV.

WD TV Live Plus

The WD TV Live Plus is a new type of Set Top Box that can play Netflix movies as well as your own videos contained on a hard drive. This is called more of a digital media streamer as well as a Netflix player. The WD TV can play such an extensive and varied media formats that it covers almost every format you have in your media arsenal. You can play in addition to Netflix, MediaFly, Flickr, Pandora Radio, Live365 Internet Radio and YouTube as well as other free channels. It can play up to 1080p too.

The WD TV Live Plus purpose is to be able to stream movies as well as photos, videos and music from USB drives directly to your HDTV. It does this extremely well and recently has become very popular because of the ease of streaming your own media as well as its price point which for what it does is pretty inexpensive.

The WD TV has a plethora of connection options to choose from. There are an assortment of plugs for connections as well as the most common USB and Ethernet as well as WiFi. There is no in-built WiFi connection. But the WD TV can accept many wireless USB adapters that will enable it to connect to the internet via WiFi. Since the USB connection is standard the WD TV Live can read from various hard drive or CD drives, thumb drives and card readers too.

On the left side is a single USB port, while round the back is an Ethernet port and two jack sockets that join the existing HDMI, optical digital audio, second USB port, and power socket. The two jack plugs are ‘AV OUT’ and ‘Y Pb Pr’ use proprietary cables to add stereo audio and composite video and component video, respectively.

The menu area is well thought out. You can view media by three different ways. You can browse your media either as a list, as thumbnails or as a list with a preview on the right.

When you are viewing the various media, you can zoom into and pan around images. Video files can be fast-forwarded, rewound and skipped through by chapter. These are very nice features.

The WD TV Live Plus makes is a great media streaming that comes in a very small footprint and makes playing your multimedia files on your TV easier than ever before.

Apple TV
The Apple TV is an extremely well thought out 720p movie player. It’s main purpose is to stream video from the likes of Netflix, iTunes movie rental and watch the MLB.TV and NBA internet channels as well as well as podcast shows from iTunes, YouTube, Flickr as well as internet radio.

Connections are very simple. The Apple TV unit plugs into a HDTV via a HDMI cable. Apple for some reason chose not to include the HDMI cable and it has to be purchased in addition to the unit. If you want to plug the Apple TV into a stereo there is an optional plug for an optical cable. Be aware that the Apple TV cannot be used with older television sets that just have an RGB connection since it only accepts an HDMI cable.

The menu screen is very simple and intuitive to navigate within. I like the fact that it has iTunes movie rental. iTunes movie rental is just like going down to your video store and renting a movie. You pay a fee for each movie you watch. I prefer this to the old fashioned way of going down to the video rental store. When in the iTunes section, you can choose a movie by seeing box art as well as a detailed description. There is even a preview button to see a preview of the movie before renting it from iTunes.

The Netflix section lets you watch movies from their vast archive of online movies for a small monthly fee. This is probably the area you will use most. And if you like to watch lots of movies, this area is a money saver. For the movie buff you will be in heaven with the choices of films that are available. There are also lots of foreign movies as well as lots of documentaries which are fun to watch too.

You won’t go wrong with either of these set top box units. If your main goal is to stream your own movies, pictures and music from your own hard drives then the WD TV Live Plus is the way to go. If you like to rent movies and don’t have a vast collection of your own to choose from then the Apple TV will probably be the choice for you. Whatever you decide, it will save you because you will be able to do away with a few of the premium movie channels offered from your cable company. This will pay for itself fast.