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For Better Digital Entertaiment, West(ern) Is The Way To Go

Product Features: WD TV Live Hub Media Center

Like most media players in the market today, the WD TV Live Hub sports a simple and unassuming design which allows it to blend in easily into most users’ interior decor and home entertainment setups. According to the official specifications for the device as released by Western Digital, the WD TV Live Hub has dimensions of 198 x 154 x 31.75mm and weights approximately half a kilogram.

The front of the device houses a single USB 2.0 port and the power button, as shown below:

The full range of audio-visual connectivity is located on the back of the WD TV Live Hub.Video output is achieved either via HDMI, composite or component video, while audio output is provided via stereo audio ports or optical-out.

As the WD TV Live Hub is designed for use by home users, its user interface has been completely resigned to provide a much more intuitive user experience while keeping it visually appealing as well. Unlike most media players in the market today which sport very minimalistic user interfaces, Western Digital has opted fora more attention-grabbing design. A horizontal scroll bar located at the bottom of the interface houses the various user-selectable features, and every last aspect of the interface’s theme can be customized by the end user. This allows users to personalize their WD TV Live Hub in a way which they are most comfortable with.

Also key to the new UI design is the implementation of the Dashboard, which we briefly touched on in the previous page. As mentioned, the Dashboard automatically keeps tracks of various media files which had been recently accessed to marked by the user to be part of a ‘Favourites’ list or a playlist queue. This ostensibly reduces the need to hunt through libraries of files just for the sake of searching for a single personal favourite file.

Last but not least, the WD TV Live Hub also features various online services which has been integrated within the media player’s operating system itself. Examples of such pre-loaded online services which users can access are AccuWeather, Youtube and the popular online social networking portal known as Facebook. According to Western Digital, the online services loaded into the WD TV Live Hub are also designed to be fully interactive. This is demonstrated in the image below, where users can post updates directly to their Facebook wall through the media player instead of having to do it via a PC, tablet or smartphone.

Product Features: My Book Live

Unlike most NAS devices which only offer basic network file access and transfer capabilities, the My Book Live stands out from the competition thanks to Western Digital’s move to bundle in its MioNet remote access service with the device.  With MioNet, users can remotely download and view photos hosted in their My Book Live directly to any iOS-powered device.

In order to obtain remote access to media files stored on the My Book Live, users need to create a MioNet account, which will activate the remote sharing feature on the device. In addition, users will have to visit the iTunes App Store to download and install the WD Photos app in order for an iOS device to gain access to their My Book Live.

Launching the WD Photos app will then bring up the following screen as shown in the image below:

Selecting the appropriate device which shows up on the Devices screen will then allow the user to browse through his or her photo collection stored on the My Book Live. When an image is selected, the WD Photos app will proceed to download the requested image directly into the iOS device’s cache to allow for faster subsequent access to the file.

However, Western Digital has informed us that the WD Photos application is designed only as a single-way communication. That is to say, photos can only be downloaded from the My Book Live into an iOS device’s cache: users will not be able to upload any photos taken on their iOS device to the My Book Live.

Last but not least, Western Digital had apparently saved the best news for the last. Contrary to what some people may think, the WD Photos feature is not exclusive to iOS devices: the company has announced in the launch event that the service has since been successfully ported to the Android platform as well. Like the iOS version of the service, the WD Photos app for Android is available at no charge and can be downloaded via the Android Marketplace.

Pricing and Availability
Western Digital has confirmed that both the WD TV Live Hub and My Book Live are already available for retail locally and will be sold via two distributors: Achieva Technology Pte Ltd and SiS Technology Pte Ltd. At the time of writing, only the 1TB version of the WD TV Live Hub has been released for sale, which has an MSRP of S$319.99.

The My Book Live, however, is currently available in capacities of either 1TB or 2TB at S$229.99 and S$309.99 respectively.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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