Western Digital announced on Tuesday a new set-top box, the WDTV Live Hub, which combines streaming of Web content like Netflix with a 1 TB hard drive for playing your media on your HDTV.
The competition in the field of set-top TV boxes is heating up faster than ever. Google TV, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee and others all allow users to access content from the Web via services like Netflix, Pandora and YouTube, all on their TV. Western Digital's WDTV Live Plus hasn't received quite the press of those other devices, but it's a good way to stream Web content, and your own music and movie collection, to your TV.
On Tuesday, Western Digital announced a new model in the WDTV line, called the WDTV Live Hub, that takes the capabilities of the WDTV Live Plus, and adds a new interface (in an attempt to improve upon the poor interface of the Live Plus) and a 1-terabyte hard drive for storing local content.
Essentially, the WDTV Live Hub is a combination of a networked hard drive that allows you to access its data from other devices, and a set-top box that streams Web content. The 1TB drive is large enough for most people's media collections, and the Live Hub can be paired with Live Plus devices (which are still going to be sold, for $99) to stream content from the Hub to other screens around your house. It's one box, with all your media (both that you own and from various Web services), that connects to your TV for simple viewing.
The 1.22-pound Live Hub supports 1080p HD playback via an HDMI TV output, can stream from Netflix, Pandora and other services, and gets first-run movies from Blockbuster on Demand. WD claims that the Live Hub has the ability to play "virtually any media file." It supports a huge number of file formats, from images to videos and music files, and doesn't appear to have any of the Apple TV's or Roku's restrictions.
Western Digital has also apparently learned a few lessons from the Live Plus box as well, and a number of improvements havefound their way into the Live Hub. There's support for a wireless keyboard for easier navigation and search, as well as a brand-new interface that WD says is much improved.