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Old February 18th, 2013, 11:16 PM   #1
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Switched from Roku to WDTV Live - How did I live without this!?

I've been using the Roku 2 since about a month or two after it came out. Had the high end model in the living room, and the original low-end (since beaten by a $50 model) in our bedroom. If all you want is a cheap and effective gateway to your Netflix/Hulu content, look no further, the Roku is perfect.

Last year I started a project. I was converting all of our DVDs/Blu-Rays to digital copies. The plan was to stream them from the home network. The Roku has absolutely no native support for DLNA or even the ability to see network attached storage. We had a 3TB HDD plugged into our router via USB just going to waste. There were two "solutions." I could plug in a HDD (2TB or less) directly to the Roku. This was ok except that our bedroom model didn't have a USB port, and even if it did, it meant copying HDD contents from one to another anytime that I added more movies to the collection. The other solution was to set up a web server and keep my desktop running 24/7. This wasn't an ideal solution either.

In addition, if I wanted my rips to look like anything other than a file list, I needed to use Thumbgen to make thumbnails, background artwork, meta data, etc. For a single movie, this wasn't too bad. For a complete season, this was an all-night project...for one damn season. I finally gave up. The Roku was a basic device that simply needed too many work arounds for advanced content. That's fine for most, but I'm a bit more demanding.

So I switched to the WD TV Live. The first thing that I noticed was that the Netflix/Hulu apps were similar to the PS3 counterparts. They allowed for higher quality streams, the ability to monitor stream quality (Netflix) or even change it (Hulu), among other features. They weren't as basic as the Roku versions. The WD TV Live saw my network share without a hitch, even letting me assign a specific folder (or folders) as my media library. This means that we don't have to keep going through folders as we did on the Roku (which, by the way, required a $15 app just to get that far). Once a video is ripped to the share drive, I don't have to go to Thumbgen and make up all of that stuff I mentioned previously. I simply go to the WD TV Live, select the episode, hit options, and say "get content info." It pulls everything and stores it locally, and it looks identical to the work that I put into Thumbgen (because it pulls from the same source, but compiles it automatically).

WD TV Live's interface is essentially a lite-version of XBMC. If you've ever used XBMC, you'll feel at home but you'll feel like something is missing. That's just fine. Theme support is there, though I'm still learning how to import them. That is next on my to-do list. Plays just about any file format out there, for the most part. Wouldn't play a very high-bitrate MP4 that I had made for the Roku, but I did some weird things with that encode just to make it work properly on the Roku. Plays 1080p MKVs just fine.

I haven't purchased the addons yet, but it works just fine with Hauppauge USB to coax adapters for OTA or basic cable, to include basic DVR functionality. That's our next purchase for it. Also can be used with Slingbox, though I'm debating if I want to go that far.

Overall, it's early, but I'm liking it. If you ever considered making an XBMC-HTPC but didn't want the cost, get a WD Live. They come in three flavors; Play ($70), TV ($100), and Hub ($200). The Play is more like a Roku, has a different UI, and lacks the more advanced features. The Hub is just a TV with built-in 1TB HDD. If you don't want to network share a HDD, just get one Hub, and then use that to "broadcast" via DLNA to the TV/Play boxes throughout your house. For me, I'm just going to put one TV Live on each of our two TVs and call it a day.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 08:57 AM   #2
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Cool story bro, you ever thought about becoming a professional reviewer?
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Old February 19th, 2013, 12:21 PM   #3
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Old February 19th, 2013, 01:33 PM   #4
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If all you want is a cheap and effective gateway to your Netflix/Hulu/Amazon (fixed) content, look no further, the Roku is perfect.
Yes...yes it is.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 02:36 PM   #5
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He doesn't have any friends so just let him feel important and discuss crap on here so we can save the random stranger that he would to talk to death otherwise.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 05:23 PM   #6
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I pretty much exclusively use my xbox360 for streaming content...

I am tempted buy the apple TV for the living room mainly for airplay. So many times me and friends have been hanging out in the living room and someone mentions a video that would be funny to check out but we dont have an ideal way of playing it. Since about ~70% of my friends have iphones it would be a pretty good setup.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 06:48 PM   #7
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I streamed via the Roku but have since purchased a 55" TV that reads off a USB drive. All I do is put what I want to watch on it and press play. I've had some great and some bad experiences with streaming. I'm over streaming. For now. If I truly need to stream, I'll just hook up the PS3 to the TV and use that.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 08:50 PM   #8
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I pretty much exclusively use my xbox360 for streaming content...
Won't work for me. Streaming local content on a 360 isn't as nice as on the WD TV Live, not even close. Also, I've never had a Live/Live Gold subscription, which is required to use streaming apps. Paying a fee just to pay another fee...

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I am tempted buy the apple TV for the living room mainly for airplay. So many times me and friends have been hanging out in the living room and someone mentions a video that would be funny to check out but we dont have an ideal way of playing it. Since about ~70% of my friends have iphones it would be a pretty good setup.
Try this.

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I streamed via the Roku but have since purchased a 55" TV that reads off a USB drive. All I do is put what I want to watch on it and press play. I've had some great and some bad experiences with streaming. I'm over streaming. For now. If I truly need to stream, I'll just hook up the PS3 to the TV and use that.
PS3 is a good choice. I've had only a few issues streaming wirelessly over it (no -N support). But it still can't do local content in a way like the WDTV does. I'm still setting it up, but in a day or two I hope to post some screen grabs of what it looks like.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 09:29 PM   #9
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Old February 19th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #10
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Thanks Mojo. That's pretty much how the WDTV Live functions. Like I said, it's like XBMX lite. XBMC is a bit smoother and has far more functionality under the hood. WDTV is a compromise that gives you XBMX-like functionality at a fraction of the price.

Quite a few of the XBMC themes have been ported to WDTV as well.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 11:05 PM   #11
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Between my boxee box and my Roku, I prefer my BB. I use Plex to stream with Roku.
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Old February 19th, 2013, 11:33 PM   #12
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Between my boxee box and my Roku, I prefer my BB. I use Plex to stream with Roku.
I'm ok with Plex except that it requires a separate PC running to transcode and stream it. Oh, and my poor typing above, XBMX = XBMC.
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Old February 20th, 2013, 01:45 AM   #13
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I was using Plex as well. But don't you need a separate PC in general, Plex or not?
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Old February 20th, 2013, 01:49 AM   #14
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I was using Plex as well. But don't you need a separate PC in general, Plex or not?
Nope. At least not with the WDTV Live. There are three ways to handle your local media.
  1. Use the Live Hub, which has a built-in 1TB HDD. Store your crap there.
  2. Use a usb HDD (2TB or smaller) plugged directly into the WDTV Live. It has 2 USB ports.
  3. Use a network shared HDD. In my case, I have a 3TB plugged directly into the router via USB. However, other, larger HDDs offer ethernet/wireless connectivity.

You CAN stream from your PC, but you don't have to.
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Old February 20th, 2013, 08:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notsofun28 View Post
I pretty much exclusively use my xbox360 for streaming content...

I am tempted buy the apple TV for the living room mainly for airplay. So many times me and friends have been hanging out in the living room and someone mentions a video that would be funny to check out but we dont have an ideal way of playing it. Since about ~70% of my friends have iphones it would be a pretty good setup.


I thought they had an app that allowed the ipod to work with the xbox360?
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Old February 20th, 2013, 05:22 PM   #16
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I'm running Plex on my Sabnzb/Couchpotato/sickbeard/headphones server anyway. =)
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Old February 20th, 2013, 05:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exodus View Post
Nope. At least not with the WDTV Live. There are three ways to handle your local media.
  1. Use the Live Hub, which has a built-in 1TB HDD. Store your crap there.
  2. Use a usb HDD (2TB or smaller) plugged directly into the WDTV Live. It has 2 USB ports.
  3. Use a network shared HDD. In my case, I have a 3TB plugged directly into the router via USB. However, other, larger HDDs offer ethernet/wireless connectivity.

You CAN stream from your PC, but you don't have to.
Ahhhh, I did not know that! That literally changes how I view the Roku overall. But... it was given to me for free so I can't look a gift horse in the mouth. It's the ORIGINAL Roku too so it has quite a few of the bells and whistles they separated into the varying current models.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 04:07 PM   #18
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Just buy a laptop with HDMI out and a wireless mouse/keyboard. Connect to tv. Done.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 04:25 PM   #19
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Just buy a laptop with HDMI out and a wireless mouse/keyboard. Connect to tv. Done.
Don't come in here and make things all complicated.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 08:42 PM   #20
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Just buy a laptop with HDMI out and a wireless mouse/keyboard. Connect to tv. Done.
^This.

Who wants to spend $89 on a dedicated device with a remote that does everything, when you can spend hundreds or even a couple thousand on a device that will need adapters to work with remotes, and will need workarounds for certain streaming apps.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 10:05 PM   #21
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^This.

Who wants to spend $89 on a dedicated device with a remote that does everything, when you can spend hundreds or even a couple thousand on a device that will need adapters to work with remotes, and will need workarounds for certain streaming apps.
Because it does everything you want it to do with zero hassle of setting up? A laptop 4 years old would probably work just fine, so you don't need to spend that much.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 10:27 PM   #22
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I am agreeing with the laptop thing just because they are easier to force to work. You can always just learn some videolanplayer voodoo and skip it. Although, the nerd in me wants to fuck with everything I can. I would rather phase computers and computers with keyboards and shit out in the future. I have been doing some very decent shit with my Android phones. An Exodus level tech/spec review is in the works. Fucking 1080p is making my balls hurt, tho.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 10:30 PM   #23
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Because it does everything you want it to do with zero hassle of setting up? A laptop 4 years old would probably work just fine, so you don't need to spend that much.
Of all the things that the WDTV Live does, a laptop does none of them easier. Not one. Does a laptop do more? Of course it can, and it's up to the individual to determine if the cost is worth it.
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Old February 24th, 2013, 03:08 AM   #24
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Old February 24th, 2013, 02:15 PM   #25
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Quote:
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Just buy a laptop with HDMI out and a wireless mouse/keyboard. Connect to tv. Done.
Please. The average consumer wouldn't know how to do that w/o asking a million (of the wrong) questions to a Best Buy or Micro Center employee first.
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