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Companion at large

india Updated: Feb 08, 2011 18:16 IST
Nikhil Hemrajani
Nikhil Hemrajani
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Hub is the latest in the line of Western Digital’s Live series of media players. To put it plain and simple, the Hub will play any format under the sun on your TV. Be it MP3 audio files, JPEGs, and even advanced video formats like MKV and MP4. Moreover, it can connect to the Internet and lets you access a ton of multimedia websites like YouTube, FlickR and Facebook.

To look at, the WD TV Live Hub is an inconspicuous black box that’s about the size of an average paperback. There’s not much at the front, save for a power button and USB port. The rear has a host of connectivity options like HDMI, optical audio if you have a multi-channel home theatre system, Ethernet to connect it to the Internet and some video connections for older-generation television sets. There’s a spare USB port at the rear too that can accept USB WiFi adaptors like the NetGear N150, which will make the device WiFi enabled.

It’s a shame that you need to spend additional money on fixing a WiFi adaptor. Nowadays, even low-end mobile phones have WiFi built-in, so it doesn’t make any sense why Western Digital chose not to support it by default. This means you’ll need to have messy LAN cabling to connect the Hub to the net.

The 1 TB (1,000 GB) hard drive inside the Hub can be used to store and access videos and other content. However, the down side is that you can’t connect the Hub straight to your laptop or PC via USB, as it won’t be detected. You can only transfer data over Ethernet or by connecting an external hard drive or USB flash drive to it. It gets the job done, but is rather inconvenient.
Other than these hurdles, using the Hub is a pleasant affair. The menus are extremely well laid-out and intuitive. You can change the theme or load a different background image of your choice. Different categories like Photo, Video, Music and Settings makes it very easy for anyone to switch on the Hub and find their way around.

As far as file compatibility goes, the device will play any audio, video or photo format you throw at it and the quality is sharp and lag-free. When connected to the net, services like Youtube and FlickR work as promised but we wished there were more services up on offer.

The only things seriously going against this product are a) its high pricing (Rs 11,999 before taxes), b) the lack of inbuilt WiFi support and c) the fact that you can’t directly connect it to your computer over USB. It’s also irritating that there aren’t any cables included in the box. Not even HDMI. Better luck, next time, Western Digital.

Rating- ***