"Plays almost every type of of video file ."3.5 starson by DKDavis52a
Pros: Reasonably easy to get media onto the hard drive and play from there.Good variety of connections (lack of wireless is overhyped issue - get a Powerline network kit).Plays every file type I've sent to it and in all types of containers (ISO, MKV, M2TS)
Cons: 1. Documentation is horrid - except for making connections.
2. Fast forward/reverse/skip to specific time are klunky, don't actually work a significant portion of the time, and frequently result in videos restarting or skipping to the next video.
Summary: I am a fairly experienced user. I have used several Archos devices, Boxee Box, Apple TV, Roku, Lacie (which was my favorite) and now the Live Hub.
Currently, the Live Hub is my favorite, but there is certainly room for improvement.
First, the good. I have not found a video format that is incompatible (I do not use MOV). They all play. Every container I use (M2TS, ISO, MKV) works just fine.
I have not had any problem with the quality of video files playing either - including 1080p encoded in h.264 with AC-3 audio.
I use a Harmony One remote, which controls the basic functions okay, but there are some specific buttons I've had to reprogram.
If you just want a device which is easy to attach to your computer as well as your TV, will play back a wide variety of media files - and do this very well, and especially if you want an internal hard drive...I've tried most of them and this is the best.
Netfilx playback is as good as it is through my HTPC - which is to say it is only limited by my slow DSL connection.
Now for the bad.
Attaching the device and getting media onto the Hub is relatively easy - though I had to get some of the management software off the internet (I don't know why it was not included on the Hub - it has a hard drive for goodness sake). And, I did not even know I needed the software until the hub, though recognized by my network could not actually be used. I went to a few online forums until I found a link to the right place at the WD site (I had gone there initially and searched for "Live Hub" but found nothing). Once the software was running, moving media to the device was easy.
When you boot it up you get this screen with several containers "Photos, Videos, Music, Settings", etc. One of these is "Folders"...clicking on that keeps giving me an error message that "No files are found." Since the documentation is so poor I have never found out what this Folder does, but not using it does not seem to affect the primary function of the Hub (nothing about this on the WD website, even the huge PDF you can download - which I found to be so poorly indexed it was worthless).
There is also no docuemntation to tell you how to get media off your network. Under settings you can tell the device to use the network, but though I have several terabytes of music, photos, and video on the hardwired network, it never has actually provided me a way to access this.
For purposes of seeing how well the Hub works I made digital back-ups of several DVD's I own including Blu-Rays (I do not encourage piracy...so any copies I make would of course be temporary and for educational purposes only). I put these copies on the hard drive and allowed the Hub to create a media library. It came up with a list of movies - but none of the metadata (which I had included with the movies) appeared ... not even the cover art which I had included in the folders.
I found out that the Hub requires that the video file, the folder, and the jpg of the cover have to have exactly the same name. All of mine had slight variations in the names, so I needed to fix this (there is apparently an individual who has created a program which automates some of the work, but I have not tried his program). So, I did all this renaming by hand. And, despite my making sure that all the names are exactly the same, the Hub sill is only able to find the covers for about half of my movies. I have looked at this repeatedly and know that there is no difference between the movies/folders where the Hub finds the cover art and displays it and the movies/folders wher the Hub does not. (By the way I did this manually through a networked computer - there may be a way to get cover art into the right place through the Hub, but I have not found it).
For metatdata (movie length, synopsis, actors, ratings, etc.) I already had info from IMDB for every movie. Though this was in an XML file, with the correct name, included in the correct folder, the Hub would not recognize it. So, I had to, one by one, go to the movie in the Hub interface, tell the Hub to search it's database (by the way, no documentation on how this is done anywhere - I just kept pushing buttons unil I got a message asking if I wanted to get content info), and then select the appropriate movie from the database. The Hub would then have the metadata, but will only display this in a specific view (called "Gallery") and even then - though the data was obtained through the Hub - about 50% of the time no information is displayed...And in the "Gallery" view, the cover art is almost never displayed.
Okay, no metadata and no cover art is fine - none of the other devices I used was very good at this either (except Apple TV, but it is proprietary and play limited file types) - I can play files if the name is listed...which the Hub does do.
The fast forward and rewind buttons (as well as the "skip to a certain time" function) do not do what you wish. Sometimes the fastforward will do just that, sometimes it will skip, sometimes it will skip to the next file. Most of the time the rewind button skips back and frequently it skips all the way back to the begining of the file. I have only tried to use the "Skip to a certain time" function a couple of times because...well...it doesn't do that. You input a time, and most of the time nothing happens. Sometimes, it restarts the file.
I really do like the Hub. I am hoping that future firware updates address these issues and provide a more intuitive interface. Also, WD would do consumers a big favor if they would just have someone who has actually used the device sit with the people who designed it and write a coherent, well indexed user manual.
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