Seagate FreeAgent Theater+ owners got a taste of streaming Netflix movies awhile ago when the company released a free firmware update. Unfortunately, WD TV Live HD media player owners don't have it quite so easy.
Instead of a firmware update, Western Digital announced on Wednesday a new version of the player called WD TV Live Plus HD. It has exactly the same shape and size as the previous version, and it offers the same support for digital content. However, it adds support for Netflix movie streaming.
We had some hands-on time with the new player, and here's how it works:
If you are not an existing Netflix subscriber, the first time you use the media player to access Netflix it will give you a code to create a trial account. You can enter this code at Netflix.com/wdtv. Once you sign up, the player will automatically be associated with the account you just created. Now, via a computer, you add or remove movies from the Instant Queue. The next time you access Netflix with the WD TV Live Plus, it will display this queue and let you stream movies, rate them, or remove them from the queue.
When existing Netflix subscribers access Netflix the first time from the player, it will also provide a code that you can enter at Netflix's activation Web page. After that, it works just like it does for new subscribers.
This is a convenient way to associate the player with a Netflix account, as its remote control is too tiny to use to enter the username and password with. However, this also means you can use the player with only one Netflix account; but that shouldn't be a problem in most cases.
Quality-wise, the player is capable of streaming at 720p and the images generally looked good in my trials. However, even when used with a really high-speed connection, it still took up to 20 seconds or so to buffer a movie and each time I wanted to fast-forward or rewind, it would take about another 10 seconds to re-buffer.
Other than Netflix streaming, the new WD TV Live Plus HD media player doesn't have much to offer that's different than the WD TV Live HD. Other noticeable features include:… Read more