Apple TV vs. WD TV Plus (again)

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by chewbacalips, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. chewbacalips, Feb 1, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011

    chewbacalips macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2011
    Hi. I'd like to see a comparison between the Apple TV (2nd generation, which I think is the latest) and the Western Digital TV Live Plus. Nearly all of the comparisons I've come across are pretty dated, and not directly relevant to what I want to know.

    You can see the WD TV Live editions here:

    A quick note: I own the WD TV Live Plus, which is not the latest generation.

    Pros of the WD TV Live Plus:
    • Media is stored onto an external hard drive (my external is 1.5 TB) and connected to the WD via USB.
    • You can network the WD to access any computer in the house, so you can play media from those sources as well.
    • The WD can play a whole bunch of file-types.
    • My computer does NOT have to be on in order for the WD to be functional. Minus the external hard drive to which it is connected, it is a stand-alone unit.
    • The WD does NOT have to be connected to the internet or any network in order to function.

    Cons of the WD TV Live Plus:

    • The digital interface sucks. It's very boring, especially when compared to the Apple TV. But this isn't a deal breaker.
    • I think you can add a wireless card to it, but otherwise it does not support wifi.

    Questions about the Apple TV (generation 2 or later):
    • Does the Apple TV have to be connected to the internet or to any network in order to function?
    • Does a computer (with or without iTunes) have to be turned on in order for the Apple TV to function?
    • Can I simply connect my external hard drive to the Apple TV and play all my content onto my TV from there?
    • Please make any other comments about the Apple TV relevant to its functionality.
  2. margotspop macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2004
    Well I'm not an expert on the Apple TV, having owned one for only a couple of weeks, but I debated for weeks between the various media streamers - including the WD - and I eventually went with the Apple TV. As to your questions:
    1. I'm pretty sure it does need to be connected. See below.

    2. Yes - the AppleTV, in it's default configuration, streams content from a networked computer running iTunes. Without a computer running iTunes I'm not sure there's much you could do with it. Maybe watch trailers?
    You'd still need to be connected to a network.

    3. Nope - the AppleTV does not have a regular USB plug, only a micro USB. You can't connect a hard drive to it.

    So why choose an Apple TV? Because when XBMC ported their software to the Apple TV a couple of weeks ago, it changed everything. By jailbreaking the ATV and installing XBMC, I can now bypass iTunes, and stream all my movies/tv programs from a networked drive. It works pretty well flawlessly. The ATV works just the same as before the hack except it now has an extra menu choice. Of course, you still need to be on a network to stream your content.

    The interface is fantastic. Try it - for $99 you don't have much to lose and you have 14 days to return it if you don't like it.
  3. BigYellow macrumors member

    Dec 19, 2006
    Does the AppleTV allow you, after jailbreaking it and installing XBMC, to still access NetFlix?
  4. margotspop macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2004
    Yep - it behaves exactly as it did before. XBMC is just another menu choice along the top. Other than that, it's all the same.
  5. dacapo macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2010
    I had a WDTV Live Plus and changed it out for an ATV2 this past week, as soon as I learned about the XBMC port.

    Aside from the slow, clunky interface, the WDTV was constantly losing access to my network shared folders. And on some other occasions, it would complain about not being able to view certain file-types, requiring me to reconnect to the network drive, etc.

    I just literally jailbroke my ATV2 and installed XBMC this morning before coming to work, so I haven't had enough time to play with its capabilities. But it looks very promising so far!

    Even before the jailbreak, the ATV2 UI was just leaps and bounds above the WDTV Live Plus. As far as on-TV entertainment is concerned, UI is definitely king.
  6. dharmin macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2010
    I have both aTV 2g and WD Media Player. I have Jailbreaked my aTV 2g and install XBMC and everything working fine. Currently, only untethered JB available for atv2g. so you have to keep power on in atv2g all times and if you unplug then you have to use comp. to reboot, and that might be PAS.

    BUT I prefered WD Live Media player. Once you install B-rad FW to WD player you can get lot of things from WD MEdia player as compared to orginal FW. I have installed B-rad firmware and you can play anything. I hav networked my WD media player so I can access any media and play from any computer (in my home network) via home network.

    These are my taughts.
  7. chewbacalips thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2011
    I would much rather own an Apple product than a WD product, but I'm super-annoyed by the functionality of their product. Sure, I understand that you could jailbreak it to get more out of it, but (1) I hate the entire concept of having to hack a brand new device in order for it to almost do what I want it to do, and (2) even after the jailbreak, it's ridiculous to keep a computer on at all times.

    Imagine if, in the 1990s when DVD players just started replacing VCRs, your local tech-salesman told you that "yeah, the DVD player is a simple replacement of the VCR, so as long as a computer within the home is always on when you wanna watch a DVD." I don't think that the DVD player would have caught on. There's no reason for a media center to NOT be a stand-alone device.

    Suppose I go on vacation and I want to take my media with me. With the WD, all I literally have to do is pack the WD TV Live Plus and an external hard drive, and I'm good to go. I don't even need to bring a computer. Now, you Apple owners who would be interested in doing such a thing, tell me how you would take your media with you on some getaway vacation (let's assume that you DO want your media with you on that vacation). With the Apple TV, you need to bring the unit itself, an external hard drive (most likely), some networking devices, and a computer. But in your home, I doubt you have your media content stored on your laptop (assuming you have a laptop). You most likely have it on a desktop, which can hold the many terabytes worth of media that you have stored. So what, you're going to have to lug that entire desktop with you? That's ridiculous. Your other option is to transfer your content onto an external hard drive (unless this is your default storage location in the first place). Fine, then you don't need to lug the entire desktop with you. That is, of course, you own a laptop, and/or you don't mind waiting 10 hours for your 2 TB to of media to transfer over. Then you can just bring the laptop and the external. Now, when you get to your destination, you're going to have to keep that external connected to your laptop in order for your TV to stream what you want it to stream. That basically means that you can't treat your laptop like a laptop, it's going to have to stay put in some corner or on the coffee table or something. Maybe that's not a big deal, but then when you want to work with your computer, you have to be very, very careful not to interrupt the media content which your TV is streaming. Wow. Sure, I guess it's doable, but why on Earth would you want to bother with such a cumbersome task?

    Of course that's a rare instance, because 95% of the time or more, we're in our home, not on vacation. And on most vacations, you don't really care if you have your entire media collection with you. But the whole concept still sucks!

    And while the Apple TV itself won't run up your electric bill too much, the computer and external hard drive, which will be running most of the time, probably will. And, further, why add all that extra stress to your computer? I mean, it's highly unlikely that every time you want to shut off your TV, you're going to shut down your computer too. That would mean that watching TV suddenly requires you to boot up (that would get annoying real quick). So, the obvious solution is to run your computer almost non-stop. As I said before, say hello to a larger electric bill, and hello to a more-quickly burned out computer (we're not talking days here, obviously, but since the Apple TV will most likely introduce a permanent change in the way you watch TV, all those extra hours that your computer is running will probably add up more quickly and takes it's toll sooner than later).

    Sigh, well, that's my rant. Thoughts?
  8. denm316 macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2003
    I had WDTV Live and the interface was terrible. However it did play every video I ever tried. Overall I didnt really have any issues.

    I picked up AppleTV2, did the jailbreak and installed XBMC. Now I exclusively use XBMC. It is wonderful, it has the most beautiful interface and plays everything I want.

    I keep all my videos on a LaCie Network Space MAX 2TB NAS (RAID1). The NAS goes into a sleep mode when not being used, so it doesn't use as much power. I stream all video wirelessly, this includes 720p MKV rips, no glitches at all.

    It sucks you have to jailbreak to get what you want, but everything in the world cant be perfect. However my video solution is as close to perfect as it can be for me now.
  9. chewbacalips thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2011

    Your system sounds pretty good. But do you still need to keep a computer on in order for it to work? Or are your components simply the aTV + Lacie wireless external?

    And the main fault I find in the WD TV Live Plus is the interface. I hate scrolling through it, especially after seeing how beautiful the aTV one is. If I can somehow install a nice interface, then I think I'll stick with the WD. That is, until aTV gets rid of the computer-always-on requirement.
  10. SuperBrown macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2008
    I love my WDTV Live Plus. I have nothing against TV, I just think it's a better choice for my needs. I love that I can access my own content locally (movies, music, pics) or online (Netflix, Pandora, Flickr). I also have a Roku HD-XR in the bedroom I love.

    Obviously, if you have a ton of iTunes content, then TV is probably a better choice for you. It all depends what fits your needs best.
  11. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    to be honest, the need to keep itunes running is a bit of a bummer, but there it is. However, connecting to a computer is only half of the aTV's functionality. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access Movie/TV rentals, Netflix, podcasts, Flickr and Youtube.

    The way you frame it is definately cumbersome. However, Apple's vision for this hypothetical vacation is that the user/family would bring along their iPad/iPhone/iPod touch, that had been previously sync'd with selected media. Then at the hotel, once the wireless network was up (perhaps the hotel's network, perhaps you bring along an Airport Express or equivalent), the iOS devices would Airplay to the aTV.

    if you have a newer Mac, you can put it to sleep and the aTV will wake it up when it wants access.

    Not sure where I've heard this, but from a longevity perspective, leaving a computer on 24/7 is better than routinely booting up/shutting down.
  12. gdeusthewhizkid macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2008
    i did the jailbreak but i can't see how XBMC runs. I like the way your setup sounds. but can you explain how to run xbmc or make it see your nas. I dont get it...
  13. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    The main reason I bought the ATV2 is airplay. It expands the usability to any number of audio apps. I wanted Rhapsody, Xm Radio, iHeartRadio, etc.. to be able to play over my main system with the iPad as the controller. I can do this without ever turning on the TV (or a computer for that matter). I also like the ability to be on a trip, save my photos to my iPad, then without cables or a computer, look at them on the TV when I get home. It is just very convenient.

    You don't really need iTunes to be on if you want to stream directly from an iOS device. Yes, you would be limited to the GB limitation of the iOS device but you could at least watch videos (currently limited to what is in the Apple Video directory) and music you had on your iOS device without a computer. I always have my computer on, which is very convenient, but you could get by without it if you had to.

    I would consider the WDTV if I did not have a network or a computer I leave on all the time. However, I have a PS3 that does most of my movies and the ATV2 for iTunes/internet programs/airplay. The combination of the two, plus an always on computer, works for me.
  14. newagemac, Feb 1, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011

    newagemac macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2010
    You're forgetting that the ATV2 does Airplay. So when I'm out on vacation like in your hypothetical situation all I need is my iPhone 4 and I have 720p HD movies and TV shows at my fingertips streamed wirelessly to my HDTV in their full quality and resolution. No need for a computer to be on at all and no hacking or jailbreaking. You also don't need a computer on to stream Netflix, iTunes rentals, etc.

    Personally, I don't have a problem having my computer on because I leave it on all the time anyway even before I got an ATV2. My mac mini is my coding workstation and like most Macs it is very power efficient so energy use is not a concern. Especially since you can set it to go to sleep and the ATV2 can wake it up when it is needed. And turning you computer on and off every day is worse on it than leaving it on constantly.
  15. margotspop macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2004
    "(2) even after the jailbreak, it's ridiculous to keep a computer on at all times."

    Not true, as I (hopefully) explained. When you jailbreak and install XBMC you don't need another computer. You can access your media from the network.

    As for hypothetical situations, you have a point, but really, everyone makes compromises on vacations - a hotel bed is never as good as my own, for example. And what your TV? Are you going to lug along your 42" plasma as well because the hotel TV isn't up to scratch? :)

    You're right - the ATV isn't perfect. But nor is the WD - no wireless? Gimme a break for crissake!
  16. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    I would never bring the WD TV with me on the road. I could do the same with my PS3 now, but I have never considered going that route. I have a laptop and iPhone that would probably go on the trip anyway and both can play movies.

    I am probably going to buy a Pure i-20 for our sunroom and it has video out, so I could just toss it in the bag for trips, too.
  17. thetruth1985 macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2010
    I think a wireless network is needed to get airplay to work. Apple should make it possible for the Atv to create a adhoc network for airplay.
  18. arilev macrumors member


    Sep 7, 2004
    Oakland, CA
    "Does the Apple TV have to be connected to the internet or to any network in order to function?"

    You need an internet connection to directly rent movies, watch Netflix or Youtube, stream podcasts, listen to internet radio, and check out photos from MobileMe or Flickr.

    You need a network connection in order to stream movies, music, podcasts and photos either through the AppleTV interface or using Airplay from your computer, iPad or iPhone.

    "Does a computer (with or without iTunes) have to be turned on in order for the Apple TV to function?"

    No, see above.

    "Can I simply connect my external hard drive to the Apple TV and play all my content onto my TV from there?"


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