Western Digital's updated its popular media streamer. New features include games and integrated social networking, as well as an HTML remote control, while the new drives offer "personal cloud". I'm just back from a quick product demo of Western Digital's new product lines, including an updated version of the WD TV Live. This is the third generation of the product, and visually it's much like last years; you can alter the dynamics of the interface to your preferences — not just the backdrop but if you fancy it the entire UI — and it covers the usual basics of music, photo and video playback. It'll also access a variety of online program sources, although not all the features available overseas, such as Spotify will work here. Interestingly there's two entries for YouTube; the Google supplied player (which is apparently a mandatory part of the licensing deal) as well as a WD-written YouTube client that more closely mimics the TV Live's own UI.
New also in this unit are a bunch of Flash games. I didn't get a chance to play any of them so it'd be unfair for me to pass absolute judgement. Still, we're talking things like Chess, Sudoku and the like — hardly captivating stuff.
One interesting facet of the new WD TV Live is that it acts as a very limited Web server, serving up a single HTML page which mirrors the remote control and acts as a relay for remote control operations. Load up the page on any tablet or phone and you can control the TV without needing a platform-specific application, although WD reps told me there are plans for iOS and Android apps further down the track. The WD TV Live is 802.11n and Ethernet compatible and on sale now for $179.
The other part of the demonstration covered WD's new range of My Book Live hard drives. Retailing for $169 for 1TB, $269 for 2TB and $319 for 3TB, they're network connected drives that allow "personal cloud" access (AKA you can access them remotely) via www.wd2go.com or mobile device access via iOS or Android devices running WD's Photos or WD2Go and WD2Go Pro apps.
The basic photos and 2Go apps are free, but the Pro app will set you back $2.99. The key difference between the pro and basic version is that while both will handle media streaming and document access, the pro version allows "clipping", which is a fancy way of saying it'll copy documents and files to your tablet for offline viewing.