For our performance testing, we try and stream video files of different resolutions while using both the wireless and wired connections. We then see if there is any noticeable frame skipping. Our test network is provided by an Asus RT-N16 running DD-WRT SVN revision 17201. The router is a single band wireless N router (this is fine as the TV Live is only a single band wireless N device) with gigabit Ethernet ports.
|Resolution||Playable on Wireless||Playable on Wired|
Playing standard definition movies over wireless is a piece of cake. When we start throwing in the HD movies is when things get tricky. The TV Live was able to play back most 720p files that we tried over wireless without any issues. I say most because there was the rare noticeable frame skip. This can happen if the file has an unusually high bitrate or if your area has a lot of wireless interference from neighbors and such. My area has a high level of wireless interference and I credit the frame skips to that more than the ability of the device. Majority of people shouldn’t have any issue streaming 720p HD content to the TV Live if they have good signal. It is a different story when we try and play 1080p content. Anything after about a minute in length becomes an utter stutter fest and is unwatchable. When the device is plugged into a wired connection it is able to play any of the video formats without any issues.
Summary and Conclusion
This media player can play pretty much anything you can throw at it. I have now been spoiled into hating any device that can’t play as many formats as the TV Live. When it only costs around $100, can you blame me? Even though it may not be as customizable or powerful as a HTPC with something like XBMC running as a frontend, it is dead simple to use and has a lot of functionality. It’s like they took the Western Digital Live Hub and stripped out the 1TB drive and slapped in a wireless card instead. To top it all off they decided to shrink the whole thing down (you lose the composite connections, but not many people use those anyways). The lack of Amazon’s streaming video service is disappointing, but if Western Digital can work out a deal with Amazon, then there shouldn’t be anything stopping them from adding in the service with a firmware update, like they did to add Spotify support. It still has Netflix and Blockbuster streaming support to cover the major bases. This device has a lot of awesome features in a super small package. If you already have the TV Live Hub, you don’t really need to upgrade to this unless you’re really needing WIFI support, even then you can get a WIFI dongle that will give you the same feature. For any other device, you could do much worse than to pick this up.