I have a desktop computer in my upstairs office. I have an HDTV in the downstairs living room. All I’ve ever wanted to do is stream video files from the computer to the TV, under two specific conditions: 1) I don’t want any kind of “app” running on the desktop PC; and 2) I don’t want to deal with any kind of “library” feature.
After researching for weeks, I decided on the WDTV Live, because it was the only one that met my two conditions.
As to the former, the WDTV Live was (at the time) the only streaming box I know of that supports SMB. Since I’d already shared my video folder to the local network, all I had to do was configure the WDTV Live to access my Wi-Fi network, then click Video > Choose Source > Network Shares > Windows Shares > [My Computer] > Video.
As for the latter, the WDTV Live has the ability to search for metadata and create a nice library of my videos. But since all I want to do is watch the video once and then delete or archive it, I like that all I have to do is download a video and make sure it’s in the correct folder: no adding it to (or removing it from) a library… in an app that has to run on my desktop PC 24×7.
I’ve had the WDTV Live for several years now, and the local video part of the device still works as good as ever. I download a video to my “Videos” folder, and it’s available instantly on the WDTV Live. The device plays almost any type of video file, except for WebM, gifv or flv (none of which are really used for TV shows or movies) and HEVC files (which are newer). DivX or XviD in an avi container, mp4, mkv containers, DVDs ripped as ISOs… the WDTV Live seems to play them all.
The WDTV Live also has a variety of streaming apps, too, like Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and others. But Western Digital discontinued the WDTV Live in 2015, having not updated the firmware a long time before that. So many of these apps no longer work. So I have a box that can play any type of locally networked file… but can’t do Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu, Spotify, TuneIn or Pandora any more.
I asked for (and received) one of the new(ish) Chromecasts for Christmas. And it works OK, but has a strange bug: my Vizio smart TV loses connection to the device randomly. For 2-5 seconds the screen will go black and say “No Signal”. Sometimes it’ll happen three times in five minutes; other times it’ll only happen once every 2-3 hours. Since my Time Warner DVR and the WDTV Live have never had this problem, I thought the issue might be the Chromecast. So I ordered one of the new Roku Streaming Sticks.