Originally posted on Slickdeals...but I thought it would be relevant here as well.
Was able to pick up a WDTV Live from my local BestBuy yesterday. The register ringed out at $139.99 but just mention to them the online price is $119.99. They will adjust. If not, you can complain to the manager or simply order online for an instore pickup. Some people were able to use the Rewards member 10% off coupon. Some people weren't.
Quick thoughts on the WDTV Live (aka WDTV2) as compared with the modded Xbox with XBMC I have been using for the past 5 years:
WDTV Live plays a stream of 1080P very nicely and beautifully. It upconverts my 480P material just as beautifully. However, I am not sure why there is stuttering during panning scenes when my aging Xbox with XBMC renders it perfectly smooth. I am thinking it's the upconversion process, but have to look into this a bit more. This is probably the biggest disappointment I have so far with WDTV Live.
The new Network Interface:
WDTV Live through the network interface attaches to my SMB NAS just fine. However, it's not as instant as how the XBMC does it. There is a slight delay and you get prompted for a username/password each time. Fortunately, the username/password is filled in. Unfortunately, the ok button is not highlighted by default, so you have to navigate to it each time. Very annoying. I heard there is a remedy for this by checking an autologin. I will look for this setting once I get back home.
Thoughts on GUI:
Despite being a version 2 product, the GUI interface feels very dated. I love the ability on the XBMC to change your view from list to thumbnail to other modes on the fly. With WDTV Live, you need to do that from the settings menu. It's too buried. I prefer to navigate folder structure via a list view and my movies via a list view with a sidebar that shows the movie art plus a blurb about the movie pulled from IMDB or some other internet service. This is possible with XBMC, but isn't an option for WDTV Live. Hopefully some hacker/modder will release some custom firmware that will bring the GUI up to par with XBMC. This leads me to the next part.
Apparently, via the AVS Forum, an employee of WD, Scott said that WDTV has 512MB flash for ROM and 512MB of RAM. That's a huge deal as it can potentially allow for a community of modders to extend the device. The 32MB or so was a limitation for the old WDTV that prevented the modding community to really take off.
Some nice things about WDTV Live is it's audio support is pretty top notch with TrueHD bitstreaming support and stereo down conversion of the audio within the box. For times when you take the WDTV on the road and don't have access to your home theater receivers. It's size is very, very small. Very portable. I like that.
XBMC has been around awhile, with an active community around it, coming up with very high quality skins. Hopefully the same will occur for WDTV Live. Otherwise, if and when the Apple TV gets the broadcom chip hack going for it and XBMC, I think it will be a nicer alternative to these media player.
I like how with XBMC, I can open a file from a compress RAR without having to first decompress it. This is perfect to save space and time having to decompress a downloaded anime movie for instance. Plus, by keeping it in the RAR container, I can continue to seed the torrent. Not sure how XBMC can achieve this and have it done so seamlessly and snappy.
With these media player, I long for the ability to fast forward in 3sec/5sec increment with each tap of the button. I hate the traditional VCR style fast forward/rewind. That works great in the analog days when you can see the pictures quickly fly across smoothly onscreen. With with digital, it's often jerky and hard to stop it at the right moment. Especially bad in 1080P. I heard that with WDTV, if you press the fast forward/rewind and go into that interface...then the additional button press will increment the movie at set intervals. So that is a positive...albeit hidden. XBMC again got this process down with 3-4 separate ways of advancing/rewinding your movie.
Online Services Support
WDTV Live does support uPNP just fine and was able to see my Playon media server just fine. From there, I can watch online Netflix movies and Hulu content. Youtube is supported directly from WDTV. But I haven't tested to see how well it works. I also read that flickr support is built in if you go via the pictures menu.
Anyways, those are the quick thoughts. I had a more extended writeup, but Slickdeals threw up an error as soon as I hit the post. And this is all I can muster up as a rewrite.