back to article Ten... IPTV set-top boxes

IPTV Week logo Nearly every new gadget can be connected to the internet. The smart TVs popularised by Samsung and others are the focus of this but you don’t need to shell out on a new telly - a cost-effective IPTV box can do it too. IPTV means the delivery of TV shows and films over broadband. It can include live channels …


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  1. Alex Walsh

    WD TV Live

    Whats the model number on this 3rd gen version? There are soooo many available, it's baffling.

    1. Michael Sage

      The current one in the UK is WDBGXT0000NBK-UESN

      I have 2 gen 2's which I will be replacing with the 3rd gen, although I wish WD did a multipack or trade in program!


      1. Jamie Kitson

        Are they as tiny as they look?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Gen 3

          Note that you can't install custom firmware on gen 3 WD Live boxes so if you want things like nfs automounting/exporting, samba share support, external drive etc you still need to get the older gen 2. Gen 3 is WDBGXT0000NBK (pictured in article).

    2. Albert
      Thumb Up

      Look for iPlayer support and the case as per the picture

      It looks like WD is keeping the same name as the last generation but only this WD TV Live had iPlayer. Also, they have completely changed the case so look for the new styling.

      Another option if retailers use it is the WD Model Number: WDBGXT0000NBK-UESN

      Finally, can be had in at eBuyer for £80 with free delivery, so £39 cheaper than the article is saying. Makes it even more of a bargain...

      I have a 1st generation WD TV HD and it does play almost everything I throw at it. I did the custom firmware thing and had it streaming over Wifi from a CIF share (Windows share)

      Great box and definitely interested in upgrading to this new model.

    3. Inachu

      Ok you cna have that model number... But!

      I want that models number! Is she still single?

  2. Admiral Grace Hopper


    As per title.

    1. Gordon 10

      It would have been nice to see one of the foxsat freesat boxes instead of their freeview box.

  3. Citizen Kaned

    tivo slow?

    our tivo box is actually really fast. i wonder if its a new hardware version as we only got ours late december. very good so far. much better than v+ and sky+ IMO

    1. Law

      Maybe... I know recent updates have sped ours up a bit, but still get the occasional crash and still a noticeable lag between pressing a button and something happening depending what menu screen you're in.

      I probably wouldn't have gone for TiVo had their V+ box not been so buggy last time we went we Virgin. :(

  4. Michael Baines

    It's not exactly an off the shelf option but I'm waiting to see how XBMC on RaspberryPi turns out...

    1. Albert
      Thumb Up

      Yes, Raspberry Pi with XBMC looks very interesting.

      II have a feeling though that for ease of use the WD TV Live will work better and at £80 from eBuyer will not be too expensive.

      Yes, still probably twice the cost of going the Raspberry Pi route, but none of the fiddling to make it work and has iPplayer nad Netflix built in if you like that sort of thing.

      1. Efros

        It's the fiddling that makes it so much fun! Oooer missus!

      2. goldcd
        Thumb Up


        I have XBMC on Xbox1 (lovely, but couldn't handle HD), so switched to XBMC on a PC (nice, pain in the arse waiting for it to boot up and general fiddling), so onto a Sumvision MKV (Realtek-based no-name. Faster startup, horrific UI) - and now I'm on the 3rd gen WD Live as mentioned in this article.

        Quick review - can't fault it really. Pleasant to use, plays everything - and and it 'suspends' rather than shutting down when you press 'power'. Undoubtedly means it is sipping power at all times, but does mean it comes back online pretty much instantly.

        Has a few 'bonus' bits I wasn't aware of when I bought it. It'll act as a DNLA server if you attach something to it via USB (so assume you can share content physically attached to one player across all those you may have in your house). Also has a web-server - if you're hell-bent on controlling it from your smartphone/laptop.

  5. keith 9


    Do any of these playback the 'hi def' iplayer streams??

  6. Red Dwarf

    You didn't mention...

    You didn't mention that the Apple TV has Netflix. We signed up a couple of weeks ago after getting fed up with LoveFilm's unplayable disks and their insistence on moving to Silverlight for streaming. There is a lot of good content and it works well.

    (No, I don't work for them!)

    1. David Barrett

      "their insistence on moving to Silverlight for streaming"

      Don't Netflix use SL as well? - I thought that they did.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      add to that the fact you can install xmbc on a AppleTV and you have a pretty compelling platform, iTunes, NetFlix and USB / NAS streaming in a $99 device

  7. Richard Lloyd

    8320HD is good, but it's buggy

    The Smartbox 8320HD I have is good, but despite some 30-odd firmware releases (I kid you not), it's still quite buggy. They've been promising the mentioned new UI since March 2010, but haven't released any firmware updates of any sort for 6 months. It may be that the recent deals to put Fetch TV in Panasonic and Samsung smart TVs might get them to look at finally releasing the new UI, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Any of These exporting easily to a portable device?

  9. MJI Silver badge

    A few things

    BT Vision with BT Replay - I have one of these, quite simply a Freeview PVR for £30 at the time, originally with FREE BT Replay of TV programmes.

    However it is a clunky thing to use, IPTV is OK but you now have to pay over £3 per month for BBC ITV and C4 replays. Quality is better than normal Iplayers, but the web based BBC method is clunkier than the BT Vision method before, we cancelled the replay package and use it exclusively as a PVR.

    Humax Freesat BBC Iplayer, works but slow.

    PS3 TV stuff - we use this, free, got the 3 main broadcasters, ITVs player is horrid, a suitable punishment for forgetting to set a timer, (or filling the HDR HDD). Quality is sub BT Replay, however as it has a decent CPU it is more responsive.

  10. Heynonynonymous

    WDTV Live! iPlayer?...

    As far as I know the WDTV Live! does NOT support iPlayer. It is a glaring omission in their line-up and a source of frustration to me (I own 2 of the devices).

    It's a great box otherwise but this missing feature is such a pain that I am considering buying a different streamer since I can't get decent Freeview where I am but the broadband is good.

    The WD forums are full of people screaming for iPlayer support but as of yet they're being ignored.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The new box (3rd Gen) does. Not sure if they'll release it for the old boxes, though it's cheeky if they don't.

      1. Law

        hopefully they'll release it for the WDTV Live Hub... it's not arrived with recent updates yet.

  11. BarryMc
    Thumb Up

    Humax HDR-FOX T2 _+ custom firmware

    I can't recommend the Humax with custom firmware highly enough.

    As well as enabling the Sky Player (no use unless you have a Sky account, I don't), it gives the ability to have remote administration/control via a web interface, full FTP access to root, ability to mount remote drives (e.g. NAS) via CIFS and the ability to install additional software packages/features. And you can also connect your box to meaning you can schedule recordings via the web without having to expose the box at home to the public Internet.

    Non-hacked, I'd give it 8/10.

    Hacked, 9.5/10

    NB: The custom firmware doesn't affect any of the on-screen GUI, it's only accessible via the web interface.

  12. Nev

    VPN or Proxy?

    Any of these boxes support VPN or Proxy use directly?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WD Live with custom firmware does, yes, through openvpn. Pictured WD Live in article (latest version) cannot have custom firmware though.

  13. Gerard Krupa

    WD TV Live and Netflix

    The Netflix software on the WD TV Live has a really annoying habit of losing your credentials at least once per day forcing you to log in from scratch again. I ended up having to leave a USB keyboard plugged into it so I don't have to repeatedly enter a long email address and password using the remote.

    In answer to Keith 9, the WD TV does support iPlayer high def.

  14. Anthony Hulse

    TalkTalk TV

    The old HomeChoice service, which was subsequently purchased by both Tiscali and now TalkTalk, is far superior to most of the current offerings. On top of being a FreeView PVR it includes a whole raft of IPTV delivered subscription broadcast channels, including Sky's One, Two, and Sports channels, all the UKTV stuff, Sci-Fi, MTV etc.. plus VOD films, TV shows and music.

    The catch? Although the service is still up and running it's closed to new customers until TalkTalk launch their YouView variant, and has been now for over a year. TalkTalk have the best IPTV system in the UK and they so misunderstand its potential they can't even market it.

  15. 27escape
    Thumb Down

    Most of these are not IPTV

    They do not have TV tuners (satellite or freeview). The need to be able to watch and/or record live TV as well as the extra IP bits

    They are media players you can connect to your TV.

    Otherwise I would be calling a Sony Blu Ray player that connects to iPlayer a IPTV device.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The whole point of IPTV (that's Internet Protocol TeleVision) is that you DON'T need tuners, it streams it across the intertubes freeing you from the need to place your device within a few feet of the aerial socket in order to watch something. If IPTV needed tuners it would be called TV, you know - the old way...

      Several of these are tuner devices with IPTV abilities tacked on, the inverse of what you are suggesting.

      1. 27escape

        so my phone is IPTV

        cos I watch youtube on it?

        thought not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          If the phone connects to your TV and then lets you view content via an IP connection it would seem to meet the criteria of being an IPTV device. Although its not like you would leave your iphone underneath your TV. The general concept is a device that can stream / pre download footage over an IP connection, usually the internet. However it is possible to run your own IPTV services internally with a box that has terrestrial tuners that will then stream the footage to IPTV clients over your home network.

  16. Efros

    Argosy HV335T

    I have one of these, can take up to a 2TB hard drive, does 1080p plays just about anything including RMVB, and MKVs. Will stream Youtube and a few other web based video, and when used in conjunction with Playon can stream just about anything, Netflix, iPlayer etc. Will also stream Internet radio is you have a stream link. Has Upnp access to any media servers on your home network, and indeed will stream from any network shares. Material can be loaded onto the device via the network although this process is slow. Bare with no HDD you should be able to get one for under $90. It even has a bittorrent client built in. Firmware updates are regular and the firmware itself seems to be readily hackable for those interested in that sort of thing.

  17. Ian Yates


    I'm looking to replace my custom HTPC due to Windows not handling HDMI handshake on resume properly (forgets to reconnect sound or screws up the resolution A LOT), but my needs are apparently unique in that I have yet to see a pre-rolled box that fits my needs.

    The PS3 comes absolutely closest to what I want, but the 4od and ITVPlayer "apps" are just links to the website and shocking to use, and it looks pretty certain that Sony won't release a DVB-T2 tuner (of which I want a dual anyway)...

    I know, pointless mostly off-topic moaning, but I've been trying to find a replacement for months and all of these IPTV boxes are tantalisingly close - the WD TV Live looks great (assuming WD start supporting more UK services), but I'd still need to buy some kind of Blu-ray and FreeviewHD PVR on the side, which puts me back in the switching inputs situation. (My better half wants the most hassle-free solution)

    Suggestions strongly welcomed.

  18. irm

    @Ian Yates, you want to get yourself a Gefen HDMI Detective (see It's not cheap, but will fix your problems, and probably cheaper than replacing everything your HTPC can do with separate components.

    1. Ian Yates
      Thumb Up

      If I ever meet you, I owe you a beer.

      It might be £120, but that's a darned sight cheaper than my other options of replacing the whole kit.

      I've tried so many things to fix it at the Windows-level, didn't even consider a PHY solution.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You can't fix it at a Windows level because it's not a Windows problem - there are tens of millions of HDMI monitors out there that work just fine with Windows, and wake and resume properly. TVs, though, until recently, weren't built for that sort of thing, and tend not to cooperate as well with Windows as we all might like.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I disagree - my MythTV box doesn't suffer from loss of audio or resolution problems when turning the TV on and off, but my Win7 MC does frequently.

          The TV implementation of HDMI may be at fault, but the fix can certainly be applied at the Windows level. If you're feeling lucky, you can even try to do it yourself by forcing the EDID information for the monitor driver being used - but it's tricky and you may not get the results you expect (especially around sound).

  19. shyted

    They still haven't learned after all these years.

    Ok so its great that iPlayer and Netflix are widely supported, but before other services are added, how about enabling access to the existing ones like 4od and ITVplayer and 5player.

    Virgin has them as does the PS3, so it can't be rocket science to add them.

    I just can't understand how the media industry can complain about piracy, when they have a golden opportunity to not only market directly to customer, but to also get free concrete meaningful data about these customers viewing habits.

    With the rise of the internet, movies TV and music like it or not have been available on demand free via Napster, Kazza, Bitorrent and filelockers for more than 10 years now. Only the BBC has had the vision to actually innovate in broadcasting, and has built something as competitive to filesharing even if its funded by the whole of the Uk. Kindle and iTunes prove, that if there is a simple legitimate way to obtain media, its a viable business model.

    The media industry can try to legislate all they want, but if they're not careful someone like Apple will come along, roll everything into a slick interface, and clean up, taking a nice large cut of the profit. The RIAA should have built iTunes, and we should have MMPA iPlayer, but instead the lawyers just get richer! Rather than try to protect your traditional business models innovate, reduce your costs and profit from new technology.

    Build it and we will come!

  20. a well wisher

    8320HD is good, but it's buggy but mostly sorted BUT

    It seems that IP vision, the company behind the box have just gone tits up !!

    so it may well lose the ability to access iPlayer and the long promised user interface update very unlikely to surface now !

  21. Arnie

    nothing here that cannot be done in xbmc. Infact right now I have 11 HD streaming channels via rtmp on a single addon. iplayer, itv player ,demand5, tvcatchup 4od too. thats a lot of streaming. Add it to XBMC's awesome library sauce. stick it all on a sub £200 nettop and hand the mrs the remote.

  22. L1feless

    Where and why is the Google TV not mentioned? I don't recall seeing LG either.

  23. sisk


    Is Roku not availabel in the UK? It seems like an odd omission from this list given that it's currently whupping Apple TV's butt in the market (at least according to the numbers I've seen).

    Personally I've been using my PS3 for that kind of thing for years. DLNA (with a Mediatomb box in the back room) and Netflix over wifi are all I really need. Vudu is nice on occassion when I'm being lazy or Redbox doesn't have what I want to watch.

    1. iancalc

      @Sisk and Doug Glass (below): the Roku box is mentioned in the intro rather than the main section because it is launching soon but hasn't arrived here yet. Amazon UK is saying it will be available from 3rd February.

  24. The Original Steve

    XBox 360?

    Thought the XBox360 would be included. iPlayer (well, very, very soon), 4OD, Sky Go, C5, LoveFilm, YouTube, home network streaming, WMC extender and a catalogue of movies for rental (and to buy) as well.

    Other than ITV doesn't that cover it for £160?

    Though whilst I have a couple of 360's I still use a custom media centre PC for most of it. (Was built for £900 but you can easily get a capable one for <£400). And that can come with a Blu-Ray as well...!

  25. Doug Glass


    You guys missed the Roku device when you were dusting off old stories.

  26. sammyred8


    Virgin keep advertising their packages (including the TiVo) where I live, and then wondering why no one will buy it.

    Why? Because cable isn't available where I live, so you can't get Virgin broadband, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Virgin TiVo needs a Virgin broadband connection, doesn't it?

  27. GotThumbs

    God I'm Sooo tired of Apple focused advertising..

    Why does Apple have the first spot? WD Live and the others have been more successful in the market's only that those who lack any tech knowledge would only recognize Apple's name?


    I'm Sooo tired of hearing about Apple this and Apple that. For those who really know....Apple is NOT that great and there are lots of other options available. I guess there are just too many clueless drones. I'll NEVER own an Apple product. I have an Android powered Tablet and Phone that serve me well.

    1. iancalc

      Apple, then Boxee, then BT Vision, etc, through to WDTV. It's alphabetical order, in case you hadn't noticed.

  28. mrwenni

    WD TV Live

    Obviously the people at El Reg only had a quick look at the WD TV Live SMP. The UI is ok, but it's riddled with bugs under the hood. Only occasionaly I can get this STREAMING media player to stream a movie, if i can connect to my router at all. Problems with samba protocol, wifi connection problems, serious lagging, the list is endless. As one user on their forums put it: they're turning us all into beta testers. Shame on you Western Digital.

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