Western Digital has thrown itself headlong into the set-top box war with Apple and Roku, and it's keeping up admirably. The company just released version 3.01.19 for its WD TV Live and Live Hub models, which adds lots of new content and functionality to the streamers. Vudu leads as the biggest name among the new additions, and you'll find sports and entertainment apps from SnagFilms, SEC Digital Network, Comedy Time, and Watch Mojo.
The update comes just after Western Digital released the free WD Remote iOS app, which acts as a remote control for the Live and Live Hub boxes. It lets you navigate your box using gestures or on-screen buttons, and launch apps with a single tap. Essentially, it's the Roku remote we saw last week, just for Western Digital's boxes. I set up the app to work with my own Live Hub, and liked using it a lot. Set-up is fast: as long as my iPod touch was connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the box, they connected instantly
The app offers all the same controls as the physical remote, which is itself pretty robust for a set-top box, but it also adds some software touches. You can easily see a list of your apps, and launch one with a tap, which is handy now that there are 27 apps, and it's getting increasingly annoying to scroll through them all. Having a full keyboard helps, too; I've had a computer keyboard in my living room just for searching Netflix, and this is a much easier system. The app didn't work perfectly — not all the letters I typed showed up on the screen, and it occasionally lost connection to the box with no reason or warning — and it's a bit kludgy at points, with not every button clearly mapped or labeled. Generally, though, the app's a much better way to navigate WD TV boxes than the physical remote, plus it's a remote you're much less likely to lose.