If necessary, we could put this review in one sentence: My Book Live is a NAS (Network Attached Storage) for children. But maybe that wouldn’t do it justice.
The piece of hard plastic we received contained a 2TB desktop drive, connected to a logic board no doubt running on some form of embedded Linux, which in turn was connected to a Gigabit Ethernet port. There’s a single LED on the front of the box that changes color depending on the state of the Live, though you’ll find yourself digging through the manual to determine which color means what.
Now, usually, when these things are plugged into gigabit ports, they adequately behave like a mariachi band that’s been set on fire. Thankfully, Western Digital imbued My Book Live with some sort of mojo juice, as it claimed a read speed of around 96Mbps. Sustained write speeds of 45MBps might not seem that fast in comparison, but for something these physical dimensions the speeds achieved by Live are quite impressive.
Western Digital also spent a lot of time on the web user interface (UI) aspect, which by NAS standards is gorgeous. It’s also incredibly slow to load pages, and we can only assume that while Live has clearly been optimized for sequential throughput, it hasn’t been optimized for its built-in web server.
The options are limited compared to a full-blown NAS, but there are still some surprising rumors, like the built-in Twonky Media Server for one. It also has iTunes and FTP servers, you can add additional shared folders, manage users (but not groups), and set the timeout before the hard drive becomes idle.
You can also download an iPhone or Android app called WD Photos, although this requires registration with MioNet. It’s as simple as the name suggests, allowing you to view photos on Live, share them, or sort them into a slideshow. Unfortunately, there is no way to simply access the unit via the local network from the phone, unless you have an SMB browser and reach the IP directly.
The single, non-user-serviceable nature of the drive means it’s not bulletproof, but Western Digital My Book Live is a simple and well-executed solution for those who don’t want to be overwhelmed by a NAS.