WD TV (2014 Personal Edition) review: Big screen fun
Play media and stream content on the biggest screen in the house.
- Versed in a wide range of files
- Pleasing interface
- TV-styled applications
- Well priced
- Poor implementation of Miracast
- Primitive form of text entry
Price$ 150.00 (AUD)
Most televisions won’t have the computing smarts needed to access content online or play it back from a hard drive. Televisions are a ubiquitous form of technology and forking out to buy a smart TV doesn’t make sound sense.
This is a dilemma Western Digital is trying to solve with its WD TV, a media player savvy enough to jump online with a friendly retail price of $150. It consists of a box the size of a hard drive and one of the most ingeniously laid out remote controls.
Lining the back of WD TV are a series of connectivity ports. It ships with RCA cables and, although it supports HDMI, the high-resolution cable isn’t bundled. RCA supports video up to 576i, while HDMI represents a significant upgrade with a maximum resolution of 1080p.
Additional connections include an optical out, an Ethernet port and two USB connections — one of which has been positioned at the front.
How it works
Navigating the refined interface can be done by way of the included remote control or by downloading the free application for users of Android or Apple. The remote is ergonomically designed and intuitively laid out. Our only gripe comes from the stout feedback given by the buttons, which we hope soften in time.
The application works over three panes, tying in from left to right available online services, virtual buttons and settings. Thought has evidently been put into its layout, though the application fails to take advantage of a smartphone’s pivotal asset: it’s keyboard.
Entering text into a search field has to be done with the use of navigational buttons; a primitive and impractical text-entering method. Using the services of the WD TV would’ve been a lot more enjoyable had it allowed you to enter text on your smartphone, hit enter, and then have the WD TV take over.
Western Digital has inched in this direction already by including the smartphone mirroring standard Miracast. The idea is the content on your smartphone can be wirelessly played back on your television through the WD TV set-top box. Miracast remains one of the simplest forms of screen mirroring available.
We were disappointed to find WD hadn’t utilised the technology to its full potential. Smartphones have enough power to ‘throw’ content in the background so that they can be used as normal while a movie, for instance, is being played back on a television. WD’s rendition of the standard appears immature as exiting a movie player or gallery on your phone instantly halts playback on the television.Read more: Western Digital My Passport Wireless (2TB) review
Zooming in and out on a photo should be mirrored on the television when using the standard. The WD TV could only show the full sized photo. The alternative is to mirror the entire smartphone’s functionality directly from its menu, although note a solid home network is needed for this to work well.
Internet streaming and applications
The WD TV offers a range of video-on-demand services and apps from its own application store. Some of the available applications and streaming services include ABC’s iView, Facebook, AOL TV, Accuweather, Deezer and, provided you have a subscription, Spotify Premium.
These services have been tailored to look fantastic on a television. It’s just a shame you have to resort to entering text by way of inefficient navigational keys.
Most won’t bother with the online component because the WD TV’s best feature is its fantastic support of media. Thumb sticks and hard drives can be plugged into a USB port and have their content played back, easily, on a television. There’s an elegance to the simple interface, its media players and the way it uses the real estate of a TV to best display the content on a hard drive.
Throughout our month period of testing the WD TV, we couldn’t stumble across a single file format that would not work. The nifty little unit even supports five subtitle formats.
Be weary it does not work with every hard drive format. We had no problems with a FAT32 2TB drive, but the WD TV would not read a 2TB drive in the less popular exFAT format.
The WD TV is a fantastic multimedia player, versed in a number of file formats and dressed in a refined interface. We applaud its range of connectivity options, and although its current use of the Miracast standard is limited, are hopeful WD will build on it with future updates.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Huawei Mate 9
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Up next for Apple TV: 4K streaming reportedly in the works
- Apple’s original TV shows are almost ready for prime time
- Apple snags Amazon Fire TV exec to lead Apple TV efforts
- AirTV's slick marriage of Sling TV and OTA channels isn't in the product yet
- Here's what's coming next from Sling TV
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTLevel 3 EngineerNSW
- CCSolution Architect - VMwareVIC
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCTest Capability LeadNSW
- CCSAP/ Nakisa Implementation ConsultantQLD
- CCNetwork ArchitectWA
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- FTSnr SOC Security Coordinator - Perm - North Ryde areaNSW
- CCTest AnalystWA
- CCMDM Consultant/DesignerVIC
- TPSystem AdministratorVIC
- CCNetwork Specialist - IPAM TelcoVIC
- FTSalesforce Technical Consultant/Architect Global IT Company - SydneyNSW
- TPSOE AdministratorQLD
- CCSQL Server BI DeveloperQLD
- CCSenior Technical Consultant - MicrosoftACT
- TPEnvironment Specialist(DevOps)QLD
- FTTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- FTPre- Sales Solution ArchitectVIC
- TPSenior Business AnalystVIC
- FTProject / Implementation Coordinator (Junior-Mid Level) Sunshine Coast LocationQLD
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)NSW
- TPProject OfficerNSW
- CCSenior Technical Business Analyst - ITMSP - Melbourne CBDVIC
- FTSenior Network AdministratorNSW