Western Digital WD TV (HD Media Player)
Watch downloaded high-def content on your HD TV.
- Hassle-free set up, user-friendly interface, extensive file support, tailor-made for HD TVs
- HDMI audio occasionally out of sync with video, sluggish and tiny remote
If you want an easy, hassle-free way to transfer HD content to your TV, you could do a lot worse than the WD TV. While short on fancy features, it offers a simple solution for computer-free media playback, including high-definition movies. Highly recommended.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
As we stride purposefully into the 21st century and beyond, more and more people are storing digital content on their computers — especially when it comes to home entertainment. After all, why subject your living room to a tottering mountain of burnt DVDs and CDs when you can keep everything on your PC instead?
Well, for one thing, there has never really been a clear-cut way to get your content onto a TV screen. Unless you’re willing to set up a media centre — which takes time, money and know-how — your digital library is destined to remain locked on your hard drive. This is where Western Digital's WD TV enters the picture — in either standard-def or Full HD.
The WD TV is a fuss-free media streamer that connects to your television via composite AV cables or HDMI. Instead of inbuilt memory, the device comes with a pair of USB ports which will connect to almost any storage device (including flash-based thumb drives). It allows users to quickly and easily access their stored data — whether it be music, movies, camcorder footage or photos — and view it in the comfort of their own lounge room. Boasting high-definition video support (up to 1080p) and a slick, intuitive user interface, it is a great option for videophiles and fans of convenience. Plus, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
It’s clear from the outset that the WD TV is aimed at mainstream consumers — just check out that snappy TiVo-like name! While most manufacturers christen their media hubs with a matrix of numbers and letters, Western Digital has gone for something catchy and simple. In fact, simple is the order of the day with the WD TV — everything from initial set up to the menu interface is incredibly user-friendly. To get started, all you need to do is connect a hard drive to the device and then plug it into a TV; there’s no software to install and no reason to ever connect it to a computer. Everything you need is already inside the WD TV.
Using the included remote control, you are now free to access your stored content via the player’s on-screen menu. This is one area where the WD TV really shines. Not only is the menu very attractive (especially on high-def displays), but it is also intelligently laid out. It will automatically collate your files into the relevant folders, with separate menu screens for Video, Photos and Music. Alternatively, you can switch to the HDD’s original folder structure. Content can be viewed either by filename or illustrated thumbnails; in either case, it pays to label your files clearly beforehand so you know what’s what at a glance.
We found the whole interface to be a breeze to use, with one small caveat: the remote is a bit on the sluggish side. Until we got used to the slight delay, we found ourselves repeatedly pressing the same button, which caused the player — after a brief pause — to issue the command over and over. This can be disorientating and annoying, especially with certain controls like the Back button. It might not sound like a big deal, but pressing a seemingly unresponsive button only once takes a surprising amount of restraint.
In terms of design, the WD TV is both sleek and tiny, which makes it ideal for storing in your entertainment centre, regardless of how cluttered it might be. The glossy black finish should look right at home next to the rest of your hardware. We would have preferred a bigger remote control, though. Its tiny buttons are hard to distinguish in the dark, and the miniature dimensions make it all too easy to misplace.
When it came to viewing videos, the WD TV worked exceptionally well for a device at this price point. It will recognise almost any video, audio or image format you care to throw at it, including MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA, JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG, MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV and MOV (MPEG4, H.264). The device automatically converts files into the intended ratio, which means you don’t get that annoying stretched effect when watching 4:3 videos on a widescreen TV (of course, this means you’re stuck with vertical black bars, but such is life).
Because it features Full HD video support you can watch ripped Blu-ray movies and AVCHD files in crystal clear definition (with the exception of the 1080p24 format, which is not supported). While it lacks the up-scaling abilities of pricey PVRs and Blu-ray devices, the standard-def content we viewed still looked adequate on our high-def TV.
However, we did experience some occasional lip-syncing issues, particularly when it came to DivX files viewed through HDMI. It’s possible that Western Digital may fix this issue with additional drivers in the future, but will the average WD TV owner ever download them? We're not so sure. After all, the device is aimed squarely at mainstream consumers who would prefer to bypass their computers altogether. In any event, the problem disappeared when we reverted to composite cables, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
As an unsubtle hint, the WDTV comes bundled with a proprietary stand for Western Digital’s range of My Passport hard drives. ( You can read our review of the latest 500GB Elite model here.)
Join the newsletter!
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Ballistix Sport AT
Apple iMac Pro
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Toys for Boys
ESET Internet Security
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Tivoli PAL BT
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
ESET Smart Security Premium
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Moto G6 review: A solid mid-tier effort with few compromises
- 5 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
Latest News Articles
- Telstra customers can now add the Kayo app to their account
- Streaming service delivers over 50 sports live and on demand for Aussie fans
- JBL introduces JRPOP Ultra Portable Speaker
- Turtle Beach’s Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp is now available
- Hisense's first OLED TV finally gets Australian pricing and availability
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Oppo R17 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Google Pixel 3 XL review: Ghost in the machine
- 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