Dec 06, 2008
Here’s a neat concept: rather than messing with unreliable home WiFi networks, simply walk that big honkin’ HD video over to your TV, just like you’ve done for years. This time, the movie is on a portable hard drive, and the device to play the file doesn’t cost several hundred dollars.
Western Digital has introduced the WD TV HD Media Player, and it is a very interesting idea. Essentially it allows you to turn any USB hard drive into an HD media player. You store your HD content on a USB drive. Plug the drive into the WD TV and you can then easily play HD movies, digital music or still images on your TV in up to 1080p resolution. Now, that IS easy.
It supports a ton of video formats: from .avi to .mov to XviD, DivX, H.264 and a bunch more. Did I mention that it supports HDMI and 1080p? I think I did!
When you compare this little device to buying or building your own media server, I think that it clearly comes out ahead in the areas of cost and simplicity. You can get the item for as little as $119, and it may just be the answer to a lot of every day needs.
A couple of cons that I see. First and foremost, it doesn’t support component video, only composite and HDMI, so connecting this to my 6 year old 65″ Mitsubishi Widescreen HD Television with an HD signal just isn’t going to happen. It will however go on the newer plasmas screen that we have. But, we use the Mits much more than the Plasma because of location. I know, I know – I touted its HDMI support, and that IS awesome. But HDMI along with component would be even better.
Second con: No network support. It would be nice to be able to drop a USB drive onto this puppy and wirelessly be able to store files on the drive. I think it would reduce the “sneakernet” aspect of the whole thing. But, what can you expect for $100? This would be a nice feature, but it would certainly bump the cost up.
I suppose when all is said and done, going with something like the QNAP 109 II or 209 II probably makes more sense if you already have a method of displaying digital files – i.e. a PS3 or xBox 360. You’ll end up spending more money that way, but the benefits may be worth it.
Still, this little thing is easy to use and dirt cheap for the kind of functionality. You be the judge! Drop me a note in the comments below and let me know what you think!
File Formats Supported
Music – MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA
Graphics – JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG Video -MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264)
Playlist – PLS, M3U, WPL Subtitle -SRT (UTF-8)
– MPEG2/4, H.264, and WMV9 supports up to 1920x1080p 24fps, 1920x1080i 30fps, 1280x720p 60fps resolution.
– An audio receiver is required for surround sound output.
– AAC/Dolby Digital decodes in 2 channel output only.
– JPEG does not support CMYK or lossless.
– BMP supports uncompressed format only.
– TIF/TIFF supports single layer only.