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Western Digital WD TV Mini Media Player review

Ardjuna Seghers

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Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

User Score:

When Western Digital released its first media player, the WD TV HD Media Player, calling us pleasantly surprised would have been an understatement. It's fair to say that the company's little black box changed the playing field for media players, with support for every music and most video formats at no less than 1080p - a rarity in units at its sub-£100 price point - all wrapped up in a neat little box with a sleek interface. While we're eagerly awaiting the rumoured sequel, WD has launched an alternative that supposedly complements both its original and forthcoming players, called the WD TV Mini.

As its name suggests, this is a far smaller device, measuring a diminutive 91 x 91 x 22mm. In fact it's smaller than the accompanying remote, which is the same undersized model bundled with the original WD TV. The good news is that the Mini is also cheaper than its bigger sibling, but the bad is that in order to achieve this several formats have been dropped as has the digital video output, and the Mini can no longer decode H.264. On the other hand it does now support RMVB, a codec that is lacking in the larger WD TV.

In terms of design, the new Mini is a triumph. It's not only more attractive but also more sensible than its larger sibling, thanks to its top and bottom sporting a matt textured finish rather than the scratch and fingerprint-loving glossiness found on original. The slim sides are still piano black to add a touch of glamour, and bring out the unobtrusive blue-backlit power and activity icons nicely. Build quality is also top notch, with strong plastics used throughout.

As already mentioned the remote remains mostly unchanged, with the exception that its finish has also - sensibly - transitioned from glossy to matt. It uses two AAA batteries so those who care about the environment can use rechargeable ones. It's solid and comfortable, and though its buttons don't feel particularly pleasant, they're well laid out and clearly labelled making it easy to use.

Misha

September 17, 2009, 12:33 pm

Hi,


Please, oh, please could you review the XTreamer http://www.xtreamer.net/ !!!

DrDark

September 17, 2009, 3:28 pm

I'm still failing to see the point of this product since we heard about it last month. Apart from the whole (Matt is the new glossy) look that everyone's doing these days (DSi, PS3), it's got fewer features and is only around £10 less. I'm not sure that many people care about RMVB, but why couldn't they just add it to the original through a firmware update?





In fact, after the previous article announcing this, I bought the original WDTV for around £64 off Amazon, and was actually surprised at it's size, which was tinier than I thought. They should have just made this mini one into a PMP and competed with the likes of Archos etc.





As for the Asus one, it's uglier and harder to find due to its stupid name making searching for it difficult...





P.S. Please don't review the Xtreamer until they shut up about it for a few months.

Nick

September 17, 2009, 3:35 pm

Would love to see a review of the XTreamer too ;)


Any news on when we might see the WDTV2 with its lovely network port?

lifethroughalens

September 17, 2009, 4:32 pm

Thanks Misha - that Xtreamer look just the business. Just hope they get .ISO support in there asap. Ordered one.

Misha

September 17, 2009, 9:34 pm

lifethroughalens, you are a quick decision-maker - I have been mulling over Xtreamer for several months now... I'm impressed by your quick action!

lifethroughalens

September 18, 2009, 3:02 am

@Misha





Impulsive is the word I think! (or though someone else might say irresponsible :) )





Well I saw the Ethernet port and the wireless and the open source software approach - and the ability to stick a 500GB HDD on board and was immediately sold. The price seemed more than sensible too. The few reviews seem good - bar from a noisy, unprotected fan (which is being addressed apparently, but I don't mind a bit of DIY).





Let's see how long it takes to ship - if it turns up at all, and if it's any good! I'll only have myself to blame if it isn't....oh, and you for showing it to me in the first place! ;o)

Misha

September 18, 2009, 7:56 pm

lifethroughalens - since TrustedReviews refuses to review this seemingly excellent product (perhaps they do have commercial interests ;) ) - you could jot down a few impressions (if you have a few minutes - but don't feel obliged...)

lifethroughalens

September 19, 2009, 5:07 am

Will do Misha - All I have now is an order number and an email confirmation - no shipping date or tracking number. I'm away next week - when it does arrive and if TR's hasn't covered anything by them - i'll break the habit of a life time and actually post a review in the forums section! No worries :)

Misha

September 21, 2009, 1:43 am

Thanks a lot, lifethroughalens

TechVegan

September 22, 2009, 10:04 pm

@Misha:


We've contacted the company to get a sample of the Xtreamer in (it does look very interesting), but so far no luck.


Of course if it does come in you can look forward to one of our usually-comprehensive reviews :)





@Nick:


Why on earth would we "refuse" to review it?

lifethroughalens

September 23, 2009, 12:05 am

I got home tonight and my unit has been delivered - so good delivery times in the UK - 3 working days, not bad.





Haven't plugged it in yet - I will try to have a play tomorrow and post something. First impressions though are very good - it's tiny! About the size of a 3.5" HDD and it feels well built.





More when I plug it in :)

lifethroughalens

September 24, 2009, 12:57 pm

Don't bother (yet)! I have had a very frustrating, wasted few hours trying to get this bugging box to stream files from my networked PC HDD's in my PC- all attempts are met with yet another 'issue' on the software front.





Ultimately it looks like there is no proper support for Windows 7...yet. And the forums aren't much help yet either. This may be a great product design wise, and the features and codec supports may be vast - but without better firmware / software this thing is going nowhere fast.





Great, I have a £100 paperweight. Non-technologically minded, network savy, registry altering, whiz-kids need not apply!

Ed

September 24, 2009, 1:05 pm

@lifethroughalens: In fairness, Windows 7 networking is a pain in the backside at the best of times. That whole homegroups(?) things is completely incompatible with old workgroups.

Misha

September 28, 2009, 12:51 pm

lifethroughalens, that was a quick condemnation - I certainly wouldn't want to fuss with registry and such - I want plug-n-play! Hope you'll eventually figure it out! All the best.

goranlin

June 2, 2010, 12:02 am

In the review it is written that it support "VOB (DVD rip)" (among other formats). What does this mean? If I have a VIDEO_TS folder with .VOB, .BUP and .IFO files can it read these in the correct order? Can it handle subtitles? (How if there is no menus?)

finklemiss

October 25, 2010, 3:03 pm

Can anyone confirm whether the Mini can display VobSub subtitles {.sub with .idx} which are image based? I expect the answer is no - it states .sub subs are supported but they're different (text based). I suppose there is still no solution to display Arabic charset subs?

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