Western Digital WD TV Mini Media Player - WD TV Mini Media Player

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers
Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score

6/10

User Score

Review Price free/subscription

Connectivity is where things start going downhill slightly. The Mini only has a single USB input to read memory sticks or external hard drives compared to the WD TV's two, and more significantly, though an optical digital audio output has been retained, HDMI is no longer available. For video output we now have two 3.5mm jacks, one for composite video/RCA audio and the other just for component video, with special cables provided.

This is a significant step back for Western Digital, as it means this media player can no longer be used with most PC monitors (which only offer HDMI/DVI and VGA) - surely a prime market for people looking at players around this price point? It also means you have to have two audiovisual cables hooked up to the Mini if you care about quality, since the component cable only carries video signal. It's worth keeping in mind that the composite/audio jack won't take a regular 3.5mm audio cable either, so it can't be used as a headphone connector.

Setting the WD TV Mini up is very simple. Just plug in the power brick (which is almost as large as the device itself) and the two audiovisual cables - you really don't want to use composite video if you have the choice. Finally plug in a drive with some media and you're ready to go.

You'll want to set the Mini's resolution to the maximum it and your screen can support. Together with the HDMI connection the mini has lost the ability to send a Full HD 1080p signal, though it will happily do 1080i at up to 60Hz. Once configured properly (it's set to 480i/4:3 by default) it will up-scale everything to 1080i, at which it does a credible job for such a cheap unit. The processing doesn't make standard definition sharper or better-looking, but at least it's watchable scaled to the higher resolution.

Divided into Videos, Music, Photos, File Management and Settings, the Mini's blue, black and white interface is clean and attractive, and generally responsive as long as you're not dealing with DVD-size files (over 4GB). Like the interface found on the WD TV HD, it's one of the better ones we've come across for media players in every respect. Icons and groupings are logical, and you can choose from a wide variety of setup options - including screensaver and slideshow timings, transition effects, whether or not to show picture icons for video, subtitle size, and the list goes on. It's full of clever touches too, like the way the previous/next buttons on the remote skip through whole 'pages' of photos at once with a nice animation.

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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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