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Western Digital Intros Versatile HD Media Player

Gordon Kelly


WD Introduces Ultra-Versatile HD Media Player

While inexpensive mini-desktops like the Asus Eee Box are increasingly becoming the TV media companion of choice, maybe a well thought out standalone player is all we really need after all?

Perhaps a little late, but certainly no less welcome, Western Digital's announcement today of the 'WD TV HD Media player'. The acronym-happy unit is a neat and petite little black box with easy to use remote control and it does many of the things we've craved from devices like it for years. Let's break them down...

  • It will happily connect to any USB based hard drive or memory key via a pair of 2.0 ports

  • Multimedia content is automatically read and arranged via name, type, genre or recently viewed and is searchable by name using the remote via an onscreen animated menu.

  • There's enough muscle to support HD video playback right up to 1080p.

  • Connectivity includes the all important HDMI plus back-up composite for legacy sets ensuring wide ranging compatibility.

  • A free copy of ArcSoft MediaConverter 2.5 is bundled but with a monstrous codec library it may not really be necessary.

  • And lastly, that alluded to ace in the hole: codec support which includes *deep breath* MPEG 1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4,Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H264), JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PNG, MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF and MKA.
Perhaps best of all the WD TV HD Player is shipping immediately and with an RRP of just £78.99 it could potentially be one of the best - and straightforward - methods of putting content onto your TV to date...

Hats off guys.


Western Digital

James Smith

November 3, 2008, 6:37 pm

Does this have any networking capabilities?


November 3, 2008, 6:54 pm

No ethernet port though?


November 3, 2008, 6:55 pm

Oh - rogue apostrophe in "hat's"

Luan Bach

November 3, 2008, 7:02 pm

Saw this over the weekend on the US sites. I was wondering how to get it from there, and now I'm very happy that WD is also releasing it over here.


November 3, 2008, 7:20 pm

No networking capabilities, though hints were made that could come in future products. Essentially this is meant to be really simple but easy to use - and let me tell you, the interface is pretty slick as well - and the price reflects this. Format support will also be extended with future firmware updates, which can be done using a simple USB stick update procedure.


November 3, 2008, 7:25 pm

Yes, but this product is quite blatantly going to appeal mostly to those who download DivX files, so the lack of an ethernet port is a really stupid move, in my opinion.


November 3, 2008, 7:49 pm

@Darfuria - only helps if you have a very long Ethernet cable! Or your computer in the same room in which case you might as well just connect it directly...

I guess power over Ethernet could be used, but I don't see it as a big miss personally for what it is intended to do.


November 3, 2008, 8:01 pm


Yes, I appreciate that but it would add to the cost considerably. Also, the whole idea is that you have a portable hard drive that you use to store most of your media - as opposed to a NAS appliance - and with this you can just plug that in.

And besides which, there are loads of network media players to choose from. WD is pointedly trying something different.


November 3, 2008, 8:04 pm

@Gordon - a lot of people have consoles near their TVs with ethernet cables connected to a router/switch, so I don't see why that's an issue.

Geoff Richards

November 3, 2008, 8:39 pm

I think given that it is openly designed "to work with WD Passport drives" and other USB storage, the lack of ethernet is excused. Indeed, it's worth pointing out to anyone (like me) who didn't read the story closely: this device has NO LOCAL STORAGE. I just assumed it was like similar-looking media players which have internal hard drives.

Instead, you have to use either a USB stick, or an external USB hard drive. Shame the latter involves an extra box, an extra power socket, more cables etc, though I can acknowledge the flexibility this design brings in terms of plug & play, and portability ie swapping out data sources.

I'm told a review sample is winging its way to our labs as I type so watch out for the full TR review soon :)

Luan Bach

November 3, 2008, 8:45 pm

@Geoff, I'm using a portable WD drive with the Xbox 360 to play back my hd files. It works great and don't need a power cable. I'm looking at this WD device to playing back files as the xbox doesn't support mkv files.


November 3, 2008, 9:12 pm

I'd be pleased even if the only advantage the WD offered was making less noise!


November 3, 2008, 9:13 pm

I'm interested in this, any photo's of the UI?

Geoff Richards

November 4, 2008, 12:01 am

@Luan - fair point. I'm sure the 2.5" products can be powered over just USB (I was thinking of my 3.5" IcyBox at home tbh). As for MKV, that's one of the key advantages of this box over existing rivals. If it works well, I could replace my whole HTPC with one of these for &#16380 :)

@Tony - photos and video of the UI are on the WD product page: http://www.wdc.com/en/products...


November 4, 2008, 1:39 am

Anyone know where you can buy this online???


November 4, 2008, 3:30 am

Or you could just get a PopcornHour (http://www.popcornhour.com/onl.... I have had an original A-100 for a nearly a year now and it's been great :-)

Ethernet via RJ45 and support for a USB wireless dongle if you want to add one.

Personally I use a Netgear Powerline HD to connect from my server upstairs to the mediabox downstairs.

I stuck an &#16380 400Gb Samsung HDD in for storage and Bob's your uncle.

One advantage of a networked device - over the wire firmware updates to keep your codec support up to date + any new functionality (open source helps there too).


November 5, 2008, 5:47 pm

Im new to all this but seems a the way forward for me ..... what sourt of sound will I get out of this ?

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