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Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player - Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Essentially, it does all the things the press release says it will and it does them well. But what really makes the whole experience so nice is how slick and simple the menus and library interface are to use.

When you plug in a storage device, the unit will automatically scan it for multimedia and automatically add the files to its library, which is split up into video, audio, and image. Videos and images can be viewed in order of date, filename, and recently viewed. Meanwhile audio can be navigated by artist, album, track name, date, and folder. What's more, if you add a second storage device it amalgamates the contents of both devices into one library and you can view files as thumbnails or in a list. It's seamless, quick, and superbly easy to use. Though you can turn off library mode and just navigate by device, folder, and filename.

Western Digital WD TV HD back angle

There is one problem though. While you can browse music by artist or album, you can't whittle down your selection by artist >> album >> track number. Instead, selecting an artist will just take you to a list of all the songs by that artist listed in alphabetical order. Likewise, selecting an album will show all the tracks in alphabetical order. This is very frustrating if you just want to listen to a single album in the order it's supposed to go in. It's certainly not a deal breaker but it's something we'd strongly suggest WD gets onto fixing in its first firmware update.

There is a search option if browsing your way through all those menus doesn't take your fancy. It's quite effective though it does, of course, rely on you keeping your files organised with appropriate, and correctly spelt, names. Also, given you have to navigate your way round a virtual keyboard using the basic remote, we seldom found ourselves bothering.

Western Digital WD TV HD remote

Despite this fact, the remote is actually perfectly adequate. All the buttons you could need are there and they're logically laid out but most importantly the combination of the responsive buttons and fast-reacting menus means you never find yourself in that annoying situation where you're not sure if you've actually pressed a button so you press it again and end up going passed the option you wanted - a problem these sorts of devices often exhibit.

Ultimately, what really lead to our jaws hitting the floor was not that Western Digital could create such a great device but that it would charge such a modest price for it. At just £80, this thing is so cheap as to almost be a commodity.


If you're the type of person that has a comprehensive digital media collection and that doesn't already have a fancy media centre setup with networked storage and the like, the Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player should be right at the top of your Christmas list. There's simply no cheaper or easier way to get your media onto your TV.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 10
  • Features 9
  • Design 9


December 2, 2008, 3:58 pm

Nice, now if only WD could add a couple of digital receivers & and a DVD/Blueray drive.. :)


December 2, 2008, 4:52 pm

Another device that would be perfect with a damn ethernet port.

Andy Vandervell

December 2, 2008, 5:04 pm

Yeah. Have heard of something in the US with an Ethernet port, too, so wouldn't be surprised to see others (WD included) coming out with something similar. As it is, though, I'm still going to be buy one of these things. For sheer convenience you can't really beat it.


December 2, 2008, 5:15 pm

I suppose... if you use external drives for your media.

Andy Vandervell

December 2, 2008, 5:17 pm

Yeah, it's perfect plug in and play walk up device. Just plug in a USB key and off you go.

mike 8

December 2, 2008, 5:38 pm

Edward's review is spot on - this is a brilliant little media player. The format support is so good that my mate and I have a competition to see if we can find a legitimate media file (other than drm-d files) that it can't play - no winner yet. The upscaling it performs is no match for higher end gear but it's not too shabby. For 㿼, if you don't need to stream from a network, this is a no-brainer.

Barry Ward

December 2, 2008, 5:47 pm

There's no mention of DivX anywhere in it's list of formats, yet Xvid is listed. Can it play DivX?

Andy Vandervell

December 2, 2008, 5:49 pm

Hmm, odd that. Will Fix. Rest assured DivX/Xvid is supported. :)


December 2, 2008, 6:07 pm

Although not mentioned in the review, according to the WD site it supports NTFS formatted HDD's - i.e. bigger than 4GB files!


December 2, 2008, 6:09 pm

Very good effort by WD, but if you want the Networking support and internal HDD you'll have to buy a Network Media Tank (got the HDX1000 superb!)they use the same sigma designs chip. If WD bring out a higher spec model with all of the above, it will be a must have IMO. Good Review.

Ian 7

December 2, 2008, 6:25 pm

Can anyone confirm if the WD TV supports 5.1 surround sound? From the specs on the WD website it seems like it only supports 2-channel stereo. I would have expected the digital feed via HDMI to be capable of surround audio to an a/v receiver but would like to confirm before buying one.


December 2, 2008, 6:34 pm

I guess you could just use an external HDD with an ethernet port and a USB interface... didn't think of that.

Geoff Richards

December 2, 2008, 6:38 pm

The official WD page says "An audio receiver is required for surround sound output. AAC/Dolby Digital decodes in 2 channel output only"

however, before y'all cry into your tuna baguette, I'm wondering if we can't just use the optical for a 5.1 bitstream (as normal on DVD players et al) and do the decode in your receiver...

I'll ask Ed to check :)

Luan Bach

December 2, 2008, 6:38 pm

I've got it on back ordered on Play.com.

mike 8

December 2, 2008, 7:00 pm

Yes, WD TV supports 5.1. - here is something important that I don't think Edward mentions. As far as I can tell, the WD TV will not downsample 5.1 to stereo - if you don't have a compatible amp/receiver, you won't hear anything. I use the optical digital to my Onkyo amp and it works perfectly.

I can confirm that it reads NTFS - have reformatted my main USB key to this and works fine - as stated this means that >4GB files are fine.

Geoff Richards

December 2, 2008, 7:33 pm

Thanks Mike - great to hear from an existing owner (and fellow Onkyo owner). I can see myself picking one of these bad boys up myself :)


December 2, 2008, 10:09 pm

Looks like the WDHD has only 1 USB connection, what happens if you have a portable hdd (Seagate FreeAgent) that needs 2 usb ports - to avoid the need of a power adapter. Please don't tell me I need to buy ANOTHER external hdd!

Andy Vandervell

December 2, 2008, 10:28 pm

There's two, one is on the side.

Marc Davies

December 2, 2008, 10:59 pm

I've had one for the past few weeks and agree whole heartedly with this review. This is one awesome little device. I've tried a number of different video and streaming solutions in the past, including old laptops, DIVX DVD players, Media Centre extenders, etc. and this is by far the best (with the exception of my MCE PC maybe). I think that the simplicity of NOT having networking is a real bonus in this device, it saves all the fuss and headaches I always seem to encounter whenever I try to get things talking over wireless. This is a device that I could give to my mum and be happy that she could use without any problems.

One of the best things besides the amazing codec support is the size, it's so small and portable. I've had mine hooked up to a few different screens, everything from a 20 inch portable LCD to a giant Pioneer 60 inch plasma and it's worked well on all of them. 5.1 surround works a treat through the optical out and reglar 2.0 stereo through the component (the HDMI also outputs digital audio).

My top tech purchase this year by far.


December 2, 2008, 11:35 pm

Does it support .iso files? I have all my films in .iso format, so I hope so!


December 2, 2008, 11:46 pm

.mkv support? at that price?

i'm in


December 3, 2008, 6:14 am

As a parent, this could prove to be a very useful device to take on holidays where early morning TV options for children can be lacking. It looks pretty portable and combined with an external hard disk, is still cheaper than a netbook and probably easier to connect to whatever TV is available. Admittedly it's probably slightly larger than a DVD travel case including the power supply and cables but at least I wouldn't have to worry about DVDs getting scratched or left behind.


December 3, 2008, 11:57 am

The first gadget I've thought 'I must have' for a long time. Fits my needs perfectly.

LetsGo 1

December 3, 2008, 3:32 pm

Very good review,

Excellent little device.

I could not believe WD were selling at such a low price.

Played all i could throw at it, and 5.1 surround sound too!

Easily wins the best device award for me this year.


December 3, 2008, 4:00 pm

I love the specs and price of this device, but can someone just confirm one thing for me?

I've seen mention online that it won't actually play subtitles in MKV files. I can't find any specific mention of whether it will/won't on the WD site either.

Can someone please confirm? Thanks :).

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