In the box you get the WD TV itself, the power supply, the remote (including two AAA batteries), a composite cable, and a little stand for holding the Western Digital Passport portable hard drive that WD expects you will buy to use in conjunction with the WD TV. In reality, though, it’s just a piece of plastic that you can use to hold whatever drive you like.
One notable omission is an HDMI cable, which is essential for playing back any HD content and just generally for not relying on the awful picture that composite will provide. While this is understandable considering the still relatively high price, and bulk, of HDMI cables, but it’s still a tad annoying.
One of the WD TV’s headline features is its comprehensive file format support, which really is among the most impressive we’ve ever encountered. For brevity, here’s the full list as it currently stands:
- Music – MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA
- Photo – 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)
And Western Digital says it will provide updates for future formats.
Quite simply no other stand alone device we’ve seen offers such comprehensive format support. What’s more all the video formats can be played back at up to 1080p resolution. The only thing that’s lacking is support for DRM’d files as these need to ‘phone home’ over the Internet to be authenticated.
To test this claimed support we plugged in a hard drive loaded with video clips, songs and images stored in all sorts of different formats. Among others there were some 1080p trailers recorded in the h.264 codec and .mov format and some 720p mkv files which used the Xvid codec. There were also some FLAC audio files as well as MP3 and we had a whole load of JPG, GIF, and PNG images of varying sizes.
The WD TV played or showed all the files without so much as breaking a sweat and even the 1080p trailers loaded in just a second or two – we could even fast forward through them.
Quality was also surprisingly good. It lacks the sophisticated video enhancements of dedicated high-end Blu-ray/DVD players like the Pioneer LX70, which iron out resolution artefacts like aliasing and other unwanted effects that result from employing Telecine. Nevertheless it was quite striking how pleasurable it was to sit and watch video, though as always we’d recommend steering clear of the composite output and stick to HDMI. Listening to music was equally enjoyable especially when piped out to a proper receiver that’s hooked up to a decent sound system.
There’s also a slideshow mode that will automatically cycle through your photos according to a time delay that can be changed in the menu. Music can also be played in the background while you’re viewing them, photos can be rotated and you can zoom into them to get a closer look.