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The WD HD Media Player is a little black box that can play digital files stored on flash or hard drives straight to any television set. It is a simple solution for users who don’t have the time to turn on their computer, connect it to their TV, log-in, and search for the audio, video, or photo to be played.


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At first glance, the TV HD Media Player looks like a mini version of Western Digital’s MyBook Pro. Its small profile (125 x 100 x 40mm) and piano black finish makes it unobtrusive and stylish. Power and USB icons are located up front, while the composite/RCA audio ports, Optical out (for digital audio), HDMI port, USB port, and AC port are located at the unit’s rear. An additional USB port is also located on the left side.

Besides the Media Player, users will also get a remote control, an AC adaptor, a cradle designed for WD’s MyPassport drive, and a set of composite AV cable. WD did not include any HDMI cable, so users who are planning to hook this up to their HD TV should buy one.

The device supports a number of audio, video, and image files. Videos saved in MPEG 1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, and MOV (MPEG4, H.264), Audio files saved in MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, and MKA, as well as JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, and PNG files are all compatible with the Media Player. If you have a couple of files that are not compatible with the box and you want to play it, you would have to use a file converter or use the included ArcSoft MediaConverter software included with the bundle.

 


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After all the files are converted, users would have to transfer them from the PC to a USB Drive or external hard drive and connect the device to the HD Media Player.

The on-screen menu is easy to navigate, although the unit was a bit slow in indexing files (especially if it has to list 100-200 movie files or 5500 songs). The unit segregates the files according to its format (Video, Photo, Music), with the unit being able to display playlists (PLS, M3U, and WPL) as well.

The remote is the brain of the whole system, so it is important that you do not lose it (there is no other way for you to navigate the unit asides from using the remote). While small and well-labelled, it feels cheap and is sometimes unresponsive.

 


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We mostly tested this device with movie files stored on our external hard drive and have found playback to be smooth. Various HD (1080p, 720p, and 480p) videos played without a hitch, with the unit supporting subtitles. Audio files stored on our USB stick played well, but do remember that the device is not compatible with movie and audio files that have DRM.

The WD TV HD Media Player is a real simple device for users who just want a box that can play almost any major digital format known to man. And with an RRP of $199, this device is definitely well-worth a look.

***As a side note, we found that WD has released an update (1.01) for the WD TV HD Media Player. The update includes new features like MKV chapter selection, MTS, TP, and TS files extension support, 1080p 24Hz support, 10 minute jump feature in the remote, additional subtitle support (SMI, SUB, ASS, SSA), faster scroll speed, and resolved a couple of issues present in the device. See the full firmware release note at the WD website.

See page over for product specification and pricing.

 

WD TV HD Media Player Specifications:

Kit Contents:
HD Media Player
Compact remote with batteries
Media converter software
Composite AV cable
AC Adaptor
Quick Install Guide
Stand for My Passport portable drive

Compatible Media Formats:
Videos: MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264)
Photos: JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG
Audio: MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA
Playlist: PLS, M3U, WPL
Subtitle: SRT (UTF-8)

Dimensions:
Height: 40mm
Depth: 100mm
Width: 125mm

Weight: 302.5g

WD TV HD Media Player | $199 |  | www.wdc.com

For: Small form factor; HDMI out; 2 USB ports; Great interface; Supports a lot of formats; Firmware updates available
Against: No HDMI cable included; Awful-looking remote; Conversion software too basic
Conclusion: An affordable way to watch your media files on your HD telly.

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