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Very Pretty User Interface, But…

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Let’s start with the good stuff. The on-screen interface for the WD TV looks fantastic, working as a series of horizontal and vertical ribbons that are easily navigated using the four arrow keys on the remote controls. The icons remind me a little of what you’d find on a Palm Pre or similar smartphone.

Unfortunately, there’s one thing that makes this experience a little frustrating. When the room has a little more ambient natural light, it seems that the remote is not nearly as responsive as it can be. Sometimes it won’t pick up the signal and other times, it’ll act as if one of the arrow buttons is stuck. I’d recommend you use the WD TV under slightly dimmer conditions.

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In terms of the video-playing experience itself, I thought it worked just fine. It’s nothing anything that would go above and beyond some of the other offerings on the market, but I’m pleased with the 1080p video quality and even the less-than-stellar videos from my digital camera end up looking half decent.

Eject Your USB Media Please

I didn’t know I still had to do this. Even on my main notebook computer, I don’t really go through the process of “safely removing” any USB hardware from my computer anymore; I just make sure that any file transfers are complete and I assume that I’m reasonably good to go.

This is the approach that most home theatre media players tend to take as well, but not Western Digital. There is an option in the menu to “eject” your USB device. I thought it was an interesting inclusion, particularly since they offer two USB ports.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

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At about a hundred bucks, the WD TV HD Media Player from Western Digital certainly offers several advantages over some of its direct competitors. It’s great to see a true HDMI connection here for 1080p video and it’s even better that they have taken the care to include an optical audio out as well.

The user interface is clean and attractive, making it easy to sort through all of your multimedia content based on date, folder, or just looking at absolutely everything. The remote is pretty basic and this wouldn’t be horrible if it weren’t for the somewhat quirky connection issues noted. A remote should just work, shouldn’t it?

It may not come with any storage of its own, unlike the Seagate FreeAgent Theater, but you can easily grab a couple of flash drives on your own. Where the WD TV really shines, though, is in file format support. Tossing in the love for MOV and MKV files will go a long way, even if most of us prefer AVI and MPEG-1/2/4.

There’s no wireless streaming, but among the set top box-style HD media players, the WD TV is a solid choice.

Pros

  • Fantastic file format support
  • Incredibly small form factor
  • Great-looking user interface
  • HDMI, dual USB, and optical audio out

Cons

  • Remote has strange transmission problems
  • No wireless (or even wired) streaming
  • No included storage
  • MOV file did not play audio (codec issue?)

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

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