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WD TV - Miracle Box
on 27 December 2008
I was very wary of this with it having a 'Western Digital' badge on it. I had the 'LG' thing in mind - they were once great when they made just televisions, but then they branched out and slap their name on all sorts of rubbish. Absolutely not so with the WD TV though - this thing is every bit as good as WD drives are reliable... Not just that, but this device fills a small gap that I had been waiting for.
I got myself a 40" Samsung 1080P back in October, but for a few weeks it was going to waste on standard def TV, so I decided to invest in a media player, and with the price and features of this, it was a clear winner - at least on paper. Having used it for a month or two now, I cannot praise it enough, especially after the recent firmware update which appears to solve pretty much every bug it used to have, as well as introduce some new features and codec support, so it's good to see WD are keen to support this wonder device of theirs.
Now, onto the important stuff... Has played every single DivX and XviD file I have thrown at it - 100% success. Has played about 90-95% of all 1080P MKV x264's that I have fed it too. Now, the biggest downfall of this device is the fact that it does not support DTS audio which is a pretty common format for 1080P x264's that you'll find on various 'sources'. If you connect the WD TV to a home cinema with a DTS decoder then you'll be fine, otherwise you'll need to transcode the DTS audio into AC3, which will play fine. The process should take about 15min to an hour on a modern computer with free software... The bundled conversion software that WD give you may do the job too, but I religiously dont touch anything developed by Arcsoft so could not say for sure.
Video quality is absolutely fantastic though... Obviously though if you feed this thing standard def DivX's, you wont notice much difference because the WD TV does not 'upscale' it to make it appear of higher quality by filling in 'blanks', so to get the full potential you need to play 720 or 1080P files, and trust me one again - the quality you will get on a full HD TV is absolutely superb - way better than streaming WMV's from PC to Xbox 360.
Besides the DTS support, the only negative things I can say about WD TV is the remote is very basic - but it does the job so it's really just a minor niggle I have. The other thing is the menu/GUI is a little sluggish (not painfully so, but enough to be a slight annoyance). The other thing about the GUI is it seems to be optimised for standard definition or 720P displays, as it seems a bit low quality and pixelated on my full hd display... But your going to spend your time watching movies - not the menus, so again this is a very minor flaw.