Western Digital is no stranger to the living room, and we're familiar with the company's past efforts there. The newly announced WD TV Play appears to be its most inexpensive foray into home-theater media streaming so far, though. Priced at just $69.99, the device looks (and apparently behaves) similarly to the $99 Apple TV and $89 Roku—but it undercuts both.
Here's what the WD TV Play can do, in WD's words:
With the Wi-Fi® connected WD TV Play media player, customers can easily stream hit movies, view the latest viral videos, catch up on TV shows and stay connected to social networks through apps such as YouTube®, Netflix®, Hulu Plus™, VUDU®, SlingPlayer®, Spotify®, Pandora® and Facebook, among many others¹. Unlike many other streaming media players, WD TV Play also lets customers enjoy a variety of media they already own, such as photos, music and videos. Customers can play content located on any computer or network attached storage that has a DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) server, such as the My Book® Live™ personal cloud storage, as well as from any directly connected digital camcorder, camera or USB drive.
Aside from Wi-Fi, connectivity includes Ethernet, USB 2.0, HDMI, optical audio, and composite video out. The WD TV Play enables 1080p streaming of a wide variety of video formats, including FLV, MKV, MP4, XviD, and WMV9. (Some codecs are only supported up to 720p, though; check the official spec sheet for details.) If you're more keen on music, the WD TV Play can handle AAC, FLAC, MP3, and OGG audio formats. Oh, and anime geeks will be happy to know the device supports discrete subtitle files, including SRT.
To control the WD TV Play, you can use either the bundled remote or WD's TV Remote app on iOS or Android devices. The app looks a bit like Apple's own Remote app for the Apple TV, although I don't believe AirPlay is supported. Still, it should be pretty convenient, given that the bundled remote lacks a built-in keyboard.
Neat. At $70, this is easily in impulse buy territory, and it looks surprisingly capable. We might have to take a closer look at it.
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