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It's hard not to like the WD TV, especially for a first effort. It's certainly not perfect: WD drove down the price by making some serious hardware sacrifices. The lack of built-in network streaming is disappointing, and you have to factor in the price of an external hard drive (assuming you don't already have one) into the overall cost of the unit. While Western Digital was kind enough to include a $20-off coupon for its My Passport portable hard drives, I would still prefer to see a fully integrated unit with a built-in hard drive. But margins must be protected.

What makes the WD TV so appealing is its price tag. $129 is attractive enough already, but I've regularly found the device on sale for as little as $99, putting it dangerously close to impulse-buy territory if you've already got a spare USB storage device. The software needs a bit of fine-tuning, yet the WD TV strikes me as an excellent choice for people like my grandparents who don't need a next-generation game console or a home theater PC just to enjoy a digital video every once in a while. If you're on the fence about an HTPC, or you're just plain frustrated with the inconsistent format support from game consoles, the WD TV might be right up your alley. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica on my thumb drive I need to catch up on.TR

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