Western Digital has entered the media player fray with its $129.99 WD TV Media Player. The player, which reads a variety of audio, photo, and video files, is designed to be paired with a portable hard drive that's loaded with media files. Naturally, Western Digital would prefer if you purchased one of its My Passport drives, but you can connect any USB mass storage device to the WD TV Media Player.
The little black box comes with a remote and connects to your TV via HDMI or standard composite AV cables. The release says: "Users leave the WD TV HD Media Player connected to their TVs and simply plug in up to two My Passport USB drives or other USB mass storage devices loaded with HD media. Using the included remote control, they can navigate and play their content with the media player's high-definition on-screen menu. With My Passport drives now available in 500GB capacities, users can build large collections on multiple drives, all playable by WD TV."
Western Digital assumes you obtained all your media files legally, but the WD TV Media Player appears to be rather inclusive in the types of files it reads. The device also ships with ArcSoft's MediaConverter 2.5, which converts photo, video, and music files into formats optimized for use on the WD TV HD Media Player. According to Western Digital, the player supports full HD video playback--up to 1080p--via HDMI.
Here's the list of supported file formats:
MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264), Subtitle SRT (UTF-8)
JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG
MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA Playlist PLS, M3U, WPL
We should be receiving a review sample soon and will let you know how this compares with similar products, such as Iomega's ScreenPlay TV link, which retails for just under $100. Anybody think this is a better option than Apple TV?