"Cheap and powerful product, but it should be improved"2.5 starson by truling
Pros: - Capability of playing CD-quality sound files (FLAC) to hi-fi RCA connectors
- Full-HD TV playback through HDMI
- Easy firmware updates
- Playing from any USB drive
Cons: - cumbersome organization of files
- not continuous playing of sound files
Summary: The WD-TV can play a large number of video and audio formats, from any USB drive. It has 2 USB connectors, so it is convenient to have a hard disc permanently attached to it, and left the other free for playing from a pen drive. I have read that you can plug an USB hub, but I have not tested whether it works. What convinced me to buy the WD-TV was its capability to play FLAC files, i.e. lossless sound files, since then I could rip all my CD collection and listen to them in CD quality trough my hifi system. Moreover it has a hdmi connection, and I could also see movies on my HD-ready TV. In fact it can play full-HD files, I would like to be able to use this feature in the future.
The quality of both image and sound is good (not audiophile, but excellent for the price). The design is elegant and the size is very convenient. The menu is simple to use. The big problem is the organization of the files, since when you have a large number of them is rather cumbersome. You can select music files by album, by artist, or navigate on the folders of your hard disc. But to select an album you have to find it between all your albums in alphabetical order, regardless the artist. If you have a large number (easy in a 500 GB drive) this is a hard task. If you select by artist, you find all the songs by that artist in alphabetical order, so mixing all the albums. It will be more convenient to find albums by that artist, in order to select one to play!
Other problem, which should be easily solved in a firmware update, is that there is no option to play continuously (i.e. without gaps in sound) sound files from an album. This is awful when listening to certain albums or to live recordings.
Of the video files I used for testing the unit, roughly one third played without problems, other third played without sound, and the other third didn't play at all. When I updated the firmware, those without sound then played without problems. Those not playing continued to not play. The unit came with a conversion software which I have not tested yet, I hope this will permit to convert these files into a compatible format, but I cannot confirm it.
In conclusion, if in a future firmware update WD solves these issues, the WDTV would be an excellent player of all types of media files. But for the moment it is not. Before buying this unit, I would recommend checking the release notes of the last released firmware version (which you can find in the WD web page) in order to check whether all these issues have been actually solved. If yes, then the firmware update is very very easy (simply copy the file in a USB pendrive and plug it into the WD-TV).