Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, oh my!
We mentioned these apps already, but it’s worth mentioning that they all worked as advertised. You’ll need to subscribe to these services separately, of course, but actually accessing your information on the WD TV Play was simple – just type in a code that the Play generates on your Netflix or Hulu activation screens, and you’re good to go. If you’re in the UK, you also get access to the glorious BBC iPlayer.
One notable lack is Amazon Video On Demand – but we’ve heard that Amazon is looking into the WD device, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see support added in the coming months.
If you don’t wish to subscribe to one of these services, you can take advantage of the multitudinous codec support, and play your own content. The easiest way to do this is through use of a network share on your PC, or a NAS (network attached storage) box, both of which the WD TV Play supports. You can also load your content onto a USB stick or hard drive (it’s recommend to only use hard drives with external power supplies as the Play may not supply sufficient power – that said, we used an SSD with the device, and it worked great). We did have a couple of issues getting the WD TV Play to see our Kingston USB 3.0 HyperX USB drive – it wouldn’t acknowledge the device when formatted with NTFS, but it did see it when formatted with HFS+. Given our sample files were over 4GB in size, we couldn’t use FAT32, and the WD TV lineup doesn’t support the exFAT file system (come on, WD, let’s get that working).
As a package, the WD TV Play is hard to beat. It offers users a modern UI, streaming videos galore, the ability to play almost any audio or video (or picture) file that you’ve got stored anywhere in your house – the list goes on and on. There is nothing on the market that offers as much as the WD TV Play for such a low price. Its two main competitors in the space are the Apple TV, which offers a slightly better UI, but fewer features and services, and the Roku, which has a slightly inferior UI and a few more streaming options – and both are thirty bucks more expensive (there are cheaper models of the Roku, but they don’t do 1080p video or local playback).
There are some things we’d like to see polished on the WD TV Play, most notably the way the player shows your app selection (there’s really no need for all these categories and pages – just show an endless grid of apps and be done with it), but overall, the device is a good effort on behalf of WD and worthy of a permanent place in our entertainment center.
- Tons of video options
- Dynamic icons and widgets
- Occasionally clunky menus
- No error messages (if something doesn’t work, you won’t know why)