Irvine, Calif. — Western Digital introduced Tuesday a new addition to its line of WD TV set-top streaming devices, offering a more affordable price point, easier to navigate user interface, and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Western Digital WD TV Play ($70 suggested retail) is designed to bring smart-TV flexibility to the many consumers who have opted to buy lesser-featured TVs in recent years.
It will also support legacy TVs that predate smart-TV functions, but some research should be done first to ensure the new device is the best option for the TV in question. The WD TV Play lacks any HDMI daisychaining capability, so the user will need an open HDMI port on the TV set or purchase an aftermarket HDMI splitter to accommodate HD video streaming.
Failing to do that, the set-top device supports composite video output connections, but that will mean having to watch programming in standard definition.
No component video cable is available with the current device as a backup option, as was the case in earlier WD TV Live and Live Hub models. However, when using HDMI, viewers can enjoy video in up to FullHD 1080p resolution and full surround sound.
Like early WD TV streaming devices, the WD TV Play offers a host of apps and services, including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, SlingPlayer, Spotify, Pandora and Facebook.
Not present yet is support of Amazon Prime service or open web browsing, although the device can be updated with additional services down the road if Western Digital feels the need for an update.
New in the WD TV Play is an updated remote control featuring preprogrammed buttons for the most popular services, including Netflix, for fast playback. Customers can also download a free WD TV Remote app to turn their iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android device to turn it into a remote control for the WD TV Play.
The WD TV Remote connects over the home wireless network and works with multiple WD TV media players in the home.
Where WD TV Play excels is in allowing content sharing of video, photos, music, etc., from other DLNA networked devices in the home, including PCs, or connected USB storage devices.
A review of the device found setup to an existing in-home Wi-Fi network is swift and painless, and WD includes an Ethernet port for those who would rather connect to a hub via hard wire.
For a new bare-bones TV purchaser, it is a nice, simple to use and setup product at a great value price to compete with Roku and Google TV units in the market.