Western Digital's OTT box adds functionality, looks like a winner

Western Digital is stealing a little thunder from competitors like Roku, introducing a new set-top box that allows users to stream WD TV Live Plus HD mediaNetflix content, browse and add movies to their instant Queue on the Netflix Website right from their TV, as well as give them access to other over-the-top content and their own media libraries. With Google TV on the horizon, and more connected TVs starting to roll out and poised for release, the space is about to get very crowded.

But the WD TV Live Plus HD media player looks like a pretty solid entry, it enables users to stream personalized Internet content from YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Live365, as well as the MediaFly network which includes daily podcasts from CNN, NBC, MTV, ESPN and other online content providers. The $150 box is $50 more than Roku, but offers additional features.

The onscreen menu brings together all of the users' available media in a simple-to-navigate interface, while the network capability enables users to stream movies from PC or Mac computers, USB storage devices or network-attached storage. Compatible with Windows 7, the WD TV Live Plus HD media player enables the Windows 7 Play To feature so users can initiate and control the streaming of video, music or photos to the media player and home entertainment systems from any Windows 7-based PC on their network.

"Netflix has become a 'must have' for consumer electronics devices," said Netflix vice president of business development Bill Holmes. "We're proud to align with WD to include Netflix on WD's groundbreaking WD TV Live Plus HD media player."

Among the features WD claims for its box:

  • Full-HD 1080p video playback and navigation;
  • Wireless ready to support wireless network connection (USB wireless adapter sold separately);
  • Supports multiple file formats with no need to transcode;
  • Plays videos, music and photos from the Internet with Pandorao, Live365 and the MediaFly network including CNN, NBC, MTV, ESPN and other online content providers;
  • Ethernet port for wired or WiFi connection to any PC or drive on a home network;
  • Plays content from USB drives, digital cameras, camcorders, and portable media players that can be recognized as mass storage devices;
  • Unlimited media collection, via add-on USB drives;
  • Two USB ports, but media is displayed in a single list and sorted by media type;
  • Transfer files by copying, moving or deleting files stored on a USB drive, a network drive, camcorder, or a camera to the attached USB drive using the on-screen menus;
  • Advanced navigation options including thumbnail and list views, media library and search;
  • Photo viewing to create custom slide shows, zoom and pan and search;
  • Movie viewing with fast-forward, rewind, pause, zoom and pan, view subtitles, and search;
  • Music playback with fast-forward, rewind, pause, shuffle, repeat and search;
  • HDMI 1.3 port, composite video and component video output4 for the highest quality HDTV or home theater.

For more:
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