Been awhile since I posted on Wetpixel. Thought I'd mention this great little HD media player (Western Digital WD TV) that I picked up last week that might appeal to some of you budding HD videographers. If you're like me, you either watch your home HD videos directly from your PC/ laptop, record your final output back to tape and use your HD video camera as a player, or go through the hassle of connecting your laptop to your living room HDTV when you want to show your videos to guests or family. In my case, my laptop can only handle RGB out at roughtly 720p resolution. But most of all, my feable single core laptop CPU would choke on playing back any 1080p content. Now that I've got this tiny WD TV player (4"x5") permantly connected to my living room HDTV, all I have to do is connect a portable hard drive with HD video files to it and it's showtime.
WD TV HD media player is made by those hard drive folks at Western Digital (WD) and is based on the new Sigma processor chips which are incorporated in most Blu Ray machines. The strong points of this unit is:
1) Full 1080p output capability - picture quality is very sharp on my 52" LCD TV (1080p capable) connected via HDMI. Seems to handle fast action scenes in 1080 without any problems.
2) Ability to handle a wide range of video and music file types/ codecs. Video-wise, it can handle MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264). MPEG2/4, H.264, and WMV9 supports up to 1920x1080p 24fps, 1920x1080i 30fps, 1280x720p 60fps resolution.
I've tried a number of video file types including h.264 encoded MKV files of TV shows downloaded from the net and all the HD podcast content from DiveFilm.com in m4a format (HD but not full 1080 resolutions though). Howard Hall's Requiem still looks stunning on a 52" screen as does Sean's Sardine Run and Wag's Ningaloo Reef videos. I've tried playing some of the HD divx files that some of the Wetpixel members had produced awhile back like Nick Hope's Myanmar video. The WD TV could handle them all. It can play back native m2t files from my HC-7 (and I believe it can handle AVCHD as well). It can also handle DVD VOB files and ISO's although playback function is limited (no menus or chapters).
3) Can't beat the price: $130 list (available for around $100 online and at Best Buy)
4) Very straight forward user interface
5) There are two USB 2.0 ports where you can plug in any external HDD. The idea of just having the files on a portable HDD vs having a networked medial player will appeal to the mass market with no network/ LAN knowledge. And yes, remember WD is a HDD manufacturer ... Brilliant I think considering how cheap HDD's are nowadays. You could also use most USB thumbdrives. I've even tried connecting a card reader and although WD doesn't claim this will work, the player is able to read the contents off my SD card. You could even connect a USB DVD drive but note that WD TV will not played any rights protected discs or files (no Itunes downloaded video). It will handle NTFS and +HFS formatted drives (so Mac users are in luck).
The HD TV also does a good job of handling music files from mp3's to FLAC files and recognizes music tags. But I've got a separate box for my music (Squeezebox Duet). It can also handle jpg and tif photo files but can be a bit sluggish. It cannot open RAW files.
In terms of video sound, it will decode AAC/Dolby Digital. It doesn't decode DTS but you could stream that via optical link to your home theather amp.
For $100, this is a steal. There are other more sophisticated media players out there such as the "Popcorn Hour" networked media tank with better network connectivity and option to install an internal HDD, but they will cost 2-4x as much as the HD TV.
Edited by pakman, 30 November 2008 - 09:29 PM.