On the Inside
The top and the bottom of the case appear to be welded together, so I was unable to open the case without destroying the product. So I looked up the FCC ID (RRK-C2H) instead and retrieved the fuzzy photo below. About the only thing I could tell from the internal photo file is that the Play has two antennas, so it's an N300 device (2.4 GHz only). The wireless SoC is the one at the upper right of the photo.
WD TV Play PCB photo from the FCC
This Wikipedia article has a good summary of WD TV devices. WD has used Sigma Designs SoCs in all its WD TV players, so it's reasonable to assume that that's what lies under the heatsink in the photo above. For reference, the Live uses a 700 MHz Sigma Designs SMP8670AD processor with 512 MB of DDR2 memory.
Figured out how to open it up by removing one T8 Torx screw hidden under the bottom cover product label and prying off the cover. The wireless SoC is a Ralink RT5372L 2T2R 802.11bgn and there is 512 MB of Hynix flash (H27U4G8F2DTR) and 512 MB of DDR3 Hynix RAM (H5TQ2G63DFR x2). The main device heatsink is epoxied on, so the guess remains that it's from Sigma Designs.
The printed, illustrated quick start guide shows you how to connect your WD TV Play to your TV and to your network. You don’t have to do any setup on the remote control – it just works after you insert the batteries. Setup is a simple four step process. If you use the wired Ethernet port on your WD TV Play to connect to your network, very little input is required from you, just select language and time zone.
If you connect to your network wirelessly, you’ll need to perform a few additional steps. The good news is that the WD TV Play is Wi-Fi certified, so you have the convenience of using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). All you have to do is select WPS setup, and press the WPS button on your router. In just a couple of moments, you’ll get a confirmation message that your WD TV Play is connected to your wireless network. I tested WPS and it worked as described. The gallery below shows the simple setup sequence using a wired Ethernet connection.
Though not included in the box, Western Digital provides a comprehensive 171 page user guide online. It’s not particularly easy to find on the website, so here's the link. It provides detailed setup and usage information for 12 of the most popular included apps as well as full instructions for setting up and configuring advanced features. It’s well worth the download.
As you set up your accounts, such as Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, etc., you can speed up your input by attaching a wired USB keyboard to the USB port on the rear of the device. Pages 27 and 28 of the user guide detail how the keys on the USB keyboard map to the keys on the remote control. The data sheet on Western Digital’s website also indicates that you can use a wireless keyboard. The gallery below includes some setup screenshots.
When you first power on the WD TV Play, you land at My Favorites. I’ll have to admit that the default configuration of My Favorites was a pretty selection good for me. However, if you don’t like what you find on this landing page, you can select the All My Apps icon that’s located just below the time in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. From there, you can select any from one of the 33 available apps. When you select an app, by clicking on the Option key on the remote, you can pin the selected app to either your My Favorites page, or one of six other category pages.
You expose the category pages by pressing the left arrow key on the remote. Alternatively, you can use the Prev Page/Next Page keys to scroll through the categories. There are category pages for My Favorites, Movies & TV, Web Videos, Music, Photos, Sports & Games, and Social & News. You can also move individual apps around within each category.
Similarly, you can edit the icon selection for each category name by selecting from a choice of different icons, letters and numbers. If you don’t like a category name, or, for example, want to personalize “My Favorites”, you can change any of the category titles, too. Browse the gallery below to get a feel for navigating through the apps/channels.
The WD TV Play ships with 33 apps. Unfortunately, unlike the Roku platform, WD doesn't provide a mechanism where you can download additional apps. However, the included apps cover the mainstream services that many, if not most, consumers will use. Twelve of the apps are extensively documented in the online User Manual. Below, I’ve included a gallery with screenshots from some of the major apps, and will comment on them briefly.
For each of the apps that I tested, I confirmed that they were identical on the WD TV Live and the WD TV Play platforms. For all of my tests, the WD TV Play was connected wirelessly to my network with a strong signal. None of the streaming video or audio apps exhibited any signs of jitter, pauses, or buffering issues. Check the gallery for screenshots of each of these apps.
AccuWeather – This app resides in the upper left corner of the “My Favorites” screen. Like an icon in the Windows 8 metro interface, this icon updates with the current temperature and toggles between a screen that shows a 5 day forecast.
Netflix – This is the identical interface that you’ll find on the WD TV Live. It’s adequate, but I’ve seen newer, fresher UIs on both my Samsung blue ray player and my Vizio TV.
Pandora – This is an older style interface for Pandora. As I mentioned in my comparison of the WD TV Live to the NETGEAR NeoTV MAX, I preferred the newer style interface found on NETGEAR’s product.
YouTube – The YouTube interface on both WD products is the same as NETGEAR’s NeoTV MAX. However, the new Neo TV Prime [reviewed] has an updated Youtube interface that makes better use of screen real estate.
Hulu Plus – This familiar interface worked as expected.
Vudu – Vudu is the only streaming service that does a speed test on the first launch to confirm what quality level of video to send. While the other streaming services also evaluate your bandwidth, Vudu shows you what yours measures. I watched one of their two minute free video clips in HDX – 1080P and it looked great. (but I still didn't rent or buy it....).