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Feature Tour

The WD TV has four main menu settings: Videos, Music, Photos and Settings. In general, the menus used in the WD TV were attractive and easy to navigate through. Figure 3 shows the top-level settings menu.

WD TV Settings

Figure 3: WD TV Settings

The WD TV has a number of different settings for standard items such as video resolution, screensaver timeout, display language, etc. and I won't attempt to go through them all. But I'll touch on a couple of the more interesting ones.

One nice capability found in the Settings menu is File management. Using these menus, you can copy, move, and delete a file or groups of files. It can be a little awkward since you're doing this all with the remote. But it can be handy in a pinch when trying to arrange your files so that they show up the way you want them to and you don't want to unplug the disk and re-plug it into your computer. Figure 4 shows a menu where the user is being asked to select the destination folder by using the right remote button.

WD TV File Management

Figure 4: WD TV File Management

The file management worked, but along with being a little bit awkward, there were quirks. Each file operation I performed queued up a new five- minute re-scan of my entire 500 GB external USB drive. The box was usable during this scan, but menu navigation was definitely sluggish until the scan was complete.

Another interesting setting found in the Photo section was "Transition Effect" for slide shows. All too often inexpensive media players have no transition support at all in slide shows and all you get during playback is a black screen between photos. But with the WD TV, you get seven different options (Figure 5) including fades, wipes, zooms, etc. plus the ability to do a random transition.

WD TV Photo Transitions

Figure 5: WD TV Photo Transitions

Along with transitions, there is a fairly complete set of playback options including photo display interval, scaling, random ordering etc.

Once you've got all the configuration options set up, you'll want to move on to see what it can do with all your multimedia files.

Photo Display

Figure 6 shows the main menu for photo display where you choose how to navigate your photo collection. Options include sorting by date, folder, recent, or just having all photos in one list.

Photo Menu

Figure 1: WD TV Photo Navigation Menu

Figure 7 shows the optional auto-generated thumbnail view of a set of images for one of my folders.

Photo Selection

Figure 7: WD TV Photo Selection

Once you select an individual photo, it will display full-size and by using the "Options" menu on the remote, you'll have the ability to rotate, zoom in and out, pan around etc. And if you hit the "Play" button, the whole set of pictures in the current menu will start to play back using the slide show configuration from the "Options" menu. Supported files types are GIF, BMP, JPG, TIF and PNG.

I thought the photo display and slide show capabilities worked well. The only issue I noticed was that during a slide show, some of the photo transitions were less than "silky-smooth" indicating that this capability was stretching the processor a bit.

Music

Figure 8 shows the top-level music navigation menu.

WD TV Music Navigation

Figure 8: WD TV Music Navigation

Like the photo menu, you can manually navigate into your music collection. But since music files often have standard metadata associated with them, you also have the capability to navigate by artist, genre, album and playlist.

For playlists, PLS, WPL and M3U formats are supported. For the music files themselves, the following types are supported: MP3; WAV/PCM/LPCM; WMA; AAC; FLAC; MKA; AIF/AIFF; OGG; Dolby Digital; DTS.

What won't play back are any files that have DRM restrictions on them. Figure 9 shows the display when I started playback for one of my albums.

WD TV Music Playback

Figure 9: WD TV Music Playback

After a few minutes of playback, the screensaver will kick in showing a bouncing Western Digital Logo (it would have been nicer to use the album art). But you can also navigate into the photo menu to start up a slide show that will play simultaneously with your music. Nice.

Album-art display was a bit hit and miss. Most of my files that had associated art showed up, but not all. If you have trouble with album-art and thumbnails in the menus, the WD TV has a scheme for thumbnail display. You can manually set the menu thumbnail to display for both files and directories by creating a JPEG file with the same name. For example, if you have a "Holiday_Music" folder, you can create a "Holiday_Music.jpg" file within it and that will be used in the menu display. This is a nice capability that goes a long way to making navigation through hundreds and hundreds of files user-friendly.

The WD TV can also use your iPod as a source of music. Using a USB cable, I plugged in a standard iPod and my music was found and cataloged for playback. But when I plugged in an iPod touch, it was recognized as a camera and my music was not found or cataloged. This is probably because Apple disabled direct-connect capability on the iPhone and iPod touch.

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