The setup of the WD TV is virtually the same as the other WD TV products. You just connect the device to your TV, and, optionally, your wired Ethernet network (Ethernet cable not included), plug it in and power it on using the remote control. There isn't any pairing required by the remote control - just install the 2 AAA batteries (included) and it works.
You'll be prompted for the desired language as well as your time zone. I selected Eastern (GMT -5) and, of course, the clock was an hour off. In the settings menu, you can manually turn on daylight savings time so that the time is correct.
If you connect using an Ethernet cable, you should automatically be connected to the Internet. If you use a wireless connection, you have the option of entering in the WPA2 network key, or using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) with either the pin code or pushbutton method.
After the initial setup, I went back and disconnected the Ethernet cable and set up a wireless connection using WPS pushbutton method. I pushed the WPS button on my router, clicked on the virtual WPS button and the network connection was established within about 30 seconds.
As you set up your online accounts, such as Pandora, Hulu Plus, etc., you can speed up your input by attaching a wired USB keyboard to either of the USB ports. Pages 47 and 48 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.
When you first power on the WD TV Play, you land at the home page shown below. This is a very different presentation that what you'll find on the WD TV Live or the WD TV Play. The default set of choices is pretty good, but you have the option of adding other services to your home page. You can also change the home screen background to other images supplied by WD, or to one of your own photos.
WD TV Home Screen
To add a service (app) to your home screen, you click on the services icon located in the upper left corner of the screen. This will take you to a list of available services, which are categorized to help you find your choice more quickly. You can also scroll through all apps using the Prev Page/Next Page keys or the up/down arrow keys.
When you select an app by clicking on the Option key on the remote, you can pin the selected app to your home page. The Option key will also allow you to move your home page items to arrange them to your liking. The gallery below shows each of the categories that contain a listing of services that you can add to your home page.
The WD TV Play ships with 88 apps. None of the WD TV products feature an app store like Roku where you can download additional apps, so you're stuck with what comes with the device. The only way that you'll get additional apps is if WD updates the firmware to include more. However, the included apps cover the mainstream services that many, if not most consumer will use.
Noticeably missing is Netflix, which is not supported on the WD TV. Fourteen of the apps are extensively documented starting on page 103 of the 244 page User Manual that you can download here.
For each of the apps that I tested, I confirmed that they were identical on the WD TV Live and the WD TV platforms. For all of my tests, the WD TV Play was connected to my network with an Ethernet Cable. None of the streaming video or audio apps exhibited any signs of jitter, pauses, or buffering issues. Tested apps include Videos, Photos, Music, AccuWeather, Pandora, YouTube, Pandora, Hulu Plus and Picasa Web Albums. The gallery below provides some sample screenshots from several of the apps.
Since we last reviewed the WD TV Play, WD has completely revamped the remote apps for both platforms. These new apps work for all WD TV devices. There's also a version of the new Android app that's optimized for Android Tablets.
Rather than using navigation keys that mirror the functions on the infrared remote control that we saw on the previous version of the WD Remote app, the new mobile apps now employ a virtual touchpad. The apps also allow you to arrange "services" to place your favorites at the top of the list.
When you launch the remote control app, it searches for WD TV devices on the same local network as the WD TV device. During the testing process, I had both the WD TV Live and the WD TV devices running on my network. The apps on on all three of my mobile devices found both of the WD TV devices and let me switch between devices.
The screenshot below shows the landing navigation page for the iPad app.
WD TV Remote app for iPad showing the navigation touchpad
The gallery below shows a few additional shots from my Android phone (Droid Razr Max), tablet (Nexus 7) and iPad.
If you compare the chart at the top of the review, you'll note one of the additional check marks in the WD TV column is support for Miracast. Miracast is a peer-to-peer screencasting standard that allows you to stream audio from Miracast-enabled devices like desktops, tablets and smartphones.
While this sounds like a very nice feature, I wasn't able to test it. My Nexus 7 is the original 2012 model. Even though it has been upgraded to Android 4.4.2 and there's a screencasting option under the display settings menu, it's disabled for the 2012 Nexus 7. Below is a list of known compatible devices from Western Digital. Note that Apple devices don't support Miracast.