Western Digital Introduces Sneakernet Home-Media Device

Nathan Edwards

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes speeding down the highway." - Andrew Tanenbaum

Western Digital's bringing back the sneakernet with a media player that displays video, audio, and photos from your USB devices on your TV - no networking required.

In fact, the WD TV HD Media Player doesn't have any networking capabilities at all. Instead, this little device plays files from your WD Passport (or other USB devices, although WD would love it if you used their portable hard drives) on your TV screen, in glorious 1080p resolution.

The WD TV includes an intuitive on-screen menu, not unlike a less-cluttered version of the PS3's home screen, wherein users can sort by filename, date, and other tag info. It also has a thumbnail and list view.

We had a chance to check out the WD TV last week at the W Hotel in San Francisco, and, although we were skeptical at first, the idea makes sense. After all, many people have huge amounts of music, video, and photos on their computer but lack either the time, the equipment, or the patience to set up media streaming in their home. Being able to drag your files to a USB drive and take them with you to the living room is a good move.

After all, non-techies understand taking media on a physical object into the living room and playing it. It worked for VHS tapes, CDs, DVDs, even laser discs. It's intuitive. Home networking, well, not so much.

The WD TV's outputs include RCA video/audio jacks, optical out, and HDMI.

It helps that the device will play a metric buttload of video formats, from .avi to .mov to XviD, DivX, H.264, even .isos and .vob rips. And that it supports HDMI.

The WD TV is on sale at shopwd.com starting today for $130. It's an interesting idea, but is it worth it? We're on the case. Look for a full review here within the next few weeks.

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