For most of us downloading video, music and pictures from the internet is easy, but watching it is another matter, unless you're happy to sit hunched over a computer monitor. Ideally, you would view them on your main TV, but how do you transfer the material from the PC to a TV, which may not even be in the same room? Cables are fiddly and untidy, wireless is too complicated. The solution to the problem is Western Digital's WDTV, a tiny media dock, which in effect adds a USB port and media browser software to your television.
The small, black plastic box has a separate power supply and features two USB 2.0 ports, phono AV, HDMI and optical digital audio outputs, plus a small infrared remote control. Phono cables are also supplied, but there's no supplied HDMI lead.
Simple to use
Having downloaded your media files onto your PC, you transfer them onto a portable media device such as a USB memory card or hard drive (such as WD's MyPassport series). Connect this to the WDTV, use the Sony PS3-style onscreen browser to locate the icons for the files you require, then press Play and sit back. Files can be sorted by various criteria and all the regular media transport functions are supported.
WDTV supports a very wide range of video, audio and picture file formats, including hi-def formats up to 1080p (though it may not play protected files); the video and audio output quality depends entirely on the quality of the files you feed into it, but we found watching 700MB movie files on a large flat widescreen TV perfectly acceptable.
As it doesn't incorporate any media storage itself, WDTV is inexpensive. It's also simple to use, and best of all, it works without any installation or setup (though PC media file conversion software is supplied with the package should you need it).