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Media Players

"Whirp" is a word we made up. We intend to use it as a noun and as a verb to identify and mobilize our effort to build community and have fun with rapidly emerging media technology. By "media", we mean photos, music and video. We have several implementations underway at present:

Our main purpose is to learn how to easily organize media so that it can be played, perhaps experimentally, on the main players becoming available today.

Players we are experimenting with which do not require a computer include these:

  1. Westinghouse
  2. Synaps 15" Digital Photo Frame: superb display, $149, but it only plays items in the order they were saved.
  3. Smartparts
  4. Western Digital Media Player
  5. iPod, iPhone, iTunes.

Western Digital Media Player

These are notes made while learning to use the Western Digital Media Player. Very impressive package for $100 or so. Seems to handle any kind of USB source and either standard or high def TV. There appear to be 3 kinds of content: video, music, photos plus "settings". I'm using a 111gb Passport external hard drive with lots of all of those and all seems to be accessible. Next puzzle is choosing media, evaluating it, and creating playlists.

The media library is stored in a folder at root on the USB drive called ".wd_tv" (e.g. G:\.wd_tv\).

wdtv.cas.md5 32
wdtv.cas 30720
ph.db 7168
ph.db-journal 3608

The WD TV Play media player from Western Digital can stream stored content to a TV by USB port or wirelessly.

As Western Digital expands its effort to link your devices and the content stored on them, it has set its sights on the gadget that dominates the living room: the TV.

With its WD TV Play streaming media player, Western Digital is going head to head with some big competitors. Its media player offers about 30 apps, including popular ones like Netflix and YouTube, but this is hardly enough to compete with powerhouses like Roku, which offers hundreds of apps, and Apple TV, which has fewer than a dozen but provides content via iTunes.

Instead, Western Digital is focusing on streaming content already stored on a computer or external drive. WD TV Play, which costs $70, has a long list of video formats that it can stream to a TV in 1080p resolution, either by USB port for external storage drives or wirelessly with DLNA-compatible devices.

Unfortunately, Apple devices do not support the DLNA standard, so WD TV Play does not recognize Apple products, which are plentiful in my home. To help, I downloaded Plex, a software program that manages content on Mac computers and facilitates streaming. WD TV Play recognized Plex, but could not stream the content. So I moved it to a My Book Live external hard drive, also from Western Digital. After a few hiccups, I was more successful there, although the player could not stream M4V files, a format developed by Apple.

Setup of the media player was simple, and the TV interface was easy to navigate and personalize. Streaming from Netflix and Pandora was smooth, and I was able to post updates on Facebook. The player includes a remote control, but Western Digital offers a free app that turns a smartphone into a remote. My coffee table is littered with remotes, so one less to take up precious real estate is a welcome idea.

For PC users with a large collection of digital media, WD TV Play is a great way to have access to all that content from a TV. Mac users may have to do a little troubleshooting first.

A version of this article appeared in print on 03/07/2013, on page B8 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Streaming Player for the Content on Your Hard Drive.
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Hooking Up a New TV: Which Wire Goes Where ? 
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 E-Mail   Page Top     HomePage    Whats New    Site Map    Web Links    Xfinity    How Whirp Works    Sandisk Sansa Inst    Intel ATOM and Products Which Use It    slideshow    Hooking Up a New TV: Which Wire Goes Where ?    Home Theatre