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Local Media

Even though My Storage is an app just like the rest of them, I felt that it deserves special attention. While many people purchase a media streamer to view online content, they also want the ability to view their own local content, whether it’s their music library, family videos, or photo albums, on “the big screen”.

Both the WD TV Live and the WD TV Play excel at local content playback. In fact, both devices smoke the competing NeoTV MAX. Shown in the two figures below are the supported media types supported by the NETGEAR NeoTV MAX and the WD TV Play. You can see that the WD TV Play is the hands-down winner.

Netgear NeoTV MAX media file format support

NETGEAR NeoTV MAX media file format support

WD TV Play media file format support

WD TV Play media file format support

According to Western Digital, the WD TV Play handles all of the same file types as the WD TV Live and the WD TV Hub products with the exception of DTS audio and MPEG2 video. The other major difference between the WD TV Play and its more expensive siblings is support for network shares. Unfortunately, the WD TV Play can't browse network shares to access content to play. But it will detect UPnP-AV and DLNA servers and play content from them. Both the WD TV Live and Live Hub can browse and play from SMB shares.

In my testing of the WD TV Play, it played all of the following formats without a problem:

  • Movies: .m4v, .avi, .mp4, .wmv, .mov, & .3gp
  • Music: .m4a, .mp3
  • Photos: .jpg, .png, .bmp, and .tif

The gallery below will give you an idea of the My Storage interface

Closing Thoughts

There’s a lot of competition for mid-priced media streaming devices. Part of the competition comes from, of course, the PLAY’s more expensive sibling, the WD TV Live. We took a look at both the WD TV Live as well as Roku’s 2XS in this head-to-head comparison. We also took a more recent look at NETGEAR’s NeoTV MAX here.

To help make sense of the products on the market, I built a chart of offerings from NETGEAR, Roku and Western Digital. I looked at products priced around $69.99 – the price of the WD TV Play. I included pricing from both Pricegrabber and Amazon.

Mid-priced media streamer pricing comparison

Mid-priced media streamer pricing comparison

Let’s get to work and start to eliminate the competition. First, we can eliminate the WD TV Live and the Roku 2XS. They are priced too high to be fair competition. Next, we eliminate the Neo TV Pro – that’s an older version that’s surprisingly priced higher than the more well-featured NeoTV MAX. Next, we eliminate the Roku 2XD. It lacks a wired Ethernet port as well as a USB port. You have to connect wirelessly, and you can’t connect a flash drive. That leaves us with the NeoTV MAX and the WD TV Play.

Frankly, I was surprised at how aggressively NETGEAR has priced the NeoTV MAX. If you read through the review linked above, you’ll see that it’s a full-featured media streamer that even has a QWERTY remote control. The MAX has a lot going for it including support for Intel WiDi and a larger number (108 vs 33) of internet content providers than the WD TV Play. And, it’s $10 cheaper. Unfortunately, its file support for local content is fairly minimal.

On the other hand, the WD TV Play has excellent file support not only for significantly more video types, but image files, too. And, if you plan to connect your streamer to your AV receiver, the S/PDIF (optical) audio port gives you an option that you don’t have with the NeoTV MAX. Both devices have an AV output so that if you intend to connect it to a legacy TV without an HDMI port, either will work for you.

For me, it’s a toss-up between the NeoTV MAX and the WD TV Play. If you’re stuck at the $70 price point it all comes down to how you intend to use the device. If streaming internet content is most important to you, go with the NeoTV MAX and save yourself $10. But since I have a large library of media files with a wide variety of video file types, the excellent local file playback support tips the balance to the WD TV Play for me.

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