Gadgets: WD media player makes watching your own HD video easier

Oct 22, 2009 By Gregg Ellman
WD TV HD media player

Producing your own high-definition video has become increasingly easier with today's line of HD video cameras. But transferring the content from your computer to a TV can be a challenge.

Western Digital (WD) has announced the new WD TV Live HD for users who want to play any stored digital content, including HD video, on any HD TV in their home though a simple plug-and-play manner. The player also can handle HD video downloaded from the Internet.

The new device is an upgrade from previous models and now has a more responsive interface to watch videos without the need for a computer.

Users simply transfer or stream content from any Mac or Windows system to an attached storage device (WD would love for you to use one of their storage units, of course, such as the WD My Book World Edition).

The storage unit can then be connected to the media player directly through a USB cable, which is then connected to the TV. The video may then be played back in Full-HD resolution.

Movies and photos stored on other USB devices such as digital camcorders and digital cameras also can be connected to the player for viewing.

In a full network situation, the unit also will stream content from popular sites such as YouTube, Flickr and Pandora Internet radio. The onscreen menu makes this simple to navigate.

A recent news release from WD noted how much digital content people have amassed and that most do not have the proper knowledge or hardware to view the content on a TV. The average consumer had 123 GB of videos, photos and music in 2009, which will grow to 1.3 TB by 2013, according to research firm Parks Associates.

The WD TV Live HD media player will play a wide variety of files with no need to spend time transcoding.

An Ethernet port in built-in for wired or Wi-Fi connection giving access files anywhere on the network to play movies, music, and photos. Two USB ports area also available for multiple drives along with HDMI connections.

Details: shopwd.com, $149.99

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As a BlackBerry user, I consider the most important smart phone functions to be quality reception, e-mail access and ease of navigation.

To this day I've never downloaded a ringtone, music or videos to a cell phone.

Verizon Wireless recently loaned me a BlackBerry Tour for a test drive. Several times, onlookers mentioned to me what a great looking device it was.

To me, aesthetics are not an issue. But my curiosity was piqued I heard this more than once. So I went online to read other reviews, several of which also emphasized what a great looking BlackBerry this is.

The important part to me was that the phone worked great. For current BlackBerry users, the navigation remains pretty simple. Setting up e-mail takes minutes and works flawlessly.

The keyboard worked great, and the key spacing was just right. Everything is clear on the 480 x 360 screen. The screen is a real asset for viewing photos taken with the 3.2 megapixel camera.

The trackball remains a key feature, though it has a different feel than what I have on my personal BlackBerry 8330 Curve. After a few days I was used to it, but a friend of mine who also tried it out, didn't really like the trackball.

The Verizon phone is packed with all the features you expect and works with the popular VZ Navigator programs. Specifics on features, plans and prices can be found at the company's Web site.

One problem I did have, which I have with many of today's devices, is that there was no mini-USB connection for connecting a power source. It's frustrating that every manufacturer seems to have a different connection.

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On a personal note, Reach in Motion (RIM) recently upgraded the BlackBerry Messenger program, adding a lot of great features.

To me RIM struck out on the photo transferring within the program. What used to be a simple one step process is now very cumbersome. Many will give up while waiting for a download.

The older, simpler process made it quick and easy to transfer a photo in a low-resolution format without the need to download or search another folder for the photo. The upgraded version sends full resolution photos when it's not necessary.

I e-mailed a comment to the customer service address about my concern, but as of this writing have not heard back.

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Wind U210 notebook

MSI Computer has announced the immediate availability of the Wind U210 notebook computer.

The computer is MSI's first notebook to have the AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 1.6 GHz processor.

It also features 2GB of DDR2 memory and a 250 GB hard drive. For users on the go, it has an energy efficient, six-cell battery resulting in a four-hour life before it must be recharged.

The notebook also features MSI's EDS (Ergonomic De-Stress) keyboard, which containing keys that are 51 percent larger than those on a standard keyboard.

Other features include 3 USB 2.0 and an HDMI port, a webcam and a 4-in-1 (XD/SD/MMC/Memory Stick) memory card reader.

The 3.2 pound computer also is wireless (802.11b/g/n) and is available in white or black.

Details: msimobile.com, $429.99

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(c) 2009, Gregg Ellman.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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