Skip to main content

WD TV Play review

wd tv play review front angle
WD TV Play
MSRP $69.00
“When we connected it…and played a few movies and TV episodes, the video from Western Digital’s box looked dull and washed out…”
  • Very small
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Dedicated buttons for popular video services
  • Dull, washed-out video
  • Doesn’t support USB keyboards
  • Directory listings don’t display file types or dates

It’s hard to keep secrets when you’re forced to display your wares for the FCC months before your product is ready to ship. Western Digital’s WD TV Play first surfaced way back in July, 2012; WDC will finally start shipping the device on Tuesday. Should you buy one?


If you’re primarily interested in supping at the buffet of online entertainment services such as Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu Plus, the WD TV Play is a good deal. Priced at just $70, it delivers those with a touch of the button – its remote control has dedicated buttons for connecting to those services. Although the remote control is small, it’s comfortable to hold in either your left or right hand, and all the buttons are within easy reach. If you don’t like the remote, you can download a controller app for your Android or iOS device.

The diminutive box can also stream content stored on your home network—a NAS box, home server, or your PC’s hard drive. Lastly, you can connect a USB thumb drive or a low-power USB hard drive to the Play’s side-mounted USB 2.0 port and play any media stored on that device. The WD TV Play doesn’t support quite as many codecs as the pricier WD TV Live and WD TV Live Hub (which features a built-in hard drive), but it does support the most popular container formats, including AVI and MKV; all the major media codecs, including AAC, h.264, FLAC, MP3, and all the digital photo formats you could want, including BMP, JPEG, and TIFF.


The box is very easy to set up: Simply plug in the power cord and an HDMI cable (not included). If your TV isn’t outfitted with HDMI, there’s also an analog audio/video combo output (WD does provide a cable for this), as well as an optical digital-audio output. Fire up the box the first time, and the installation wizard will prompt you to log into your wireless router (there’s also a 10/100 Ethernet port, if you’d prefer a hard-wired connection). Enter your password and you’re ready to go in less than a minute.

WD TV Play Review - Rear Ports
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In addition to the destination buttons on the remote, the home screen has large icons for a variety of other online services, including the ubiquitous YouTube. And if you have a set-top box that supports the Slingbox (or if you have a dedicated Slingbox device), WDC’s new box can also perform as a Slingplayer.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

We have no complaints about the WD TV Play’s service code, container, and service offerings, but its image quality left a lot to be desired. When we connected it to our 55-inch Panasonic Viera TC55LE54 LCD HDTV and played a few movies and TV episodes, the video from Western Digital’s box looked dull and washed out in comparison to the pricier Netgear NeoTV Max.

We have no such qualms about its audio quality, considering it supports both Dolby Digital Plus (popular with streaming services such as Vudu and Netflix) and Dolby True HD (the audio format used in many Blu-ray releases). One audio feature you won’t get, however, is support for DTS, an equally common surround-sound format used on Blu-ray disc releases. On the music side of the equation, you’ll find support for a number of popular music services, including Spotify and Pandora, but there’s no love for Rhapsody or Slacker.


We suppose $70 is the right price for the WD TV Play, since it delivers 1080p video resolution plus the USB and Ethernet ports that the Roku 2 lacks for $10 less (Roku has two players with even lower price tags, but they’re both limited to 720p and are missing the same I/O ports). We’re just having a hard time being enthusiastic about the WD TV Play’s video quality.


  • Very small
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Dedicated buttons for popular video services


  • Dull, washed-out video
  • Doesn’t support USB keyboards
  • Directory listings don’t display file types or dates

Editors' Recommendations

Michael Brown
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Best QLED TV deals: Save on TCL, Samsung, Vizio, and more
The Hisense U6H ULED 4K TV in a living room.

Home theater shoppers need to direct their attention to the TV department right now, as it’s a good place to land some big savings. In particular, QLED TVs are seeing some awesome discounts, with brands like TCL, Hisense, and Samsung offering QLED TVs as low as $250. QLED is one of the best picture technologies on the market, so you can be sure you’re getting an impressive viewing experience with any one of these TVs, and right now, they make up the best QLED TV deals available.
Best TCL QLED TV deals

TCL has become one of the more popular TV brands on the market because it provides a lot of great smart TV features at a decent price point. In other words, great value lands front and center when you add a TCL TV to your home theater. You’ll find a range of TCL QLED TVs seeing discounts, and despite its affordable price point, TCL still manages to deliver when it comes to smart features and content management, which are handled through Google TV smart OS.

Read more
Best Sony TV deals: Save on best-in-class 4K TVs and 8K TVs
Sony Z8H TV

Sony is responsible for some of the best TVs money can buy right now with pretty much anything with the Sony name to it worth your time and money. It's a name you should seek out among the TV deals going on as the downside to the greatness is that Sony is rarely a cheap brand. Discounts are fairly slim often but it's worth narrowing them down. We've done the hard work for you by picking out the best Sony 4K TV deals at the moment along with the best Sony 8K TV deals too. While 8K isn't mainstream yet, if you're looking to future proof, it's a great type of TV to buy. Let's get straight to it and take you through the awesome Sony TV deals going on at the moment.
Best Sony 4K TV deals

As one of the best TV brands, Sony knows how to make a great TV. These days, its penchant is with making the best OLED TVs but even its standard 4K TVs are something special. We've picked them all out so that there's something for every budget. That means if you're looking to save big on a TV for your bedroom or den, or you're seeking a home cinema style experience in your living room, there's something here for your budget.

Read more
Best 75-inch TV deals: Get a large screen for only $500
LG 75-Inch Class UN6970 Series LED 4K UHD Smart TV

If you've been keeping a close eye on TV deals with a plan to upgrade to a 75-inch TV, there's no need to look through smaller (or bigger) models. That's because we've picked out all the best 75-inch TV deals and placed them on one page -- this one. A 75-inch TV is perfect for the larger living space or den with many models available including some cheaper options and some truly high-end models that will feel cinematic in scope. If you're keen to learn more, keep reading while we take you through the best 75-inch TV deals currently around.
Our favorite 75-inch TV deal

Being able to buy a 75-inch TV for under $500 was a fantasy not that long ago but these days, it's possible. That TV is the Hisense 75-inch A6 Series 4K TV for $500 at Best Buy, reduced from $580 so you save $80. As Hisense is one of the best TV brands around, you're getting great value for money here. The TV has Dolby Vision, HDR and HDR10 support, along with a dedicated game mode which provides you with variable refresh rates and an auto low latency mode too. Other useful extras include a sports mode which smooths out motion, while there's Google Assistant support and Chromecast built-in too. It's a reliable all-rounder for your living room at a fantastic price.

Read more