Western Digital Elements Play
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Price: $239 street (1TB) Contact: Synnex Phone: 1300 100 100
Web: www.westerndigital.com.au

VERDICT: The media player for those who don’t want to use a screwdriver.

So far, media playback devices have been do-it-yourself, at least when it comes to storage. However, Western Digital’s new Elements Play includes a built-in 1000 or 2000GB hard drive along with media playback features.

Output options are pretty Spartan but cover the basics – you get HDMI output, composite video, optical digital audio and stereo RCA outputs. It also comes with the standard Western Digital mini HDTV remote.

What it lacks is networking of any kind. The user interface is basic but functional and this device has a pretty decent codec support list. We threw 1080p AVCHD M2TS files at it, we tossed in DVD-ripped VOB files and FLV videos from YouTube. It played everything without any trouble – no dropped frames, audio in-sync.

Another feature the Elements Play has is a USB2.0 host port on the right-hand side. We decided to rough this unit up by loading 1080p Blu-ray-ripped video on a Class-4 SDHC card, loading it into a card reader and plugging that into the Elements Play. It had no trouble locating the reader or the files on it. It did take about five seconds or so before the selected file played, but play it did and again with no problems.

It’s smart enough to remember your last-position points for each file and it supports up to 32X fast-forwarding and rewinding in binary steps. Video quality was very good with no noticeable aliasing issues on any of our test video clips.It also comes with the standard Western Digital menu system found on WDTV products.

Unfortunately, only the USB device cable to plug it into your PC is provided – the HDMI cable you have to get yourself.If you need one, you can get one cheap here.

Given you get 1000GB of storage, this isn’t bad value and ideal for those who want no-fuss playback.

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