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Today’s Show:

WD TV Play Media Player

Media players have become the bridge to all our content. Whether that content is located in the cloud or on a server somewhere on your local network, these media players turn the digital bits into hours of multimedia enjoyment. We’ve looked a few devices over the years and they keep getting better and better. The WD TV Play is the latest one we look at and at $70 (Buy Now) its priced in about the middle of the pack.

Features:

  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • One-touch access using remote control or smartphone
  • Plays your photos and home videos in Full-HD 1080p
  • Tons of Video Formats supported: AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG4, VC-1), MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG4, VC-1) TS/TP/M2T/M2TS (MPEG4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, AVC), WMV9, FLV (AVC)
  • Tons of Audio Formats Supported: MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby TrueHD
  • Image formats Supported: JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG

Setup:

The physical setup took about two minutes which consisted of connecting power and HDMI. Add another couple of minutes for setting up Wi-Fi and that’s it. The Play comes with a remote that is limited in the number of buttons. It has hard buttons for Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu Plus. There is also an app for iOS and Android which provides a bit more functionality.  The last of the setup consisted of a firmware update which added 15 minutes to the setup. Then we were off to the races.

Use:

Like pretty much all the other streamers you are met with a screen that has the installed applications which include: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Cinema Now, Pandora and many many more. You can see the full list here (WD TV Play Online Services).  The content looked no better or worse than any of the other boxes we have seen in the past. It pretty much boils down to what online services you want. That is a decision that is left up to you.

The Play does have something that most other boxes don’t, a Slingplayer for your Slingbox. With the Play you can turn any monitor with an HDMI connection into a TV. Sling did a good job with the application considering the remote didn’t provide much in the way of buttons. If you want to see the play in action scroll down to check out a video we shot of it in action.  It was a bit cumbersome to navigate with the remote but once you selected a channel the video was quite impressive. But to qualify that statement, it was tested with a 2Mbps upstream max. Ara watched an entire hockey game with no issues and picture quality that was good.

Conclusion:

There are so many set top boxes out there and they all do some things better than others. The WD TV Play does a good job with the applications it supports and between Vudu and Netflix you’ll never be without something to watch. The Slingplayer app alone makes this box one to consider if you have a relative with a slingbox in another part of the world or if you want to give this player to a friend who wants to watch your slingbox. Its also a good way to put a TV in the basement or exercise room without running any cables.

 

Projector VS Large Format TV

A couple of years ago we both installed a projectors and screens and changed the way we enjoy movies and TV. Watching movies on a large screen really helps immerse you in the action. Couple that with a good sound system and we believe you have an experience that is better than what you get a movie theater. But what if you don’t want to go through the installation hassle. Can a very large format TV provide a similar experience? What follows is a quick comparison.

Our projector, screen, and installations were slightly different in cost and effort. Braden did all the work himself because he had his walls exposed due to a pipe bursting so his installation costs were almost nothing. Ara hired an electrician to mount the projector and run wires for power and video which added $1,000. Bottom line, our average cost was about $7,500, but you can definitely get away with about $3,000 if you do the work yourself and go with lower end equipment. Let’s look at what $3,000 gets you and how close do you get to a projector experience. We will allocate $250 for mounts and installation so that leaves $2,750 for the TV itself.

VIZIO E701i-A3 70-inch 1080p 120Hz Razor LED Smart HDTV $1,700

Not quite the 100 inch screen we both have but for a family room this size screen will immerse you into the action. This unit will fit on most TV stands so installation costs can be as little as $0. The TV only weighs 78 pounds (35.4Kgs) so most DIY’ers can do this with minimal difficulty.

Pros:

  • $1,300 less than budget projector setup
  • Viewable in bright rooms
  • Simpler installation

Cons:

  • 30% Smaller screen than our baseline comparison

 

Sharp HE LC-80LE632U 80-Inch LED-lit 1080p 120Hz Internet TV $3450

Again, still not the same size at the 100 inch screen but for many 80 inches is about all that will fit in their rooms. This unit may require a new TV stand to support it. Not because of the weight which is about 125 pounds (56.7Kgs) but due to its sheer size. At 125 pounds it can be mounted to a wall without need of any special reinforcement.

Pros:

  • Higher quality picture than budget projectors
  • Viewable in bright rooms
  • Simpler installation

Cons:

  • 20% Smaller screen than our baseline comparison
  • $450 more than budget setup. (but to be fair this TV should be compared to higher quality projector screen setups in which case it comes in at a less cost)

 

Sharp LC-90LE745U 90-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Internet Slim LED HDTV $9000

At 90 inches this IS a front projection size screen. The TV weighs 141 pounds (64Kgs) so you are probably going to want professional installation. Even so, it will cost less than having to rip up your ceiling and run power and HDMI.

Pros:

  • Higher quality picture than budget projectors
  • Viewable in bright rooms
  • Simpler installation

Cons:

  • 10% Smaller screen than our baseline comparison
  • $6,000 more than budget setup. (but in line with many of the better projector setups)

 

Conclusion

Our analysis is kind of like Goldilocks and the three bears. Our largest TV is perfect on size but too expensive. Our smallest projector is perfect on price but a bit too small. Got to laugh that we are calling a 70 inch TV too small but let’s just go with that. Our just right projector, the 80 inch Sharp, gets you immersed in the action without breaking the bank or requiring a complicated installation! Final thought, if you wait until Christmas, the 90 inch may be half the cost.

 

Download Episode #574


Posted by The HT Guys, March 15, 2013 12:09 AM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.