Home » 2013 Best media streaming boxes: WD TV Play vs. Roku 2 media player

2013 Best media streaming boxes: WD TV Play vs. Roku 2 media player

For cheap access to many movies and shows, Roku 2 XS used to top the HD media streamer market since its release in 2012 starting from $99 only. With its built-in WiFi, support for 1080p and a great lineup of content, the Roku 2 XS is still acknowledged as the best streaming media player in 2013. But recently, Western Digital announced an updated version of their WD TV Live streaming player - the WD TV Play which now trumps Roku in terms of functionality. The article takes a review on both streaming boxes and compares WD TV Play and Roku 2 media player side-by-side.

WD TV Play vs. Roku 2 media player: Unboxing

Touting a $70 price tag, the WD TV Play is a set-top box made for streaming junkies. Its package includes the media player, a remote control with batteries, a composite AV cable, an AC adapter and a quick install guide for you to get started. WD TV Play features the now-standard set-top box design that makes it just as easy to store as its competitors. On the back of the device, the Play includes an HDMI connector, composite AV for older televisions, an optical digital output, and an Ethernet port. If you don't have a wired Ethernet connection available near your television set, you can use the device's built-in Wireless-N capabilities. It also features an easy-to-access USB port conveniently located on the side for external hard drives and flash drives.

WD TV Play

The top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS is a small streaming-media box that costs $100. The package has Roku 2 XS Unit, Roku 2 XS Bluetooth Remote, A/V Cables, Power Supply and User Manual. The two biggest gripes that we have with this are the lack of an HD Cable, and the lack of an Ethernet Cable. To get that high definition experience that’s advertised with the Roku 2 XS, the HDMI cable is an absolute MUST HAVE. Luckily as mentioned in our unboxing video these cables come relatively cheap and you can buy the coupled with your Roku 2 XS device from Amazon for a great deal.   

Roku 2

WD TV Play vs. Roku 2 media player: Apps and Online streaming

The WD TV Play streaming media box touts easy setup and connectivity with a variety of apps. Wetern Digital's player also has content apps from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Facebook, YouTube, Blockbuster, CinemaNow, Pandora and others and also says they are the first device in their category to support Spotify.

WD TV Play

The Roku 2 XS offers hundreds of streaming-video and -audio services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Vudu, Pandora, Mog, Rdio, and MLB.TV. Roku also offers cross-platform search, capable of finding content across major streaming services. The XS model also offers 1080p HD video, an Ethernet port, a motion remote, and a free copy of Angry Birds.

Roku 2

WD TV Play vs. Roku 2 media player: DLNA and local content playback

The WD TV Play can manage and display your own media, via DLNA-friendly devices, all in 1080p. A remote control comes with the device, but there's also a free WD TV Remote application headed to iOS and Android devices -- you'll need WiFi running to get the app synced up, of course. The Play’s localized content feature is what really seals the deal for this set-top box. You can stream all types of content from a plugged in portable storage device or through a network via DLNA. During music playback, you can shuffle through your library and peek at the upcoming song in the bottom right-hand corner of the interface.

The Roku 2 XS, on the other side, brings simplicity to media streaming but lacks support for DLNA streaming, so you can't stream content you own over your network. The Roku box also supports certain collection of audio and up to 1080p HD video file formats and codecs via USB stick, but it is very limited comparing with WD TV Play.

WD TV Play vs. Roku 2 media player: File Formats Supported

While the Roku also has a USB port and supports the local playback of content, the WD TV Play supports more media formats than the Roku including AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/ MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS and WMV9. Western Digital Play supports a myriad of file types, but it was finicky with certain MKV files, however—it wouldn't play some—while other files of the same type worked fine. (Click to learn app for you to get MKV work with WD TV).

File Formats Not Supported: Neither Roku nor WD Does not support protected premium content such as movies or music from the iTunes Store, Movielink, Amazon Unbox, and Vongo. Yet you may use 3rd-party DRM removal software to get rid of the protections and have Roku or WD stream these movies.


Related Articles

How to enable Roku 2 XS to play a DVD or Blu-ray movie?

How to enjoy Blu-ray movies on HDTV with WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player?

My Profile