Home Reviews Peripherals Western Digital silently sidles up to smart TVs

As sales of smart TV’s overtake dumb ones, Western Digital (WD) is enabling a little appreciated feature, personal video, sometimes called USB, recording, with its new My Book AV-TV external hard disk.

You can plug most USB sticks and external hard disks into a smart TV and use it as a storage device. The problem is that these often fail because they are not AV rated.

AV rating (called ATA-7 AV) covers a multiple of issues:

  • Drives are designed to run 24x7 (standard hard disks and USB flash are not)
  • Drives run quieter and don’t have a cooling fan – won’t interfere with TV listening
  • Use less power – greener and cooler
  • Uses a different write pattern (elevator algorithm) designed to help keep large video files contiguous – not as fragmented as normal PC drives. This reduces head and actuator movement and increases read speeds.
  • Supports multiple HD streams e.g. record one program and watch another at the same time (requires a TV with dual tuners and the USB 3.0 interface also assists. USB 2.0 may limit HD streams).
  • Has different error correction algorithms and will skip lost pixels instead of trying to recover them (important for smooth playback)
  • Will work upright or on its side

The drive has been recommended by Panasonic, Sony, Sharp, LG, Toshiba, Samsung, and should work with any smart TV with a USB 2.0 or 3.0 socket and PVR functionality. It can be attached to DVD/Blu-ray players with tuner and PVR features.

A word of caution: The drive has DRM (digital rights management) and recorded TV content can only play back on the same device – it is not a USB network attached storage drive.

My Book AV-TV comes in 1TB (approx. 120 hours HD recording) or 2TB capacity for AU$139 and $179 respectively and is sold via JB Hi-Fi and Bing Lee.

Opinion

Some 99.7% of Australian households now have digital TV’s - 55% of these have PVR functionality so it is a large market for WD. The AV-TV is just a hard disk drive – apart from the DRM issue it does nothing more than store content so it is a good plug and record compromise to buying a dedicated HDD recorder.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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