Home Reviews Peripherals Western Digital silently sidles up to smart TVs

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!