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Western Digital introduces new WD TV streaming box… without Netflix

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Western Digital introduced a refreshed version of its TV streaming player Tuesday: The WD TV Personal Edition, as the device is being called, combines personal media playback with Miracast mirroring, but there’s an important downside: the device doesn’t have a Netflix (S NFLX) app, and it doesn’t sound like this will change anytime soon.

The new WD TV’s suggested retail price is $100. It looks and sounds a lot like its predecessor, the WD TV Live, and comes with 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as an Ethernet port for connectivity, HDMI, Composite A/V and optical audio out ports and a USB 2.0 port for external storage.

wd tv personal edition back

WD has always put a big emphasis on local file playback with these devices, and the new one also supports a wide variety of formats, including MKVs and FLAC audio files. For the first time, WD is also making an SDK available for developers to build custom apps, and users will be able to sideload some of these apps via the USB port.

Another addition is the Miracast support, which makes it possible to mirror the screen of supported Android devices onto the TV. WD TV also comes with pre-installed apps for YouTube (s GOOG), Hulu Plus, Pandora (S P), Spotify, Vudu (s WMT), Slingbox and many other services – with two notable exceptions: WD has dropped support for Netflix (S NFLX) and Vimeo (S IAC), and a spokesperson told me that there are no plans “at this time” to add these apps to the new device.

That’s kind of a bummer and hard to understand in a world where every half-decent Blu-ray player supports Netflix playback. I always liked WD TV players, in part because of their solid support for personal media, but I don’t see myself buying a streaming player that doesn’t support Netflix, and I’d imagine many consumers feel the same way.

15 Responses to “Western Digital introduces new WD TV streaming box… without Netflix”

  1. Ronald Groot

    I already had the predecessor this device. Works great for streaming local media and we use it for netflix. I just bought this latest model to my regret. I thought it would be the same as its predecessor with more formats added. Instead they have dropped the main app, and no way to add it on!!!!
    This can only be for stupid commercial reasons. Either they want to promote their own apps, or get a lot of money to promote other apps or Netflix charges an arm and a leg… don`t know which one it is.

  2. Mark A. Martin

    Got the same answer from WD today (5/30/14). ! I noticed on the WD website that Netflix is still available for the older WD TV Live product, but not for the new WD TV product. Seems strange that Netflix would not be available for the new product. I held off buying, because I wanted Miracast support. I guess we could buy a Roku also and get it all.

  3. Trust me, you don’t want one of these. The current version is plagued with networking issues and each firmware release breaks something. It is N 2.4 only, an old slow processor, and the menu system is very slow.

    So what they do with new version? Still, N 2.4 only, no new robust processor, and dropped Netflix.

  4. Hello,
    Can it linke up with My Cloud 4TB?
    My current WD Media Live can’t seem to locate it, even though the 4TB is plugged into it!
    Any help would be appreciated

  5. Peter Bailey

    It seems obvious at least to me that Netflix/Vimeo/Amazon streaming are absent *because* of the enhanced personal media/ local streaming options and SDK capabilities on this box. Netflix and Vimeo must have contractual restrictions (either their own or req’d by MAFIAA) that require more limited local content features and/or no public SDK, ie. A local-content-crippled box is a req’t.

    Rather looks like WD is making a bet (probably based on their detailed knowledge of how much large capacity SATA storage is being sold through retail channels) that a user content optimized streaming box will get them more sales than Netflix/Vimeo streaming. Also Netflix/Vimeo are built into almost all SmartTV’s sold today, so Netflix is no longer a must have feature.

  6. To be honest it looks like the perfect streamer for outside the US where Netflix is all but useless. Here in Canada Netflix is awful and some resort to VPN service like HMA and TunnelBear to access US Netflix. Now that many TVs have Netflix built in, a streamer doesn’t really need a separate app. But local media is hugely important as is streaming off a network. And the need for a special SoC that supports DRM is also not required thus a bit more profit margin for WD. It will be interesting once XBMC runs on it. It may be the perfect replacement for a jailbroken Appletv.

    • You don’t need a VPN to access Hulu+/Netflix US, you can simply use a SmartDNS service like unblock-us or , you just need to add their DNS on your router (or windows but the router option cover your entire home network) and voilà, you automatically bypass any geographic restriction.

      • dougo13

        Not where I live. The Teleco has supplied router/modems whose security features cannot be accessed by the user. The router can be turned off and you can use your own in bridge mode but only at the discretion of the ISP. Look for these devices to become more popular with ISPs as they do not require techs to come out and fix equipment when the user screws them up…