With HD streaming still in its infancy, a lot of different approaches are being thrown against the proverbial wall as to how to best get your high-def content from the computer to your HDTV. Western Digital is offering a fairly low-tech method with its new WD TV Media Player unit, which serves as a midwife between a USB-based hard drive and your set (thanks to its HDMI port) for $129.99.
While wirelessly sending HD content to your TV is the home theater Holy Grail, the WD TV Media Player acknowledges that there are a lot fewer headaches with a wired solution. It really doesn't get much more basic than this: connect your USB sources (whether a Western Digital portable hard drive, a USB drive from another manufacturer, a portable media player, a digital camera or camcorder, and so on) to the Media Player's two USB ports, then connect the box to the TV with an HDMI cable. (You can also connect it via an included composite-video cable, though that can't match the video quality of the digital connection.)
The WD TV Media Player also comes with the expected accessories, like a remote control and what Western Digital calls "advanced navigation" for onscreen interfacing with your media. It includes a stand designed to hold a Western Digital My Passport drive, as well as ArcSoft MediaConverter 2.5 software to prepare your files on Windows PCs (sorry, no Mac version included) before putting them on your external drive.
Despite its shiny look and compact size, the Media Player doesn't ooze sex appeal like a wireless HDMI solution, but it does have the advantage of actually being available now rather than somewhere off on the 2009 horizon. Then again, if you don't feel like walking your HD content over to your home theater, you could save $30 upfront and wait just a few weeks for the Roku Netflix Player to start streaming Netflix's HD Watch it Now lineup.