x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The contest to be king of streamers

The Life: A new device in the UAE links a TV to streaming movies from a computer and digital camera photos, adding another entrant to a small but growing group of gadgets capable of such feats.

The Western Digital TV Live.
The Western Digital TV Live.

Technology analysts call them "over-the-top" video services, although gadget buyers may know this little-known category of devices simply as streaming media players.

Apple TV is the market leader in this space, although rivals of Appple such as Boxee, Logitech, Roku and Sony have released competing models in recent years that can stream digital TV shows and movies from a computer to a television set.

Some can also access websites, a convenience for TV viewers who might want to switch from streaming old episodes of Dexter to updating their status on a social networking site.

An estimated 3.6 million units were sold globally last year in this small but growing market, although 82 per cent of those sales occurred in North America, according to market research from In-Stat.

One of the newest of these devices, introduced into the UAE last month and retailing for Dh499, is WD TV Live from the technology company Western Digital. WD TV Live uses built-in Wi-Fi to access your personal media collection and wirelessly streams movies, plus TV shows or online clips from sites such as YouTube.

The box also accesses digital songs and photo slide shows in case you want to watch the latest family antics during Christmas. Assuming that the video content is recorded in high definition and that your television plays the format, HD can be another handy feature.

Western Digital's box can link to data stored not just on a PC or Apple computer but also to other devices, including USB drives and digital cameras and camcorders. But those who do not yet have Wi-Fi at home will need to use an Ethernet cable to connect the box to devices such as computers.

Reviews of the device through the online retailer Amazon.com have been fairly positive thus far, with customers praising it as an "excellent" and "easily navigable" streamer. From more than 150 reviews on Amazon.com, the box garnered an average rating of 3.8 stars out of a possible five.

The Quote: Apple TV is like a DVD player for the 21st century - Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple