WD cuts the PVR in half with a new hard drive

Smart TVs are all about the smart interaction, but they also tend to come with a feature that isn’t as talked about: live TV recording. This feature is nifty because it can be used to reduce your reliance on a PVR, but what do you do about storing your programs?

Most of the televisions sold in the past couple of years have featured a USB connection, with many of them supporting this built-in TV recording functionality. Electronic programs guides are built into the television, and with the record functionality supported by the TV itself, the shows can be recorded to a drive, ditching the need for a PVR.

But of course, you need a drive, and while many of us are content with just sticking in a thumbdrive or portable hard drive and hoping for the best, there is a better way.

Western Digital has this week taken its expertise in AV hard drives normally used for security systems and applied some of that technology for use in recording programs in a way that benefits the customer.

One of the last few companies that manufacturers its own hard drives, WD’s AV hard drives record data in a slightly different way to the regular hard drives it and other companies produce. While your basic stock standard hard drive looks for space in blocks, the AV hard drives store in a circular manner, as if the data was being sent to the drive like the needle of a record went around.

This means the data recording is apparently smoother, and video glitches in saving won’t cause a delay in what you see, with the drive not needing to wait for the footage to save.

While the drives have been around for a few years, they have been used mostly in security recording devices. With the launch of the WD My Book AV-TV, it appears Western Digital is finding more uses for its neat hard drives.

“With the recent influx of TVs produced with direct recording functionality built-in, millions of global consumers will now be able to reap the benefits of recording and playing back their favourite entertainment at their convenience,” said WD’s Jim Welsh.

USB 3.0 is also included, though is more of a future-proofing addition, as few televisions support the faster version of USB.

However, one of the cooler things to be supplied in the box with this drive is the USB 3.0 cable, which is much longer than the tiny cables we see coming with portable USB drives, including many of the ones Western Digital packs into its drives.

The cable on the left comes with the WD My Book AV-TV. It's very long, especially in comparison to the tiny cable that came with one of the WD My Passport drives.

The drive is pre-formatted for FAT32 out of the box, and is certified to work with TVs from a range of manufacturers, including Sony, Samsung, LG, Sharp, Toshiba, and others. Digital rights management (DRM) is also supported, however, and may mean that a program recorded to the drive from a Samsung TV may not play back when plugged back into a TV from a different manufacturer or make.

Western Digital’s My Book AV-TV drives are prices from $139 for 1TB or $179 for 2TB, and can be found in stores now.