Advice on home media / smart tv / wd hard drive

I am confused by the multiple choices of products out there now. My requirements are simple.I want to move to an internet enabled television. I already have my music on a WD wireless hard drive. I have a hi fi system and speakers. Can I set things up so I can watch tv and stream movies through a Sony 32" smart tv. Connect to a blu ray player. And then connect to my hard drive and listen to music, electing for the audio output to be via my hi fi. Do I need to change any equipment besides upgrading to a Internet enabled television? Thank you.

I can understand your confusion; especially when one trys to take on much of  the “whole enchilada” in a big gulp.  I’ll shed some light, and others here will chime in, too. 

FIrst,  you do not necessarily need an internet-enabled TV to do some of the things you mention (e.g. stream music and movies within your home) , but having one has advantages and opens new possibilities.

Secondly, many “newbies” confuse “internet-enabled” and “network-enabled”.  Although both can provide a media-streaming environment in a home or elsewhere by using the router to distribute data, there is a big distinction.  To stream one’s own media within a home only requires a home network set-up, and no internet is required.  To bring media sources from outside into the home (e.g. streaming Netflix) requires the home system to also have internet access, i.e. be internet-enabled. 

Some TVs and blu-ray players made today are internet-enabled and can do some of the tasks you mention, but since you appear to have these devices, and presumably they are not internet-enabled, you would need an additional piece of equipment to do the tasks.  This is likely why you are considering a WDTV Live product and are in this forum asking your first question.

If, for example, you just want Netflix streaming in your home using the additional equipment, there are quite a few devices that can do this for you; e.g. the WDTV or a Roku player.  I happen to have both kinds of units. The Roku is basically just a streaming device for internet-supplied media (but some models can do a little more) and the WDTV is both a streaming device for internet content as well as a streaming device for media on:  the hard disk you would like to use.  For basically the same price, I find the WDTV to be lots more feature-packed, and therefore a better value if I were to have only one unit or the other.  I also suggest you consider getting the WDTV Live Streaming device rather than the HUB because you already have an external HD you can use.

For an example, I will briefly describe some of the things my WDTV and home network can do.  There are two large-capacity hard drives connected to my WDTV with videos on one and my iTunes music on another.  With them, I can directly send movies and music to the TV, stereo; and via the home network, stream same or different media to or from other computers in the house. 

We even can stream music and some video to the iPhone and iPad in the home via an inexpensive iThing app.  Soon, we will be able to access this same media from the internet, because I recently bought some $29 software called Pogoplug Premium Software that is not yet installed on the PC, but when it is, we can stream media from our home network through the internet so we can listen or see our media away from home – like from poolside in Hawaii.  Even YOU or anyone else could access our media this way if we allow permission to do so!

So, the possibilites are endless today, and tomorrow there is likely more to come.