Conclusion: Setting it up was a nightmare, the device crashed easily, and it isn't attractive, to boot. Still, when it's up and running, the product has an impressive feature set. If Apple TV is for the iPod-familiar, hands-off user, then the Netgear is for the patient, hands-on BitTorrent addict.
Pros: Very versatile media extender. Plays lots of DRM-protected files. Can access YouTube and Flickr over the Internet. Records TV via your computer. Plays content directly off USB drives.
Cons: Crashes more than Billy Joel. The complex setup process may prove tricky even for networking pros. Interface graphics and device itself are ugly. No hard drive. Can't auto-update its media library.
Excerpt: We like Netgear’s EVA8000—a lot. Its industrial design fits in with the rest of our AV gear, its user interface is as elegant and polished as it is easy to use, it supports resolutions up to 1080p with an HDMI port, and that’s just the beginning. But if you buy one, make sure it has the latest firmware update before you do anything else. We couldn’t configure our review unit at all until we updated the software.
Pros: Interface support for popular Internet media; program guide and PVR for PC TV tuners.
Cons: No Rhapsody support; crashed once during testing.
Conclusion: Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 has a lot of potential and when the bugs are worked out I think it will be a very useful product. At this point it is about 80% functional and 20% annoying. I think Netgear has a long way to go, but most of it is with user interface and incomplete features. One of the things that Netgear could do is get rid of the Internet media menu. All the options in that menu appear in other menus so it is completely redundant.
Excerpt: Netgear's Digital Entertainer HD acts as a bridge between the study and the lounge room, putting your multimedia files on your television and stereo system. The EVA8000 Digital Entertainer HD looks like a slimline DVD player and comes with a remote control, but there's no optical drive at the front, just a USB port and headphones jack.
Conclusion: While improved since we last saw it, the interface is nowhere near as clean as Windows Media Center, Apple TV, or even XBMC -- although it is generations ahead of Zensonic's Z500. Fortunately our stability issues have been resolved, with only one crash occurring when the player didn't fully understand a file format. Unfortunately, for a device that's been on sale for around a year it still feels largely unfinished, and is still slow and clunky.
Pros: Fiddly set-up process, Slow start-up and laggy interface, No 802.11n support
Cons: Extensive file format support, YouTube and Flickr browsing, Plays purchased (DRM) music, Supports streaming HD from PC to TV
Excerpt: Netgear's bid to enter your lounge is one genuinely worth considering. It's really easy to set up, finding suitable networks within seconds. Unlike some rivals, it'll smoothly playback wirelessly streamed HD content. Our 720p test videos were colourful and detailed, with no stuttering to spoil the delivery. Also unlike several competitors, the EVA supports protected music purchased from iTunes.
Pros: Stutter-free wireless streaming, access to YouTube, plays copy-protected music files