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.
Summary: While it's not as slick as Apple TV and its performance isn't flawless, the Netgear EVA8000's awesome array of features should delight tech-savvy digital media hounds.
Pros: Extensive format support for a wide variety of audio and video files, including high-def content; streams purchased iTunes songs from Windows PCs; lightning-fast onscreen user interface; streams YouTube videos, public Flickr photo galleries, and Internet radio straight to your TV; can schedule TV shows and stream recorded content from PCs with TV tuners; excellent connectivity options provides compatibility with all TVs and stereo systems.
Cons: No 802.11n Wi-Fi, and wireless performance was not flawless; protected iTunes songs take 15 seconds to load; interface isn't quite as simple as Apple TV's; would occasionally freeze up and require unplugging and plugging back in; large compared to Apple TV; no built-in hard drive.
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