Netgear hits the sweet spot again

  • Easy to use
  • Supports 7.1 Surround Sound
  • 1080p HD picture

You gotta admire a company like Netgear – not only has it been around for some 15 years- almost forever in IT terms- but it always comes up with a bevy of products year in year out that manage to do exactly what they were intended to do.

And 2011 is no exception, with the company releasing the NeoTV 550, a media-streaming device that is so easy to use that many other vendors could learn from this experience.

So you want to bring all your digital media to your TV? Well, with the NeoTV 550 you can and since it also provides easy access to files stored on any USB, HD or SD card, who cares about connecting cameras, phones, USBs etc to the TV- just store it on your NeoTV 550 and watch them when you want.

By wait- there’s more! —The NeoTV 550 will also play your digital movies in HD or 1080p if you like and of course when it comes to the sound, it’s Dolby Digital all the way. In fact, when talking audio, the unit will handle MP3, WAV, WMA, WMA Pro, AAC, MKA, APE, Dolby Digital (AC3) and DTS.

If you are a Blu-ray buff, well no fear, the NeoTV 550 supports that format too and it will also scan your networked and local devices, and even organise your movies, music, and photos—nice- if only it could do this to my sock drawer! The NeoTV 550 even comes with a built-in SD card slot for access to all your photos and videos will also display subtitles for your movies.

When hooking the system up, which should take you no more than 20 minutes, you’ll find Analog TV outputs, HDMI outputs, an Ethernet port for connection to your home network router and a digital audio output via the optical output on the rear.

In fact, the NeoTV 550 is a much better product than the previous Netgear home media box- the EVA2000 which was only capable of 720p output, and had only moderate support for streaming video services. And at around $180, well, how could you go wrong?

About the only gripe I had with this unit was that it would be nice to have extra ports and I think that its time Netgear discovered another colour that isn’t black.

Other than that, Netgear’s NeoTV 550 should be on your ‘must-have’ list this year.

Pros: supports 7.1 Surround Sound, plays in 1080p and is cheap

Cons: needs more ports and could do with a style upgrade.

Rating: 4.5 / 5