Network hardware company Netgear has taken the wraps off of a new set-top media player called the NeoTV 550 Ultimate HD, which will go on sale in North America this October for 0.
Betanews first started paying attention to Netgear’s set-top boxes in 2009, when it first unveiled a BitTorrent-enabled box called Digital Entertainer Live EVA2000. That device, while useful for connecting devices within the home network to the user’s television, was only capable of 720p output, and had only moderate support for streaming video services. It received pretty mediocre reviews, and didn’t stand out tremendously from the crowd of similar products from Netgear’s competitors.
“We’ve learned a lot since the EVA2000,” Netgear’s Product Manager of Connected Entertainment, Damir Skripic, told Betanews. “It was only 720p and had some limitations with codec support. But we’ve taken it into the next generation and greatly expanded the product.”
NeoTV has full 1080p support and DTS multichannel audio, and codec support includes H.264, Mpeg-2, Mp4, AVI, Windows Media, and DivX/Xvid, among others.
Part of Netgear’s overall strategy for AV consumption in the home is to make internet-connected devices visible to other devices connected to the network. For example, the company released the industry’s first DLNA compliant router that lets users plug any HDD into it so it can be accessed as a DLNA media server. As such, NeoTV can access content on DLNA, UPnP and MMS devices connected to the user’s home network.
The interfaces on the device include two USB ports, an SD card slot, wired 10/100 Ethernet (no wireless.) But the most interesting thing about it is the fact that it’s equipped with an eSATA port, something not typically found on simple set-top boxes. With this, users can attach a Blu-ray drive to NeoTV, and access all of the menus, navigation, and BD-Live content without leaving the NeoTV menu system.
“Any Blu-ray player that can be plugged into a PC should also work with the NeoTV550,” Netgear told Betanews today. “In addition, when NeoTV is connected, it enables BD-Live for the Blu-ray discs that come BD Live content/features.”
So first-generation Blu-ray drives or players without an Internet connection can be turned into BD-Live compatible drives with this set top box, a handy feature indeed.
Netgear will officially launch the product next week.