Netgear Digital Entertainer EVA700 wireless media streamer
Pump HD content around your home
The interface is easy enough to navigate through - basically, pick the device you want to view content on and then drill down until you find the file you're looking for. It's far from pretty, though, and lacks the visual bells and whistles of, say, Microsoft's Media Center Extender. It's also a bit slow in responding to remote control clicks, at times leaving you wondering whether you pressed the right button or not.
Once you're watching a file though, the output is very good. Comparing an HD DivX trailer of Madagascar to the SD version showed much more detail and a crisper image.
The EVA700 can also handle both SD and HD files in Xvid format, should you happen to have any content encoded with that codec. It can also turn its hand to WMV and MPEG 1, 2 and 4 formats.
That said, there was a slight issue with 1080i WMV content resulting in black bars at the side of the screen and the image stretched vertically. The same content encoded at 720p played back without any problems. Switching output from 720p to 1080i didn't rectify the problem.
In addition to video, the EVA700 can also play music in MP3, WAV, WMA, M3U and AAC formats as well as display JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF and GIF images. But there's no support for iTunes-downloaded songs, alas. Content from Plays For Sure services should have no problem.
The included remote control works, but lacks the consumer-friendly touch a home electronics manufacturer like Sony or Philips would bring to the party. All the buttons you need are there, it's just a case of finding them. As for the silver box itself, it shouldn't standout beside most lounge kit, although those two stick-up Wi-Fi aerials do ruin the overall look. Size-wise it's roughly the same as a compact DVD player.
The £200 recommended price tag is also a little steep, although fish around online and you should be able to pick it up for around £50 less.
Netgear's Digital Entertainer EVA700 is a competent media streamer with good format support. It's a welcome additional HD source too, but it's not without its problems. The ugly interface and basic remote control you can learn to live with, but the issues with 1080-resolution WMV content are more worrying. ®
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