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Netgear brings media player into HD era

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netgear eva8000 digital entertainer

CES 2007 Netgear has announced the HD-ready successor to its EVA700 networked digital media player, beefing up that product's feature set with pre-standard 802.11n wireless networking and an HDMI port for easy connection to an HD TV. It also has built-in YouTube support.

The EVA8000 will also support the broad array for audio, video and photo formats the machine's standard-definition predecessor supports. Likewise, the new machine has an array of connectors, including SCART; s-, component- and composite-video; and SFDIF digital audio. It will work with 1080p HD content at that resolution.

Interestingly, the player will pull DRM-protected iTunes-downloaded songs off a Windows PC, but not a Mac. The EVA8000 doesn't have DRM support on board - it grabs the audio once it's been authorised for playback by iTunes. Netgear wouldn't say how it's done - a little bit of iTunes sharing-compatible code courtesy of 'DVD Jon' Johanssen, perhaps?

Like its predecessor, the EVA8000 has USB ports - front and back - so users can connect and access Flash drives and MP3 players - including iPods. The EVA8000 gets most of its content from Macs, Windows PCs and Linux boxes on the network, but it will also access NAS boxes, including Netgear's own SC101T Storage Central Turbo, which sports Gigabit Ethernet, even though the EVA8000 is limited to 100Mbps.

Netgear also pitched the EVA8000's multi-room suitability, claiming content will "follow" the user around the house: press Pause one one machine and pressing Play on another will pick up the content where you left it.

The company also pitched a partnership with BitTorrent to promote the P2P firm's content marketplace when it launches next February. But users will still need a computer to download and host the material acquired from BitTorrent.

In response to claims that the EVA700's wireless networking isn't exactly easy to configure, particularly with secure wireless networks, Netgear said the new model will sport an improved set-up wizard.

The EVA8000 is due to ship later this quarter for $349. The SC101T will become available "early 2007" for $249, minus storage, of course - users need to add their own 3.5in SATA HDDs. ®

Read our complete CES 2007 coverage at Reg Hardware

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