Netgear EVA8000 network media player
Now with Matroska support
Review The EVA8000 was a high-end product when it was announced, bundling HDMI with 1080P HD playback. But the video encoding world moves quickly. It may have been suitable when HD standards were emerging, but a few months later the situation looks decidedly different.
H.264 has emerged as the HD codec of choice, although you'll also find material encoded with Microsoft's VC1 codec out there as well. Both are used on HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. MPEG 2 is still hanging in there, but for HD material it's really not up to the job.
Netgear EVA8000: no MKV support - yet
Although the EVA8000 supports a vast array of codecs, including H.264, VC1, WMV, Xvid, Divx and WMV, it's in containers where the shipping model falls short. A container format is simply a file structure for bundling up encoded audio and video. AVI is probably the best known, but others include WMV, MPEG 4 and QuickTime. The container format doesn't dictate which codec is used, so you can have an AVI that contains video encoded in Divx and another AVI with video compressed in MPEG 2, for example.
As HD content has become more widely available, Matroska - aka MKV - has emerged as one of the most in-demand container formats. Matroska has been around since 2002 and is open source, so it can be used by anyone and isn't tied to any restrictive licensing agreements.
Out of the box, the EVA8000 doesn't support MKV files - you can't even see them when browsing your network because of the way the machine indexes files. However, although the last official firmware for the device, version 1.2.20, was released on 31 July, Netgear has in the meantime been actively developing a firmware update that does support MKV, along with numerous other features and fixes.
We didn't want to review the EVA8000 until support for this important format was present. So now it is, here we go...
RE: page down
Scott there is a page down button, instead of using the up and down arrows if you use the ones to the right of them, cant remember off hand now but it definately works!
The screenshots in the article are from the unit... i've not used the 7000 but have few issues with the 8000 - a page down button may be handy as some menus can take time to scroll all the way through, but my Logitech Harmony remote adds that feature for me anyway, so no issue!
Hope it's got a better interface than the EVA700
Last may I bought the little sister to the EVA8000, the EVA700. After a few days I sent it back and got my money back because of the most appalling UI. Oh and the Wi-fi didn't work either.
The MCE market is maturing, slowly but after my bad experiences with EVA I'm not rushing in again in a hurry.
They're working on an 802.11n draft wireless add on upgrade too....
There is no need for anything more than 100Mbps network... it's a media streaming device and for the forseeable future there is no media available that requires more than 100Mb, so why fit a more expensive 1000Mb NIC when it's totally not required?
My unit plays 1080p MKV files over the wired LAN without issue too, the standard firmware is flaky to say the least, but get the Beta ones (which won't ruin your warranty) and it's a much improved device.
It's a much, much better device than a PS3 as it's designed as a media server and not a games console (i have access to both) and can handle MKV etc, it also allows DTS/Dolby Digital pass through etc which i don't believe the PS3 can at the moment?
With regard to the media indexing, it can be a bit of a pain if you have just downloaded a file and have to watch it at that time.... i tend to copy the file to a USB flash drive and plug that in, that then takes less than a minute to scan and index... otherwise i copy the files to my NAS and set the system to reindex overnight, thus it's very rarely out of date.
From trying many of these devices in various places, it was the best i can find and it has a very active support forum and upgrade/update process, which few of the other systems do.
I highly recommend it!
The review didn't mention that the unit provides an archaic 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port. Personally I would have expected a unit for HD content to have a 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet port. eSATA 3Gb/s connectivity would be nice too.