Feeds
75%

Netgear EVA8000 network media player

Now with Matroska support

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The beta firmware is distributed via Netgear's online support forum - you need to request access to download it. An updated version is generally available every couple of weeks - sometimes more frequently - and the latest release, version 2.0.140, released 8 December 2007, not only incorporates reliable MKV support but also includes many fixes that affected stability in early versions.

Netgear EVA8000 digital entertainer

Hardware wise, the EVA8000 has everything you'd want

However, although the beta firmware expands the number of file options available, it's not without its own problems - somewhat to be expected, given that it's an unfinished version. The most notable of these is that it struggles to play back high bit-rate files without dropping frames or skipping audio. Testing the device with a series of 1080p H.264 files encoded from the open source movie Elephants Dream at bit-rates from 1Mb/s to 15Mb/s showed that the maximum bit-rate the beta firmware could handle when playing back from a USB-connected hard drive was 9Mb/s. The official firmware, on the other hand, managed to keep going up to 13Mb/s before the footage started stuttering and became jerky.

While the results are a little worrying, the issue becomes much more significant when playing back material over a network. Using the wired Ethernet port on the back, playing back the files from a PC connected to the same hub resulted in a maximum bit-rate of 5Mb/s for both the beta and official firmware before the picture broke up. Using the same approach, but this time playing the files over the network with a 200Mb/s Homeplug AV connection in the middle - it transfers the network signal over the mains cabling in your home - the maximum attainable bit-rate from both firmware versions was a scant 3Mb/s.

This is slightly disappointing, since one of the major benefits of a network-enabled player is the ability to store the content anywhere in your home and stream it across the network. If you've got a wired network you might just be fine, but if you're relying on HomePlug AV, then you'll find your content choices severely limited.

Netgear EVA8000 digital entertainer

Network-limited

Part of the problem could no doubt be solved by equipping the EVA8000 with a larger data buffer, but it doesn't even make the best of what it's got. When stuttering occurs, it doesn't pause playback and attempt to rebuffer, but just carries on with jerky, unwatchable video and no sound.

Boost IT visibility and business value

Next page: Verdict

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.