Netgear EVA9150 Digital Entertainer Elite
Looks good, plays well... pricey though
Review The EVA9150 is the latest addition to Netgear's Digital Entertainer family of media streamers and it picks up pretty much where its predecessor - the EVA8000 - left off. The main draw of the EVA8000 - providing you were running latest beta firmware version and not the shipping release - was its ability to chew through almost any file format you chose to throw at it and spit out decent quality video.
Netgear's EVA9150 Digital Entertainer Elite
The EVA9150 uses the EVA8000 firmware as its starting point, and then adds extra features, so you get the same level of file support plus some new additions to boot. The hardware has also been given an overhaul, most notably with the addition of an internal 500GB SATA hard drive and support for 802.11n Wi-Fi.
The case has also been tidied up slightly, so it now looks more at home sat among other consumers AV kit than the wide, thin EVA8000 ever did. The Wi-Fi antennae are now built in instead of protruding vertically from the rear of the unit, which obviously makes for a neater look. Still, this could present reception issues if the EVA9150 is sat at the bottom of a stack of other devices.
The hard drive is mounted in a quick release caddy, so it's easy to get too - just pull down the flap at the front and push the big button to slide it out. There are four screws holding the disk in the caddy, so if you want to physically swap hard drives then it'll take longer unless you have more than one caddy to hand.
The EVA9150 comes with all the ports and connectors you'd expect to find; HDMI and Component Video for HD output, plus Scart, S-Video and composite for standard def. There are also coax and optical connectors for digital audio, regular analogue phono outputs and a wired Ethernet port plus two USB sockets - one at the front and another round the back.
Setup is extremely simple - switch on the unit and it'll guide you through a number of screens to establish the basics, such as the display resolution, Internet connection and your location. You'll then be prompted to install the Digital Entertainer software on your Mac or PC, which provides an easy way to get content onto the device. Thankfully you can skip this step and let it operate as a standalone unit all on its own.
I'm waiting to see what Nintendo will do wit their Wii in this respect. As soon as they role out an upgrade/software to stream media from your internal network they will be tapping into a large userbase v.fast.
Re: Getting there
"Well it sounds very nice - anything that can handle MKVs immediately gets a gold star from me. "
Looking at the netgear site I see " MKV (with AC3 only) "
That seems like a big limit since MKV can contain almost anything...
With the latest update the WD TV is a much better MKV player, still not perfect though.
A PS3 or XBOX360 will do it too
Either of the current beefier consoles will do most of this too with the right free software ( PS3 Media Server) on an existing PC. The PS3 plays Bluerays and Rental disks etc without having to rip them first too. They will play games too.
Standalone on its own
"...let it operate as a standalone unit all on its own."
And what else may "standalone mean", other than "on its own"?
Unless you really need the Network side of things, it's far cheaper to get the Western Digital TV too.... plays everything i've thrown at it so far and with minimal fuss!
Or built a HTPC and do it properly.....