Digital media is the new nicotine – and to get our fix, we’re stuffing our PCs full of music and viewing video on the web.
If you’re anything like us, your constant need for content will make you interested in this Netgear box. It looks like a dull-but-solid DVD player; it is, in fact, a digital media player with 500GB of storage.
You connect it to your network using the built-in Wi-Fi or bundled Ethernet cable, and it can stream or copy all the music, videos and photos stored on your computer or Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.
Like many products of this type (but unlike the Apple TV), installation’s a tad fiddly. The computer-literate will likely whiz through the setting-up of network shares and the like, but for many there’ll be some head-scratching and lost time.
Get through it, though, and the Netgear rewards you with decent performance. Video formats supported include AVI, MKV, DivX, WMV, ISO and more, right up to 1080p (which will stream wirelessly).
Hi-def performance is excellent – with oodles of detail, sharp edges, and balanced, punchy colours. There’s a touch of motion smear at times, but we’re inclined to blame that on the source material.
Music file support is impressive (MP3, WMA, AAC, AIFF, Flac, WAV and more, though no Apple Lossless), but the actual quality of music playback is less so, and can sound a little limp next to the Netgear’s rivals.
The EVA9000 also has internet radio, pre-listed podcasts, and a YouTube portal, making this something of a do-it-all option, even if it does lack the finesse and performance of the best.