|At a Glance|
|Product||Netgear Digital Entertainer (EVA700)|
|Summary||Streaming 1080i HD media adapter with wide format support, but little visual pizazz.|
|Pros||• Supports large number of media formats
• Wired and wireless support
• Follows UPnP AV standard
• Compatible with the open-source Wizd server
|Cons||• Bland user interface
• Inconsistently appearing screensaver
• No DVI or HDMI output
Update 10/25/2006: Product does support WPA2-PSK wireless security.
It has been about a year and a half since I reviewed Netgear's MP115. The MP115 was a little networked media adapter that had some nice features, but was less than ideal for me because it also had a number of issues with my digital media collection. Since that review, I've had the chance to try out quite a few network media players. I'm finding that with many of the newer devices on the market, network protocols are being standardized and more of my media collection is being supported. In this review, I'll take a look at the EVA700, which is the newest offering from Netgear.
The EVA700 plays a wide variety of media types, uses standard network protocols, and supports high-definition video. Figure 1, which is from Netgear's manual, shows the EVA700's back panel. As you can see, standard definition video is supported through either an S-Video connection or a composite connection. High definition video is provided via analog component (YPbPr) connectors in both 720p and 1080i formats, depending on the source material.
Figure 1: Back Panel
It was interesting to see a SCART connector on this box, since this technology is not commonly used on devices sold in the United States. What you don't see on the back panel is any support for digital video using an HDMI or a DVI port. For networking, both wired and wireless support is provided via 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11b/g respectively.
The front panel, shown in the illustration above, provides a headphone jack, a power button, and a USB 2.0 port. Netgear's marketing material says the port can "play files saved on a USB storage device such as an iPOD , USB thumb drive, USB disk, and some digital cameras". Note that any flash or disks attached must be FAT32-formatted or the EVA700 won't be able to read them.
I verified this by attaching my Mac-formatted iPod, which was recognized, but unreadable. It would have been nice to also have a USB port in the rear so that you can permanently attach a drive, but the only port is on the front. So if you want to keep a drive attached, you'll have to deal with the USB cord hanging off the front panel.
Since the EVA700 is designed with a 17" home-entertainment form-factor, it fits right into my entertainment center. To set it up, I hooked up the component video cables, the analog audio cables, and an Ethernet connection to my network. But when I powered the unit up, the TV greeted me with a black screen, a familiar problem with a number of these devices. Usually by default, these devices only generate output on the S-Video or the composite video ports.
I did a quick check of the remote, shown in Figure 2, and found a "TV Mode" button. The remote is not backlit, so if you're used to watching your movies in a dark room, you may have some issues. Pressing the "TV Mode" button a few times, I cycled through the possible output options and got a picture. Then, I started to go through the setup.