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The EVA8000 is a powerful box for bridging the gap between the digital content stored on your computer and your entertainment center. I was pleased to see H.264 video support; no other box I've worked with supported this codec. Video format-wise, the EVA8000 tops everything I've used so far. Plus, the HDMI connector will be a big feature for many people, although to my eye, there's little-to-no picture quality difference as compared to the component HD cables. The EVA8000 also starts bringing digital content from the Internet to your living room by supporting YouTube videos, Flickr pictures and RSS feeds.

But all is not rosy in EVA8000-land. The box still has a number of annoying bugs, poorly implemented functionality and features of questionable value. I would prefer that NETGEAR support fewer features and concentrate on doing them well.

As far as a comparison to NETGEAR's EVA700, for me, I'd still take the EVA700, mainly due to its handling of ripped DVDs. Comparisons are also going to be made to the newcomer on the block: AppleTV. I've only tried out an AppleTV in the store, but I can make some judgments.

The AppleTV has nowhere near the feature-set of the EVA8000, but it does have one other thing: polish. The AppleTV user interface simply blows the EVA8000's away. It's like the difference between Windows 3.1 and Apple OSX or Windows Vista. Time will tell if the marketplace will prefer polish over an extended feature-set. But if the MP3 player market is any barometer, NETGEAR better get busy polishing.

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