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3rd January by Mateusz Michalik
So my trusty old Western Digital WDTV Live died a few days ago and after numerous attempts to bring it back to life I raged hard and threw it in the bin whilst dropping a few C bombs on it. Turns out that many other Western Digital customers have experienced similar “blinking light” issues with their bricked units. Disappointing. I have since vowed to never purchase WD again as this isn’t the first time their products have let me down.
I grabbed my keys and drove down to the local shopping center. I then waded my way through the post-Christmas shopping madness in search of our next media player. After much deliberation, I brought home our new baby, the Netgear NeoTV 550.
The NeoTV 550 is packed with features, and for the steep price tag of $238 retail that’s what you’d expect. It will play pretty much any video format you throw at it and allows you to connect media and storage via:
- USB (Front and Back)
- SD Card
There is also an ethernet port at the back to connect to your router. WiFi built in would’ve been nice, but unfortunately to get WiFi you need to buy a Netgear Universal WiFi Adapter.
You can connect to your TV via component, composite and HDMI out, although as usual, a HDMI cable is not included.
The NeoTV 550 is designed for both external media playback as well as network storage via streaming and NAS. Like many other consumers, I couldn’t be bothered setting up a shared network device for streaming or a NAS. I prefer to simply connect an external USB drive with content.
The NeoTV 550′s user interface is fairly basic and quite easy to traverse through menu screens to find content on your media device. When compared to other media players I’ve used like the WD TV Live the NeoTV is a lot faster, although it does take some time to index content initially.
+ Plenty of connectivity options
+ Great build quality
+ A nice remote (with glow in the dark buttons, oooh), not some piece of crap remote that is churned out and re-branded across 50 other devices
+ Fast menu navigation and playback
+ HDMI and S/PDIF out
+ Support for AVCHD format
- Lack of WiFi without additional adapter
- No HDMI cable, but what do you expect, nothing comes with a HDMI cable these days
- Hefty price tag
As mentioned before the NeoTV 550 supports AVCHD which is a bonus for me as I have a Lumix LX5 camera which shoots native video in AVCHD. This makes it really easy to just grab the SD card and playback content immediately.
I tested the NeoTV with various file types and it handled all of them with ease, from standard DIVX and H.264 through to MKV and WMV filetypes.
A solid piece of hardware which is only let down by the price tag. Plays all formats I could throw at it with ease and has a user friendly interface to boot.