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There's a veritable cornucopia of streaming video players available. While you might think that's great for us consumers, it does make it difficult to decide just which you should pick - especially as there's little that manufacturers can do to differentiate their products.
This puts Netgear's Digital Entertainer Live (or EVA2000 if you prefer product numbers) in a slightly tricky position. At a touch under £100 it costs notably more than the Asus O!Play HDP-R1 and Western Digital WD TV but unlike those devices, it will barely even play 720p content (MPEG-2 is the only codec the player will decode at that resolution), let alone 1080p videos. That said, the player will up-scale the SD content it can play to 720p, and output it over HDMI, and it will play a huge variety of file formats in just about every container you could think of. But don't take my word for it, here's a list:
Codecs: WMV 7/8/9, VC1, VP6, H.263, H.264, MPEG 1/2/4
Containers: AVI, DivX 4.x, DivX 5.x, Xvid, MOV, MP4, MPEG2-PS, MPEG2-TS, DVD VOB, FLV, Matroska (MKV), ASF
Audio: MP2, MP3, WMA, AAC, WMA Pro, WMA Lossless, WAV, LPCM, Vorbis, AC3, M4A, Dolby Digital
Arguably that's more support than needed. After all, when was the last time you acquired a standard definition MKV file? Considering how much content many of us have in standard def, it's not necessarily a deal breaker that HD playback isn't on the Digital Entertainer Live's agenda. Especially if you have a 720p (or 1080i for that matter) television, which then won't be up-scaling the player's already up-scaled output.
There is one other potential saving grace, in the form of a plethora of Internet-based video services. In addition to YouTube, which is becoming standard fare, the Digital Entertainer Live gives access to TV channels streamed from the 'net and the BBC iPlayer. While the former may be a little redundant - why stream TV channels to a TV? - the latter is decidedly useful. The only problem is that the service that enables these features, PlayOn, is a free trial so you'll have to stump up for a licence once that expires.
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