Netgear clearly knows a good thing when it sees it, because the forthcoming and newly leaked Digital Entertainer Elite seems unerringly similar to the Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player but a bit wider and flatter. Inside, though, it's a pretty much indistinguishable all-singing, all-dancing, all-format playing media streamer. I see a showdown coming.
Actually, there are a few areas where the Digital Entertainer Elite wins over the WD. Foremost, the DEE is not only able to play near enough every format under the sun (which the WD TV HD also can) but is also able to stream said files over a network, either wired or wireless. By packing Draft-N wireless, Netgear reckons it can boast up to a 40mbps data rate - about what most Blu-ray discs use. Streaming from Windows and Linux PCs and Macs is supported as well as UPnP-enabled NAS devices.
Of course there are also USB ports on the device, allowing locally connected video and audio files to be played. Further still, the DEE has a built in drive bay so any amount of local storage (that can be bought in a single 3.5in drive) can be added to it. It would almost be easier to list what the thing can't do. Just check out the comparison table below.
Common consensus about the web seems to be that a CES launch is likely, and I agree. As discussed in our recent Media Machines the only alternative offering the same feature set is a media centre PC, so as long as the price is right I think I know what I'll be asking for when my birthday rolls around in February.