But the EVA8000 is not just a one-trick pony and while you can use it solely to stream home movies and other clips from your PC or NAS box, you’d be kinda missing the point. Because not only can this box stream digital video files stored on your PC to your TV, but it can also be used to stream and display pretty much every type of media you can have on a PC. One of its main party pieces is that it can be used to control a TV tuner attached to your PC. As long as it’s on Netgear’s list of supported devices, you can use it to not only stream TV direct from your PC, but also to access the program guide and set it to record your favourite TV programs from the comfort of your sofa.
Those digital connections mean it’s also a highly capable audio streaming device. It will stream not only the usal MP3 and WMV files, but also lossless FLAC and WAV files, and even copy protected iTunes and WMV files. Navigation is a little cumbersome, music files, irritatingly, take a moment or two to buffer each time you play one, and it’s worth pointing out that this box doesn’t have the best sound quality in the world (via the analogue phono outputs). However if you use the digital outputs to couple it with your own DAC or multi-channel home theatre receiver, the quality will be as good as your equipment allows it to be.
Also on the EVA’s impressive list of capabilities is the ability to tune into Internet radio, access YouTube videos (though we’re not entirely convinced as to the merit of that idea), view RSS news feeds, browse your photo library based on the folders you have shared on your various connected devices and even access and control your PC’s desktop remotely using the supplied software.
The EVA8000 also has an http server built into it so you can control it from any Wi-Fi Internet ready device without the need to leave the TV switched on (handy if you have a Plasma), or log in remotely to set the PVR record functionality when you’re away from home. It is truly a Jack-of-all trades list of features. The only downside appears that it isn’t the most stable system in the world – scanning for media content across my wireless network caused the box to freeze up occasionally, but this seems a small price to pay for such a powerful device.
The EVA8000 is clearly an extremely capable media streaming system. Not only is it able to play HD video over a pretty sluggish 802.11g network – an impressive feat in its own right – but it can also be used to stream, listen to and display a large proportion of the media files you may have scattered around your network, be they on a laptop, PC or NAS box.
It’s a feature set that many would pay good money for, but with the EVA8000 you don’t have to. Incredibly, you can bag all this for a paltry £192 – so if you’re in the market for a device that draws all your photos, video and audio together in once place, it really should be top of your list.
Score in detail