Netgear at CES

Netgear proves that it can do far more than just networking.

Netgear continues its transition from networking stalwart to consumer friendly gadget manufacturer. The star of Netgear’s CES line-up was the EVA8000 Digital Entertainer HD, which solidifies Netgear’s desire to live in the consumer electronics space as well as the IT arena.

In essence, the Digital Entertainer HD (or DE-HD) is a wireless digital media adapter, but one with high definition video as the order of the day. The key to its high definition credentials is the inclusion of an HDMI port, which can output video at resolutions up to 1080i.

The list of codec support is impressive:

”’Video – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI, WMV, XviD.

Audio – MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC (unprotected), FLAC.

Photo – JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF.”’

Netgear is trying to make the DE-HD as consumer friendly as possible – when you fire up the DE-HD it will automatically search your home network for any media files and add them to its list. You can even pull media direct from any NAS appliances that you may have on your network.

If you’ve got a PC with a TV tuner, you can configure the DE-HD to control that device and schedule recordings, and then play them back without ever going near the PC. The DE-HD can also stream, pause and rewind live TV from your tuner equipped PC.

Of course if you don’t want to drag something across the network, you can also playback media directly from USB devices, whether that be a memory key or your iPod. You can even control the DE-HD from anywhere in the world via a web browser and the supplied software.

The Digital Entertainer HD is 802.11g compliant and features dual antennas for the best possibly wireless reception. That said, I still find even 802.11g not up to the job of smooth video streaming, let alone smooth HD video streaming. Netgear is clearly aware of this and has included an Ethernet port, and even went as far as saying that an Ethernet over power connection could be a better option for video streaming.

As well as the HDMI port, the Digital Entertainer HD also sports component video, S-Video, Scart, composite, analogue audio out and SPDIF in both optical and coaxial formats. That’s a pretty impressive AV connectivity list for a product from a networking company. Unfortunately there’s no HDMI cable in the box, but then I guess you can’t have everything.

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