Summary:

Do we need yet another media player? Netgear certainly thinks so, and they added Blu-ray supoort to their new NeoTV 550 device make their case. The company is also releasing a number of Powerline products specifically targeted towards bringing HD video streaming to the living room.

netgear neotv

Netgear is announcing a new line of media players today that will squarely compete with similar devices from Seagate and WD, offering playback of local and Internet content on your TV set. However, the NeoTV 550 does offer one interesting unique feature: an eSATA port that can be used to connect external Blu-ray drives.

Another feature setting the NeoTV apart from its competition is a memory card slot, which can be used to play media from camcorders and photo cameras on your TV. Other than that, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a media player:

  • It’s capable of playing back a wide range of video formats and video container formats, including H.264, DivX, Xvid, Windows Media, and DVD ISOs, with a resolution of up to 1080p.
  • You can connect hard drives or thumb drives through two USB 2.0 ports.
  • It can access content from your local network and supports DLNA, UPnP AV and Windows Media Player 11 media streaming.
  • It can also get content online, but this is currently limited to Flickr and Picasa. No YouTube, no Netflix, no Amazon VOD.
  • You can hook it up to your local network via Ethernet. No Wi-Fi, which is sort of a hassle, but not uncommon for devices like this one.

The NeoTV 550 will go on sale in the U.S., Europe and Australia this fall and sell for a suggested retail price of $219.99. That’s a lot of money, especially for a device that doesn’t have Wi-Fi or Netflix, given the fact that the Boxee box is expected to sell for around $200, complete with Wi-Fi as well as a bunch of online content.

Netgear Connected Entertainment Product Manager Damir Skripic told me that the box supports the necessary DRM and hopes to offer additional online content soon. He said there will be an open-source SDK for content partners available.

The company will also release a cheaper NeoTV 350 device without eSATA and Blu-Ray capabilities in Europe and Australia for a suggested retail price of €129,99 ($164.70 USD).

But wait, that’s not all: Netgear is also preparing to announce a 500 Mbps Powerline adapter dubbed the XAVB5001 that supports multiple HD streams within the same network. The adapter comes with four gigabit Ethernet ports, and it’s backward compatible to HomePlug AV devices with up to 200 Mbps.

The XAVB5001 will set you back $159 for a pair of two, and $89 for every additional adapter. Pay 10 to 20 bucks more, and you’ll even get an additional outlet. Then there’s the XAVNB2001, which uses Powerline to extend your Wi-Fi network, essentially transmitting data through your home wiring to a kind of repeater. That one’s called the XAVNB2001, provides speeds of up to 200 Mbps, and comes with a suggested retail price of $169.

Netgear isn’t the only company specifically targeting video enthusiasts with networking gear. Earlier today, Western Digital announced the launch of ts own Powerline networking kit.

Related content on GigaOm Pro: Why We May Never Reach Home Network Nirvana (subscription required)

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