All of us want different things from a multimedia device. For some, that means the ability to stream content from popular online services, and for others it means using our own library for viewing on the big screen TV. If you’re interested in doing the latter, and using a wide range of different file formats, then the Netgear NeoTV 550 HD media player has been designed with you in mind. Keep reading to find out whether this is the ultimate media player for you.
NeoTV 550 Specs At A Glance
Average Price: $169.99
Size: 9.9 x 10.5 x 2.8
Connection: HDMI, Composite Video
Resolution: Up to 1080p
SD Card Slot: Yes
USB Ports: 2
Storage Space: None
Web Browser: None
Amazon Video: No
Connect To HD And SD TVs: Because of the ports that come with the NeoTV 550, even users with an older analog screen can connect up to the wide range of multimedia options that this box has to offer. If you have a new HDTV, then just use the included HDMI port.
Format Support: Given that the NeoTV 550 is designed as a media player for your local files, it’s good news that it supports a wide range of file formats. This is something that the streaming boxes like Apple TV and Roku aren’t great at. Rivals such as the WD TV Live and Boxee Box do a lot better, but the NeoTV has the ability to match these and more. The reason why most users choose NeoTV over these alternative options is that it comes with the ability to play Blu-Ray discs in ISO format, complete with menus and all other options. You can also view other videos, photos, and play music on this device.
User Interface: The user interface on the Netgear NeoTV 550 makes it easy to browse through a large library of files. It uses cover art instead of file names for a more visual experience to help you pick out the files you need. The box is also designed to automatically scan your media on networked devices to make finding files on connected PCs and laptops fast and straightforward.
Extra Features: Although this isn’t designed to be a full-on internet device, it does come with a few extra features such as the ability to watch YouTube videos on your TV, photo viewing through Flickr, a range of internet radio stations and podcasts, and some simple apps such as the weather.
Design: The design of the Netgear NeoTV 550 is simple and sleek. Although it may be slightly bigger than tiny options such as the Roku 2, it’ll fit in nicely in any home theater setup, without taking up too much space on your shelves.
The ports on the device let you connect to USB hard drives, eSATA drives, analog and digital TV, an audio receiver and a wired Ethernet connection. There’s also the option to insert an SD card into the memory slot.
No Online Content Streaming: This box doesn’t come with any online content streaming, from services like Netflix or Hulu. Rather than being a media streamer, the NeoTV 550 is designed more as a media player, allowing you to play a range of digital files.
No Internal Memory: Unlike rivals such as the WD TV Live Hub, there’s no storage space built into the Netgear NeoTV 550 media player. Instead, you’ll have to connect a USB stick, USB hard drive or SD card to transfer your files. Given the price, the lack of internal hard drive is a bit of a let down.
No Wi-Fi Connection: In order to connect the NeoTV 550 up to your home network or the internet, you need to make sure that you can use a wired Ethernet connection. This means your TV system will need to be somewhat close to your router. If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to spend a little extra cash on a Wi-Fi adapter to connect to your wireless home network.
Price: When compared to other boxes that can play a range of media files, such as the Boxee Box and WD TV Live Hub, the NeoTV 550 may be considered more expensive given the fact that it doesn’t stream content from the internet like its rivals. That said, for those who want a box to play all of their local media files, the price is affordable.
Is NeoTV 550 Worth Buying?
If you’re looking for something that can play all of your digital movie and video files, then the NeoTV 550 can’t be beaten. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is also a multimedia streamer: it isn’t. Netgear hasn’t put its focus on being able to stream content from popular online services. Rivals such as the WD TV Live Hub are perfect for performing both functions, but don’t quite support the range of file formats that the NeoTV 550 does.
In short, if you want a combination of local media playing and streaming from online sources, the WD TV Live Hub may be a better option. However, if you want a media player that can recognize even Blu-Ray ISO files, then the NeoTV 550 is one of the best options around.
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