In April of last year, we wrote up Netgear's NTV200 streaming media player. Netgear's streaming-media suite includes many big-ticket services, like Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora, and Rhapsody. Back in September 2012, Netgear introduced a trio of new players. The basic NTV300 ($49.99) is a replacement for the NTV200, with the major addition of HTML 5 support. The NeoTV PRO (NTV300S, $59.99) goes a step further, adding an analog A/V port for compatibility with older TVs, as well as Intel WiDi support to wirelessly display your PC screen on your TV. Finally, the top-shelf NeoTV MAX (NTV300SL, $69.99) includes all of the features listed above and adds the ability to stream personal media files via USB/DLNA. It also comes with a premium IR remote that adds a full QWERTY keyboard. Netgear sent us a sample of the NeoTV MAX to try out. (At the recent CES 2013, Netgear also introduced the NeoTV PRIME, a GoogleTV-powered player, for $130.)
The NeoTV MAX offers a nice assortment of Web services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU (with Apps), CinemaNow, Pandora, Rhapsody, and the just-added SlingPlayer app.�
Wired and wireless network connections are available.�
The box supports a 1080p resolution via HDMI, and the inclusion of an A/V output makes it compatible with older TVs.�
The remote has a full QWERTY keyboard, and Netgear also offers an iOS/Android control apps with a virtual keyboard.
The interface is clean and easy to navigate.
The box supports playback of personal media files via USB/DLNA/MicroSD.
If you have an Intel WiDi-enabled PC, you can display your computer screen through the NeoTV. (I did not have a compatible PC to test this function.)
The box has issues with speed and reliability The MyMedia app for streaming personal media files is glitchy.
There's no Apps store to browse and add services, and the channel lineup currently does not include Amazon Instant Video.
The connection panel lacks a digital audio output.
Competition and Comparison
You can compare the Netgear NeoTV MAX with its competition by checking out our reviews of the Roku 2, D-Link Boxee Box, and Western Digital WD TV Live.�
Netgear's new trio of streaming media players represents a very good value in the category. For $50, you can add streaming Web services like Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, and YouTube to your HDTV with 1080p output and a wired network option (that's a lower price than a similarly equipped Roku box). A modest step up in price gets you Intel WiDi support, an analog A/V output, personal media streaming, and the QWERTY keyboard. Given the issues I had with the MyMedia channel, I wouldn't recommend the top-shelf NTV300SL for someone who plans to do a lot of personal media streaming. Unless you really want the QWERTY keyboard, save some money and get one of the lower-priced boxes instead. The recent deal to add TuneIn Radio and SlingPlayer to NeoTV shows that the company is actively working to expand its roster. The main concern with the NeoTV is that execution isn't yet where it needs to be; the box simply isn't as quick and reliable as other standalone media players, as well as Smart TV services I've tested. If Netgear can work out some kinks through firmware updates, then NeoTV could make its mark in the streaming-media space.