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Netgear NeoTV 550 Review

Although this isn’t Netgear’s first media centre, the manufacturer claims to have started again from scratch with the NeoTV 550 so as to build its new device on solid foundations and with plenty of room for future development. The NeoTV 550 is therefore the first media centre in a very promising new series thanks to its high-end decoder chip, full compatibility with copied Blu-rays and an intelligently designed interface.

Hardware: excellent finish

This media centre is compact and well finished but it’s not designed to be loaded with an internal hard drive. To play files you have to hook up a USB or eSATA peripheral, or use the SDHC card reader or play content over a network. As there’s no fan, the NeoTV 550 is perfectly quiet when in use. However, the decoder chip isn’t fitted with an aluminium radiator to keep it cool so you’re best off not leaving the NeoTV 550 in a confined space such as an enclosed bookshelf or cabinet to help prevent overheating.

Pros

General compatibility

HD audio formats: support and bitstreaming

Full Blu-ray support, including Java menus

Content display options: page of covers, coverflow or list

Compatible with 3D MVK side-by-side files

 

Cons

Video jukebox system not as good as in competitors’ models

Ogg Vorbis format not supported

Flash memory (USB key or SDHC card) required to play Blu-rays isn’t included

Subtitles not always handled well

Can’t resync audio or video files

 

Conclusion

Netgear is back in the media centre market with a decent product. The NeoTV 550 has plenty of options, good multimedia compatibility and a nice user interface. If Netgear is on the ball with manufacturer follow-up then this could shape up to be a popular product.

Read the full review at digitalversus.com.

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