Netgear readying two new HD media players

And new HomePlug AV adapters

NETGEAR IS GETTING ready to unleash two new HD capable media players unto the world and judging by the specs, we’re looking at two very capable devices here. At the same time Netgear is also about to launch two additions to its range of HomePlug AV adapters of which the high-end model is said to offer a theoretical transfer speed of 500Mbit/s.

The details of the two new media players were leaked by Slashgear and although both models are HD capable, there are some differences between the two models. The entry level model is the NeoTV 350, while the high-end model is called the NeoTV 550. Both units appear to be very compact in design, although not quite as small as Netgear’s curren’t EVA2000. Common features between the two includes a front USB 2.0 port, wired 10/100Mbit Ethernet, HDMI 1.3a, component and composite TV output and optical S/PDIF output.

The NeoTV 350 also features two rear USB 2.0 ports and a front mounted card reader that accepts various types of SD, MemoryStick and xD cards. The NeoTV 550 offers up a single rear USB 2.0 port, but adds an eSATA connector instead and has a front mounted SD card reader. It’s worth pointing out that the NeoTV 550 has three RCA jacks around the back for the component video out while the NeoTV 350 relies on a breakout cable. Both models require the use of a breakout cable for the composite out and RCA stereo audio. Netgear also offers Wi-Fi as an option via a USB dongle.

When it comes to codecs, both players support WMV 7/8/9, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1, H.263 and H.264. File support includes AVI, XviD, MOV, MP4, MPEG2, FLV, MKV, ASF, RM and RMVB as well as DVD, VOB and ISO files. The NeoTV 550 also adds support for DivX, AVCHD (for M2TS and MTS files), MP1, MP2, MPG and DVR-MS. Both drives also appear to support USB Blu-ray drives, although the NeoTV 350 doesn’t support Blu-ray menus and some subtitles. Both models will also play DVDs off a USB attached DVD drive, although it’s not clear if all Blu-ray and DVD drives are supported.

Most audio formats are also supported such as Dolby Digital AC3, DTS 5.1, MP3, WAV, PCM, LPCM, WMA, WMA Pro, AAC, FLAC, MKA, OGG and APE. The NeoTV 550 further supports Dolby Digital Plus, TrueHD, DTS 2.0+, DTS HD 7.1 and DTS HD MA 7.1, although an external decoder is needed for these formats. Subtitle support includes SRT, SMI, SSA, SUB, TXT and PGS files as well as standard DVD subtitles. Finally both players will display JPEG, BMP, PNG and TIFF images, although the NeoTV 350 also supports GIF images.

Both players also support internet connectivity and will stream various services. The NeoTV 350 offers music streaming from lastfm as well as photos from Flickr and Picasa. The NeoTV 550 will stream music from Shoutcast and Radiotime and pictures from Flickr and Netgears Readynas products, but oddly enough it doesn’t seem to support the lastfm or Picasa. Additionally the NeoTV 550 will also stream video from YouTube and an upcoming EMEA video on demand service called Acetrax. We don’t have any details as to who Netgear will be working with in the US for video on demand. Finally the NeoTV 550 comes with a more advanced remote control than the NeoTV 350.

As for Netgear’s new HomePlug AV products we’re looking at the XAVNB2001 Powerline AV 200 Wireless-N Extender kit, the XAVB5001 Powerline AV 500 adapter (and kit) and the XAV5501 Powerline AV+ 500 adapter (and kit). The latter two models support theoretical speeds of up to 500Mbit/s. The 500 products are actually using the “Gigabit” HomePlug AV standard, albeit Netgear is being a bit more honest in terms of the speed. The plus models feature a plug-through filtered power socket which allows you to plug something else into the socket that’s occupied by the adapter. Finally the XAVNB2001 Powerline AV 200 Wireless-N Extender kit features built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and is meant to work as a wireless network extender for those having problems getting their Wi-Fi signal to reach every corner of their home.

The NeoTV 350 is available for pre-order in the UK for £98.68 ($152.70) while the NeoTV 550 is listed for £153.20 ($237) again on pre-order, although the MSRP for the NeoTV 550 is said to be $219.99 according to Slashgear. The XAVNB2001 kit is said to be available in October with an MSRP of $169. The XAVB5001 kit should also be available in October with an MSRP of $159 (with a single adapter setting you back $89), while the XAV5501 kit won’t arrive until November with an MSRP of $179 (with a single adapter costing $99).S|A

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