Netgear shows 500GB media player

Netgear's new Digital Entertainer Elite media player includes a 500GB built-in hard drive.

Netgear Wednesday introduced a digital media player with a built-in 500GB hard drive and support for HD video.

The Digital Entertainer Elite, also known as EVA9150, lets users watch videos, images and listen to music on their TV and stereo. Users also get access to Internet content, such as YouTube, Internet radio, Flickr and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.

The device supports video with a resolution of up to 1080p when playing back, for example, Windows Media Video 9, H-264 or MPEG-4 files.

The Digital Entertainer Elite's disk space can be extended via either a bigger hard drive or an external storage unit. Netgear recommends using its ReadyNAS Pioneer Pro Edition that comes with six bays for potential capacity of 9TB.

The player comes with support for wired and wireless networks. Using 802.11n it can take advantage of the 5GHz band, which isn't as crowded as the 2.4GHz band, according to Netgear.

Features include "Follow Me" and "Party Mode", which lets users pause a video in one room and resume it in another and synchronize music playback for whole-home listening. But for that to work you need multiple units.

Netgear clearly wants to beat AppleTV. It highlights advantages such as a broader support for video and audio formats, a higher maximum bit rate support and more storage, which can be upgraded.

Previous versions of Netgear EVA products have received criticism for the user interface, but Netgear promises a more robust UI in the new model.

The Digital Entertainer Elite is expected to become available in February, and will cost US$399.

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