Netgear NeoTV NTV550 media player
Netgear NeoTV NTV550 review: A media streamer with great performance
- Easy-to-use menu system, swift menu performance, vast media file support
- Hard to get rid of old network locations, intermittent audio problem at the start of some files
The Netgear NeoTV NTV550 is a small yet stylish media streamer with good file support and a great menu system. It makes it easy to play videos and music off network locations and attached hard drives. We did experience an intermittent audio problem when playing some files, but it was easily remedied.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 2 stores)
The Netgear NeoTV NTV550 is an HD media streamer that's pretty close to being the best in the streaming business. It has an easy to use interface, a fast processor (which means good responsiveness) and plenty of connectivity features. You can use the NeoTV to play files from attached hard drives, and you can stream content directly off the computers in your network. It's a heck of an improvement over the last Netgear streamer we reviewed, the EVA2000.
Design and connectivity
The NeoTV NTV550 is small and it looks stylish. You won't feel embarrassed having it sitting next to your flashy big-screen TV and visitors will likely comment on how good it looks, too. Of course, you'll want to make sure that any drives you connect to the streamer look stylish as well. The streamer can be connected to your TV using either HDMI or Component connections, and there is also an option to connect to an older TV via a Composite cable.
There is an easy-to-access USB 2.0 port on the front as well as an SD card slot, while the rear has another USB 2.0 port, 10/100 Ethernet and an eSATA port. When you connect a hard drive to the streamer it will show up in the menu with a name that depends on the USB port it's plugged into; if you've plugged it into the rear, it will show up as 'BackUSB'. This is a good way of differentiating drives if you have two plugged in simultaneously and don't know their particular model names.
Want a media streamer with a built-in hard drive instead? Check out our review of the WD TV Live Hub.
Set up and menu system
After you've connected the Netgear to your network and boot it up for the first time, it will look for a firmware update and, if it finds one, ask if you wish to apply it. This process takes the better part of five minutes and after it's done the unit restarts and you need to set it up. It may take a while, but the set-up process is very easy — if you can't get it working, then you should probably give up on the prospect of streaming media altogether and go back to renting DVDs from your local video store (if you still have one).
To play media from locations on your local network, all you have to do is share the folders with your media in them (turn off password protected sharing to make things easier) and the NeoTV will find and list media from them in a jiffy! Media can be accessed quickly by pressing the 'Video', 'Music', or 'Photo' buttons on the remote control, and the NeoTV does a great job of segregating and sorting all the media it finds. Furthermore, media found on hard drives and at network locations is shown in the same list, which is very handy as it means you don't have to browse folders to find what you're looking for. You can always browse folders anyway, if you don't want to browse through a long list of files.
The menu system is similar to the one found in older Netgear streamers such as the EVA8000, but it has undergone a glossy update. We really like the way it looks, but most of all we like how it performs. It's a very swift menu system, and navigating from one area to another doesn't take a long time. Even the indexing of files doesn't take a long time — not as long as it used to take with the EVA8000, for example. You can play files individually by hitting the OK button on the remote, or you can play files in series by pressing the play button while you are at the file listing.
There are few little touches to the menu system that we like. For example, it marks files so that you know, at a glance, which files have been fully watched or half-watched. This way you know where you're up to or what files you've missed. Furthermore, a bunch of half-played files might be an indicator to you that those files aren't worth watching and you should just delete them. We like the fact that when you listen to music you are given the choice to either display the music's info on the centre of the screen, or to invoke the screen saver.
In addition to watching your own media, the NeoTV can be used to view YouTube clips (including H.264-encoded high-definition YouTube files), and it can access Flickr and streaming radio stations. All these features worked in our tests.
There are some annoyances though. The biggest one is the NeoTV's inability to forget or let you delete a network location. Previously shared folders that you may have abandoned for newer folders will still show up in the menu and there is no option to delete them. The only thing you can do is restore the streamer to its default factory settings and start again from scratch.
The remote control is a huge improvement over the remotes shipped with previous Netgear streamers: It's much bigger, and it has segregated number keys, arrow keys, volume keys and playback keys.
The only thing that would make the remote better is a backlight so that you can see what you're pressing in the dark. But because the keys are segregated, it makes it easier to memorise key locations and feel your way around it.
The NeoTV NTV550 played everything we threw at it: Divx, Xvid, MPEG4, H.264, MKV, MOV, VOB. It will even play ISO files from Blu-ray discs, and it's compatible with Profile 2.0. Check the specs page for a full listing of all the formats it supports. However, some files didn't start playing correctly; they had a lot of echo that could only be removed by forwarding the file a little then hitting play again. It was frustrating, and it seemed to occur mainly on H.264 files.
While it's operating, the NeoTV uses around 10 Watts of electricity. While it's in standby mode (which is pretty much always), it consumes a hefty 7W of electricity. You can use a device such as the Belkin Conserve Insight to measure the electricity consumption of your home entertainment gear.
Despite a couple of little blemishes, the Netgear NeoTV NTV550 is a solid network streamer that's very easy to use. We like its style and features and it performed as it should in our tests. At $249, it's $100 more than smaller media streamers such as the Seagate GoFlex TV and Buffalo LinkTheatre LTV100, but because of its better media handling and menu performance, we think it's a much better buy.
Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook
Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide
Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 2 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 3 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 4 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
- 5 Microsoft Lumia 640 review: Honouring Nokia's legacy
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Google quietly kills its Nexus Player as Chromecast overshadows Android TV
- How to customize the Apple TV (fourth-generation) home screen
- YouTube's Content ID program finally provides for ad revenue during disputes
- Sony cranks up optical disc storage to 3.3TB
- Hands-on with Surface Hub: Microsoft's huge tablet has some productivity holes
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTOPEN _ ASAP_Technical Specialist COEACT
- CCiOS Developer x 2NSW
- CCProject Manager NetworksNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst or Information AnalystNSW
- FTAzure ConsultantQLD
- FTLinux System EngineersNSW
- CCSecurity Administrative Support OfficerACT
- CCFront end and Full Stack DevelopersNSW
- CCData Center ArchitectNSW
- FTBusiness AnalystVIC
- FTNV2 Defence Project Manager | Canberra | Major exciting White Paper projectsNSW
- CCNetwork Consultant - Bandwidth Assessment | 3 month contract into Defence | NV1+ACT
- FTProduction ConsultantVIC
- CCTest Analyst / Test LeadNSW
- FTNetwork SpecialistVIC
- CCSenior Business Analyst - Integration Solution ManagementVIC
- FTBI / Business Intelligence Designer / ArchitectNSW
- FTAgile Implementation LeadNSW
- CCTechnical Service LeadNSW
- CCProject Manager - Healthcare DomainSA
- FTMid-Level Full-Stack Java DeveloperVIC
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCAccess Control Administration / Help desk OperatorACT
- CCDomain Specialist | Multiple RolesVIC
- CCInfrastructure Business AnalystNSW