With cable and satellite prices continuing to rise, more and more people are finding alternatives for watching movies and TV shows at home.
Though consumers can find content options on Smart TVs, gaming systems and tablets (among others), some of these devices may still be too expensive to buy, especially if there isn’t a major need for one at home. Luckily streaming players have also become an option, which typically lets consumers connect one of these devices to any existing TV to essentially turn it into a Smart TV. One such device is Netgear’s NeoTV (NTV200) smart player.
The NeoTV, which is pretty small in size, comes packaged with a remote control, power adaptor, instruction manual and batteries. No cables however are included, which is a bummer considering that it only supports HDMI out, so no analog cables will be usable. There is an optical (S/PDIF) output however, in case your home theater receiver doesn’t have HDMI inputs. The device uses its built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless adapter to connect online for up to 720p resolution, though it does support an Ethernet connection, which lets you watch Vudu movies at 1080p.
Setup was a snap; simply following the on-screen guide and connecting to your wireless network took about 6-7 minutes to get going, after which I was able to get right into the formidable selection of apps. You’ll find such favorites as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, YouTube, Pandora, and Cinema now, just to name a few. You’ll also get access to social apps such as Facebook and Twitter, while a host of other lifestyle, photo, video game and news apps are also available. Sadly no HBO Go was included, nor are there any plans, according to Netgear to include it at this time.
The remote is pretty straight forward, offering up standard navigation button as well as those for rewinding, playing, fast-forwarding, pausing and stopping. You’ll also see a home and menu button as well as one for power. I would’ve liked to have seen a numeric keypad however, in order to have an easier search query. Fortunately Netgear offers an iOS and Android app that lets you use your device as a remote – a nice option.
Having used the NeoTV for a few weeks, I can happily say that the device performed quite well. Netflix movies came in crystal clear while music from Pandora into my surround system was solid. What the device also has going for it is its small price tag – only $49.99, which is certainly a lot cheaper than a gaming system or even other smart players on the market that will get closer to (or over) $100. Surely, those other players will have additional features but again, you can’t beat $50.