Looking to get a bit of a headstart on the madness that is CES, Netgear invited a handful or two of media members to a pre-CES showing tonight in San Francisco. While they asked us to keep hush about a few of the items they had on display until January 8th rolls around, they gave us the go ahead to blab away about the EVA9000 Digital Entertainer Elite media streaming box – so blab we shall.
Oh, and for anyone planning on complaining about the photo quality: go cry elsewhere. The room they were showing stuff in was about as dark as it gets before people start running into stuff. While it made the environment nice and laid back, it wasn’t exactly conducive to awesome photography.
Now, on to the good stuff. The EVA9000 is a digital media streamer for your TV, purposed for getting pictures, audio, and video into your living room. According to the spokesperson , it’ll retail for $399 with a 500 gigabyte hard drive – we’ll verify all that as soon as Netgear sends a press release or spec sheet our way. It should start shipping “soon”.
If you’re wondering what justifies the $399 price tag over that of, say, the $329 AppleTV, stop right there. Picture an AppleTV. Rip out the movie rental junk. Up the specs across the board. If you’re not looking for something that you can give to grandma for Christmas, the EVA9000 stomps all over the AppleTV, and does a good job belittling Media Center Extender and the Xbox 360, as well.
So if it’s not for grandmas, who’s it for? Pirates. Netgear wouldn’t come right out and say it, but that really is the biggest market for a piece of hardware like this. I mean, come on – it supports Matroska ( the general format of choice for Blu-Ray/HD DVD rips) and FLAC (lossless audio goodness). While Netgear can write those off on people who just like to have backups, we all know who it’s really there for.
On the matter of codecs/formats, this thing supports pretty much everything I could come up with off the top of my head. AVI? Of course. DviX and Xvid? Yep. M4V? MPG? ISO? IFO? M2TS? Greenlights all the way across. When I asked if he could think of any video formats it didn’t support, the spokesman said “Hm.. really, really old MOV files?” While I’m sure there are whole lot of obscure types it won’t touch, chances are you’re good to go on any audio or video you may have .. obtained.
While the hardcore enthusiast might scoff at the idea of buying a pre-built box rather than building their own, there exists a massive market between the grandmas wanting to rent “Get Smart” without leaving the house and those looking to piece together a MythTV kit from the ground up. After spending less time with it than I’d like, I’d say the EVA9000 fits that bill. We’ll (hopefully) be getting a review unit sometime in the next few weeks – I look forward to giving this thing a proper test.