VIDEO PERFORMANCE Having lived for a while with the excellent but ultimately content-restricted Apple TV (see review), I was pleased by the EVA8000's ability to play an amazing variety of formats that coexist in the larger world of Internet entertainment. Like most media receivers, which I like to call place shifters, the EVA8000 has no internal storage for content. (The exceptions are Apple TV and the Xbox 360 with its Windows Media Center Extender.) So everything must be streamed in real time from a networked computer or from the Internet - there's no "synching" option as there is with Apple TV. Unlike Apple TV, however, the EVA8000 can aggregate content from multiple computers, saving the pointers so you don't have to rescan your network the next time you turn it on. Netgear claims that one network can support as many as 255 EVA8000s and 4,000 PCs, but I imagine that even Bill Gates doesn't have that many rooms in his home.
From the computer in my home office, on which I had stored many flavors of video, the EVA8000 was able stream virtually every unprotected file format, including MPEG-1/2/4, WMV, DivX, and MOV; trick plays included three slow-motion speeds and unlimited zoom. Using an Ethernet connection, it was able to stream high-def video, but a high-def clip failed to play via an 802.11g wireless connection, and (unlike Apple TV) the EVA8000 can't take advantage of higher wireless speeds afforded by the newer 802.11n standard. Video quality was as good as on my computer, though I have to admit that I've downloaded an awful lot of crappy-looking video. The important thing to know is that video played at 30 frames per second without additional artifacts.
Not surprisingly, the EVA8000 cannot play digital rights management (DRM) protected video bought through the iTunes Music Store. Also, unless you know how to set up media sharing through Windows Media Player 11 on your computer, movies downloaded from such services as Movielink and CinemaNow or music downloaded from Yahoo or Napster or others that use a Microsoft DRM scheme will show a "protected content" message when you try playing them on your TV using the EVA8000. A Netgear spokesman said the company hoped to automate the sharing process in a future release so that users won't have to be Windows wonks to get this up and running.
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