Another thing the EVA8000 offers is a TV program guide and DVR software. If you have a networked computer with a TV tuner card, you can use these to set up recordings and play them back from the computer's hard drive. It's a $5 option to download and activate the program-guide software. Unfortunately, despite the myriad of formats that the EVA8000 recognizes, one it doesn't is the DVR-MS format that Media Center PCs use for recording TV shows. That means the EVA8000 won't be able to stream pre-existing TV shows saved on your Windows Media Center PC. Also, the program guide and navigation software included with Windows Media Centers are a tough act to beat, so the Netgear option is better suited for owners of generic computers with tuners, but not necessarily those bundled with Media Center software.
BOTTOM LINE The near-simultaneous release of the Netgear EVA8000 and Apple TV gives people a real choice: Stay within Apple's restrictive iTunes-centric world or, if you have the confidence, patience, and technical know-how, explore a much larger world of content and formats. Mac and PC users with deep iTunes libraries may find themselves quite content in that universe, and there's no question Apple has succeeded in creating a product that offers uncommon elegance and ease of use.
On the other hand, Windows users will find that the Netgear EVA8000 does everything that an Apple TV can except play DRM-protected video purchased through iTunes. Considering that video available via iTunes represents a tiny fraction of entertainment available on the Internet, the EVA8000 can ultimately offer a much richer experience. And because it works with so many Web services, it's also a more flexible platform when it comes to acquiring content through rentals and subscriptions (something iTunes doesn't accommodate). As place-shifting devices go, the Netgear EVA8000 Digital Entertainer HD media receiver may prove difficult on first encounter. But once you get to know it, there's almost no limits on the pleasure it can stream to you.
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