Netgear EVA700 £138

15th Feb 2007 | 10:03

Netgear EVA700

Can Viiv-certification make media streaming simple?

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

If you can manage to get it set up properly, the EVA700 works well

Like:

Intel Viiv compliant; SCART; S-Video and composite

Dislike:

Set up difficulties

Media streaming isn't anything new, but the largest networking manufacturers seem intent on reinventing the wheel in the quest for the perfect digital home experience. This Netgear box adds something else to the mix, in the form of a sticker from the good people at Intel.

The EVA700 is Intel Viivcertified, which means... well, what exactly? Primarily, the idea is easy setup with an Intel Viiv PC. Setup is, admittedly, rather difficult for non-Viiv PCs - the instructions provided by Netgear aren't good enough. When we finally found a Viiv PC, the setup wasn't that difficult, but do you know anyone who owns one?

The Netgear's main problem isn't its install process. The big problem is actually in terms of the formats supported. There's no support for DivX, and that's a problem, since most downloaded files aren't in a format as uncouth as WMV.

D-Link's DSM-520 is a definite threat to the Netgear box, having already established itself in the market with support for these formats. Linksys - with its Kiss sub-brand - and Buffalo have also dabbled with mixed results.

Of course, you can stream audio and pictures to the EVA700 as well as video. Netgear has chosen not to use a proprietary piece of software to do this, but has stuck with the tried and tested, if not exactly overwhelming, Windows Media Connect. This makes the setup simple from the PC end, but the non-Viiv setup from the box end is less than satisfactory.

So many media streaming devices fall down when presented with simple hurdles, and the EVA700 was no exception, with a rather diffi cult connection to our wireless network. There's no reason why it should have a problem with our wireless network, but it does.

Slow boat

The display through the SCART adaptor on an SDTV is also less than satisfactory, with the remote control also very sluggish to react. This isn't the first time we've encountered this problem with a media streamer, either. The EVA700 user interface is, in truth, very poor when put up against something such as Windows Media Center and, again, that's true of almost every other mediastreaming device we've seen.

The next-generation of these devices should bring better user interfaces, but there seems no reason why companies such as Netgear couldn't have sorted this before.

The EVA700 was first released in the US last year, before it slowly made its way across the Atlantic. It uses SCART as its main method of connectivity, though there's the option to use composite video. Like many streamers, it has the same footprint as a DVD player. 802.11g wireless is supported - this is enough for any non-HD media streaming - as well as 10/100Mbps Ethernet for connection to a wired network.

As with many media streaming boxes, there's also a USB port so you can attach music players, flash drives or view digital photos directly from your digital camera.

The future

That much is easy. But does it work when you've finally set it up? In a nutshell, yes. Once we managed to get past our setup difficulties, it was a relatively easy ride to listen to some internet radio or music streamed from the PC next door.

But there continues to be a real problem with not just the Netgear but these devices in general. Until they plug in and just work we refuse to be impressed. Maybe that time will be soon, though; Apple has announced Apple TV for the Mac and PC. Watch this space.

Wi-FiNetworkingMedia CenterSoftware
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