updated 10:15 am EDT, Tue September 8, 2009
Netgear Digital Entertainer Live
Netgear is adding to its line of set-top boxes with a low-end device that supports 720p HD but lacks a hard drive and built-in wireless. The Digital Entertainer Live relies mostly on its Ethernet-based online access and has built-in support for YouTube, pay-per-view movies from CinemaNow and live internet TV through VuNow. Resembling one of Netgear's internet routers, the small device has both the 100Mbps network link as well as two USB ports for external storage, one HDMI output for digital and one RCA for analog sources. An optional USB adapter brings 802.11n Wi-Fi for those that want it later.
The device supports a wide variety of video and audio formats, including Matroska videos and raw VOB files from DVDs, and works with both Windows and Mac machines as well as DLNA-aware devices when it streams media online. The HDMI output currently supports 720p, but the company says a pending firmware upgrade will deliver higher resolution within the next few weeks.
Besides having a menu-driven interface for navigating tracks, the hub can perform keyword searches of more than 100-thousand websites for video using an on-screen keyboard.
Roxio's CinemaNow allows US users to rent or buy movies. A trial version of PlayOn software gives access to Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Hulu, CBS, and other movie or TV services not covered by CinemaNow or VuNow.
The Netgear Digital Entertainer Live is available now for $150. The optional USB wireless adapter sells for $40.