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Netgear EVA9000 review

This network player has great format support, but it can't quite match Apple TV in the usability stakes Tested at £190.00

Our Verdict

Better sound and Apple TV-like usability and we'd be looking at five stars – as it is, it's close but no cigar

For

  • Great format support
  • impressive pictures
  • built-in storage
  • Wireless-N

Against

  • ...but not the Apple TV
  • music lacks detail, drive and dynamics

While the Netgear EVA9000 (confusingly also known as the EVA9150) has the appearance of an affordable DVD player, it feels extremely solidly built.

What's more, rather than an optical disc drive, the Netgear has a 500GB hard disk, so as well as streaming your media from your PC or NAS device, it can also store it locally.

This is also the only non-Apple player we've tested with built-in wi-fi – of the super-fast 'wireless-N' variety, no less.

Format support is equally impressive: if your movie file isn't protected by DRM, it'll play. Obviously that includes HD files right up to 1080p, and when playing an HD version of Lost, results are very decent.

True, it doesn't have the outright sharpness and definition of the LaCie LaCinema Classic HD, but it remains a balanced performer. With a standard-definition copy of Casino Royale it's closer to the best, offering good insight and vibrancy, though with a touch of motion judder.

Sound is balanced but lacks vigour
In terms of sound, the Netgear can't quite muster the punch and enthusiasm of the best rivals. That leaves the action of James Bond sounding a little less dramatic than it should, and robs Florence and the Machine of some vibrancy.

It's not sonically unpleasant – the delivery is smooth and tonally-balanced – but we would appreciate a little more vigour.

Our only other gripe is that installation is a little fiddly. Discovery of network shares isn't perfect, and it's not as slick as its rivals.

Dedicated channels for YouTube, internet radio and podcasts goes some way to making up for these shortcomings, but the best do the basics better.

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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