Netgear launched three new multimedia products here at CES including hardware to stream purchased songs from iTunes for Windows. The Digital Entertainer HD is the successor to the current EVA700 and can support HD streaming up to 1080p.
The interface of the entertainer does look improved from the relatively poor EVA700 and Netgear say you can stream purchased and unpurchased iTunes for Windows as well as plugging in your iPod. This doesn't work with a Mac, though the non-iTunes streaming does!
Netgear was sketchy on the details surrounding how the iTunes streaming is done and it appears FairPlay isn't on board the EVA8000 - if it was, Netgear would probably be shouting about it instead of underplaying it. The box uses HDMI 1.1 plus Scart, composite and component but disappointingly only supports 802.11g wireless and 10/100Mbps Ethernet.
The box isn't Viiv certified like its predecessor but it does have direct access to YouTube via their servers - Netgear hinted at a future announcement regarding the two companies. Formats supported are also much improved from the earlier EVA700, with XviD as well as the MPEG 1/2/4, WMV and H.264 but there is no support for DivX once again.
You can also record TV programmes via the box, though it requires a TV tuner on your PC - there is no recording functionality on the box itself.
Multiple PCs can also feed the EVA8000 while you can also transfer streams from room to room if you have more than one EVA800. There is also a Party Mode that enables you to play the same audio across all the speakers and TVs in your house
The EVA8000 can also stream from the new Netgear Storage Central Turbo SC101T. It supports Gigabit Ethernet for HD streaming. As with Netgear's other network storage models, there are no hard drives included.
The Dual-Mode Cordless Phone SPH200D was also demonstrated. Similar to the previously launched RTX DUALphone , it connects directly to your router and runs an embedded version of Skype so you can make both landline and Skype calls.
Debbie Williams Netgear's Marketing Offer introduced the new kit by outlining that Netgear is now one of the fastest growing American companies. She also outlined that company's shift was moving from just networking to multimedia - which is what everybody says at these events.
Then, Vivek Pathela, VP of Product Marketing announced the Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 to relative apathy from the audience of hacks despite it being the star of Netgear's new line-up but it's not hard to understand why everybody was unimpressed.
Netgear has not exactly been quick out of the blocks in any of these product areas, but the EVA8000 does have some natty features - such as the Party Mode and multi-room transfer - that aren't available on other streamers.