You get a lot of media player for your money with the Netgear NeoTV 550, although it seems to have come at a slight cost – it's a little on the big side, and it's not really much of a looker, either.
It's not a great surprise, given that Netgear is more at home producing slabs of networking plastic called routers. But really, how hard is it to make the thing look half decent? The NeoTV isn't something you would want on show in the lounge, so it's yet another device that will have to be resigned to a cabinet for the rest of its life.
Although there's no built-in hard drive, it's probably no great shakes for the majority of people because there are a multitude of ways of accessing your files either using the aforementioned plug-in external storage, which can be connected in many different ways, or streaming media over your home network.
Sadly there's no built-in wireless, so if you want to stream media from a network-attached PC, you'll have to do it over Ethernet. So, you'll need to put the NeoTV 550 right next to the router, which will in turn need to be near your TV.
Alternatively, you can use the Netgear Universal Wi-Fi Internet Adapter, which allows you to stream with a little more freedom – at an additional cost of about £35.00. You're probably better off sticking to Ethernet anyhow – if the majority of your streaming will be in HD, it'll cope better.
There's plenty of video and audio connectivity at the rear of the NeoTV 550, with both analogue and digital covered. There's an S/PDIF output that, combined with the player's DTS support, means you can connect it to a DTS hi-fi and blow the cobwebs off the ceiling in movies that support it.
HDMI is also included in this line-up, but oddly there's no HDMI cable present, which is something you might expect to see at this price point.