The Netgear NeoTV 550 desperately wants to be the media player to do it all – to be able to play all types of media content and allow you to access them in as many ways as possible. And it comes so close. Only a couple of things hold it back from being the best media player/streamer you can buy.
Don't get us wrong – this is still by far and away one of the finest of those out there right now, and for £125 it's excellent value for money, given everything it can offer.
It's simple to set up and very easy to use – your grandma could probably even just about figure it out. It also supports a huge range of video, audio and photo file formats, including all the major HD movie files. There's a plentiful number of ways of viewing these files on an external storage device or over a network, and 1080p content plays perfectly.
Finding content is also very simple, and the cover art option makes viewing all your files – movies especially – that much more like you're browsing your shelf in the front room. The internet apps are a nice idea, but until there's more support, it'll just remain a nice idea and nothing more.
A lot more thought could have gone into the design of the NeoTV 550, but it seems that Netgear has instead decided to go the anonymous route and make it look like one of its routers – in fact, Netgear makes marginally better-looking routers.
The lack of built-in Wi-Fi might also upset some people, but not that many other devices on the market do have it, probably because HD streaming is such a demand over the airwaves – the AirTies 4420 would be a better bet if this was something you wanted.
While there are certainly cheaper media-playing offerings out there, there aren't many that have the breadth of abilities of the Netgear NeoTV 550, as well as the ease of use and the quality of its functionality.
If you're willing to pay just that little bit extra for one of the best methods of satisfying all your media needs, then this is well worth a look.