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Netgear Digital Entertainer gives good video

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October 18, 2006 4:14:38 PM

No digital media adapter does it all, but Jim Buzbee thinks Netgear's EVA700 comes close, as long as you don't mind a bland user interface.
October 18, 2006 4:52:29 PM

Just so you know... you may want to link this thread to the actual article. It doesn't have the standard link at the bottom of the first and last pages.
October 20, 2006 3:07:24 PM

Netgear's decision not to include HDMI or DVI ports makes sense to me. Since, HDCP has been practically forced upon the manufacturers. it is truly a gamble as to whether any particular HDMI/DVI source device will work with switching AV receivers. My experience is that my AV receiver will switch the HDMI signal from my DVD player. However, my Motorola cable box refuses to send HDMI to the Onkyo receiver because it thinks the receiver is not HDCP compliant, though Onkyo claims HDCP compliance and the DVD player recognizes it as compliant.

What a mess! Thank you Hollywood! I don't blame Netgear for not even bothering with HDMI or DVI at this time.
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October 24, 2006 4:52:03 AM

Quote:
Netgear's decision not to include HDMI or DVI ports makes sense to me.


I noticed in the pics that the mainboard was designed with the traces on it, as well as what appeared to be an IDE connector and a few other connectors.

Perhaps in time, Netgear will update it and include support for HDCP...
October 30, 2006 5:11:33 PM

After using the EVA700 for about a week:

1) It does not support Real audio or Windows media through the built in Vtuner service. Searches don't even display such stations. This is quite annoying and misleading advertising since the online vtuner service lists thousands of real audio and windows media stations.

2) All live internet radio stations just stop playing (usually within one hour) and will not restart until they are reselected in the vtuner menu. There are no error or buffering messages. Audio simply stops.

The unit is connected thorugh ethernet and our cable Internet is 100% solid.

The main reason I purchased the unit was to play 'all' vtuner stations, in particular NPR and other local stations that use Real audio only. Sigh.
November 1, 2006 5:47:31 PM

I have never written a review on a product before, so I'm not in the habit of doing this. But this thing fell so short of what I was expecting I registered to say a few things.

I bought this device for two reasons. One, it's the only device I know of to support WPA wireless encryption. My work uses WPA-TKIP for everything as it's generally the most compatible across a wide rage of devices. And Two, I needed a device to display announcements on a TV screen in a remote area via a slideshow of JPG's.

I consider myself knowledgeable about many wireless gadgets, so I took it out of the box and just plugged in the ethernet. I saw my DHCP server hand out an IP, so I went right to my browser and entered it in. No dice. After reading over the manual, it became apparent that there was no web interface. I was pretty surprised, but maybe this is normal for a media appliance. Why this sucked though is when I wanted to set up the WiFi.

I plugged it into a TV, and it went right into the setup. I chose wireless, and hit a wall. I have a 30 character alpha-numeric-symbol WPA key which is used throughout my organization. And I'm sitting here holding a remote control and an instruction manual that gives me no indication of how to enter the symbols. After 30 minutes of confusion and random combination button presses, I found out that by pressing the "1" key on the remote several times it would get to the special characters. There was no onscreen keyboard. A few minutes later I was on the network. Why is this not in the docs? This would have been so much easier had it had a simple web interface for setup that I could have done on the wired port.

For connectivity, I don't have any machines with Viiv, so I used the Media Connect route. This isn't horrible, but I was seeing a clear missed opportunity for being able to setup some network share access via SMB.

The remote usage is just weird. It has a standard up-down-left-right and center OK/Enter/Select button. While you can use the center button to play a song or view a picture, you can't press the next or previous button to advance to the next or previous song or file. You must use the Play button if you want that ability. I think that's nuts. Most modern remotes combine these buttons anyway, why Netgear didn’t is a mystery. And fast forward or rewind never worked for me. However I could press the number pad and it would fast forward (or rewind) to that position for the song. 1=go to 10% of the song, 5=50%. Yeah, weird.

Also on the remote, you can't just press the menu buttons from anywhere. Like if I am playing a song, and I want to go look at other music to play, or even to switch into pictures. Pressing the music or picture buttons gets you nothing. You must quit the song first. Even the Home button on the remote doesn't work unless you are already at the right menu to use it. It's confusing and in the small amount of time I've been using this I didn't have the patience to figure it out completely. Such a basic thing shouldn’t have to be figured out.

Now on to my original intent for purchasing; picture slide shows. Basically it's a Powerpoint presentation which is exported to jpg's. There are various announcements that are made to be displayed on a TV. Again, unless you press "Play" on the first file, and not "OK" it won't automatically advance and you can't manually press "Next". But it doesn't matter anyway as this feature is made useless for my needs as it displays the file name in huge white letters across the screen in front of the picture with no way to turn it off. Not only is this completely ugly for anyone that would use it for slide shows, it means it can't be used by me at all.

Other oddities are the appearance of the word “Login” in the front menu with no way to select it, non-intuitive in general, lack of documentation in areas (such as getting special symbols out of the remote, but there ara more), the fact that Newegg has now de-listed the item (days after I bought it no less), no visualization when playing music, only very basic configuration options in the menus for media display, I could go on.

To be honest, I don’t have experience with these types of appliances. My comparison is my modded XBOX running XBMC. I am just so surprised that a volunteer organization can put something out underground that works so much better across the board than what any of these big companies can do. I’ve been reading reviews for a couple months trying to find a good unit for this role, but there always seemed to be some gotchya, mostly the lack of WPA support. I thought this would be it. But it isn’t. I thought I would be able to use it for videos and music for other things in the future but it’s just so lacking. What is more surprising is that they can’t even shamelessly copy the better parts XBMC either.

I know if I spent some more time with the device I could get better with the remote control, but why should I have to? It should work like most others do. There are some glaring holes with this device, so I can’t spend any more time trying to work through the small things. Toms (et al) doesn’t review in a manner that exposes all these things.

If any of you have experience using XBMC, then you’re going to have a hard time using this and not swearing. Now I go off to Newegg and see why they de-listed it and how much my restocking fee is. Then it’s off to craigslist to get an XBOX and a wireless bridge.
November 3, 2006 2:03:13 PM

I noticed in the article that the device could play DVD images. Is that .iso files for DVD's? I rip my DVD's using Clone DVD and store them as iso's and use the virtual DVD drive to play them (just like a real DVD) and I have been searching for a NAS / Media device that will play the iso's for me. That is my ZEN just before an actual HTPC. let me know if you know of anything that can do this.
November 5, 2006 3:56:02 AM

I've had this device now for a week. There are a couple of things that I must say about both the device and the review.

1. the review is incorrect in that you can play music while doing a picture slideshow. The magic here is to start the music first. Then use the back arrow button to go back far enough to select the pictures that you want to show.

2. The picture slideshow have 2 modes. When the slideshow is done without music, it loads one image after another. Also note here that if you have put the player in RANDOM mode either in music or video, the pictures will also be in RANDOM mode. You can't set this while in Picture slideshow (why oh why). When the slideshow has music playing, it'll fade out and in between each image.

3. Album cover is supported only if the album cover is added via the ID3 extended tag. Use the Windows Media Player to add the album cover to the ID3 extended tag, and it'll show on the screen (although very tiny). The down side of this is that you'll need to add it to every single song. Not very efficient use of storage space.

Quote:
...
The remote usage is just weird. It has a standard up-down-left-right and center OK/Enter/Select button. While you can use the center button to play a song or view a picture, you can't press the next or previous button to advance to the next or previous song or file. You must use the Play button if you want that ability. I think that's nuts. Most modern remotes combine these buttons anyway, why Netgear didn’t is a mystery.
...

When you use the ok button to play a song, there's no song list, it just plays that song only. So it wouldn't know what it means to go to next track or previous track. However, when you use the play button, then it uses the currently displayed list as a song list. Then it makes sense to go to next track or previous track.

Quote:
...
Also on the remote, you can't just press the menu buttons from anywhere. Like if I am playing a song, and I want to go look at other music to play, or even to switch into pictures. Pressing the music or picture buttons gets you nothing. You must quit the song first. Even the Home button on the remote doesn't work unless you are already at the right menu to use it. It's confusing and in the small amount of time I've been using this I didn't have the patience to figure it out completely. Such a basic thing shouldn’t have to be figured out.
...

True, you shouldn't have to spend time to figure it out and it should be better documented. But if you had spend the time to figure it out, you would've figured out that the back arrow button will let you get out of the music mode without stopping the music. Then you can look for other music that you want to play (but can't add to the currently list), or start looking at pictures or start a picture slideshow.

Quote:
...
Now on to my original intent for purchasing; picture slide shows. Basically it's a Powerpoint presentation which is exported to jpg's. There are various announcements that are made to be displayed on a TV. Again, unless you press "Play" on the first file, and not "OK" it won't automatically advance and you can't manually press "Next". But it doesn't matter anyway as this feature is made useless for my needs as it displays the file name in huge white letters across the screen in front of the picture with no way to turn it off. Not only is this completely ugly for anyone that would use it for slide shows, it means it can't be used by me at all.
...

Again, using the OK button means to show one picture, not a list. Using the Play button shows a list of pictures. As long as you understand the distinction, you shouldn't have much problem. To get rid of the big white letters, put it in music slideshow mode by starting a music playlist. If you don't want music, then start one, and turn the volume all the way down. Or have your music playlist contain a sound file that have no sound in it.

For a review, the reviewer really should spend sufficient time with the product and try all sorts of possibilities as well as to try enough stuff to see how you can break the product (not physically). For example, on the D-Link DSM-520, if you have a VOB file larger than 1048 MB, it won't play the entire file even if it's in the correct and supported format. So don't jump to conclusions and don't knock the product until you've absolutely sure about what you're saying.

Regards,
George
November 5, 2006 10:00:03 PM

Quote:
True, you shouldn't have to spend time to figure it out and it should be better documented. But if you had spend the time to figure it out, you would've figured out that the back arrow button will let you get out of the music mode without stopping the music. Then you can look for other music that you want to play (but can't add to the currently list), or start looking at pictures or start a picture slideshow.

I guess I'm just used to XBMC. It's much more intuitive, and the buttons did what I presumed they did. There was almost no learning curve. I should be able to press a category button, such as music when playing a song and get to that. Not see an error message. It should stop what it's doing only when it starts doing something else, or when it's told to stop IMHO.

Quote:
Again, using the OK button means to show one picture, not a list. Using the Play button shows a list of pictures. As long as you understand the distinction, you shouldn't have much problem. To get rid of the big white letters, put it in music slideshow mode by starting a music playlist. If you don't want music, then start one, and turn the volume all the way down. Or have your music playlist contain a sound file that have no sound in it.

I've never seen one image viewer that works like this. Whether you press Play or OK, using the next button should get you to the next image in the current folder. I'm not arguing you're wrong, I think think it's rediculous that you have to go though so many steps or odd sequences to do this.

On a side note, I figured out how to get rid if the image filename on the slide show. This device needs a server to tell it what it's capabilities are, and to some extent controls how it displays media as well. I mentioned I had no Viiv device. So I used Microsoft Media Connect at first. Then I tried out WizD as mentioned in the article, and it has a check box for whether or not to display file names in the slide show. AFAIK Media Connect has no configurable options outside of defining paths to media. I'm still amazed at the seperation in options like whether you config such things on the client or server, but at least I'm using it.
November 5, 2006 11:00:25 PM

Totally agree that the controls are not that intuitive and definitely not documented well at all.

I should try out Wizd and see what it can do. I'm currently using TVersity (http://tversity.com/), and it's much better than WMC. WMC is so useless, and it also uses up a lot of resources when you have a huge library.

A few of us on the TVersity forum are figuring out undocumented features of this device, including the support of RemoteUI, which none other devices support this. So hopefully we can have some good news soon.
November 7, 2006 9:11:52 PM

I've got an eva700 and I'm using wizd. I've used the version of wmc that comes with it and the wmc features of windows media player 11. I wasn't happy with either. Wizd does the job just fine. It's easy to configure and can play dvd vobs backed up using clonedvd, etc, or .ifo images of dvds. Quite handy. Right now I'm tinkering with its ability to view websites if you create the bookmarks beforehand. Useful for weather, traffic, etc.

I'm digging to see if there is a plugin for itunes audio streams. Wizd is easy. You should give it a try. I'd be curious to see which you prefer. I'm considering downloading tversity and trying it.

I imagine we'll need an eva700 forum if the reviews are good and the price keeps dropping.

Cheers
November 8, 2006 1:45:17 AM

The key for playing music with slideshows is that you need to select a 'playlist' for the music. If you select a song directly you cannot back out to the slideshow.

If you don't want to use it for live internet radio, the EVA700 is ok. But I'm just amazed that there are 'zero' media servers available that are able to stream and/or transcode and/or play in anyway realaudio streams. Alienbbc doesn't count - totally unsupported and even when it works is very awkward to use with devices like the EVA700.
November 10, 2006 2:56:43 PM

Does the EVA700 display jpeg photos in HD?

During a slideshow, is the next photo displayed immediately or do you have to wait while it loads?
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