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Netgear EVA8000: Also a bit like Apple TV

Everything that streams media feels a little like Apple TV to us, but that's not fair -- some networked media streamers have some interesting features that set them apart

Okay, we'll admit it, everything that streams media feels a little like Apple TV to us. This probably isn't fair on all the perfectly good products hitting the market that are trying hard to be useful and worthy of our hard-earned. The latest company to do streaming media over your home network is Netgear, an old pro when it comes to networking paraphernalia.

The most interesting feature of the EVA8000 is its ability to sniff out media on your network. Once it's found stuff, it arranges it into an easy-to-navigate library you can browse on your TV. You can also listen to Internet radio and keep up-to-date with RSS feeds. If you have a PC with a TV tuner, the Netgear can pause and rewind live TV over the network.

The EVA8000 can play a veritable multitude of video formats including WMV HD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. You can also play protected Windows Media content, which is great if you want to buy movies online. There's also audio support for a wide range of formats including MP3, WAV, WMA and AAC.

The Netgear features a remote desktop app, so you can use the remote control to access your PC. This means you can read email from your sofa or watch YouTube videos on your TV.  There's an HDMI connection, which can pump video at resolutions of up to 1080p to your 'Full HD' television. There are also component, composite and S-Video outputs for video as well as analogue and digital audio outputs. The Netgear also has a USB port for plugging in memory cards and portable hard drives.

If you add a second EVA8000 to your home network, the whole shebang gets even better. There are two modes, one called 'party', which allows you to play the same music in two rooms.

As a last flourish there is 'follow me', which means you can start watching in one room, move to another, and carry on watching. This made us think about how great it would be to have one in the lounge and one in the bathroom. Then, when you get up for a comfort break, you can keep watching in the loo.

The EVA8000 should be out sometime this spring for around £250. There's more info at the Netgear Web site. -IM