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Netgear takes on Chromecast, but with a twist

Netgear has unveiled a new NeoMediacast HDMI dongle that's designed for television service providers and not consumers.

The Netgear NeoMediacast
The Netgear NeoMediacast Netgear

The popular Chromecast dongle from Google, which costs $35 and allows consumers to turn their "dumb" TVs into Smart TVs through the HDMI port, will soon have a competitor.

Netgear on Monday announced the NeoMediacast HDMI dongle, a device that, like the Chromecast, connects to a television's HDMI port and provides access to applications. Netgear's technology uses the Android SDK to allow developers to create applications for the device.

However, unlike Chromecast, which is targeted at consumers, the NeoMediacast has television service providers in its crosshairs. Netgear plans to start selling the dongles to service providers in the first half of this year. Those service providers then can create customized Android app environments to customers via the dongle. It connects to the Web via 802.11ac wireless.

It's not immediately clear how service providers might use the NeoMediacast for their businesses. Netgear, however, says that it could be "a low-cost alternative to set-top boxes."

Netgear plans to demo the NeoMediacast and other products at the Consumer Electronics Show this week.