Gateway's Ethernet Connected DVD Player, which the company sells direct for $250, provides progressive-scan video and network access to a PC's digital music, photos, and video.
The player sports a striking mirrored finish and measures 16.9 by 11.6 by 2.2 inches; it's somewhat deeper and heftier than many recent models we've seen. In addition to having outputs for progressive-scan component video and 5.1-channel analog audio, the unit covers all the standard DVD audio and video connectivity options, and two 1/4-inch karaoke microphone inputs are on the front panel. Network functions are handled by the included Ethernet card, which slips easily into the rear-mounted PCMCIA slot. Those with a wireless network can opt for this model's near twin, which is bundled with an 802.11b adapter but otherwise the same. A well-laid-out remote completes the package.
A perusal of the menu system revealed an interesting secret: this Gateway appears to be functionally identical to the first networked DVD player we tested, the GoVideo. Even the included Windows software serving the PC media files to the unit is the same, save the different corporate logo.
The Gateway player shares its GoVideo counterpart's features and superior performance but also its few shortfalls. Networked-video compatibility is limited to MPEG-1 and MPEG-2; your QuickTime, AVI, MPEG-4/DivX, Real, WMV, and ASF files won't work. The company says a forthcoming firmware upgrade will add support for both DivX and video material recorded with the DVR function of. When viewing photos, you can't rotate incorrectly oriented ones--you'll just have to imagine the Eiffel Tower pointing straight up, rather than to the right.
We couldn't find any real performance differences between the GoVideo D2730 and the Gateway unit. Both offer excellent streaming access to computer-based audio, video, and digital-photo files, as well as good progressive-scan DVD playback. Put simply, Gateway is delivering the same impressively outfitted player as GoVideo, but--for about the same street price--Gateway's gives you a superior remote and a much more attractive body.