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Netgear NeoTV (NTV200) review: Netgear NeoTV (NTV200)

Netgear NeoTV (NTV200)

Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
Jeff Bakalar
3 min read

When Netgear announced a short time ago that they'd be going right after Roku by undercutting the 2 XS's price, it finally appeared that the media streaming market would get some long overdue competition.


Netgear NeoTV (NTV200)

The Good

The <b>Netgear NeoTV</b> is a good media streamer that provides a generous and diverse collection of preprogrammed content channels. It works great with an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection for resolutions up to 1080p. The optional smartphone app is a nice touch, too.

The Bad

NeoTV has very limited functionality not going much beyond just streaming. There's no expansion port and users can only connect the device to a TV via an HDMI cable.

The Bottom Line

While it's a capable streamer the lack of any expandable memory and its limited connectivity really limit its universal appeal. It's also priced too high compared to the most recent Roku offerings.

It's only fitting that as I was handing in my Netgear NeoTV review that Roku bit back, delivering to CNET a new and very capable LT model that costs only $50. The LT doesn't sacrifice any major functionality, and the device retains all the content support that Roku's success has been founded on.

Netgear's NeoTV is certainly an attractively priced device, going for around $75 depending where you shop online. Its main (and pretty much only) functionality is content delivery, with tons of preprogrammed channels built into its user interface.

The NeoTV itself is supersmall, covered in a shiny black plastic encasing. Measuring 4 inches wide by 4 inches deep by 1 inch tall, it practically fits anywhere and is reasonably small enough to be considered portable.

I brought it with me on a weekend trip with no hassle whatsoever.

NeoTV provides one-click access to dozens of content providers including Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, TED, Revision3, CNN, and even our own CNET. These channels are displayed in a gridlike fashion and are further categorized on the main screen's left side. NeoTV also offers 10 playable games onscreen, though I'm really not into playing games with a TV remote control. They range from card games like Blackjack and Hold 'em to Sudoku and Connect 4. I suppose they're good enough to pass a few minutes of time, but it's not a bullet-point feature of the unit.

I really like how zippy the remote control response onscreen is--there's very little noticeable lag in navigating through the various categories and settings. The overall presentation is really sharp (my testing was done in 1080p mode) and the video stream does an excellent job of switching feed qualities during playback. Videos start very quick and almost always improve in quality after about 20 to 30 seconds in.

No complaints about the reasonably sized and overall comfortable remote.

The included remote is reasonably sized and felt nice in my hand. The buttons have a solid weight to them and, as I mentioned, perform well. Everything is laid out logically enough, with no big complaints on the controller front.

Overall picture quality is very good. I was impressed with how great Netflix movies looked and the speed of cycling through the various channels offered on the NeoTV. Of course I'd definitely recommend connecting the unit to the Internet via its Ethernet port, but utilizing a Wi-Fi connection is not a deal breaker by any stretch.

Aside from the generous amount of content channels offered, that's pretty much where the NeoTV's functionality ends. I had a lot success making use of the optional smartphone app (Android or iOS) that let me control the unit via my Android phone.

I really wish the NeoTV allowed me to provide my own channel information or at least some sort of bring-your-own feed option. Plugging in a video RSS feed should be easy enough to pull off, but it's not possible here.

Also, there's a serious dearth of extra ports on the NeoTV. While CNET's Roku reviews don't consider the USB port found on the 2 XS to be all that impressive in terms of file-type playback compatibility, it's still an option the NeoTV can't match. Also, NeoTV only allows for an HDMI connection (though it does also boast an optical audio port), as opposed to most other products that allow for other video connections (like component via a breakout AV cable).

There are not a whole lot of port options around back, but the optical audio jack is a refreshing touch.

Overall, the Netgear NeoTV is a good media streamer that offers a very generous amount of diverse video, photo, and audio content. Unfortunately, that's where the features end. The lack of any expandable memory and its limited connectivity really limit its universal appeal. And now with the news of a $50 Roku LT competitor, there's almost no reason to pay the extra $25-$30 on NeoTV, save for the unique Android/iOS control feature.


Netgear NeoTV (NTV200)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 5Performance 6