The current flux in the television market is embodied by the emergence of two closely related categories, namely, the Smart TV and the connected TV. While the former category is being actively promoted by Google (and, till recently, Intel), the latter is in the hands of the usual TV manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Vizio etc. The popularity of OTT (over-the-top) premium content in the form of Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus etc. in the US has also aided in popularizing the concept of Smart / connected TVs. With the upgrade cycle for TVs being in the order of 5 - 10 years, there are a large number of consumers who have yet to jump onto either of these bandwagons. This has opened up the market for an intermediate device to bring connected features to their existing TV sets. It is precisely this market that has made devices like the Roku boxes and the Sony network media players successful. Last year, we looked at one of the Roku models that Netgear rebadged, and came away satisfied. This time around, Netgear has decided to come out with its own device for this purpose, namely, the NTV200.


The NTV200 is a low power palm sized box slightly larger than Roku 2. Its intent is to serve up premium service apps like Netflix and Vudu and make your TV a connected one. The box includes both wired and wireless network support.

At the very outset, it must be made clear that the NTV200 has limited appeal if you already own a Smart TV or a connected TV. Without doubt, the Netflix app is meant to be the crowd puller. The Netflix app is the baseline for all connected TV boxes in the US market right now. To put one over the Roku boxes, Vudu streaming is also available. An official YouTube app rounds up the services provided by the NTV200 and not the Roku 2. Of course, Roku 2 has Amazon VoD and Hulu Plus which are not offered by the NTV200. While it is debatable as to whether Amazon VoD or Vudu is more popular, one can take the safe ground here by indicating that both the Roku 2 and the NTV200 are equally matched with respect to popular streaming services.

Support for various online services is only half the story. The user experience and general performance of the device are more important factors. Before looking at those aspects, we will take a look at the hardware and setup impressions.

 

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • JoeMcJoe - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    That remote looks ok.

    I have the Boxee one, its terrible, worst remote ever.

    The interface to the Boxee is pretty poor also, I have it because it plays MKVs and DVD ISOs great. I hope it plays Blue ray ISOs one day too.

    I use a Qnap NAS.

    The PS3 interface is great.
    Reply
  • Matt355 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    When I first got my Boxee box it needed to update its software, its Still not as polished as the Apple TV But its good. I like the remote because it makes using the web browser easier and mine has a dedicated Netflix button. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Personally I have little faith in Neatgear at this point in time

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Netgear-Wireless-Gigabit-A...

    I purchased said router only to find that it wouldn't retain an ip address for anything over 30 seconds. No review mentioned this which was odd so I now think twice before thinking about anything 'netgear'. Plus, obviously, the wireless dongles can be a bit pap at times
    Reply
  • OzzieGT - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    One thing which is sorely lacking is how the box handles local streaming (file shares, DLNA, etc). This is a very important feature in a box like this for me. Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    There is nothing around this unit's price point which has all these premium video features and also support for media over local networks. (Roku has some sort of Plex support, but it is really very spotty and there is no native codec support most of the time).

    As I said in the concluding remarks, go with the WDTV Live SMP which has better local media support and also has almost all the premium VoD services one would use..
    Reply
  • Brovane - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Why would NetGear launch this box and leave out Amazon Vod? Reply
  • Matt355 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    I Know. it must be licensing or something because its not on Xbox, Playstation, or even Boxee. I mostly see it on Tivo. Reply
  • sulu1977 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Where's the web surfing capability? If people can surf the web on a tiny cell-phone, wouldn't it be far more logical o be able to surf the web on a big TV? Reply
  • shorty lickens - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - link

    I just got my mom the Roku LT for Xmas. According to this article, the Netgear is slightly better for the same money.
    Oh well.
    Reply
  • HiFreak1c - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - link

    Actually, Xbox360 can stream MKV w/ Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound through windows Media Centre. It just can't play DTS is all.

    Addon for WMC: http://www.mediabrowser.tv
    Codec support: http://www.divx.com/en/software/divx-plus/codec-pa...
    Codec support: http://http://ac3filter.net/

    Mine works fine most of the time, apart from a few issues with it locking up and stuff. I'm going to replace it with a HTPC soon, but for the mean time it works fine as a poor mans alternative to a proper HTPC build.
    Reply

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