Network Storage Products:

At the CES press conference, it was announced that the RNDU2000, the 2 bay ReadyNAS unit based on the Intel Atom processor had obtained the 'Innovations Design and Engineering Award'. The interesting aspect in this product from my perspective is the integration of the Orb add-on to enable the NAS to serve media in a faster and more efficient manner. At first glance, it looks like some sort of transcoding engine, and we are very keen to evaluate how it performs when running on the Atom processor.

NeoTV 550:


This is probably the most anticipated section for many readers. I have both good news and bad news regarding the product. First off, the good news:

  • I saw Netflix working on the NTV 550 in the demo at their suite today. The firmware is ready, but not loaded onto the review unit that has been provided to me yet. It is being sent to Netflix for certification next week, and the process apparently takes three weeks. By the end of January, Netflix should be up and running for everyone barring unforeseen circumstances. AceTrax for the EU/UK market is also under active consideration, but no timeframe was provided.
  • Zixi (ZVOS) will offer users with a better streaming experience, but only for local media streaming currently. The ZVOS ensures that there is a special handshake between the source and the sink to ensure faster startup time and minimal intermediate buffering delays. As evident, Zixi requires support at the source end too. This is available only on the WNDR3800 currently. There is no plan to get this onto other routers in Netgear's lineup because of the horsepower needed to run the ZVOS.
  • BDA certification is still being pursued. Commercial Blu-Rays can be played from both USB and eSATA drives without any special hacks soon.
  • Photo browsing speed / Ogg / Vorbis issues are going to be fixed in an firmware along with a host of other issues coming later this month, as per the PM.
  • Netgear is trying to explore the possibility of having some developers interact with the end-users on non-official forums like AVSForums

Now, for the bad news:

Cinavia is being planned for inclusion in the NeoTV 550 in an upcoming firmware update (There is no Cinavia implementation in the NTV550 right now). However, I indicated that AACS LA / BDA compliant software players (and in fact, many hardware Blu-Ray players) do not support Cinavia as it doesn't seem to be mandatory at present. Netgear indicated that it didn't want to be involved in any legal proceedings related to this, but promised to go over the legal agreement with the AACS LA / BDA once more. Pursuant to this, I also gave them a solution which woould continue to keep all users happy while also implementing Cinavia. It is going to be personally interesting for me to see whether they are going to act upon that idea further. (The details will have to remain secret till I see what Netgear decides to do with this new DRM mechanism).

In parting, I also looked at Netgear's vision of a connected home in the future using Sigma's Z-Wave technology for home control automation. It was quite futuristic and added Netgear's own twist to the demo I had seen at Sigma Designs last year. The non-availability of a launch date or any concrete products based on this was a dampener of sorts.

All said, the whole Netgear experience was exciting enough from a consumer perspective to be the subject of my first CES 2011 piece.

UPDATE: Netgear clarified their stance on Cinavia, stating that they will not include Cinavia support till Sigma includes it in the SMP 8642 SDK. They also indicated that users would be forewarned about any firmware including support for Cinavia. Firmware updates for the NeoTV 550 are not mandatory, and it is in fact possible for a user to disable checks for firmware updates in the settings.

Netgear Core Networking Products
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  • jasperjones - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    "The strengths really start to show when going over 300ft or more. Here, the QoS provided by the unit has to be seen to be believed."

    What has distance to do with QoS?

    "The show stealer for Netgear was obviously the WNDR3800 model with dual band GbE using a 680 MHz MIPS processor at its heart."

    The formulation "dual GbE" seems strange.The WNDR3800 features a single GbE WAN port and four Gbe LAN ports. It also functions as a simultaneous dual band wireless router.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    At longer distances signals are weaker and more error prone. QoS is much more important in that environment than within the same room where the SNR is an order of magnitude better. Reply
  • vol7ron - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    "What has distance to do with QoS?"
    - There are propagation problems that occur with any signal. Distance and other factors heighten these problems, which decrease the QoS (quality of service).

    - My issue is that I'm in a 1 bedroom apt where everyone seems to be using wireless - this also causes signal interruptions and I'm thinking of getting a Wireless-A router to see if it helps. I have a DLink DIR-655 802.11N that worked pretty good at first, but has since started having problems (part of which may be due to an old cable modem).

    "The formulation "dual GbE" seems strange.The WNDR3800 features a single GbE WAN port and four Gbe LAN ports. It also functions as a simultaneous dual band wireless router. "

    - I originally didn't understand what you were saying, now I see. Yes, his wording was a little confusing. It's dual-band wireless and has gigabit ethernet.
    Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Saturday, January 08, 2011 - link

    /begin rant
    Currently I own a WNDR3700 router (with probably the same 680 MHz CPU) and although highly impressed by the pure wireless performance, the QoS as typically understood in managing latency was horrific when trying to deal VOIP/gaming with other users were streaming video/downloading/p2p.

    For example my Ventrilo latency was 15 ms with old D-Link gaming router (DGL-4300), but jumped to 30 ms idle. With P2P/streaming video on another user's computer and QoS turned on to prioritize traffic to my specific Ethernet port on the router, the ping still jumped to 80 ms. Occasionally it would even spike to 300-3000 ms! This was with QoS enabled and all the settings configured the best I could (being a former Tier 3 network technician at my University campus for I'd say I gave it a good shot....). I would say Netgear's QoS implementation is more less useless in its current form for its old routers.

    Switching to DD-WRT significantly improved my QoS to useable ranges (dropped my Ventrilo ping back to normal 15 ms without no load....and 30-50 with P2P/video streaming). However the wireless performance is now crap meaning there was no point to even switch from my old D-Link router.

    Oy.....

    /end rant
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, January 07, 2011 - link

    It's nice to see Netgear looking to improve relations with consumers by using the AVS Forum. There is a thriving HTPC population on there that I'm sure will have great ideas for the Netgear devs. Reply

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