The Netgear NTV200 UI is based on Adobe StageCraft 1.2, but the fonts and the design of the home screen are nothing to write home about. In fact, the layout and ad-placement make for a very cluttered look. I am not a big fan of boxes like the Rokus and the NTV200 trying to shove advertisements down your throat (given that you have already paid money to purchase the unit). While the Roku has a pleasing 10-foot UI and just one ad beneath the carousel, the NTV200 goes overboard with two ads right on top. At the least, it would be nice if these boxes gave users the options of turning the ads off.

The NTV200 helpfully breaks up the various apps into different categories in the left pane. Like the Roku 2, we also have a selection of games, but the few that I tried didn't make for an interesting big screen experience. Unlike the Roku 2's BCM2835, I suspect that the BCM7615 lacks a 3D graphics engine explaining the lack of better games (like Angry Birds) and the staid user interface.

The remote control bundled with the unit is quite different from the usual remotes. For a small remote, it does feel quite solid in the hand, but I have seen people complaining about it too..

Fortunately, the NTV200 offers two other ways to control the unit. The first one is with the help of either an iOS or an Android device. Apps are available for both versions in the respective app stores. We took the Android app out for a spin and were quite satisfied with the functionality (except for the startup time, which could have been shorter). Some screenshots of the Android remote in action are given below.

The second way is through the HDMI-CEC link. I have had the opportunity to play with a large number of HDMI devices, and the NTV200 is one of the very few which actually implements good support for HDMI-CEC. With this, I was able to use my TV remote as well as receiver remote to carry out basic navigation as well as selection of menu items. Since the remote has only a few possible key press combinations, CEC with the NTV200 is much easier to use when compared to using it with other CEC enabled media streamers like the WDTV Live Streaming Media Player and the Popcorn Hour A300.

 

Unboxing and Setup Impressions Streaming Services - Netflix and Vudu
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  • ender707 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Every time I see one of these reviews for media player, I wonder how it compares to the Xbox and PS3 in terms of streaming video etc.

    Does any one have any input on how these stack up to the current consoles?
    Reply
  • MGSsancho - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    These devices exist because Sony and Microsoft refuse the listen to their customers and supports formats for media we have. Had Microsoft and Sony had more backbone then none of these other devices would really exist. Reply
  • Tetracycloide - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Even if the Xbox/PS3 were the best over-the-top boxes they could possibly be there would still be a market for competing devices that don't have the added cost of including expensive gaming hardware. The NTV200 is $70 on amazon right now for example. Reply
  • Matt355 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Very true. I have a Xbox and a playstation and the Boxee Box is still my go to device. Because it plays everything. Since I purchased it about 2 months ago at Best Buy for $89 vs $300 Xbox and $500 Playstation. it has never failed to play anything and will stream video from my iPhone to the TV like an Apple TV. I get all types of News, Anime and even Adult channels free through streaming. With a dedicated Netflix button and all without ever using more then 15W. Reply
  • Matt355 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    The Xbox has very limited codec's and needs most video transcoded for streaming even ones it should play if they don't have 2 channel audio, No mp4 with dolby digital audio, It will not allow files over 4g to stream unless their wmv, has no web browser, No mkv, and is the only device that makes you pay extra for viewing Youtube, hulu and Netflix, $60 Xbox Gold account required.

    The Playstation is a lot better as a media hub. free streaming of Netflix, Hulu and Youtube. CEC so you can use your TV remote, and plays my Blu-Ray disc's But the browser is horrible, No mkv files and forget Blu-ray disc backups with Cinavia

    The Boxee Box has become my go to device. It simply plays everything and mine has a dedicated Netflix button.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Considering that neither Xbox360 nor PS3 can play back the .mkv format and lack support for certain codecs, they are pretty limited in terms of usability. Unless one goes through the process of building their library based on these two devices, most people are better off with a dedicated media player or a small HTPC. :-) Reply
  • bknight555 - Thursday, February 09, 2012 - link

    PS3 can play MKV if encoded with proper codec (PS3 has native support for H.264). There is a catch though, the file needs to be copied locally on the PS3 file system.

    Just last night I copied 30 gig of Cowboys & Alliens rip (transfer via Java PS3 server took about 4 hours). Once the file was copied successfully I was able playback with no issues.
    Reply
  • Sivar - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    3 letters:
    M K V
    Reply
  • ender707 - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, I think I have a better understanding of the limitations of the consoles vs the media boxes now.

    I think that there are a probably a lot of people like me who already own an Xbox / PS3 who wonder if these devices could provide a benefit to them that the consoles can not provide.

    It seems that there is, thanks again.
    Reply
  • gudodayn - Friday, December 23, 2011 - link

    Why are these Net-TV remote controls so basic .......
    I would like for once see one with a simple keypad!
    Reply

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