Netgear has unveiled a new media player that will support an external Blu-ray drive over USB or eSATA. The media player itself supports a wide range of video formats and containers including H.264, DivX, Xvid, WMV, and ISOs.
The NeoTV 550 touts HD capabilities, with resolutions up to 1080p. You can also stream media to the device via a wired ethernet port. Streaming formats supported include DLNA and Windows Media streaming. The NeoTV 550 is expected to arrive this fall with an MSRP of $219.99.
While intriguing, I feel that this device is overpriced for what it’s offering. The Blu-ray support is nice, but in order to take advantage of this feature you will need to buy an external player and a quick search online shows that you’ll be paying at least $140 for an external Blu-ray drive. You could buy a standalone player that supports Netflix streaming and Amazon Video On Demand for that price, both features that are missing from the NeoTV.
One thing you could possibly do with this device, though, is use it as a Blu-ray “jukebox.” Since the device supports Blu-ray decryption and ISO playback, you may be able to rip a Blu-ray disc to an image file, put it on an external hard drive, and play it with the NeoTV. I am not sure if this would actually work, but if it did, that is the only unique selling point I can think of. Of course, this would not be officially supported as the media industry frowns upon ripping media, even if the copy protection is left in place.
Unless Netgear announces new features, or bundles a Blu-ray player with the device, I will be steering clear of the NeoTV 550. There are just too many devices that do more for less money.