The Netgear NeoTV 550 does a lot of things very well and for an MSRP of $200 we should hope that it does! While it doesn’t have the latest and greatest microprocessor on board and is not the slickest GUI we have seen, it turned out to be one of the most responsive and functional players we have tested.
The NeoTV 550’s Main Menu features 7 submenus – Videos, Music, Photos, Browse Folders, Internet Media, Streaming TV & Movies, and Settings. I found myself using the “Browse Folders” features the most since you are able to get a preview of each kind of multimedia file you have in your library.
Each multimedia file we tried played every time without hiccup or drama. No matter what the packaging or codec was used, the NeoTV 550 played it. During our testing we played all sorts of media files – but mainly HD MKVs and MP3s – and each responded and played quickly and accurately with no stuttering. Remember, the NeoTV can only function at 10/100 mbps speeds, so the fact that it could stream our 1080p MKV files impressed us.
What impressed us even greater was the NeoTV’s ability to handle Blu-ray ISO files. Most quality players on the market can at least play these files, but Netgear trumps most players by allowing the user to navigate the Blu-ray ISO menu!
If you didn’t know that you were watching a movie off of the hard drive you would never know the difference. Even with no on-board hard drive and the NeoTV attached to the network, we saw no stuttering or skipping of the video. While the player’s GUI wasn’t that high tech, there were enough features to satisfy our basic needs to play, pause, and search around for the file we wanted to view.
Using the NeoTV 550 turned out to be a great experience and we really have to commend Netgear on this latest firmware upgrade to the NeoTV player. Unlocking the power of the Blu-ray ISO menu navigation is not a trivial thing and we are hoping that other manufacturers will follow suit. The bar is basically set for future players.