Netgear NeoTV 550 HD Network Media Player Review

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NeoTV 550 – Not Perfect, but Very Solid

Netgear NeoTV 550 HD Media Player

When we first saw Netgear NeoTV 550, we really didn’t think too much of it.  The specs said Netgear designed and built the media player around a 2-year old chip – the 667 Mhz Sigma 8642.  We were worried that when we got the player in the LR Bunker that it would simply fail to perform like the competition. 

Boy, were we wrong!

When using the Netgear player, we had the feeling that we were playing with something special.  Even though the retail price of the player is on the high end – especially for one that doesn’t include any on-board storage – the player’s performance when playing content from your hard drive is hard to beat. 

Below you can see how the Netgear NeoTV stacks up against some other popular players we have reviewed.  (Click on the chart for the full-sized picture.)

Netgear NeoTV 550 Comparison Chart

The NeoTV 550’s glaring weakness is in its internet offerings:  If you are married to Netflix, you need to move on; If you can’t live without Pandora, you’d better try and live with YouTube and Flickr.  Netgear has promised their NeoTV users more upgrades in the future that should bolster it’s internet offerings, but for now, we are left with the bare minimum.

Netgear NeoTV 550 HD Media Player

As a “movie guy” who has been stuck watching AVIs and MKVs for the majority of time, I must admit that I’ve  missed the days of being able to load up a Blu-ray disk and just ‘surfing’ around all the extra contents of the disk.  With the popularity and accessibility of high speed internet, inexpensive hard drives and Bittorrents gaining in popularity, not only does the movie industry suffer, but ‘viewers’ miss out on the content that directors and producers package with their disks.  With more and more media players being able to read and navigate ISO menus, players like the NeoTV 550 should attract more users who want to preserve the entire disk’s content so that they can (legally) stream/broadcast around their house. 

In the past, most people just ripped the main video and audio tracks from movies as MKVs or AVIs because that’s all most popular media players could handle.  For those that like to archive their Blue-ray or DVD disks by ripping them to a hard drive as ISO’s this is tremendous news.  Of course Netgear isn’t the only one who has this ability, but the fact of the matter is that Netgear’s name is quite popular and carries with it a tremendous amount of weight.  Even at $199, there aren’t that many Media Players that can do what the NeoTV 550 can with respect to High Definition video. 

Legit Bottom Line:
The Netgear NeoTV 550 Ultimate HD Media Player is a solid – but slightly expensive – high-definition media player. Netgear’s newest firmware release gives it an extra punch when viewing and listening to HD. While it plays most every media file under the sun, what really sets the NeoTV 550 apart from the crowd is its ability to play Blu-ray ISOs with menu navigation support.

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