The first thing you notice about the Netgear NeoTV MAX is just how small the device is. I have a pretty long HDMI cable and when I connected it to the machine, it almost pulled the device from off the table. The NeoTV is smaller than the Apple TV and that might be why my wireless connection was so spotty. For the first few days of use, the NeoTV connected to my Netgear R6300 with no problem to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channel. The built-in Wireless-N receiver is rated at N300 so that should be good enough to wireless stream 720p HD video.
Once you get into the GUI, you will notice (besides all of the different applications) is that all of these applications are placed into a sub-category that you can easily access: “My Channels”, “Most Popular”, “Movies & TV”, “News & Education”, Web TV”, “Music & Photos”, “Lifestyle”, and “Games”.
Once you found your content that you want to view, it is fairly simple to click and go. Many of the apps like Netflix, Vudu, etc., require the user to type in their username and password. When we set up our Pandora account it was an opportunity to use the QWERTY keyboard on the opposite side of the remote.
Using the remote was not as easy as I was hoping. Yes, I think it’s a great idea to include a fully-functional remote control, but it took me a while to get used to how the thing actually worked. First, you have to hit the “unlock” button to start using it. I wasn’t quite sure where to try and point the remote since my keystrokes weren’t always registered. It took a while, but after multiple tries using the remote to search, I finally got the hang of it. As far as I could tell, there was only one IR emitter so holding the remote at the correct angle.
Another thing that I didn’t like about the remote was that it didn’t have all the functions of a typical A/V remote. I would have really like to have seen volume control on the remote so that I don’t have to keep picking up the television remote.
I did like the 6 physical shortcut buttons on the remote. Obviously, these are the major partners that Netgear is trying to get consumers to go visit. Overall, the remote with the QWERTY pad on one side and basic navigation on the other, works pretty well. It would have been nice to have a volume button or even a subtitle, our audio track selection button. The remote give someone at least basic use of navigating around the NeoTV.