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NETGEAR NeoTV MAX Reviewed

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Introduction

NetGear NeoTV MAX

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR NTV300SL NeoTV MAX Streaming Player [website]
Summary Media player primarily focused on Internet streaming services with support for Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
Pros • "N300" wireless
• Easy setup
• QWERTY keyboard on back of remote
• Supports Intel WiDi
• Large number of Internet content providers
Cons • Remote lacks page up/down navigation buttons
• WiDi can be difficult to set up
• DLNA only; no share browsing to access local content
• Very limited video format support
• No user manual
• 2.4 GHz only

If your TV doesn't have access to streaming content from the Internet, you're behind the times. Many current HDTVs have Internet applications built in that provide access to a wide range of Internet content. With these sets, all you need is an Internet connection (wired or wireless) to your home network and you're in business.

But many legacy TVs, as well as new TVs with smaller screens, lack"Smart TV" features. But you don't have to toss out the old TV and buy a new one (though if you still have a tube TV, it's probably time to upgrade). You have choices. You can either buy a Blu-ray player that has built-in Internet capabilities or you can purchase a "streamer".

A streamer is a small box that connects to your Internet-connected home network and to your TV through one of the TV's inputs. We have reviewed many of these streamers, including a head-to-head comparison between Western Digital's WDTV Live and the Roku 2XS about a year ago.In this review, I'll be looking at NETGEAR's NeoTV MAX. Since I currently have a WDTV Live connected to my TV, I'll also be making comparisons between it and the NeoTV MAX.

As the name might suggest, the NeoTV MAX sits at the top-of-the line of NETGEAR's media players. The the two streamers below the MAX have a reduced feature set and a lower price. The figure below, courtesy of NETGEAR, shows the feature comparison between the three models, which have a fairly compressed price range.

The entry level NTV300 has a list price of $49.99; the NeoTV PRO lists for $59.99; the MAX lists for $69.99. As compared to the entry level, the Pro adds dual stream "N" (N300), support for WiDi and an analog output to support legacy TVs with only a composite input. With the MAX, you pick up player support for DLNA/USB files, a QWERTY remote, a MicroSD memory slot and support for VUDU 3D.

Neo TV product line comparison

NeoTV product line comparison

Product Tour

Like all media streamers, the NeoTV Max is a fairly simple device. The NeoTV MAX is contained in a small plastic "hockey puck" case measuring 3.62" X 3.62" X 0.98". It has a highly polished glossy surface which really is a fingerprint magnet. I prefer the matte finish on the WDTV Live, as it doesn't show fingerprints at all.

The figure below shows both the front and rear panels. The front panel only has as a power LED and the NeoTV logo. The rear panel has a power connector, 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, HDMI port, a composite video/stereo port, a pin reset hole and a slot for a micro SD card. The right side of the box (not shown) has a single USB 2.0 port. There are no mounting screw slots on the bottom.

NeoTV MAX front and rear panels

NeoTV MAX front and rear panels

There are no indicator lights on the Ethernet port, so you don't really know if you have link status. In contrast, the WDTV Live's Ethernet port has two LEDs to indicate link/activity. The WD also has a second USB port on its rear panel and another on its front, an arrangement I prefer over the MAX' side-mounted port.

The MAX comes with an IR remote control, power supply and an analog cable that you can use to connect to a composite video input on your TV. Neither it, nor the WD ships with an Ethernet or HDMI cable, however.

One of my pet peeves are products that ship without everything needed to connect and use them. Both of these streamers barely meet that threshold; you could connect to your network via wireless and you could connect to your TV using the composite cable. But frankly, I'm not buying a media streamer to connect to a 480i display. When I bought my first flatscreen TV, I ordered several HDMI cables online. It's a lot cheaper to by them online than at a retail store.

The NeoTV MAX has an edge over other streamer remotes by virtue of its QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard speeds entry of your Internet credentials when you first configure the device for your subscribed Internet services. The figure below shows both the front and back of the MAX's remote. Like all inexpensive remotes bundled with streamers, neither the front nor back of the MAX' remote is backlit.

I also like the instant access buttons on the front of the control for the most popular Internet services. It saves you from having to navigate through the menus to select a service. The unlock key is a nice touch, too, preventing unintended keypresses when using the top side of the remote.

NeoTV MAX features a dual sided remote with a QWERTY keyboard

NeoTV MAX features a dual sided remote with a QWERTY keyboard

However, the NeoTV MAX remote is lacking a couple of buttons that I use frequently on my WDTV Live's remote: a mute button - useful for when you get a phone call; a subtitle key for enabling subtitles (if the content supports it); and a direct access button for the setup menu. The remote on the WDTV Live also has buttons labeled for Previous Page and Next Page. I discovered that you get the same functionality by using the Next and Previous keys on the NeoTV Max's remote.

For some applications, the NeoTV MAX obscures the each character as you type it so you can't visually verify your input when entering passwords. WD does a better job with this, leaving each character on the screen until you press the next key and then obscuring it.This gives you a chance to visually confirm your input - very useful if you have long and complex password.

I also noticed that you need to be fairly accurate when you press the arrow keys. They are very close to the four colored menu navigation keys in the corners. For example, it's easy to hit the "green" key in the upper right when you are attempting to use the up or right arrow without looking at the remote.

There are also NeoTV remote control applications for both Android and iOS devices. In order for these to work, your mobile device has to be connected to the same subnet as the media player. This wireless remote would be very useful if you mount the MAX behind your TV and not in direct line of site for the standard IR-based controller. I installed the Android app on my Droid Razr, and it seemed very responsive. There are a few shots of the app in the screenshot composite below.

Mobile app for iOS or Android
Mobile app for iOS or Android



Related Items:

NETGEAR Outs New Streamers and Miracast Display Adapter
WD TV Play Reviewed
Two More $100 Streamers Compared: Roku 2 XS vs. NETGEAR NeoTV MAX
Western Digital WD TV Reviewed
NETGEAR NeoTV Prime with Google TV Reviewed

User reviews

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Average user rating from: 7 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

User Rating    [Back to Top]
Overall: 
 
2.3 Features :
 
2.0 Performance :
 
2.4 Reliability :
 
2.4
 
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It is pretty decent, WiDi is wonderful.

Overall rating: 
 
4.0
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
4.0
Reviewed by Dennys Orozco
October 20, 2013
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Features
I have barely used any other feature other than WiDi, but I got to say that its pretty great to be able to have a second screen without any wires, and the best part is that it works on any tv since it has an RCA connector and my TV is quite old, missing an HDMI connection I was never able to use any sort of streaming content devices or connect to any of my PCs/Laptops. Videos and Images look great through it. Programs not so much as with 1080p resolution on a 480p Television makes the font unreadable but I am guessing that it works better on a higher res TV.

Performance
The box was quite slow, or at least not as fast as what I am used to dealing with, but not unuseable, just need some patience (something other reviewers do not have) to wait for apps to load. WiDi runs with very little delay.

Reliability
Has only frozen once, and it was my fault, not a random freezing.

 

Perfect for my viewing habits

Overall rating: 
 
4.0
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
4.0
Reviewed by Cyn Haynes
September 28, 2013
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I actually have 3 streaming media devices and have had a smart tv in the past.
In response to the review stating there is no page up/down button on the remote... actually, the chapter forward buttons will do that.

Yes, sometimes it freezes up. That's usually when it gets too hot. If I stand it on it's side, it doesn't do that nearly as much. I also have a Roku 2 that will just completely reset itself and get stuck on the logo screen even if I do unplug and plug back in, (and sometimes it will unpair itself from the remote so I have to use an app on my phone just to get the remote re-paired up again) so it's a toss up.

I don't like that I can't add more apps, and I don[t like that it doesn't have Amazon Instant (at this time) BUT.... I have a Wii and a Roku 2 that do. That being said, the Neotv Max 300 is the only one I'll watch Netflix or USB videos on. It has the option of continuous play. With Netflix, It will play 3 episodes of a series continually (pausing in between in case you don't want to continue) and if playing uninterrupted on the 4th episode, it will pop up with a screen asking if you're still watching. My other devices, including my old smart tv, all only played one and then you had to select the next. As far as USB media goes, so far I haven't run into a file type it won't play via USB (DLNA not as many supported) and when I open a folder to play a file, it continuously plays every file in that folder. The only way I can do that on my Roku 2 is with a PAID app.
That may not seem like a big deal, but I like to watch while I'm cooking, washing dishes, or otherwise doing things that keep my hands occupied. It's more like watching natural tv when it continuously plays. It's also handy during late nights when my baby can't sleep. I can start something for me to watch while I hold the baby and I don't have to constantly reach for the remote. Not everyone has these problems, true, but I am really happy with my NeoTv Max. My Roku 2 just doesn't stand up to the NeoTV Max due to the things that are important to me about my viewing habits. The only reason I didn't send my Roku back is because of the BabyFirst TV app that isn't available anywhere else.

Bottom line, you have to decide what YOU PERSONALLY want out of a media player and make your decision.

 

Its Not All That

Overall rating: 
 
2.3
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by Jessica DaSilva
June 15, 2013
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Its Not all that And could be Overhauled tremendously! Alot of the apps dont make sence Like the ALJAZEERA app?...Like WTH Do i need with that?..Most are just clips ..Im thinking of returning the box . In all honesty , whoever is sitting in their big office and making Loads of money for coming up with the apps for these boxes needs to have a head check!.

 

Netgear NeoTV MAX is unusable.

Overall rating: 
 
1.0
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Jerry Prado
June 11, 2013
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The streaming player frequently locks up and requires that you unplug the wall wart. This is a pain if you have it velcroed to your TV and it is unreachably high.

User Interface:
The UI is the slowest I have ever seen. And since it freezes so often, you never no if it locked up or its just being slow.

Features:
It has far less functionality than its predecessor, the 550. The 550 allowed you to browse network folders and select any media. The MAX requires you to run a DLNA server to host your media. Although it plays many formats, most DLNA servers force you to transcode ISOs and other lossless formats. Yuk...A big step backwards here:

Reliability:
Mount it somewhere that you can unplug it often...you will be doing this a lot!

Don't let your return period expire like I did..take it back before its too late.

 

Not what it says

Overall rating: 
 
1.7
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
2.0
Reliability:
 
2.0
Reviewed by iakath
February 26, 2013
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This simple box that was released in the aftermath of the Boxee Box decline, made itself sound simmilar to the Boxee. It is certainly not. This slow, unreliable machine has few usefull apps, no way to add apps. Though inexpensive, it has trouble playing netflix! AND most apps are no good, requiring the user to be in the usa or speak a different language. Is it worth the money? depends on what you want. For me, no. If you are a cord cutter, get a Boxee and stick with it.

 
 
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