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Multimedia & VoIP Reviews

Introduction

NETGEAR NeoTV Prime with Google TV

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR GTV100 NeoTV Prime with Google TV [Website]
Summary Inexpensive Google TV box with some streaming and local media playback features mixed in
Pros • DLNA support
• Built-in Chrome browser supports HTML5 and flash
• Plays content from USB
• Works with USB keyboard/mouse
• Android-based UI will feel familiar for Android smart phone users
Cons • HDMI and Ethernet cables not included
• No instruction manual
• Awkward live TV setup
• Touchpad difficult to use
• No support for local network SMB shares

Introduced at CES this year, the NeoTV Prime with Google TV is the latest entry in NETGEAR's family of media players. But if it's a family member, it's a very distant cousin. The Neo TV prime is first and foremost a Google TV device and secondly, a media streamer. The Prime's user interface and user experience bears scant resemblance to the NeoTV MAX that I reviewed last fall.

Product Tour

Like its NeoTV MAX sibling, the NeoTV Prime comes in a shiny black box with rounded corners. It's slightly larger than the MAX, measuring 4.7" x 4.1" x 1.5". Both devices sport the Neo TV logo on the front panel as well as a power indicator LED. On the side of each device, there's a single USB port that for a USB dirve that contains media files, or for a wired keyboard or mouse. You can also use a Bluetooth wireless keyboard/mouse. A standard keyboard or mouse can simplify typing in passwords as compared to using the Bluetooth remote's touchpad to select letters from the onscreen keyboard.(see image for remote below).

The NeoTV Prime's rear panel is where you'll find some differences shown in the comparison view below and the accompanying table. The Prime's key difference is its two HDMI ports. The Out port connects to your TV, while the In connects to your cable or satellite box.

Rear Panels for NeoTV MAX (left) and NeoTV Prime (right)

Rear Panels for NeoTV MAX (left) and NeoTV Prime (right)

Another key difference is that the Prime lacks the AV output jack that the NeoTV MAX has. So if your TV or cable/satellite box doesn't support HDMI, the Prime is not for you. The table below the images summarizes the rear panel features.

Rear Panel Features for the NeoTV Max and NeoTV Prime

Rear Panel Features for the NeoTV MAX and NeoTV Prime

As with all media players, the included remote control is very important. It is the primary way that you communicate with your device. While the infrared remote control included with the Neo TV MAX edged out its competition by including a QWERTY keyboard, the remote included with the NeoTV Prime improves on its sibling's remote in several ways.

First, the Prime’s remote control is Bluetooth rather than infrared. This makes it ideal for home theater systems where you might place the device out of direct line of sight. Second, on the rear of the remote, there are 57 keys on the Prime's keyboard as compared to only 38 keys on the MAX's keyboard. Like all of the remotes on media streamers I've reviewed, the NeoTV Prime's is not backlit.

The available functions on the front of the Prime's remote are also a notable improvement over those found on the MAX's remote. In addition to a touch pad for navigation, the Prime's remote includes dedicated keys for search, live TV, Guide, PIP (Picture in Picture), info, Mute as well as channel and volume Up/Down keys.

Both remotes (pictured below) include six dedicated keys that will take you directly to content such at Netflix and YouTube. However, based on my personal use of media players, I preferred the choices on the NeoTV MAX's remote as I use Hulu Plus and Pandora.

NeoTV Max remote (left) and NeoTV Prime remote (right)

NeoTV MAX remote (left) and NeoTV Prime remote (right)

As I've mentioned in other reviews, one of my pet peeves is a device without all the necessary cables. Like virtually all media players on the market, the NeoTV Prime does not ship with an HDMI cable. But it also doesn't ship with an Ethernet cable, which usually is included with all devices that have an Ethernet port. There have been some complaints in some of the forums about cables not being included, so I thought it was worth mentioning again in the review. If you order the Prime online, you may as well purchase the cables at the same time. Cables are a lot cheaper online than at a retail outlet.

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