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Setup

Setup was pretty much a non-event. I was surprised to not see a printed setup poster in the box, given the target customer. But it apparently got lost somewhere along the way, since NETGEAR says a printed setup guide normally does come in the box. The included CD contains PDF files for the user manual, setup sheet and "universal" remote that is the EVA9's main control source.

Also on the CD is the Digital Entertainer for Windows application, which is optional to install. I installed it to get a quick look at what it does, which is mainly to help you enable sharing for media-containing folders and make sure that the EVA9's network connection gets set up properly.

Digital Entertainer for Windows

Figure 4: Digital Entertainer for Windows

But since one of the EVA9's advantages over the EV8000 is that you don't need a PC to either act as a media server or to enable YouTube viewing, I didn't use the application for setup. Instead, I carried the EVA9 up to my living room where my Panasonic plasma set sits, connected Ethernet, power and HDMI (supplied!) cables and then powered up the unit.

After an attractive splash screen, a setup wizard auto-launched to guide me in setting the EVA9's output resolution, network and Internet connection and confirming that audio worked. It did not, however, automatically check for the firmware update (2.2.127 NA) that was available, which I found via the administrator update menu. In fact, there is no auto-update function. It doesn't appear that firmware is posted on the EVA9150's product support page, either. So you'll just have to manually check for updates from time to time.

Once setup was complete, the Main Menu page was displayed. Note that I asked NETGEAR to provide some of the screenshots for the review, since photographing TV screens is not my favorite thing. (You'll be able to see why when you see my screenshots!) Figure 5 shows the main screen with the Picture-In-Picture feature activated.

Main Menu

Figure 5: Main Menu

The "PIP" box appears anytime that you come back to the Main Menu while something is playing, whether it is video, slideshow or music. The Current Weather box will always display on the Main Menu as long as you have an Internet connection and input your ZIP code.

For comparison, Figure 6 shows the main menu page for the EVA8000 (without "PIP"). Aside from look and feel, the main menu selections and functionality are the same for both systems. The EVA9 uses a GUI "skin" system that can be used to change the GUI look. The EVA9 FAQ says that the product comes with two skins, but the selection menu shows only one.

EVA8000 Main Menu

Figure 6: EVA8000 Main Menu

Like the EVA8000, the EVA9 doesn't require a UPnP AV or DLNA server running on your network because it contains all the functions needed to scan your network for shares, build a list of playable video, audio and still image files and store the index for later use.

You'll be asked to scan for shares if you select the Advanced option in the setup wizard. Otherwise, you'll be prompted to load the Digital Entertainer for Windows application so that it can build the content database. Figure 7 shows the screen after the share scan where you can select the shares scanned for content files.

Network share selection

Figure 7: Network share selection

As in the EVA8000, you can set a periodic automatic scan for new files or do a quick scan. If you change servers or move content around, there isn't a way to delete individual folders or files from the database. The only way to get rid of the old ones is to launch a new full scan. I don't have a huge media library, with under 2,000 songs and images each and only a few dozen video files. So a full scan took easily less than 5 minutes to complete.

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