Feature Tour - more
This page (Figure 15) is a subset of all content available through PlayOn and VuNow. But you're looking at NETGEAR's definition of "popular" since you can't edit this page. There are 91 entries on this list including the four default sites (Hulu, NetFlix, CNN, and CBS) available through PlayOn. The rest are provided through VuNow. Currently, the trial subscription of VuNow is valid through March of 2010. After March 2010, the trial period will be 60 days and an annual subscription will cost you $24.
NETGEAR has a new agreement with Verismo that the VuNow service on the EVA2000 will no longer require a subscription and is included free of additional subscription charges. This applies to previously sold and all future EVA2000s.
Figure 15: "Popular" Sites
On this page, you don’t have access to the IR-based keyboard, so finding your content involves scrolling through menus and using the page up/down keys, which can get tedious.
Live Internet TV
Figure 16 shows the first page of the Live Internet TV offerings, which is also provided via VuNow. So you'll need to buy a subscription at the end of the trial period if you want the feature. From what I saw, I'd skip it.
The Live Internet TV menu has entries for Americas, Europe, UK, Middle East, Asia as well as an entry for Live Radio. For the Americas, there are currently 160 entries. While that may sound like a lot, I didn’t find too many of them very interesting.
There were a lot of channels dedicated to local weather or special interests such as The Knot (weddings) or Rail TV, which broadcasts hours of movies of old trains chugging along the tracks(!). Similarly, there was a San Diego channel that was playing the agenda for an upcoming town council meeting. While these channels might provide hours of viewing pleasure for someone, that would not be me.
Figure 16: VuNow Live Internet TV for the Americas
Movies on Demand
Movies on Demand (Figure 17) is yet another pay-to-play option (are you seeing a pattern?) provided through NETGEAR’s partnership with Cinema Now, where you can either purchase or rent a movie through the EVA2000. But I was disappointed with the offerings of movies for rent.
Figure 17: Movies on Demand Rental Main Menu
It seemed like, at least for my random sample, there were a lot more movies for sale than for rent. For example, I searched for Star Trek and found none of the movies found were available for rent, but virtually all of them were for sale. I’m not sure about the licensing arrangements, but I would think that if you can sell a movie, you’d be able to rent it.
As with the menus for Hulu and NetFlix, etc., you can’t search using the keyboard. You have to navigate through menus and scroll down through pages (and pages) of selections.
As a hardware device, the Digital Entertainer Live delivers on what it promises. It's a simple to install and easy-to-use box that allows you to play your own or Internet media content on either standard or HDTVs. It also supports a wide range of video and audio file formats. Indeed, in my tests, it played Internet video without problems as well as multiple video formats I tried locally. It even played the .AVI files that came directly out of my digital camera.
If you have sufficient Internet bandwidth, and the providers have adequate server capacity, the video experience will be a good one. I did note, however, that on several occasions during my testing, I received errors indicating that VuNow's servers weren't available.
But from a content perspective, the EVA2000 falls far short of what it should have been. For $150, you're getting a basic 720p media player that will play your own digital media files and YouTube—hardly a step forward in digital media player technology. All other Internet-based content requires a yearly subscription and / or a relatively powerful Windows PC, and one-time license purchase. And even then, you're in the usual "walled-garden" that lets you access only "partner"-provided content.
Since we all know the wealth of content available for free if you're willing to use your computer to watch it, that's the benchmark by which all dedicated media players are measured. And, like all media players that have come before it, the EVA2000 misses the mark by a lot. But at least you'll pay only $150 to sit in front of your TV and wonder why someone can't just produce an inexpensive box that lets you watch any Internet content on your main TV from your favorite comfy chair.