NETGEAR has just announced a new video-streaming box that turns any TV into a smart TV. The NETGEAR NeoTV Pro HD ($69), aka NTV200S, is an addition to the existing NeoTV ($49) box from the same company. Both boxes are affordable alternative to Roku products, which are themselves less expensive than Apple TV. This is a market that has been getting increasingly busy, although it is clear that in the long-term, smart TVs will get all of these functions built-in (heck, they even get cloud-gaming). That said, people tend to keep their televisions for a long time, so the market will exist for a while.
The NETGEAR NeoTV Pro HD basically add a Wireless Display functionality which was missing in the original NeoTV. This allows any computer equipped with Wireless Display (or WiDi) to beam an uncompressed 1080p video stream to the display that is connected to the NTV200S box via HDMI (with Dolby 5.1 surround sound, if available). The NETGEAR NeoTV Pro HD connects to the Internet via a 300Mbps WIFI connection.
Once connected, both NeoTV boxes will bring music and video web services like Vudu, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, or even Twitter to your television. Games, News, and pretty much anything that Smart TV get can also be accessed through NeoTV. The NTV200S comes with a small remote control, but it is also possible to download a free app for iOS or Android to control it over a smartphone or a tablet.
With the NeoTV Pro HD, NETGEAR is effectively preparing itself for a wider adoption of WiDi by laptop makers, and the general public. If things pan out like NETGEAR thinks they will, this would pretty much be the only box that can stream media and serve as a WiDi hub at the same time, for about $70. If WiDi is not of interest, users can fall back on the former NeoTV model that costs only $50.
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