The Netgear NTV200 UI is based on Adobe StageCraft 1.2, but the fonts and the design of the home screen are nothing to write home about. In fact, the layout and ad-placement make for a very cluttered look. I am not a big fan of boxes like the Rokus and the NTV200 trying to shove advertisements down your throat (given that you have already paid money to purchase the unit). While the Roku has a pleasing 10-foot UI and just one ad beneath the carousel, the NTV200 goes overboard with two ads right on top. At the least, it would be nice if these boxes gave users the options of turning the ads off.

The NTV200 helpfully breaks up the various apps into different categories in the left pane. Like the Roku 2, we also have a selection of games, but the few that I tried didn't make for an interesting big screen experience. Unlike the Roku 2's BCM2835, I suspect that the BCM7615 lacks a 3D graphics engine explaining the lack of better games (like Angry Birds) and the staid user interface.

The remote control bundled with the unit is quite different from the usual remotes. For a small remote, it does feel quite solid in the hand, but I have seen people complaining about it too..

Fortunately, the NTV200 offers two other ways to control the unit. The first one is with the help of either an iOS or an Android device. Apps are available for both versions in the respective app stores. We took the Android app out for a spin and were quite satisfied with the functionality (except for the startup time, which could have been shorter). Some screenshots of the Android remote in action are given below.

The second way is through the HDMI-CEC link. I have had the opportunity to play with a large number of HDMI devices, and the NTV200 is one of the very few which actually implements good support for HDMI-CEC. With this, I was able to use my TV remote as well as receiver remote to carry out basic navigation as well as selection of menu items. Since the remote has only a few possible key press combinations, CEC with the NTV200 is much easier to use when compared to using it with other CEC enabled media streamers like the WDTV Live Streaming Media Player and the Popcorn Hour A300.


Unboxing and Setup Impressions Streaming Services - Netflix and Vudu
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  • raquel - Monday, December 26, 2011 - link

    I don't understand why you're saying this is better than the Roku when the only advantage it appears to have is Vudu support. I don't know anybody who uses Vudu.

    I don't know anybody who uses Amazon video, either. But everybody uses Netflix, and Roku has a better Netflix client. And Roku supports Hulu, which is pretty popular. And the cheap Roku costs less than this. And it supports supports Crackle, which the cheap people who buy these cheap boxes will appreciate since it's totally free. This thing isn't going to catch on like the Roku and it'll never have the support of Roku -- like keeping the Netflix client up to date, and like MKV support which Roku has now.

    I just don't see how this has anything going for it except as a cheap Vudu player if you're a huge Vudu fan and you don't have a PS3 or Xbox or Blu-ray player that supports Vudu.
  • ganeshts - Monday, December 26, 2011 - link

    My comparison holds water as long as you can grab this one for ~$50. Let me explain:

    The cheapest Roku 2 is only 720p, so the latest Netflix client and full 1080p is wasted in it. There is no wired Ethernet support and Wi-Fi is not universally reliable in the 2.4 GHz band, particularly in crowded neighborhoods. Netgear says this will get 1080p Netflix and supports wired Ethernet. Hardware-wise, this is surely one in the bag for NTV200.

    On to Vudu.. I am really not a big fan of the non-buffet services, but the quality of titles streamed on Vudu has to be seen to be believed. It is nice to have that extra option (say, when you want to rent a good quality movie once a month).

    Roku needs your credit card even to setup the player. NTV200 doesn't. That alone is a good enough reason for some people to avoid the Roku :)

    Playing back local media with Roku is often not worth the hassle.. The time and effort taken to get that up and running (often with a media server running all the time on a PC) is often worth more than the ~$20 one would save over the WDTV Live SMP.

    If you have got only $50 to spend, I still suggest going the NTV200 route (if only for Vudu). If you can spend more, get the WDTV Live SMP. Personally, I think Roku is surviving because they were the one of the first guys in this media streaming market, and they have a huge advertising budget. Technically, the WDTV Live SMP is miles ahead. And price wise, the NTV200 at $50 is what I would recommend in the general case. Of course, individual requirements might vary.
  • raquel - Monday, December 26, 2011 - link

    Best Buy and Staples have it for $60. It's a great deal if it's what you want. I just don't see there being many people saying, "I want to pay for premium streaming services but I need a box less than $100."

    If you're a big enough geek to have ethernet running through your house and you're paying for more streaming services than a cheap Netflix account, the WD TV Live has everything the NTV200 has plus Hulu Plus and Spotify and local media support.

    I guess I'm just biased towards the Roku. I watch a lot of Netflix, and everything has a pretty terrible client and an even more terrible remote. The PS3 Netflix client just recently got updated so it doesn't crash all the time. Most of the remotes have a bunch of tiny buttons that are all the same size. The only thing I can really stand to watch Netflix on is the Roku and the Wii. But if I liked the NTV200's Netflix client and remote and thought it would get good support and updates in the future, I would think it was the best thing ever.
  • LoosCarl - Sunday, January 1, 2012 - link

    Get this Netgear NeoTV (NTV200) Streaming Player from Amazon, if you missed it:

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