Netgear unveils Android set-top box in your pocket

netgear-mediacastBetween Google TV devices and Chromecast, it would seem there are enough options to get Android into your living room. However Netgear has plans for one more for you, and this one is very much like the Chromecast produced by Google itself.

The device is called the NeoMediacast and it’s a pocket-sized HDMI dongle. With NeoMediacast, service providers can develop and operate a complete media streaming solution that supports their multi-screen video initiatives, where quick time-to-market is critical, much the same way as the Google version works.

“Consumers are clamoring for new options for accessing digital content across their screens, including their wide-screen HD TVs. With the NeoMediacast HDMI Dongle, our service provider customers have the means to provide a plug-and-play solution to their subscribers that also provides opportunities for additional revenue stream”, said Michael Clegg, senior vice president and general manager for Service Provider Business at Netgear.

The device comes with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), there’s an SDK for developers, Micro SD card slot, 802.11ac and is Miracast-enabled. It will be available in the first half of 2014 and no price has been announced.

Netgear goes Google TV at CES 2013

A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to review a Netgear NeoTV set top box. I liked it. The interface was a bit stark and simple, but everything worked very well. However, these days we want more from our set top boxes and Netgear needed to move on into the new generation, which meant either doing a lot of R&D to come up with its own new UI or adopt a different platform.

The company chose the latter option, deciding to go Google TV. At this weeks Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it unveiled the Netgear NeoTV Prime. Unlike many products seen at CES, this one not only WILL come to market, it HAS come to market. It is available for sale as I write this, retailing for $129.

NTV200S Front-Back

“Building on the features of NETGEAR NeoTV, NeoTV PRO and NeoTV MAX family of streaming players, the new NeoTV PRIME with Google TV extends your entertainment experience beyond just streaming video or even basic TV viewing. NeoTV PRIME opens up the world of apps from Google Play, delivering access to a growing library of entertainment including movies, TV shows, and music from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Crackle, Flixter, Rhapsody, Pandora and many more. Google Play gives you movies and new releases in HD, music albums, and apps designed specifically for the TV.”

While it is priced just bit higher than some competitors like Vizio, Netgear has a history of producing solid hardware, so there is no reason to think this box will be anything less. Google TV is moving into the mainstream in a big way, both with set top boxes and built into smart TV’s.

Netgear Unveil New Router and More

Netgear has remained a favorite in the tech world thanks to their great routers and innovative TV boxes, along with various other offerings.  This year’s CES didn’t change that as they introduced such products as a new version of the N900 Router that has been integrated with media storage to create the new Netgear Media Storage Router.

The new router takes backups of all of your media, whether it’s on a PC or Mac.  You can then use this central location to stream all of your media to any other device in your home.  The new device is geared towards cord-cutters, and there are more of those every single day.  The Netgear router takes the speed of the N900 and combines it with this storage to make a solution that will work with multiple home devices, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones.

You can get more comprehensive information on the latest offerings from Netgear, including this and other products, by visiting Netgear, or by checking out the video below. TPN’s own Andy McCaskey chats with Netgear about this new router and gets the scoop on exactly what you can expect.

Hands On: Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Extender

Recently I received a review unit of the Netgear WN2000RPT WiFi Extender.  It’s a tool that I am surprisingly well qualified to test.  You see, we live in an old, restored Victorian and my office, and router, are on the third floor.  However, most life takes place on the first two floors, where a laptop, tablet, and smartphones are in use.  Connectivity is there, it’s just not great.  It’s a long way for a “G” router to throw it’s signal.

The WN2000RPT comes with a simple setup and simple controls.  There are 4 wired ethernet ports on the back, along with a power switch.  On the front, there are five indicators that show your current status.  Colors change from yellow to green based on connection.  Different indicators light based on what you are doing.  It’s very simple and straight-forward in use.  You can place it anywhere that you have at least a small connection to the router.

Find a place to put the extender, plug it in, and turn it on.  Once it makes a connection to your home network the LED indicator will turn green.  Use your device to connect to the extender.  Once connected you will need to open your web browser – it doesn’t matter which one you use, any web browser will work here.  It should open to the site http://www.mywifiext.net  From there the wizard will walk you through a simple set-up process.  Once finished, the network name will change to YourNetworkName-Ext.

Our laptop normally has one or two bars on the first floor – not exactly unusable, but it makes web site load times a bit slower than what they are on the desktop with it’s wired connection.  Of course WiFi can never match ethernet, but it can come reasonably close.

Once I reconnect to the Extender with the laptop I received four full bars.  Web sites loaded much faster – noticeably so.  The extender is sitting in the same room as the laptop – there was one bar when connected to the router, which is two floors overheard.  The WN2000RPT requires very little signal strength to get a foothold and boost the signal up.

To further test the difference the Netgear device could make I used an app on my phone called WiFi Analyzer.  I took a reading near where the laptop and extender were located.  The router is graphed in blue, while the extender if depicted in red.

The Netgear WN2000RPT retails for around $70 – about the same price as a good router.  If you have a relatively small home to cover  – say 2000 square feet – then it’s probably not necessary.  But, if you have larger space that you want to blanket with WiFi, and especially if your are slinging media around, then this is a must-have.  The additional signal strength this device provided was more than noticeable, as you can see in the pictures above.  It has made our first-floor devices much more useful now that we no longer need to walk around looking for the best spot for a signal.

The only drawback I found was with my phone.  While it can see, and “connect” to the extender, unfortunately Android does not support DHCP.  So, even though it “connected”, it could not use the connection.  Since the the laptop and tablet were the major devices involved in our daily home-use, this was only a minor setback.

[UPDATE: In fact, Android DOES support DHCP.  It seems that I needed to visit mywifiext.com with each device to enable, and the I was able to get it working flawlessly]

In the end the Netgear WN2000RPT proved to be more than worth its relatively minor cost.  It provided a significant signal boost and it could do so from almost nothing.  The connection was solid, never dropping out, as some WiFi can do.  And, you can pick one up online for $60-70, so it’s really a great little addition to any home that lacks a quality WiFi signal everywhere.

 

Netgear New Routers, Wireless and Powerline Products

Andy and Esby get the latest on Netgear from David Henry, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Netgear consumer products. There’s a range of Netgear products on show including their flagship wireless router, an N600 dual band wireless router with gigabit ports – the WNDR3700 ($169).

David covers some recent advances in router technology and how Netgear is making it easier for consumers to use what are now much more advanced products, whether it’s wifi, firewalls or routers. Frankly even I don’t understand some of the options on the more complex devices. The WNDR3700 uses push-button WPS to the get the wireless all paired up.

Many of you have wireless dead spots in your home, often because of the fabric of the building or else simply because of the location of the inbound cable or telephone connection. You also may not be able to replace your main router if that’s provided by your cable supplier. If you are in this situation, check out their wireless range extenders.

If wireless isn’t for you, David also covers the new 500 Mb/s Powerline (Homeplug) products and how to get your connected TV or media streamer wired up with network connectivity. For HD video, you need fast data rates and these will deliver the data rates you need.

Lots of great info here on what’s new from Netgear so give it a watch.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and  Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com.

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Netgear Roku XD Player

Over 25,000 people are now watching Geek News Central on the Roku, and I was very excited to see that Roku has apparently made a distribution deal with Netgear. The evidence is this image that has surfaced at the FCC hat tip to wirelessgoodness.com for the source on this.

Up to this point the only way you could purchase a Roku was to do so online. You could not stroll into Best Buy and pick one up, now with Netgear’s International distribution chain that will not be the case for much longer. This equals more units in consumers homes, and more chances that we will pick up a new audience member.  If you do not think I am not excited about this space then you have not been listening to my show and or watching what we have been doing in this space at RawVoice.

So an early congratulations to the team at Roku for doing this deal, and we look forward to all the viewers when nation wide distribution of this new Roku box gets underway.

GNC-2010-09-03 #607 What till you see the Bear!

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