Versatile media streamer with a built-in hard disk
If you have a stash of photos, video and music on your computer, a streaming device such as the Netgear Digital Entertainer Elite will let you enjoy them on a televison set or hi-fi in another room.
The Digital Entertainer Elite is about the same size as a DVD player and will hook up to a variety of sources, including PCs on your network, attached USB memory keys (there are two USB ports available) and online video services such as Youtube.
As we’re seeing more often on such devices, this one comes with a 500GB hard disk, which means you can copy files onto the device itself, especially useful if a slow wireless home network causes streamed video to stutter. That said, if you have a newer 802.11n wireless router the Digital Entertainer Elite will be able to take full advantage of its faster speeds.
A wide range of sockets at the rear include an HDMI port, which allows for connection to a flat-panel screen, should you have a suitable one, for viewing high-definition video. Other video outputs include Scart and component video, while both digital and standard analogue audio outputs are available.
The vast array of buttons on the remote took a bit of getting used to, but thanks to intuitive menus the interface was easy to navigate and the setup wizard made installation a breeze. Once the device is connected to a home network, the Netgear software will need to be installed on any PCs from which you want to stream media, after which it will scurry around your computers, looking for suitable files to add to its library.
A major problem with many media streamers is that they only play back certain file formats. Netgear, however, has done a sterling job: the Digital Entertainer Elite was able to play just about any file format that's thrown at it, including music tracks bought online, which some devices find hard to play. It was also extremely quiet during operation, with the small fan barely audible.
Those looking for an all-encompassing media streamer will find it hard to fault the Digital Entertainer Elite. It's easy to use, plays all major file formats and is absolutely loaded with features.
The only problem – and the only thing holding it back from full marks – is that it's expensive, but shop around and it can be picked up for £50 below the list price.
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One of the most versatile media streamers we've seen, but also one of the most expensive Good points Built-in hard disk; high-definition support; easy to use; excellent format support Bad points Expensive; remote control takes some getting used to
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