When Netgear announced a short time ago that they'd be going right after Roku by undercutting the 2 XS's price, it finally appeared that the media streaming market would get some long overdue competition.
It's only fitting that as I was handing in my Netgear NeoTV review that Roku bit back, delivering to CNET a new and very capable LT model that costs only $50. The LT doesn't sacrifice any major functionality, and the device retains all the content support that Roku's success has been founded on.
Netgear's NeoTV is certainly an attractively priced device, going for around $75 depending where you shop online. Its main (and pretty much only) functionality is content delivery, with tons of preprogrammed channels built into its user interface.
The NeoTV itself is supersmall, covered in a shiny black plastic encasing. Measuring 4 inches wide by 4 inches deep by 1 inch tall, it practically fits anywhere and is reasonably small enough to be considered portable.
NeoTV provides one-click access to dozens of content providers including Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, TED, Revision3, CNN, and even our own CNET. These channels are displayed in a gridlike fashion and are further categorized on the main screen's left side. NeoTV also offers 10 playable games onscreen, though I'm really not into playing games with a TV remote control. They range from card games like Blackjack and Hold 'em to Sudoku and Connect 4. I suppose they're good enough to pass a few minutes of time, but it's not a bullet-point feature of the unit.
I really like how zippy the remote control response onscreen is--there's very little noticeable lag in navigating through the various categories and settings. The overall presentation is really sharp (my testing was done in 1080p mode) and the video stream does an excellent job of switching feed qualities during playback. Videos start very quick and almost always improve in quality after about 20 to 30 seconds in.