Netgear Ships Digital Entertainer HD

Netgear has announced the availability of its Digital Entertainer HD media receiver, intended to act as the living-room hub for digital entertainment—and give the forthcoming Apple TV a run for its money. The Digital Entertainer HD lets users use open standards to stream digital content to their televisions or home theater setups over their in-home network (via wired Ethernet or 802.11b/g Wi-Fi); the Digital Entertainer HD can pull in media from Windows and Macintosh computers, network-attached storage devices, and USB media. And it can also stream media from popular Internet media sources like YouTube, Flickr, and (ahem) BitTorrent.

"Consumers have been waiting for the ultimate entertainment solution to bring PC and Internet multimedia content to their HDTV. Our Digital Entertainer HD is the most advanced digital media device to do so, offering robust capabilities, a user-friendly interface, and an elegant design," said Vivek Pathela, Netgear’s VP of product marketing. "We designed it to give consumers the freedom to experience their collection of digital multimedia files in a way that takes full advantage of the latest HDTV technology and home entertainment systems."

One connected to a user’s home network, the Digital Entertainer HD automatically discovers movies, music, video, and photos available on the network (whether on computers or NAS devices) and organizes them into a single media library users access and manage on their television via a remote control, without needing separate media server software running on a separate host computer. Users can also use the Digital Entertainer HD to connect their iTunes libraries and iPods to their home audio system; Digital Entertainer HD can also tune into Internet radio and access RSS news feeds. The Digital Entertainer HD can stream unprotected media formats from Linux systems and Macs; it can also handle protected media on Windows systems via Windows Media Connect. The Digital Entertainer HD supports MP3,WAV, WMA, WMA-Pro, FLAC, M4A, AAC, AC3, and (get this) music purchased from iTunes, so long as it’s hosted on a Windows system. The unit also supports MPEG1/2/4, WMV, XviD, and H.264 video formats, and JPEG, BMP, PNG< and TIFF images.

The Digital Entertainer HD offers HDMI output, supporting video resolutions up to 1080p on high-definition televisions (S-Video, composite, and component video outputs are also available) while audio can go out via S/PDIF or standard stereo RCA connectors. The Digital Entertainer HD also sports two USB 2.0 ports.

The Digital Entertainer HD is available now from selected online retailers for $399; Netgear plans to make the system available worldwide in the second quarter of 2007.