Netgear has announced their Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 media adapter. It will allow you to discover and stream media from multiple computers on your home network. You can play movies, including HD movies, music and view photographs from any of your network attached computers. The device will organize all the media files you own into one library that you can see on your TV screen. It can play songs from your iPod or any other storage device or MP3 player that can connect to the USB port and you can also play music from your iTunes library, play streaming internet radio, watch You Tube videos or even see your computer desktop. All functions can be controlled through an onscreen menu with an included remote control.
It supports HD BitTorrent video downloads with an eye to a future BitTorrent store where licensed content could be purchased. Usual DRM restrictions will apply in that case.
The device is equipped with draft 802.11n WiFi. For video output it has 1080p HDMI, S-video, composite, component and RCA ports. For audio, there is both coaxial and optical digital outputs. If your computer has a TV tuner card, then you can use the Entertainer to schedule program recording a la a DVR, a follow me feature so you can pause a program in one room and restart it in another. There is also a “Party Mode” that will show the same content on all TV’s in the house.
A couple quick caveats: some features, such as the follow me feature, require you to have multiple units. Also, the included software to play your iTunes library or You Tube videos only works with the Microsoft OS.
This is really a device that centralizes a lot of functions that can already be done with a combination of other devices/software, but the 1080p output is a definite plus. Should be available in the first quarter of 2007 for $349.