Elgato EyeTV Netstream DTT £230
23rd May 2010 | 10:00
Pipe digital TV to all the PCs in your house with this neat little device
Apple fanboys already love Elgato's sublime USB TV adapters that turn Macs into powerful hard drive-packing TVs, but the Elgato EyeTV Netstream DTT Windows-compatible tuner takes a big step forward.
Connecting directly with your aerial and wireless router, it sends crisp Freeview images to all the computers on your network.
This simple-looking box contains two DVB-T tuners and has connections for a terrestrial aerial and network cable. The hard work is done by your computer's processor, while the buffering and recording is all dumped on its hard drive. All you see is the superb EyeTV software interface (Mac) or TerraTec's Home Cinema software or Windows Media Center (PC).
It's all about convenience, so setup is just a case of plugging in the terrestrial aerial and network cable, loading the software, and logging your computer on. An unobtrusive control panel will pop up alongside your video window, which can, of course, fill the whole screen.
With two tuners you can record two shows at once, or two users can log in and surf channels. EyeTV and TerraTec Home Cinema both rely on an (included) tvtv subscription to fill the 14-day EPG with data. Windows Media Center gets more basic info from elsewhere.
Features like series linking require the tvtv subscription, but basic EPG info is available even after your subscription has run out. Recordings can then be easily exported into Toast or its PC equivalent for burning onto disc, or converted for watching on a PSP, iPod, or Apple TV.
Wireless hookup was solid; with a reasonably up-to-date laptop and a robust home network you shouldn't see any freezing or fuzzing. Just make sure you have enough hard disk space for the buffer, or point the software to an external drive for whole films.
With no quality settings you see just the same lossless video stream, which looks crisp and well resolved.
The big catch is that you only have SD channels to choose from. It can readily receive and record an HD DVB-T1 signal in its native Germany (and the rest of the world), but not in the UK, where we use DVB-T2 for HD.
Elgato's device is the easiest way to get TV onto your home computers, bar none. But in a world of free HD broadcasts, this SD device is also a little frustrating.
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