17th May 2008 | 14:20
The smallest TV tuner we’ve seen, this beauty still packs a punch
While it remains broadly true that tuners powered by Elgato's EyeTV application are better, richer solutions, Equinux's hard work on The Tube - the software that powers this latest model from Miglia - means that picking a hardware tuner based on it rather than Elgato's competing software is more about what you'd like to use your TV-capable Mac for, rather than making a decision based on which is objectively best.
The Tube 2.6 gives you the option of browsing the electronic programme guide that's broadcast with the DVB-T signal, or by hooking into an online service. There's only a German option configured by default, but it supports the emerging XMLTV standard.
There's also some nice social features; each programme has a chatroom automatically associated with it, you can tie your channels to another user, so that as he or she changes channel, yours follows suit, and because The Tube tracks how many people are watching which channel, you can simply watch whichever programme is most popular.
Your iPod-ready recordings can be synchronised with iTunes or they can be uploaded to .Mac or a FTP site to make them accessible from an iPhone or iPod touch on the go. Unlike EyeTV's approach, which only allows you to stream from a local folder and do some port forwarding trickery if you want to access your library over the internet - and are so constrained by your broadband's upload speed - The Tube's upload model with an easy-to-remember URL such as http://tubetogo.tv/macformat makes sense.
Cheap and Discreet hardware
The hardware itself is fantastically compact, and while the bundled antenna didn't work for us, we got a great digital signal when attached to a roof aerial.
Elgato currently has a better range of hardware options, and its EyeTV software is still richer and, for our money, easier to use. But this is a cheap, friendly bundle.