Nice hardware – shame about the software
Review Fancy a TV tuner for your Mac or PC? Chances are you’ll be looking at a USB device, but there are limitations – the most obvious being it can only be used on one computer at a time. Offering an Ethernet alternative, SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun twin-tuner Freeview box can serve two computers with independent digital telly channels, and supports Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. Interested? We were.
Silicon Dust's HDHomeRun: pitched at those needing TV streamed over networks
Here at Vulture Central, if we use those godawful titchy portable aerials supplied with USB TV tuners, Freeview reception leaves a lot to be desired. We do have a wired TV aerial socket providing a clear signal, but that limits us to watching programmes on a television or computer located in that room.
We’ve looked at a number of options to get around this – signal amplifiers, multi-room TV systems and some very long extension cables – but a TV tuner that could stream live TV across our network to a computer in any room appears the most elegant solution.
Sling Media has been the only game in town, with its Slingbox Pro delivering Freeview over a local network. Now it's not alone. Hauppage tell us that its new PCTV Telescope will be able to stream live TV across a network, but we’re still waiting for that to arrive in the UK. So that leaves the HDHomeRun.
Sold here in the UK by Nectar Electronics for £159, the HDHomeRun is a nondescript - the less charitable will prefer the word 'fugly' - plastic box. Its two digital TV tuners are tucked around the back, each with its own antenna feed. There's also a 10/100Mb/s Ethernet interface to connect the unit to your network.
Twin tuners simultaneously stream two different TV channels
If the digital reception in your area is really good, you could simply plug two separate aerials into the twin tuners in the HDHomeRun. For us, the guys at Nectar recommended using a signal amplifier to split the signal from our aerial socket in two and then feed the signals into the HDHomeRun.
Almost all the Freeview DVRs available today have their two tuners fed by a single antenna socket, so this two tuners, two aerials approach seemed a step backwards. But at least it means one tuner can be used for Freeview and the other, potentially, for other services.