Elgato EyeTV Mobile
iDevice digital telly on the go
Geek Treat of the Week The sooner 2012 has been and gone, the better. By the time next year is out, Britain will no longer be transmitting terrestrial telly signals in analogue, and products like Elgato's EyeTV Mobile will be considerably more useful than they are now.
True, that largely depends on Arqiva, the business that runs the terrestrial transmitter network, upping the output power of its aerials, but this is apparently what is planned.
Hook the EyeTV Mobile - a wee, 14g, 41 x 31 x 11mm unit the size of a book of matches that clips onto your iDevice's dock connector - to a roof antenna - not that there's a bundled adaptor for this - and it's well able to suck down all the channels - TV and radio - transmitted digitally in the UK.
As ever, Elgato's software - free, this time - presents a stylish, info-packed EPG. It turns your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone into a mini DVR, allowing you to record shows for later viewing. Live shows can be paused, rewound and so forth.
It rather nicely lets you swipe from one channel to the next while you're watching a programme.
It doesn't allow you to create a favourites list - handy for hiding Freeview's far too many shopping channels - but you can at least sort the EPG and put all the crap out of the way at the bottom of the list.
The EyeTV Mobile's only downside - and this is not Elgato's fault - is that the either of the two wee antennae it ships with, one a telescopic job, the other on a cable and designed to be plungered to a convenient flat surface - aren't up to getting all the digital channels thanks to the aforementioned weak Freeview signal.
EyeTV Mobile's use with a solid feed proves it's not the gadget at fault, but this nonetheless limits the utility of a device intended to be used when you're out and about. This is a casual-use offering, not a 24x7 DVR in a small form-factor. At almost £100, it's a bit on the pricey side.
Those points aside, it's a rather nice product. The Mobile contains its own, micro USB-rechargeable battery, but it'll rarely need charging, Elgato claims, provided you disconnect it when it's not needed. Connected, the unit draws its own power until you run the EyeTV Mobile app, at which point it draws power from the iPad's battery. Turn off wireless and you'll get eight hours' recording time, the company says. ®
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A word of caution about this product (from one who owns and is happy with an earlier model) - as elgato state on their website, they DON'T handle the freeview HD signal (the DVB-T2 standard). So it's standard def only, which may be fine on smaller screens, but makes the product line look a bit outdated and due for update?
Re: "iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone"
Can't address the iPod Touch, but it works on my iPhone 4.
"iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone"
Er, iPad 2 only according to their website.
EyeTV products are excellent quality and the software is very good too. But they are very much consumer products - beyond standard digital Freeview (ie. not HD) don't expect any technical abilities or bells and whistles.
I use an EyeTV USB widget to watch Freeview while travelling, but it is VERY hard getting a signal, and if you're moving forget about it. As you quite rightly point out this is a failing of the Freeview digital broadcast strength not the product, but it does limit the market of these products.
Or is it plain vanilla obsolete DVB-T + MPEG2 + MP2 only?
The UK will have SD on DVB-T2 + MPEG4 ffrom end 2012
Some countries ONLY have MPEG4 SD.
The DTT networks in UK and Ireland are planned assuming roof top aerial. Only those areas in direct close view of transmitter can expect an Indoor aerial to work.
With free wi-fi and cheaper 3G coverage growing every day, why would you want to add a hardware module such as this to get TV?
OK, so there might be a few areas where you get Freeview but can't get a 3G signal - but would you really be wanting to watch Freeview in those places anyway?
The geek in me loves the idea of EyeTV, but the business head says they've just developed the double sided CD player.