With the exception of Apple’s heralded iPad there really hasn’t been many technological announcements that have excited the TotalApps team. Even the Apple iPad doesn’t fill me with the same “I have to have it” feeling the iPhone launch created.
Yesterday all that changed and the excitements were at their highest for 2010 when I managed to get my hands on Elgato’s new revolutionary EyeTV Netstream DTT.
I can’t hide my love for the Elgato range of TV devices they are a key influence in my switch from PC to Mac. Having literally fought with Windows Media Center devices over the years the refreshing ease of use brought by the EyeTV software was not only refreshing it had me well and truly hooked.
This time Elgato have certainly upped the ante moving from the traditional USB TV device to a network attached adaptor for multi-computer access…….. At this point you probably envisage a system that is going to be complicated to configure and even harder for all members of the family to actually use yet the reality is the EyeTV Netstream DTT couldn’t be easier to set up. I was literally up and running in ten minutes.
As Apple recently acknowledged most of their customers are moving to laptop / mobile devices over the traditional desktop configuration. Part of the problem with traditional TV devices is you basically have to situate your computer near the wall interface of your home antenna, this can create a logistical barrier for many users.
The EyeTV Netstream DTT solves this problem. Connect the the device to power, your router and your TV antenna and every computer with access to your network can make use of two TV adaptors (i.e. two computers at any one time). In the UK most new homes have a TV adaptor and phone adaptor by their main TV for use by the likes of Sky systems and this is the perfect location for the Netstream DTT although it will work anywhere that has access to a network connection (wired) and your TV antenna.
Opening the box reveals a sleek, solid silver adaptor that come supplied with the usual accessories, network cable, power, mini antenna and two copies of EyeTV 3, Elgatos amazing TV recording, watching and editing application. (Read our tutorials here)
Setting up the EyeTV Netstream DTT is simple, connect the power, TV antenna and network cable and the device is pretty much ready for use, the yellow LED on the front turns to green to indicate successful installation. Unlike other dual tuner devices the Netstream DTT only requires a single antenna connection which to be is a massive plus.
The EyeTV DTT is a remarkable looking device, it looks sleek beside any TV and it would be difficult for Elgato to have made it any smaller. The device can be set neatly beside your other home entertainment hardware and the case has also be designed for wall mounting if desired.
Although not essential one tip I would suggest is if you use DHCP to distribute IP addresses to devices on your network I would recommend setting a static IP address (see the Netstream web interface)or making a reservation for the Netstream. This just makes locating the device in your browser that bit easier.
I decided to opt for a fresh install of EyeTV 3 and expected some complicated additional steps given I was setting up a network adaptor. I was wrong, no subnets, no IP address, no default gatewats EyeTV 3 instantly found the device and within 5 minutes of searching for channels I was happily watching BBC1. Did I mention it supports HD TV ?
In my mind running applications over a network never feels that reliable so I decided to do a few tests.
1. Firstly I tested watching and then recording TV over ethernet and obviously as this is the best connection my network has to offer and it worked perfectly.
2. I then tested copying an 800MB file from one computer to the other while watching TV and again this wasn’t an issue.
Moving to a wireless configuration I really expected the Netstream to struggle but I am particularly excited by the fact it didn’t.
3. Via wireless I was instantly able to watch any TV channel and it really felt like I had one of the standard USB devices attached.
4. I then recopied the 800MB file (also via wifi) while playing on Xbox live and while watching BBC 1. Despite numorous attempts to break the system or put the network under enough pressure for it to struggle I failed, this is genuinely a network TV solution that works.
The web interface
The Netstream hardware is also accessible from any web browser on your network although it doesn’t offer the ability to watch TV via the browser window. For most users there isn’t any real reason to access the device directly and if you are not network savvy the easiest way of accessing the device is by loading EyeTV 3, load the “preferences” and in “devices” click on “info”.
Once loaded you have direct access to the Netstream hardware. The web interface offers the ability to check the status of the device, update the network settings and additional setup information. You can protect this configuration page via a PIN number that can be easily changed.
Streaming via mu files.
It is also possible to view streaming TV by downloading the m3u file in the channels menu. Obviously it isn’t possible to pause live TV or record a programme but it is really quick way of accessing the full set of freeview channels via any computer in your home that has network access.
If you live a household of Mac and PC computers then fear not the EyeTV Netstream DTT is compatible with Windows 7 and works great with Windows Media Center. The included TerraTec Home Cinema software for Windows supports many of the same features that are offered by EyeTV 3 software.
Finally if you are thinking your router is no where near your TV antenna then fear not, the device works with earth networking adaptors (see the terrible iPhone photo below). I was able to set up the EyeTV Netstream DTT on the other side of my house and connect it to the router by the popular plug adaptors.
It is hard not to get over excited about this device. The EyeTV Netstream DTT is set to revolutionise television home entertainment, it seamlessly integrates the full compliment of digital channels (including HD) to every computer on your home network yet is one of the easiest TV devices I have ever set up. Within ten minutes of opening the box your whole family can enjoy TV literally anywhere they have local network access.
It is genuinely hard to fault this device and better still it has just freed up a desperately need USB connection on my Mac.