Elgato’s EyeTV Mobile offers viewers a way to watch Freeview, without the need to stream content via the internet or rely on dedicated iOS apps. TVCatchup, BBC iPlayer and the like are useful options, but Elgato’s latest TV tuner adds the ability to record favourite shows onto your iPad for viewing when no internet or TV reception is available.
The EyeTV Mobile comes with two supplied antennas, a miniature telescopic aerial – aimed, optimistically perhaps, at outdoor use – and a larger rod aerial with magnetic base and removable suction cup for desktop use. A third, and better option is to connect a rooftop aerial for guaranteed stress-free reception.
The dongle clips into the 30-pin connector on the iPad. The free EyeTV Mobile app gives access to TV channels and an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for planning your viewing. As well as scheduling, recording and watching TV shows, the app lets you pause and rewind broadcasts, a handy function now found on many DTT recorders (though not Elgato’s previous iPad TV tuner, the Tivizen). You can’t switch to another app when recording, though. Recordings, along with broadcast details, are viewed via the same app and require a fair amount of free space, especially if you have more shows stored than watched.
We got good reception in central London with all three aerial options, although channels were initially tuned and stored using the rooftop aerial. The same reception conditions can’t be guaranteed nationally, so for some the EyeTV Mobile may prove a leap in the dark.
Disappointingly, original iPad owners miss out, as the dongle and app only work will Apple’s latest tablet. One other niggle is that there’s no support for Freeview HD broadcasts.
Under good reception conditions, Elgato’s EyeTV Mobile is a great way of watching and recording Freeview on your iPad 2. And as analogue signals are switched off across the UK, reception should improve as digital signal strength increases. For now, however, local reception issues could dictate if this dinky TV tuner is the right choice for you.