Note that due to a lack of the necessary chipsets required for the task, the Elgato Netstream will not receive the latest high-definition broadcasts from Freeview HD.

The UK uses a novel DVB-T2 transmission system that is not a popular international standard, and at present at least there are no Freeview HD solutions available use with personal computers.

With Sweden, Italy and now South Africa coming on-board to start broadcasting using DVB-T2, such tuners ought to become more plentiful in the future.

Sotware options

For Mac users, you can make the most of the Elgato Netstream with the usual EyeTV 3 software. This lets you watch live programmes and check TV guides, as well as record television or setup recordings for the coming week.

It’s also straightforward to archive recorded TV programmes, either by exporting in their native MPEG transport-stream format or recompressing to, for example, MPEG-4 for portable devices.

For Windows users, you can use either Windows Media Centre built into Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Ultimate, or use the supplied Terratec Home Cinema software.

Alternatively for any platform, including Linux, you can access the Elgato Netstream server interface through a web browser and download an m3u file of your local channel listing.

You then use VLC or similar video app to select and play any channel from this list.

Elgato Netstream interface 1

Elgato Netstream can be setup over the network through a web browser

Elgato Netstream interface 2

Once setup, you can export an m3u file that allows tuning-in by other video player apps, such as VLC

Elgato Netstream in use

We found the same great picture quality as you’d see on a typical USB Elgato DVB-T device, and a smooth artefact-free picture through VLC too, once deinterlacing had been switched on.

Whereas EyeTV usually plays Freeview TV with a glitch-free uninterrupted video and audio stream, we found the Elgato Netstream was not always so flawless, sometimes showing fractional jumps.

Whether connected through a home router or directly to an Apple Mac mini’s ethernet port, the Elgato Netstream could not play entirely consistently, introducing a few micro-pauses in each hour of television viewing. Sometimes these seemed random; other times, the launching of, for example, Safari was enough to cause a sub-second micro pause in the TV programme.

After trying two samples and applying several updates to EyeTV 3 software, as well as a firmware update to the hardware itself, we now assume this issue is unavoidable for the Elgato Netstream.

Some viewers may not be troubled by such occasional blips, but if like us you’ve become accustomed to the usual Elgato digital TV experience that’s free of any perceptible dropped frames, it's still a little unsettling.

We've been auditioning the Elgato Netstream since its first release earlier this year, and while this aspect has been improved, at present we’re still seeing sporadic glitches.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

Specs

Elgato Netstream: Specs

  • DVB-T tuner
  • 10/100Mb/s ethernet
  • aerial input
  • DC power supply
  • Elgato EyeTV 3 (Mac) and Terratec Home Cinema (Windows) software
  • desk aerial with magnet/suction base
  • 23 x 119 x 119mm
  • 262g