Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe full review

The Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe is about the smallest imaginable USB adaptor for adding Freeview TV to a Mac or Windows PC

It's inevitable that tech shrinks as the calendar rolls. But by how much it contracts in size still disarms us sometimes.

When Elgato launched its first EyeTV digital TV tuner in 2003 - a FireWire-connected digital Freeview TV tuner - we marvelled at how such a powerful gadget could take up so little space.

The EyeTV 400 was smaller than most paperback books but, coupled to a reasonably quick Apple Mac, could turn the PC into a full featured television and personal video recorder (PVR).

Well before hard drives became commonplace in set-top boxes, the EyeTV allowed effortless viewing, pausing and recording of the dozens of available Freeview television stations. And the subsequent archiving of any programmes in original broadcast quality was a doddle too.

Over the years, we've seen Elgato shift to USB-connected hardware adaptors, and those units to dwindle in physical size.

Until today, when the TV adaptor is literally as small as the USB plug itself.

The Elgato EyeTV Deluxe is groomed for the Mac market, fitting perfectly into the one-and-only USB port of an Apple MacBook Air, for instance; but it's by no means limited to Apple computers.

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Windows Media Centre will also work with this Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe dongle in place of Elgato's class-leading Macintosh software, to allow the watching and recording live TV in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Not only that, but you don't even have to install the driver yourself - in Windows 7 now, Windows Update will find the necessary driver and install it without breaking its stride.

As we found with the Elgato EyeTV Diversity tuner adaptor, though, while Microsoft's entertainment-faced media interface is quite cuddly and colourful, it lacks the ease and power of EyeTV software. Try archiving anything you've recorded, for instance, and you'll be mired in Microsoft's proprietary .wtv and .dvr-ms formats.

More troubling for normal viewing, WMC lacks any progressive scan deinterlacing, that on EyeTV makes the picture so smooth and film-like. Without this kind of motion-adaptive or full progressive-scan interpolation, disturbing horizontal lines are visible - especially around moving objects when you view on non-CRT screens.

And 4:3 broadcasts (still typical from imported US TV) often have their aspect ratio incorrectly rendered by Windows, turning the tallest supermodel into someone altogether more broad and stunted.

Another option for Windows users is the included TerraTec Home Cinema TV software, which provides PVR functionality, albeit through a less intuitive interface.

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