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Elgato EyeTV Sat

Elgato EyeTV Sat

Generally when I get a new gadget or bit of computer tech the excitement rushes a review out within a day or two of using it. This time with the EyeTV Sat I have been so engrossed I honestly haven’t had time.

eyetvsat

The EyeTV Sat brings High Definition Satellite television to the Apple (and on this occasion Windows) desktops. The device definitely comes at the right time for us as our aging Sky system struggles to record without the stuttering or failing. Welcome the Elgato EyeTV Sat.

This will be the first Elgato device to earn a place in the living room, to date EyeTV recorded and exported to iTunes and with recorded media shared to an AppleTV. It worked but was a slower route to actually viewing television with most live TV being catered for by Sky.

Now Elgato offer the perfect companion for a Mac Mini media centre system (which I don’t have) so I decided it was time to borrow a Mac Mini to put this device through its paces

As expected everything works in the same way as every other Elgato device. Connect the EyeTV Sat to the computer via USB, connect it your satellite dish and power it up.

Scanning for channels takes a little longer than with a freeview device but then it did manage to locate over 400 channels. Thankfully EyeTV allows you to hide all the ‘subscription’ channels from the system as you won’t be able to access theses unless you purchase an additional CAM device (explained later). I have to say I am perfectly happy with the range of channels offered by FreeSat as frankly with my other systems I found I had 200 channels and absolutely nothing to watch.

I quickly removed all the channels that don’t interest me or duplicate channels and re-organised the channel order so that my favourites were at the start of the list.

search1This wasn’t completely problem free, and I guess when you search for over 400 channels a few are going to be missed. The main issues arise from regional variation, the first was that the Channel 4 signal discovered was encrypted and it didn’t find my regional ITV or BBC 2 Channels. This could be down to signal quality but thankfully though there is a simple fix and EyeTV allows for channels to be easily added manually.

For example :
Channel 4, Film 4 More 4 etc – 10714 H
(enter 10714 into frequency and make sure the H tick box is highlighted rather than V).

I found a great site that lists the main UK channels here http://www.flysat.com/28east.php

It is also important to remember that a channel has to be broadcasting for the EyeTV Sat to find it. I set my device up around lunch time and then carried out an “Update” scan later than night to pick up the likes of BBC 3 etc.

Once you have located the portfolio of available channels you need to tell EyeTV what EPG you are going to use. Most channels are auto discovered my tvtv but one or two still have to set manually.

Change “Unknown” to “tvtv” and locate the corresponding channel. It takes a while to get the system set up exactly the way you want it but EyeTV can be easily tweaked later on if necessary.

So what about HD content ? well in the UK there really is only one HD channel available via FreeSat but like everything else I suspect many more will be made available as the rush to the big Digital Switch over comes ever closer. BBC HD though is stunning, in actually fact it makes the other channels look a little old and tarnished and I love it !

HDI recorded a number of HD programmes and decided to watch some HD while recording more HD and I am pleased to say the Mac Mini coped fine. With any other single tuner device it can only record one channel at once.

Obviously recording in High Definition is going to take up a stack of storage in fact 17 mins of took up 2.7 GB of storage. Exporting this to the default AppleTV setting within EyeTV reduced the file down to 650MB retaining the 720p dimensions.

The problem many users face is the fact they tend not to have a satellite point beside their main working area.I did toy with the idea of having a line taken from my dish to my desk but the issue is I am so impressed at the quality of BBC HD alone I want to watch as part of my live TV scenario and thus EyeTV Sat for me belongs in the living room.

Partner EyeTV Sat with the likes of Plex (I will cover Plex in the next few days) and dare I say it the AppleTV looks a little dated.

Elgato have produced a solid, reliable device that offers the best of the FreeSat channels with a great full screen interface and EPG via TVTV. The device also supports CAM (conditional access module) and thus allows PayTV subscriptions can also be viewed.

This is definitely something I personally will be researching and if anyone has found such a service in the UK that offers the likes of GOLD etc I would appreciate the link.

Despite the initial channel set up issues I really can’t criticise the device, in actual fact I was up and running in full High Definition glory in about fifteen minutes. The sooner other UK TV providers add HD services the better !

The final bonus is the system comes with a dedicated remote control making the EyeTV Sat the perfect hardware for the 21st century living room. If you run a Mac Mini media centre and want to introduce High Definition then this is definitely the device you have been waiting for !

Amazon are offering the device at under ?155.

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