Review: Elgato EyeTV Diversity

Bastard the PVR has a brother

EyeTV Diversity

As you may know, I have a PVR for my Mac called Bastard. It was originally called Bastard because of its occasional refusal to record programmes for no adequately explored reason. After a few software updates, it got better and started to behave, even if it still warranted the name Bastard for refusing to export anything over an hour long to my AppleTV without giving an error (allegedly the fault lies with my Turbo H.264, made by the same company. They’re the ones doing the alleging. Twats).

Anyway, I’ve moved flat and my Mac is no longer sitting comfortably near a TV socket. So I had two options: either stick a great big trailing cable around the room to where there is a TV socket or invest in an EyeTV Diversity, which employs two mini antennae and some fancy signal processing skills to supposedly produce great pictures and reception even indoors.

I bought the Diversity. Suffice it to say, the trailing cable’s now arriving this week some time.

First, let’s differentiate the software from the hardware. The software, EyeTV, is great. It does just about everything you’d want in a PVR and it’s very user friendly – I reviewed an earlier version elsewhere. Latest addition in version 3.1 is the Record All button:

Record All

Click it and EyeTV will set up a Smart Guide that will record all instances of a program, not just that episode.

Smart Guides were new in version 3.0 and just like iTunes’ Smart Playlists, allow you to set up rules, in this case to get EyeTV to record or alert you to anything that fits those rules. Want every episode of Top Gear that starts after 6pm, but not the ones on BBC3, only the ones on Dave? Then you can set a Smart Guide to record them.

The hardware, though. Oh dear.

Here’s what the inky, dinky little aerials are giving me right now.

EyeTV Diversity signal strength

I moved one aerial about a millimetre and strength dropped to 64% from 100%, which is dismal. But with that signal quality and strength, what do I get (click on it to zoom in)?

Eye TV Channels

Yep, no ITV1, ITV2, Channel 4, More4, E4 et al. Pretty much just the four Beebs, Virgin 1 and a couple of Daves.

It doesn’t matter what you do with the two antennae: in fact you can stick them right next to each other and Tuner 2 will give you a signal strength of about 10% compared to Tuner 1’s 90%. All you ever end up with is the same old same old, no matter how times you re-tune and get the hopeful message “155 new channels found”.

So trailing cable it is, carefully hammered into the underside of the window sills to ensure it’s not visible and aesthetically unpleasing. I’ll let you know if the other channels manage to turn up when I do, but since the TV can get all the Freeview channels, I’m pretty sure the EyeTV should, too.

In case you’re wondering why I’m bothering, given I have Sky HD+ now, the answers are threefold:

  1. It’s good to watch tele on your iPod when you’re commuting
  2. The Sky HD+ only has 160GB of storage, so there’ll have to be pruning at some point, whereas my Mac’s storage space if virtually unlimited
  3. How else am I going to do screenshots for reviews on this ‘ere blog?