It’s no secret. I live in the middle of nowhere. The kind of place where you have a 10 minute car journey to the nearest bus stop. The kind of place where 55mph winds equal a calm day and the kind of place where TV reception very rarely exists.
I have two options for TV viewing here in the Highlands of Scotland. Either I pay vast sums of money to SKY or, and this is my setup in the kitchen, I can plug an electrically amplified aerial into an electrically powered signal amplifier, which in turn is plugged into an electrically powered signal booster, which is then plugged into my TV which has Freeview built in.
The result is an amazing six TV channels and four radio stations with a signal quality that can be likened to a badly recorded Nokia N93 video clip. Due to this I had a hard time believing the hype of the EyeTV Mobile even when it is given to you in possibly one of the simplest trailers ever created.
What’s in the box?
Inside the box you are firstly welcomed with the sight of the Eye TV mobile adapter and a telescopic aerial. Also included, but hidden slightly, is a rod antenna for use in poor signal conditions or indoors. The manual is literally three steps and an itinerary of what is in the box.
This will be the easiest setup that has ever been performed. Firstly you need to download the free Eye TV Mobile app from the App store. This is as simple as, well, ummm, downloading an app from the app store. Next you push the telescopic aerial into the adapter and extend it to its full height; which is about the length of your hand from wrist to the tip of your little finger. Finally start up the app and follow the on screen instructions.
I arrived at the point of clicking scan and the app duly obliged and began scanning. At this point I still have the feeling that it will not work. I mean I have been at this point many times before with Freeview and let’s be honest I don’t have three electrically powered signal enhancers daisy chained together with this either. I then saw TV Station names, BBC One Scotland, ITV 2, The Food Network, More4. I still have doubt in my mind and I convince myself that this is pre-programmed into the app, mainly to lull me into a false sense of security, and then the app happily announces that it has found 65 channels. 65 freaking channels. This can’t be possible…but it is. The entire process, including downloading the app, took about 4 minutes.
I wasted the first hour of playing with Eye TV just by going through each and every channel and assessing the signal quality of each channel and comparing the delay to live TV. There is very little difference between the quality of Eye TV and a live standard definition channel and the time difference is milliseconds if any at all. This is not HD viewing but there are no stuttering or signal drop issues to worry about and to be honest, if this is the quality of signal I personally receive then I can’t see anyone having an issue with their signal.
I then became curious, I checked to see how many Freeview channels there actually are. With EyeTV I’m only 11 short of the full package. Maybe my signal would be even better if I tried the indoor aerial. I have to admit, after the surprise I encountered with what I could receive with the basic antenna, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t any improvement between the aerials, but this is something with which I can live.
Now you could say that there are a number of apps that perform the same function, and for a fraction of the cost (Editors Note – I sense a Freebie Friday) but the majority of them utilise your data connection to stream the signal to you which is fine if you live in a 3G or greater area. Personally my best data connection is at home and to be honest, if I had the choice between watching TV on my iOS device and my 42″ Plasma it really is a no brainer.
Eye TV Mobile however does not require any sort of data connection – obviously after you have downloaded the free app – so allows you to watch TV on your iOS device somewhere where there isn’t a data or Wi-Fi signal.
The Electronic Program Guide is clean cut and simple to navigate and will not be alien to anyone that has actually used one before on a Sky, Virgin or Freeview Box and it is simple to record shows. However the recording function is also Eye TV Mobiles weakness. As it is App based coupled with an aerial adapter you cannot “program” or “schedule” a recording like you can with the previously mentioned TV viewing boxes so recording takes the form not unlike VHS recording where you have to remain on the channel whilst it records.
Some people may see the price of the device, with the average being around the £80 mark, as an additional flaw. This will put off a lot of people but when you consider your average Freeview box is between £50-£100, coupled with the added luxury of being mobile it certainly makes the Eye TV Mobile device an interesting prospect. With this in mind it is hard to not recommend a device that is able to perform an action that said Freeview boxes coupled with dedicated, and expensive, TV aerials cannot do for me.
As a counter to my experience during this review, and the one thing I can’t test at the current time, is that a built up residential area may experience interference from other signals and sources that do not affect someone living in a rural area. The next time I make the pilgrimage to civilisation I will be sure to test this out and report back with my findings.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Platform: iOS Release Date: 12/10/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with an Eye TV Mobile device for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an iPad 2 and iPhone 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.