When Dyle Mobile TV made its debut on the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G from MetroPCS, we found it to be a promising look at the potential for mobile broadcast TV. Unfortunately, it was only available on that single phone and lacked enough compelling content to truly make an impact. The Elgato EyeTV Mobile ($99.95 direct) represents the next step in the evolution of Dyle TV, bringing over-the-air signals to Apple’s iDevices. The diminutive dongle makes Dyle available to many more people, even though it’s only outfitted for older Apple 30-pin devices, but, for now, the content and features remain too meager to make it mainstream.
Design, Setup, and Features
The EyeTV is a small rectangular dongle, measuring 1.6 by 1.2 by 0.4 inches (HWD), with a rubberized black plastic housing. On one end is a 30-pin Apple dock connector, with a microUSB port and collapsible antenna on the other. Elgato says a Lightning adapter will allow compatibility with the iPhone 5, latest-gen iPod touch, fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini, but adapters cost $30 extra and make the entire package a bit cumbersome to use. The dongle has its own battery, which is charged with the included microUSB cable, but there’s no pass-through for charging your iDevice while using the EyeTV. The antenna extends to about six inches and collapses down to two inches.
Setup is as simple as plugging in the EyeTV and downloading the free EyeTV Mobile app. On first startup, you’ll be asked for demographic information like age, gender, and location. The app then scans for channels in your area. In our testing location in New York, Dyle advertises four channels: Fox, NBC, Univision, and Qubo. In my tests, the EyeTV was only able to pick up NBC, FOX, and Qubo, with sketchy reception for Qubo.
The EyeTV Mobile app gives you three menu options: Live TV, Guide, and Settings. On iPhones and iPods you won’t see any difference between the first two options—they both showed every available channel and programming information when available. On iPads, the Guide option brings up a grid with hourly programming, but in my tests, none of the channels were broadcasting the necessary information to populate the guide. Settings lets you sort channels, scan for more channels, change your location, check battery life, and control background audio. I noticed a somewhat annoying bug with background audio disabled—if you leave the EyeTV connected, but exit the app, an “EyeTV Mobile would like to communicate with the Elgato EyeTV Mobile” message pops up over and over until you allow it to open the app. Removing the dongle stops the messages.
The actual television streams were remarkably smooth and, despite not broadcasting in HD, the video looked pretty good on an iPhone 4 I used for testing. On an iPad 2 , the lower resolution and video compression is more obvious, but it’s still very watchable. You can pause live TV for a couple minutes at a time, but there is no DVR function for recording full shows for later viewing, and exiting the app loses your position. The audio stayed in sync and you can even output to Bluetooth and AirPlay speakers if you like. Best of all, Dyle doesn’t use your phone or tablet’s data plan. For a closer look at Dyle TV be sure to check out our full review.
Dyle Mobile TV has great potential and the EyeTV Mobile is a solid way to gain access to this nascent service on Apple iPhones, iPods, and iPads. It’s bucking a trend towards on-demand content and DVRs, but Dyle still has potential for real-time “appointment viewing” as opposed to entertainment programming—think live sports and news broadcasts more than the latest episode of Parks and Recreation. To that end, I could see the EyeTV being useful for catching the waning minutes of a close football game or simply tuning into the news in a pinch. Still, there just isn’t enough content available to make it really worthwhile. Unless you’re a diehard NBC and Fox viewer who simply has to have access wherever you go, I’d wait and see if Dyle can bring more channels and features to the table.
More Accessory Reviews:
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc