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Elgato EyeTV Netstream DTT early review: Record TV on your laptop

The Elgato Netstream DTT enables you to stream digital TV over your home network and watch or record it on a Mac or a PC -- using Windows Media Center -- with very little configuration

Ian Morris
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This weekend we spent some time with the Elgato EyeTV Netstream DTT, and while we aren't quite ready to give it a full review just yet, we thought you might appreciate the skinny on this funky little device. The Netstream is designed to let you watch and record TV all over your home -- any PC or Mac can become a digital TV recorder. This is ideal for people who use laptops and want to be able to enjoy Freeview in any room.

The Netstream DTT is a nifty little machine: its footprint is a tad smaller than a CD case, and it's about as thick as a cheese and pickle sandwich. Elgato has clearly designed it to be hidden away, and there are no buttons or displays on the unit itself aside from a single, dual-colour LED.

It takes a single aerial feed, a 5V power plug and there's an Ethernet cable at the rear to connect it to your home network. The Netstream has two Freeview tuners built-in, which means you can stream different channels to different computers on your network.

We can only speak about using a PC to watch the streamed video, because that's all we had at the time. The included software is called TerraTec Home Cinema and it's perfectly useable. Once you plug in the Elgato hardware, it'll send out a signal that the TerraTec software will detect. From there, you can tune channels, which are held on the computer, not the hardware, so each PC needs to be tuned.

The software also has a built-in programme guide and lets you make recordings of shows. There's nothing at all to configure on the hardware itself -- it's gloriously simple, as you'd expect from Elgato.

By far our favourite feature is the integration with Windows Media Center. Achieved through a small plug-in, it enables you to use the built-in TV tuner functions that come with Media Centre. It's just like having a TV tuner attached to your PC, but with the advantage that your computer doesn't need to be near an aerial socket. We absolutely love the Windows 7 version of Media Center too, so this is a very welcome addition.

Is there anything we didn't like? A few little glitches made the set-up process harder than we would have liked. Initially, our install failed on Windows 7 64-bit edition. We have no idea why, and after a restart, uninstall and re-install it worked fine. Later on, however, after disconnecting the Elgato hardware we had trouble getting the software to see it again. We're going to look into this and find out what's going on.

We'll be publishing a full review of this product in due course. Until then, here are some photos of the hardware for you to enjoy.

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Small and compact, the Elgato is designed to be hidden away somewhere and used from your Windows PC or Mac via your home network. There's no built in Wi-Fi, however, so if you want to stream video wirelessly, you'll need to connect the EyeTV to a wireless router.
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On the rear, you can see there's a mounting hole, should you wish to hang it on a wall, out of the way behind your TV.
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The three sockets at the back take an Ethernet cable, aerial cable and power adaptor. In an ideal world, an aerial loopthrough would be desirable to connect other devices to your aerial, but in practice it's fine to use a simple splitter to achieve this.

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