The idea behind the Elgato EyeTV Netstream DTT is simple enough, but no-one has ever thought to pursue it before. This device takes a digital Freeview signal and transmits it around your home network, so any PC or Mac can become a digital TV recorder. It also has two tuners, so you can watch programmes on two computers at the same time.
The Netstream costs about £180, which seems like a fair chunk of cash, so let's find out how it can earn its keep.
The Netstream's simple surfaces adhere to the Apple aesthetic. It's finished in a Macbook Pro-style silver, and it's tiny. You could easily slide it into the back pocket of your jeans.
The rear of the Netstream is home to an Ethernet jack for connecting it to your home network, a power socket, and an input for attaching the bundled aerial that receives the Freeview signal. These sockets sit close together so, if you want to use an aerial splitter to share the TV signal between this and another device, you might need to get a reasonably compact one, to prevent it interfering with the other inputs.
You'll also find a reset switch on the Netstream's rump, which you can press in case of any problems with the device's configuration. It's worth noting that, to reset the Netstream, you need to hold this button down with the power lead disconnected, and then reconnect the power lead while still pressing the button.
No built-in wireless
If you were hoping that this little device would beam wireless signals out, then you'll be sad to note that it doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi. To be fair to Elgato, getting wireless functionality into a device this small would be nearly impossible, and, for people with 802.11g networks, moving video around is better left to a wired Ethernet connection. If you have an 802.11n network, connecting the Netstream to your router will enable you to view video on wireless devices simply enough.
We used a powerline network to get video from the Netstream to our PC in a different room, and that worked pretty well, even given our home's creaky and ancient electrical wiring.
No configuration -- at all
Getting the Netstream up and running requires no configuration at all, beyond plugging the device into your network and providing it with some power. The Netstream makes extensive use of Apple's Bonjour networking service to make itself available to devices on your network.
That said, should you need to fiddle with the configuration of the box, it does have a small and simple Web interface that offers you the option to give the device a static IP address, if your network demands that. We're of the opinion, however, that, if the Netstream seems to be working okay, you should give the settings a wide berth, as there's no advantage to be gained by meddling with them.
Two viewing options
If you're a Windows user, you have two ways of watching video via the Netstream. The first is by using the supplied TerraTec Home Cinema TV software. In the box, you get two licences for this software, so you can use two separate computers to view TV channels at the same time.