The software itself is alright, although it's far from beautiful. The set-up process involves scanning for channels, which is easy, even if the software does take a while to perform its magic. If you want to get better listings information, there's the option of a one-year trial of tvtv, an online listings service. This provides more detail, and listings further in advance, than the over-the-air, eight-day electronic programme guide.
The second option is to use Windows Media Center on your PC. This is by far the most elegant solution, but it will require you to download a small driver from the Elgato Web site first. Once you've got this, and installed it, you'll be able to use Windows Media Center's built-in 'live TV' function to tune in and watch channels.
You can also use Windows Media Center's EPG to schedule recordings, as you would with any personal video recorder. Windows Media Center also has the advantage that it can be used on an extender too, such as the Xbox 360. This means that, if you've made recordings you'd like to catch up on, you can do so via the 360 with minimal fuss. "Top banana," you might exclaim.
Dual tuners FTW
The Netstream offers twin tuners. This increases the flexibility of the box, allowing you to record one channel while you watch another, or simply watch two channels on two different computers. When you're using Windows Media Center, this is a really handy function, and one that will help you get the best out of the hardware.
Excellent image quality
Even though the network we used the Netstream on wasn't the best or fastest, we had no problem persuading our PC to pick up the signal either via the TerraTec software or Windows Media Center. The picture quality was surprisingly good, with most Freeview TV channels looking just like they would have done using a TV tuner attached directly to a PC. We found this thrilling -- it meant we could watch TV in our bedroom, which doesn't have an aerial socket of its own.
Scope for future improvement
The Netstream is good at what it does but we'd love to see it come with software for viewing TV outside your home, à la Slingbox. Also, it would be great to see a future version that can cope with Freeview HD, as well as standard-definition channels.
We love the Elgato EyeTV Netstream DTT. It's not exactly cheap, but it's enabled us to watch telly in places where we otherwise wouldn't be able to. Cooking alongside Gordon Ramsay is no longer difficult, and lying in the bath watching Doctor Who has become much more viable. For geeks, it's a must-have little toy.
Edited by Charles Kloet