Review Elgato Tivizen DVB-T WLAN Hotspot for the iOS, Mac OS X, and Windows
Last year, we tested the Equinux tizi the first device of this category. Now, the hardware manufacturer Valups has released the Elgato Tivizen - a new model which is easy-to-use and allows the user to enjoy "television" on the go. The DVB-T receiver, equipped with a WLAN Hotspot and a small battery (ca. 3.5 hours run time) fits in a compact external box which relays TV programs via WLAN to the desired device. The receiving device can range from an iPod touch (3rd + 4th generation), an iPhone (3GS or higher), an iPad, or a PC (Windows or Mac OS X). The power supply is handled by the battery, but can also be provided by a USB cable with an adapter (not included in delivery) or a computer. Although most of the specifications of the new device are identical to that of the tizi, the Elgato Tivizen has more features to offer.
Unfortunately, like the tizi, the Tivizen has a very sensitive, glossy surface which will quickly become unattractive due to the scratches and smudged fingerprints left behind by frequent use. Valups, the hardware manufacturer, usually offers alternative colors for their devices, but Equinux and Elgato seem to be exceptions to this rule.
A mini USB port can be found under a flap on one end of the device. The highly flexible antenna placed on the other end of the device can be bent, turned, retracted and pulled out. Our test model's antenna was a bit loose which meant that movement caused it to clatter inside the case. However, this may be a flaw only found in our test model, as the antenna of the Equinux tizi was secure.
The main difference between the two devices is the compatibility with Windows PCs offered by the Tivizen. While tizi can relay a TV signal to iOS devices and even Macs, Elgato offers the TerraTec Home Cinema software (available using the download code) with its Tivizen Box and, thus, adds Windows PCs to the list of compatible devices. This is great news for most users as this will let them use a single DVB-T stick for all their devices. Elgato's Eye TV 3 is available for Macs, and the Tivizen App is available for free for iOS devices (from 4.2 upwards) at the App Store. Linux and Android users have not been included yet. The Elegato homepage shows which devices are compatible.
We did not notice any difference between the reception quality of the Tivizen and other DVB-T sticks or tizi. The picture quality seems similar to that of previously-tested DVB-T sticks with a tuner and an antenna (for example, Hauppauge Win TV Nova T-Stick). However, diversity sticks with two tuners and two antennas, such as the MSI Digi Vox Diversity have a better reception with a weaker signal quality. Unlike the Tivizen and other DVB-T sticks which start to display stutters and freeze frames, the diversity sticks deliver a fluid image. The positioning of the device, available wireless networks, surrounding buildings and other factors can influence the reception of the device. In the end, the user will have to experiment a little by placing the Tivizen near the windows, or changing the direction the antenna is pointing in to get a better signal. Thanks to the WLAN the device can be moved without worrying about entangling cables. Of course, the television program providers and radio stations available depend on the region the user lives in.
Tivizen App (iOS)
The Tivizen App available in the App Store is 5.2 MB big and can be downloaded quickly. The tizi App seems much more chic, easy-to-use and extensive than Elgato's software but it does serve the purpose. Searching for the provider requires 2 to 3 minutes after the WLAN connection is established. Once the search is completed, the available services are listed in a clear menu. Every available provider has the name of their currently running program under it, and the program's EPG information is displayed alongside. Picking a provider, or configuring a set time for when the device should connect to the provider, will lead the user to the video archive. The files found here can also be transferred to the PC. Using the DVB-T signal with multiple devices is currently not possible. As soon as a new client connects, the existing connection is severed.
TerraTec Home Cinema (Windows)
The software for the device can be downloaded directly from the Elgato website using the download card. After the installation, the user will need to connect the Tivizen to the wireless network 802.11 b/g, after which the TerraTec Home Cinema (THC) can be immediately used for watching television. TerraTec offers a wide variety of configurations and functions, some of which are only available for DVB-T tuners with two receivers (simultaneous recording, picture-to-picture display, etc). Tivizen offers the basic functions such as recording and time shift as well as special functions like the tvtv service. Additionally, the Tivizen App can encrypt the transmission with WEP or WPA2 encryption. The similarly built tizi Box from Equinux was not recognized and could not be used with THC.
According to the manufacturer the device can run up to 3.5 hours. During our test, with optimal conditions and a distance of 1 meter between the Tivizien and the iPad, we did get a run time of 205 minutes, which is 5 minutes short of 3.5 hours. This scenario is applicable to lounging in the garden, or relaxing at the sea. However, at home, if the Tivizien is separated from the device by a wall or two, the battery depletes much more quickly. The run times in different scenarios ranged between 140 and 205 minutes. The run time can be further extended with the use of additional batteries, which are currently available for around 18 Euros (plus delivery charge) per battery.
Elgato's Tivizen DVB-T W-LAN Hotspot delivers the standard features provided by its competition and adds compatibility with Windows PCs on top. This last feature will probably be the most critical, as the Tivizen has the capability to replace simple DVB-T solutions. The reception quality is good, and the case is small and mobile. Thanks to the integrated battery the device can run for more than 3 hours at a time. We did not like the glossy surface which is similar to that of the tizi. An appropriate USB adapter for stationary use is also lacking in the delivery package. The price of 100 Euros (street price) may not be great, but the device does offer a variety of features and flexibility in a compact and user-friendly form.