Watching TV on your iOS device has been possible since iOS 3.0 came out in 2009. Since then there has been a great deal of innovation in the products and services that are now available to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users who want to watch live TV on the go.
I have been testing a new product from Elgato called the Tivizen ($219). It’s a
small and portable digital TV tuner which works well with the iPhone, iPod touch and
iPad. Unlike other streaming products made by Elgato, the Tivizen is an all-in-one device and doesn’t require a computer to use.
The Tivizen has a small, expandable antenna that can receive Freeview (DVB-T) signals. It creates its own Wi-Fi network that you need to connect to in order to receive the transmission.
Unlike other TV products I have tried in the past, setup couldn’t be easier. First you need to download the free Tivizen app from the App Store. Once installed you turn on the Tivizen, wait about a minute and then open the Settings app on your iOS device and select the Tivizen network.
Once connected you’ll need to tune the TV channels, which is done automatically for you when you first launch the app. Your mileage with the tuning will vary based on the area of your house. In some rooms in my Melbourne house I got good reception for most of the channels. However, in other rooms I got almost nothing.
Unfortunately, there’s no opportunity to plug the Tivizen into a terrestrial antenna to improve signal strength.
Once tuned you simply select a channel in the app and it starts playing. When signal strength was good the quality of picture was excellent. Actually, I was pretty blown away by the ability to watch TV on my iPad (although my wife most certainly wasn’t).
It’s a must-have accessory if you do a lot of travelling and like watching TV. If you live in an area with weak reception you can always select another Elgato product called the Netstream. This is a little silver box that connects to your wireless network and terrestrial antenna and broadcasts your TV signal via Wi-Fi to your iOS device or your Mac.
In my tests the Netstream worked more reliably than the Tivizen but is more expensive ($329) and requires more configuration. The Netstream also requires a high- speed wireless network to cope with the high bandwidth requirements of HD television. However, another bonus of the Netstream is that multiple users can watch up to two different shows thanks to built-in dual tuner.
But if you’re not into free-to-air TV you’ve got other options. For Telstra customers, the Mobile Foxtel app lets you watch many streaming Foxtel channels on your iOS device. As Mobile Foxtel is for Telstra customers only it means that if you do stream Foxtel to your iOS device Telstra doesn’t count it against your data allowance.
The channels on Mobile Foxtel range from 24/7 Sky News through Entertainment, Sport and Music. If you’ve got kids, for instance, you could subscribe to the $12/month combo pack and get unlimited kids and news access. As a parent with young kids, you can trust me when I say that Mobile Foxtel can be a very handy tool when your kids need some instant entertainment.
Optus customers have access to a similar service, called Optus Zoo. The Optus Mobile TV & Video app provides free access to ABC, SBS and the Today Show, plus users can watch full episodes of other top TV shows from MTV, Sky News Live and Cartoon Network for $3 per channel per month.
As with Mobile Foxtel, no data charges are incurred for Optus customers who choose to use the service.