PCTV AndroiDTV Dongle Review

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IMG_0011 copyHauppauge have made a well respected name for themselves in PCTV devices for PCs as well as a range of capture boxes for gamers and video editors alike.  Last year they brought to market a dongle that enabled iPads and iPhones to pickup Freeview TV, and now it’s the turn of Android to get in on the party with its own TV-anywhere dongle (that works with Windows too!).  Is there really a need for such a device in the world of iPlayer and other streaming services? Read on to find out more.

The Hardware

When compared to the bulky Freeview receivers you’ll commonly find nestled underneath a TV, it seems nothing short of engineering brilliance that a DVB-T tuner can be contained in such a small dongle such as the AndroiDTV.  With its Micro-USB connector it’ll plug straight into a variety of smartphones and tablets, but also comes with an adaptor to plug it in to the full-sized USB port of a Windows PC.

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IMG_0016 copyAlso included in the box is a choice of aerials.  Either the miniature telescopic variant you can see in the photo at the top of the page, but also a larger aerial with a magnetic base that was necessary for me to receive channels in areas of the country that have less TV signal coverage.  There’s also an adaptor that would allow you to plug straight in to a standard coaxial TV socket or even a larger aerial should you need to.

 

The Software

IMG_0018 copyThe obvious primary use of the AndroiDTV is to get let you watch, record and pause live TV on your Android smartphone or tablet, and Hauppauge provide a free app known as TV Center to allow you to do this.  Though the app is well designed and easy to use, the biggest downfall which restricted my initial abilities to review this product was that it is not compatible with all the phones on the market, and despite trying it on a HTC One, Desire 500 and LG G2, I would get presented with errors such as “device not found” which made it impossible to use.

Hauppauge claim the dongle is compatible with a variety of devices with a 1gHz processor and Android 4.0.3 or later, but only list tested compatibility with the HTC One X, Sony Xperia Z and a range of Samsung devices. Luckily I did get a brief moment to try the dongle on a friend’s Samsung Galaxy S3 which was supported, and after installing the app and searching for channels, I happily enjoyed at least 10 minutes of Formula 1 highlights before I had to relinquish the handset back to the sweaty palms of its owner.  The image was relatively sharp, though not HD quality, and pausing and recording snippets was very straight forward. screenshot1       screenshot2       screenshot3 As well as the Android compatibility, I tried the dongle on both a Windows 7 and Windows 8 PC.  The software occasionally didn’t load first time every time on Windows 8.1, but there’s likely to be an updated version of the software available soon.  On Windows 7 the device worked perfectly, and I was able to watch a selection of channels quite happily – the only restriction of service being the poor signal coverage around Gloucestershire.

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ConclusionIMG_0003 copy

Whether the AndroiDTV has a place in the life of you and your smartphone really depends on what kind of media you like to consume.  Given that there’s some great streaming alternatives that (as long as you have a Wi-Fi or good 3G) can give you a picture that is as good if not better than broadcast TV, it has to be the preserve for live-TV addicts.  If you simply can’t afford to miss your favourite program when out and about, on the commute or staying away from home, then the AndroiDTV is a great portable alternative to carrying around a laptop and suitable PCTV dongle.

The downsides to me were pretty straight forward and hopefully have the potential to be fixed – compatibility.  The list of ‘known’ compatible handsets is ridiculously small.  Clearly someone in the Hauppauge engineering department has a penchant for Samsung smartphones, as the list is devoid of many new handsets from other manufacturers, which made testing it much more of a chore than it should have been considering I generally have at least a couple of different phones at my disposal at any one time.

 

Positives

+ Solid & pocketable.

+ Well presented apps.

+ Compatible with Windows too.

 

Cons

– Limited device compatibility.

– Standard definition picture quality in UK.

75

Price: Around £49
More Info: Hauppauge PCTV
Dimensions: 
31mm x 21mm x 8.5mm.
Specs: Micro-USB connector, MCX connector (for aerial), DVB-T (MPEG-2 (SD&HD),  MPEG-4 AVC / H.264(SD)), Tuning range 177,5-226,5 MHz (VHF); 474-858 MHz (UHF).
Accessories: Micro-USB to USB adaptor, miniature telescopic aerial, standard coaxial adaptor, magnetic aerial with 1M cable.
PC Specs: Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8, Minimum of 512MB RAM, 1.5gHz processor, 1GB free storage space, TV Center for Windows download.

 

 

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