Review: Elgato tivizen transports television signals over WiFi

Elgato did it again. I for one didn’t think anyone could add useful improvements to an already well-filled range of TV tuner products that are all aimed at receiving and playing TV on a Mac or a PC. Of course, I missed the wireless magic word. tivizen is a wireless TV receiver and it’s its own WiFi hot spot. My AirPort module equipped Mac Mini was quite happy when I turned on tivizen, and I was happy too because I needn’t do anything special and the signal was just as clear and clean as with Elgato’s wired products.

The tivizen looks a lot like a smaller version of an iPhone — of a modern smart phone anyway. It’s glossy black, has a metal rim and a discretely printed “tivizen” logo on the front. The right side hides the On/Off button. The bottom has a protective contraption that hides the mini-USB interface for charging the tivizen’s battery. The top of the device has a small receded antenna. The antenna is nicely flexible so you won’t easily break it.

The tivizen with an iPad and iPhone...

Press the On/Off button and you’ll turn on the tivizen. Three LEDs start appearing; one for battery status, one for network, and one for signal strength. The Li-Ion battery should be good for 3.5 hours of TV.

The first and most important reason why tivizen was released has to do with mobile devices like the iPad that enables users to view TV on a decent scale. To accommodate iPad users in particular, Elgato has developed a lovely looking and behaving app. As soon as you turn the tivizen on, the app is launched and you get to browse through channels and TV guides the iPad way. As I don’t own an iPad myself yet, my encounter with the app was very brief, while the owner of the iPad almost wouldn’t give back the tivizen — he liked it too much.

Using the tivizen on a Mac is a breeze too, though. Although EyeTV did not automatically launch when I turned on the tivizen, that could also be due to my Mac Mini not immediately recognizing tivizen’s hot spot. In my area, there are a lot of WiFi networks, and it seems the Mac has some difficulties knowing which is mine and which are networks from other people and companies.

As soon as EyeTV is launched and a TV channel is selected, the signal strength LED on the tivizen starts blinking continuously as long as there’s WiFi ‘communication’. The battery LED will occasionally flash — as long as it stays green, you’re fine. When the battery gets halfway, the LED will turn orange and finally red before it dies.

Signal quality was identical to Elgatos’ other products; in other words: excellent. The added value of tivizen comes from its wireless feature, and although I’ve never been a fan of wireless (too many security and privacy risks in my opinion, and too slow for what I do) I must admit the tivizen is a fantastic little TV tuner for DTT/Freeview.

Currently, my personal three favorite Elgato TV tuners are the tivizen, the netstream DTT and the netstream sat. The tivizen is hard to put away by its looks alone; it really demands an iPhone or an iPad, although I enjoy it lying right in front of my keyboard too. The netstream devices are all about efficiency, of course. They look great too and have WiFi capabilities (you’ll need an AirPort Extreme contrary to the tivizen), but they serve a totally different purpose.

The tivizen costs five cents short of 200.00 Euros and is worth every cent, certainly when matched with an iPhone or an iPad. For comparison purposes: the netstream DTT and sat cost 199.95 Euros each.

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