You’re out. You’ve got your tablet and you want to watch a bit of TV. There’s one fairly straightforward and easy way to do it. You grab an app like iPlayer, NOW TV, Sky Go or something similar and you can watch shows – either live or on-demand.
Trouble is, all of these solutions use the same thing – data. If you’re in the garden you can perhaps use your WiFi, but if you’re on a break at work, on the bus, a train, or in the local cafe; it’s a different story. You might have 4G, you might have 3G, you might have a droppy connection or nothing at all. If you do have a connection then you’re going to be ripping through your data allowance. If you don’t then you’re getting nothing at all.
So meet this, the TabletTV portable tuner. It’ll pick up digital TV signals from terrestrial digital transmitters and then, via a personal WiFi hotspot, will stream the digital TV channels to your tablet. It’ll let you watch TV, record TV and it even comes with a pretty swish TV guide too.
The tuner itself is about as big as a box of matches. Inside is a 1050mAh battery delivering 3.7v. At the top, pushed into the device itself, is an extendable aerial for getting the best signal. As this device is completely wireless, this alone means that you can put the device high up for the best signal. It’s charged via a mini USB at the bottom which is protected by a small flap.
When you turn it on, via the button on the right, some LED indicators will flash up. A battery indicator shows red when charging and green when charged. If it’s flashing red then you’ve got just 30% battery remaining. If it’s orange then you have 30-70% remaining and green means more 70%. Next is a tuner indicator, which flashes quickly when booting, solid when working and red if you’ve got no TV signal.
A WiFi indicator shows a solid green light when it’s ready, flashing when streaming and orange if it’s connected to your home network.
Ah yes, your home network. This was important feature. If you’re at work and want to catch the football in your lunch break on the portable hot-spot generated by this magic box, then fair play. However, if you’re at home then you’ll be disconnected from your home WiFi. That’ll mean no internet. Bum. No-one wants that. Luckily you can tell the TabletTV tuner about your home WiFi and then, when it sees it, you can login through the app on your home WiFi. No faffing about. Then, when you’re out, you can connect to the local WiFi hotspot and off you go.
The first thing you’ll need to do is grab the app. Trouble is, it’s only available for certain devices – mainly iPads and Android tablets. The official line is that…
TabletTV apps work with all Apple iPads except for the first generation iPad 1s. Also with Large and Extra Large Android tablets (devices with screens ranging from 7” to 12.2”). This covers over 2,000 compatible devices.
If you’ve got a smartphone, you’re flat out of luck, which was a real shame. The PR guys tell me that they are working on this though.
The app itself is quite straightforward and I’ve recorded a video showing you around…
It’ll record shows directly to the storage on your tablet, so even without a TV signal or indeed WiFi you can watch shows back. This is ideal if you’re on a plane or somewhere similar and you can’t get a TV signal. Your movies, TV shows and local TV content can be played back, whether you’re on a flight or abroad. Good that.
You can manage the recordings and it’ll show you just how much storage you have remaining.
Different locations can be setup, so you can have a “Home” and “Work” location or something similar – this means you can quickly switch between TV regions if you’re moving around between TV transmitters. A nice feature, especially if you have a holiday home or regularly travel to a relatives or another location when you need to re-tune.
The Live TV feature has red button access, subtitles and the ability to record as mentioned before, although sadly it’s limited to just the channel you’re watching, which is a bit of a pain if you want to watch one channel and record another.
Due to the fact that recordings are stored on the device you’re streaming to, there’s no chance of switching to other channels whilst recording another. It’s also a shame that the required app isn’t available for more devices, as I should think it’s quite possible to do.
However, if you do have a tablet and watch to either stash lots of recorded shows onto it ahead of a trip abroad, or you want to watch TV in or out of the house without using any data, this is a good solution. It’s small, holds signal well and due to the fact that you can place it quite a distance away from your tablet, you can achieve the best signal too.
There’s two models – the portable one we have here is available from the TabletTV website and Amazon for £69.99. The mains one, is £64.99. Both allow you to watch, stream and record digital TV shows whilst the mains one comes with a bigger aerial and the opportunity to plug it into your home antenna.
The app worked well and was easy to understand. It came with a great TV guide and, although you may have noticed a period of slowness during the initial setup of the stream on the demo video above, it only happened a couple of times and wasn’t anything to worry about.
This will tick the boxes for a whole range of setups – whether you want to get TV in your bedroom without cables, whether you want to have TV in your caravan without rigging up a big TV, the list goes on. A nice little gadget that is straightforward and works well.