Elgato iPhone App turns EyeTV into Slingbox competitor

Elgato has just released an app for the iPhone that let’s EyeTV users stream live television to their iPhone across any Wi-fi network, effectively turning EyeTV into a Slingbox competitor.

I have used an EyeTV 250 Plus for the last year to watch and record television on my mac. The EyeTV replaced an ugly old tv set, enabling me to keep track of the morning news on a better screen and reducing the clutter in my kitchen. The fact that it also doubles as a computer-based PVR is an added bonus. Just slightly thicker than a deck of cards, the unit is fabricated of brushed aluminum and includes both a digital and analogue tuner.

The iPhone app offers EyeTV customers a significant interface upgrade with the ability to access and program the EyeTV hardware remotely as well as stream live television to my iPhone over a wi-fi signal. In order to use the app you need to have EyeTV hardware and the latest version of the EyeTV software installed on an Intel Core 2 Duo mac and iPhone OS 3.0 or higher. You will also need to purchase the iPhone app for $4.99.

After purchasing the app this morning and upgrading my EyeTV software I thought I was ready to go. Let’s just say that the the install process didn’t go as smooth as I would have liked. After about an hour of putzing around with router port forwarding and firewall settings on my mac, and a second install of the EyeConnect software I was able to get everything working.

The iPhone app interface is quite slick. After launch the app takes a few seconds to find your registered EyeTV device, and then you are presented with menu options that include watching Live TV, Recordings, Schedules and Guide. Using the guide you can select a channel, see what’s on, read a preview of the show and program your EyeTV to record the broadcast remotely. More importantly you can watch live tv anywhere provided you able to hit a wi-fi signal–never miss a hockey game again!

I was expecting a lackluster picture but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality–it’s amazing. I haven’t able to confirm, but I’m it appears that EyeTV uses the H 264 codec to encode video for streaming to the iPhone. The app let’s you adjust streaming rates to get the best picture-to-performance ratio. The player interface for live TV includes a pause/play button, a 30-second rewind options and a fast-forward button. Recording playback offers a few more playback controls.

Comparing the iPhone stream to a live broadcast there was a slight delay, but nothing to complain about and no doubt the result of the unit capturing, compressing and streaming the live signal.

So far I’m quite impressed with the app and with the continued improvements Elgato offers to its customers through enhancements to its product line. Elgato’s support forums were quite helpful in addressing my initial configuration issues and I was happy to read that this is only version 1 of what promises to be a great iPhone app.