The Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe is about the smallest imaginable USB adaptor for adding Freeview TV to a Mac or Windows PC

It's inevitable that tech shrinks as the calendar rolls. But by how much it contracts in size still disarms us sometimes.

When Elgato launched its first EyeTV digital TV tuner in 2003 - a FireWire-connected digital Freeview TV tuner - we marvelled at how such a powerful gadget could take up so little space.

The EyeTV 400 was smaller than most paperback books but, coupled to a reasonably quick Apple Mac, could turn the PC into a full featured television and personal video recorder (PVR).

Well before hard drives became commonplace in set-top boxes, the EyeTV allowed effortless viewing, pausing and recording of the dozens of available Freeview television stations. And the subsequent archiving of any programmes in original broadcast quality was a doddle too.

Over the years, we've seen Elgato shift to USB-connected hardware adaptors, and those units to dwindle in physical size.

Until today, when the TV adaptor is literally as small as the USB plug itself.

The Elgato EyeTV Deluxe is groomed for the Mac market, fitting perfectly into the one-and-only USB port of an Apple MacBook Air, for instance; but it's by no means limited to Apple computers.

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Windows Media Centre will also work with this Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe dongle in place of Elgato's class-leading Macintosh software, to allow the watching and recording live TV in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Not only that, but you don't even have to install the driver yourself - in Windows 7 now, Windows Update will find the necessary driver and install it without breaking its stride.

As we found with the Elgato EyeTV Diversity tuner adaptor, though, while Microsoft's entertainment-faced media interface is quite cuddly and colourful, it lacks the ease and power of EyeTV software. Try archiving anything you've recorded, for instance, and you'll be mired in Microsoft's proprietary .wtv and .dvr-ms formats.

More troubling for normal viewing, WMC lacks any progressive scan deinterlacing, that on EyeTV makes the picture so smooth and film-like. Without this kind of motion-adaptive or full progressive-scan interpolation, disturbing horizontal lines are visible - especially around moving objects when you view on non-CRT screens.

And 4:3 broadcasts (still typical from imported US TV) often have their aspect ratio incorrectly rendered by Windows, turning the tallest supermodel into someone altogether more broad and stunted.

Another option for Windows users is the included TerraTec Home Cinema TV software, which provides PVR functionality, albeit through a less intuitive interface.

NEXT PAGE: Using the Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe >>

The EyeTV for DTT Deluxe USB adaptor includes an infra-red receiver inside its diminutive body, which works with the supplied remote handset to allow you to change channels and control playback from a distance.

Despite the Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe's dimensions we found the adaptor every bit as sensitive for TV reception as earlier, larger units.

In our tests, admittedly blessed by close proximity to south-east England's primary TV tower at Crystal Palace, we could pick up all six of the mast's standard-definition multiplexes, using just the 16cm collapsible aerial.

Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe

No bigger than a USB plug itself - the Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe is one small Freeview TV tuner

Those six multiplexes combine several TV and radio stations on one channel frequency, currently equating to 54 free-to-view TV channels, several more pay-to-view stations (not accessible), and another 23 radio stations - including the condemned 6Music and BBC Asian Network stations...

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For more distant reception when the Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe's telescopic antenna won't suffice, included in the box is a mini desktop aerial that can be stuck near a window by its combination sucker-cup/magnetic base; or you can connect the Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe to a regular roof aerial via a supplied UHF plug adaptor.

Elgato's EyeTV 3 software now includes handy presets to export recorded programmes to formats ready for an iPhone, iPod or Apple TV, while the Recordings list has an option for animated Cover Flow-style browsing.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe: Specs

  • Digital DVB-T television adaptor
  • 48-860MHz (VHF and UHF)
  • COFDM demodulator — supported modulations 16, 64 QAM, QPSK
  • Bandwidths 6, 7, 8 MHzUSB 2.0 connection
  • 164mm telescopic aerial
  • desktop aerial with magnet/suction cup base
  • UHF aerial (IEC-MCX)adaptor
  • USB extension cable
  • remote control handset
  • 2 x AA batteries
  • EyeTV 3.2 software (Mac)
  • TerraTec Home Cinema TV software (Windows)
  • 35 x 27 x 8mm
  • 4g (8g with aerial)
  • Digital DVB-T television adaptor
  • 48-860MHz (VHF and UHF)
  • COFDM demodulator — supported modulations 16, 64 QAM, QPSK
  • Bandwidths 6, 7, 8 MHzUSB 2.0 connection
  • 164mm telescopic aerial
  • desktop aerial with magnet/suction cup base
  • UHF aerial (IEC-MCX)adaptor
  • USB extension cable
  • remote control handset
  • 2 x AA batteries
  • EyeTV 3.2 software (Mac)
  • TerraTec Home Cinema TV software (Windows)
  • 35 x 27 x 8mm
  • 4g (8g with aerial)

OUR VERDICT

This baby Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe adaptor commands a £30 premium over the similarly equipped but larger EyeTV DTT model. And with the Elgato EyeTV for DTT Deluxe, Elagato has added little more to the digital TV experience. But it has very cleverly taken away a considerable amount — of the bulk of the adaptor, by squeezing one of its superlative tuners inside a bare USB plug that weighs just 4g. All the core TV viewing, recording and exporting functionality remains for the Mac platform, while the ability to now use as painlessly as is feasible in Windows 7 means Elagato’s TV and video products should earn the wider recognition they deserve.

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