This is a follow-up to my recent review of the Elgato EyeTV 250 device for the Macintosh. This review will address the iPhone application specifically. If you want to know my impressions about the device itself, please check out my review.
As far as features are concerned, the EyeTV iPhone app delivers. It essentially allows you to stream live or recorded tv shows from your Mac directly to your iPhone (via Wifi AND cellular data streams). The user interface is very clean and simple to navigate. The first screen gives you four simple options:
This is one of the best looking and simplest iPhone apps I've used so far... if only it worked...
Before I begin to tell you all the things that DIDN'T work for me, I will preface my remarks by saying I am using an iPhone 3g, not the newer 3gs, so it is possible most of these issues are resolved by using the newer hardware.
When used over Wifi, shows and live feeds took VERY long to start -- upwards of 30 seconds or more. Once playback began, stuttering was common and the app would occasionally lock up. Looking through the Elgato support site, they recommend turning off the Bluetooth feature on the phone to improve performance. Even though this step is unnecessary when using the Slingbox or NFL Sunday Ticket app (two other apps which provide video streaming), I complied. My results improved, but only marginally. Recorded shows that were specifically re-encoded for iPhone definitely worked better than Live TV, but still not to the point where I would consider it ready for regular use. There is also a setting in the iPhone app for the size of the data stream you want to receive. Changing these values seemed to actually change what channels or recordings were available for me to watch, but it's actual function still is a mystery to me. But moving the slider around did seem to slightly help video playback.
To confuse matters even more, Elgato support recommends buying their other device, the Turbo.264 HD Encoder which they say will automatically adjust the video feed on the fly to match your network settings. However after spending money on the original EyeTV device, plus the $5 for the iPhone application as well, I'm not ready to drop even more money into this project without knowing exactly what kind of results I should expect. I would have thought that re-encoding the video for the iPhone would have precluded me from having to add this additional device.
I will continue to tweak the different settings to see if I can get better results, but hopefully a software update will address my current concerns without requiring an additional hardware purchase. For now, I would recommend a Slingbox device over the EyeTV iPhone software for streaming video.