PCTV Systems Broadway 2T review
There are several ways to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone, including websites such as tvcatchup.com which allow you to 'tune in' to popular channels for free. All you need is a broadband connection within the UK.
The Broadway 2T lets you watch TV anywhere in the world with an internet connection by streaming the video feeds from two internal Freeview tuners across your home network, and over your broadband connection when you're out and about. This means you can watch TV on your iPad or other iOS device using its Safari browser, as well as on mobile devices that support Flash, such as Android phones and tablets. Naturally, PCs and Mac owners can also view the streams in a browser window. Two devices can view different channels at once, but only one stream is supported when using the external inputs.
The square device looks a bit like a wireless router as it has a pair of aerials sticking up at the rear, so it's likely to be conspicuous on your TV bench. As it's wireless, it doesn't have to be next to your TV, but it will need to be near an aerial feed. Oddly, there's no RF passthrough, so you might need to buy a splitter if you need the aerial to feed your TV as well. A mini magnetic aerial is included in the box, but this may not receive channels if your Freeview signal is weak.
Configuring the Broadway is surprisingly easy. You'll need to use the included network cable to connect the 2T to your router first, until you've entered your Wi-Fi password. Rather than use an application, it's simply a case of typing http://distan.tv into your browser. A wizard appears and you can choose which input you'd like to use, which wireless network to connect to and then scan for channels. It's also advisable to change the PIN and password from their defaults.
Once done, you can start watching TV in the same browser window. Annoyingly, the channels aren't in the usual Freeview order, but you can create a custom list by tapping the Settings button. You can also change the video bit rate for the local and internet profiles. By default, local is 1,200Kb/s, but you can increase it to 4,200Kb/s which gives better picture quality.
Tapping the Broadway link shows more advanced settings, including the IR-Learning Wizard. Using this you can control an existing set-top box (such as a Virgin V+ box) via the IR blaster cable in the box. If your box is in the list, the remote control codes will be added automatically. If not, you'll have to use the Wizard to 'learn' them from the box's original remote. Since there are only S-video and composite inputs, quality is limited, but it's fine for viewing on a small screen such as the iPad's. The real benefit is that you can schedule recordings via the internet and watch channels that aren't available on Freeview.
We found that watching TV locally worked fine, with decent quality even when watching full screen on an iPad. Quality is naturally worse when streaming via the internet - it will depend on the speed of your connection. Changing channels - even locally - takes around seven seconds, so you won't want to channel hop too often. There's no built-in TV guide - this is planned for a future update.
If you want to connect to the Broadway from outside your home, via a Wi-Fi hotspot or 3G, you'll need to forward a port in your router's settings. This is a shame, since the initial setup process is so easy. At least PCTV's servers keep track of your external IP address so you won't need a DynDNS account.
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