The ability to watch Freeview TV whilst on the move is something that can be accomplished with a few online services, however we all know the pain of missing our favourite TV show and having to give in to the fact that you’re just going to have to pick up the story line in the next episode. The TabletTV Portable TV Tuner fixes all of this thanks to its ability to both watch live Freeview channels and also record your favourite shows to your iPad or Android tablet.
TabletTV was created by Motive Television, a software solutions company for television. TabletTV currently available in the UK, EU and US, and works with both iOS and Android tablets.
Available in both a portable version, which we’re reviewing today, and a mains version, this gives you the option to choose the most suitable version for you.
TabletTV enables you to watch and record live television for free, presuming you have a TV licence to watch live broadcast channels in the UK, and also play back any recorded shows wherever you may be.
An internet connection isn’t required to use TabletTV’s services, but you can opt to connect to WiFi from within the app to enable you to make use of the built-in social media which allows you to post Twitter and Facebook messages whilst using the application.
The tuner itself is compact and very slim, allowing you to position it virtually anywhere. The tuner will need to be placed in a suitable place to receive a signal though.
It sports a gloss black exterior with silver border, as well as the TabletTV logo on the front. Around the edges you’ll notice a few buttons and ports. The right side features the power button, a small reset port and the bottom of the device is where the charging port is located (behind a small hinged panel).
I did find the panel, covering the charging port, to be very flimsy and found that it constantly fell out after a short while. Perhaps a clip fastening this panel shut would be more suitable.
The aerial is located at the top of the tuner, and will need to be pulled out and extended fully to ensure you to get the best possible signal.
Turning the device around reveals the removable back panel, which is where the rechargeable battery is installed.
Setting up the TabletTV to work with your device, an iPad Mini 3 in our case, is simple and pain-free.
The tuner features three different indicators on the front; one for power, a status indicator and also one for Wi-Fi.
The indicators will be different colours depending on their current status.
The power / battery indicator, while charging, will display red for charging and green when fully charged. Unplug the device and the red led means less than 30% battery life, orange means 30-70% battery and green means more than 70% battery remaining.
The status indicator alerts you to the operational status of your device. A blinking green light means the tuner is booting up, and will display a solid green light once fully booted up. A red light means that their is either a bad reception in your area or that there is no available live TV signal. In a worse case scenario a red light means that the tuner does not work properly. Thankfully we didn’t see this light!
The Wi-Fi indicator also has two different colour indicators; green and orange. A solid green light means the device is ready to transfer broadcasting data, a blinking green light means the data is being transferred and a blinking orange light means you’re connected to the Home Network.
Now, the home network. This is basically the network you connect to at home to browse the web. If you’re away from home then you won’t be connected via Wi-Fi anyway, in most cases, so this doesn’t matter too much. However if you’re at home then connecting to the TabletTV will disconnect you from your own Wi-Fi connection, so that the device can pair itself with your tablet. Don’t worry though, TabletTV have enabled the option to reconnect to your own Wi-Fi from within the TabletTV application. Being connected to Wi-Fi whilst using TabletTV enables you to use the in-app social media to tweet and post to Twitter and Facebook, respectively.
To get everything set up, the first thing you need to do is download the TabletTV app from the AppStore / Play Store. Remember to download the correct version though, because there is also an EU and US version which obviously won’t work here in the UK.
Once that’s downloaded you need to ensure the antenna on the tuner is pulled out and fully extended. Next up is turning on the tuner for the first time, and then going to Settings / Wi-Fi on your device and connecting to TabletTV. Doing this connects the tuner to your tablet to ensure broadcasts can be received on the application.
Once your device has connected to the tuner, you just need to open up the TabletTV app and follow the set up instructions.
Everything from here is simple, the first screen you’ll be greeted with is the Wi-Fi connection screen. This screen enables you to reconnect to your home Wi-Fi if necessary. Once you’ve either completed this section or skipped you’re pretty much done. The next screen is the “Looking for channels” screen, which doesn’t require your input and will just search for all of the available channels in your area.
Once complete you just need to hit next and you’ll be faced with the “All Done” screen. All that has to be done here is entering a name for the services that have just been found, I chose “Home”. You also need to choose a region as well; mine only displayed one, which was correct anyway.
And you’re all done, with regards to setting up. Simple!
You’re now chucked straight in to the app, where you’ll see all of your available channels. There’s nothing more to the setting up process really, you can now enjoy watching TV on your tablet!
The device itself was easy to use, thanks to the simple design and only really having one button you need to press (power).
Once you’ve pressed the power button and pulled out the antenna then you’re pretty much safe to leave the tuner alone for the time being, before you decide on the best place to receive a signal.
The tuner felt fairly solid, and since it’s very compact and slimline it can be placed virtually anywhere. I found the antenna could be a bit flimsy, however this didn’t impact on how well it worked.
The panel covering the charging port constantly annoyed me whilst moving the tuner. It would keep falling out whenever I moved the tuner, most likely due to the rubber knob that was attached to the panel not being adequate to keep it in place. Eventually I ended up taping the panel to the device whilst testing.
The overall layout of the application is very organised and clean looking. All of the channels are listed in order down the left side of the screen, with a channel viewer on the right. Below the picture you have the “Now Playing” box which displays the current channel, TV show and a short description about the programme.
Moving over to the TV Guide, you’ll notice it’s very well laid out with the TV shows being placed in different sized boxes, depending on the length of the show.
You can click on each show to view a short description and also start viewing the show by clicking the “watch” button.
The next tab is where all of your recorded shows are kept. Keep in mind that if you don’t have a tablet with a large storage capacity you could end up using a substantial amount if you record a decent amount of shows / films. The app will keep track of how much storage you have left though, alerting you when you don’t have enough left to store any more recordings.
Pressing the settings button brings up a popup window displaying the list of available channels, user preferences, tuner information and a help section.
The application itself was very easy to use, everything was well laid out and there was no lag or errors that I found during testing.
Apart from the annoying charging port cover, I found the TabletTV worked extremely well. Both the hardware and application work extremely well together.
One thing I will point out is that due to the fact that you’re broadcasting to the same device you’re recording to, you’re unable to watch another channel whilst recording something. A little annoying, but I suppose if you were only looking to record something at that time it’s not too much of a problem.
Regarding price, the portable tuner retails at £69.99 and the mains version at £64.99. Both prices including standard shipping. Very reasonable if you ask me, for a portable tuner that works flawlessly, requires no internet connect, contract or wires.
As I said before there were only a couple of things letting the TabletTV Portable Tuner down; those being the dodgy charging port cover and the ability to only watch the channel you’re recording.
Overall the TabletTV has performed very well and would be ideal for someone looking for a cheaper, portable option to a more expensive, non-portable Freeview / recorder combo. 9/10