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Super Bowl Prep 2013

While most of New England (us included) is still recovering from the trouncing the Patriots received from the Ravens a week ago, it does not mean we are not excited to watch the annual spectacle that is the Super Bowl. While fans will maintain that football is best watched on a giant screen (we don’t dispute this), there are many other screen options available to those who want to watch the game.

We have talked about how to record live TV using digital recorders so you can rewind and see the action again in slow motion; we have discussed how we freed ourselves from cable TV and got higher resolution signal free off the air; we have even showed how easy it was to set up the laptop to watch the game should that be your screen of choice. But that was a year ago. Today there are a few more options:

If you have more than one computer on your WiFi network and would like to be able to stream the TV broadcast to them, you can now do it with the HDHomeRun. This little box is a TV tuner for your entire home network. Just connect it to the router and you can stream live TV to all the computers (even to iPhones and iPads) wirelessly or via Ethernet to any computer, anywhere in the home.

If you want to receive TV signals directly on the iPhone or iPad, Elgato EyeTV Mobilehas it covered. The little 1″ square module will enable an iPhone or iPad to receive TV signals right out of the air, no WiFi or cell signals needed. However, EyeTV Mobile is NOT a tuner for the FREE broadcast digital TV (ATSC) signals picked up by the typical digital TV tuner. Instead, in the US, the device receives signals provided by a national mobile content service call Dyle. This national mobile content service (Dyle™ mobile TV) is a joint venture known as, Mobile Content Venture (MCV). MCV is comprised of Fox, NBC, Telemundo, Pearl Mobile DTV and ION.

No, we have never heard of them until now either, but go here if you want to know more about Dyle. Go here to see what stations are available in your area. It is an interesting concept and time will tell if it will survive. However, if you want to watch TV on mobile devices without chewing up your cellular minutes or paying a subscription fee, currently this is your only option.

The Elgato EyeTV Mobile package consists of the following:

  • EyeTV Mobile TV tuner
  • Miniature telescopic antenna (MCX)
  • Rod antenna w/ magnetic base and detachable suction cup
  • USB charging cable

Regardless of whether you buy into the Dyle approach of TV on mobile devices, getting things up and running couldn’t be easier. Just connect the compact EyeTV Mobile TV tuner, install and launch the free EyeTV app, choose a channel, and start watching! We were up and running in just a few minutes. We’ll have a more detail review of the EyeTV Mobile next month.

When we decided to get rid of our cable TV service, we were a little bit concerned with how best to pull the HDTV signal off the air. After a bit of experimentation, we discovered two indoor antennas (Mohu Leaf, ClearStream Micron) that were as good as an external one in grabbing the signals. For maximum portability, we pair the Mohu Leaf with the Elgato EyeTV for the laptop. The ClearStream Micron works great with our 46″ Sony Bravia.

We also have a Mac mini hooked up to the large screen TV so we could access movies and TV shows on NetFlix and Hulu. WiFi issues used to plague the setup, but ever since we boosted the WiFi reception of the Mac mini with the BearExtender external WiFi antenna, it has been running drop-free.

Tuners and antennas are key components, but accessories such as remotes, keyboards, and even screen cleaners play a role in getting us ready for the big game. The more devices you have hooked up to the big screen, the harder it is to manage them all. We solved the problem many years ago with the Harmony 890 Universal Remote. This seven-year-old controller may be the best universal remote on the planet. Logitech has released newer units since, but we have not upgraded as the newer units were not superior in either function, ergonomics, or capabilities to the 890.

Occasionally, you may need to enter a URL or move the cursor on the big screen. The easiest way to do that is with a small wireless keyboard such as the AZIO Thumb. It has an integrated trackball, works up to 30′ away, and will turn itself on/off automatically to conserve the rechargeable batteries.

People get excited when they watch the big game. They will yell, throw cheese doodles, or otherwise propel liquid in the general direction of the screen. Keep the screen onion dip-free with the ScreenDr screen cleaner. The microfiber cloth stays with the bottle for clean, safe, mildew-free storage. The ammonia and alcohol-free formula removes dust, dirt and fingerprints with no streaking.

Whether it be the Super Bowl or Downton Abbey, the gear listed will let you get more out of the HDTV broadcasts freely available off-the-air. Go and grab them now.

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