While there are plenty of options available for PC users to get their images, music and movies on to their televisions to share away from the computer, there is little choice available for Apple Mac users at the moment. Last month Apple closed the loop on anyone hoping to make a name for themselves with audio when it launched the AirPort Express with AirTunes. However Apple fell short of actually offering music and video over a network. Elgato is hoping that where the AirPort Express falters, it will succeed and its eyehome device not only offers music, but more importantly images and movies.
What’s the catch? Well unlike the AirPort Express the unit isn’t wireless, and you will have to plug the device into a network hub. That isn’t to say of course that that network hub can’t then be connected to a wireless solution its just the hub has to be within phono or Scart distance to the television.
A small unobtrusive box, there is little branding or features on the actual unit. No LCD display, not even a power LED to let you know what it going on. Instead Elgato has opted for the on screen menus and a remote control. In contrast to the eyehome the remote actually looks like it came out of a south Asia sweatshop and you’re bound to find the remote model in some other electronics kit somewhere else.
Setup is all automatic, all you have to do is install the accompanying software on your Mac, the only requirement is that you be running OS 10.3 - This will knock quite a few Mac users out of the equation, but the benefits of 10.3 far outweigh the hassle of needing the upgrade.
Turning the box on and everything sets itself up automatically. All that is left to do is view your movie files, images, or listen to music. Content is automatically pulled from the relevant folders on the Mac and if you don’t have anything in them then nothing will show up. Choices are fairly standard - shuffle, play all etc, and it’s a shame there isn’t more manual options available.
Additional to the images, movies and music options is a services button, that ensuring you are connected to the internet means you can get the latest headlines from a number of companies like Yahoo! or the BBC.
The only downside to this unit is the lack of inbuilt wireless-g support. That said it can be easily fixed by plugging it into a wireless-g router if you have one. Other than that this is a very handy unit if you are wanting share your images, movies and music on the television. The addition of the RSS feeds from the BBC and Yahoo to name a few are a nice touch as well as the ability to view your bookmarks stored in Safari on the television.