The Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity is a "TV Stick" with a difference, well a couple of them actually.

First there are the two tuners, so you get the same sort of watch one programme while recording another functionality as a Sky+ box.

Then there’s the diversity mode which makes use of not one but two rod antennas that combine to form a single boosted signal in those areas where DVB-T reception is poor.

Cleverly, the device automatically switches between the two depending upon the strength of the signal. Good signal means dual tuner functionality, whereas poor signal sacrifices this in favour of getting a decent picture. In theory.

Unfortunately all of this impressiveness is undone in one fell swoop when you fire the little beast up in anything but a very high signal quality location when using the two portable aerials.

In our reviewers’ rural location which has below average freeview reception we were left with a black screen no matter where we stuck the antennae (and believe you we had a few ideas for Terratec after 40 minutes of success-free tuning attempts) and no matter how we tweaked the tuning settings.

Using the supplied adaptors, however, we connected the stick to the main roof mounted TV aerial and immediately found the 33 TV channels and 50 radio stations we expected.

Unfortunately, the whole point of a portable device such as this is rather negated if you need to lug around a full size TV aerial and a roof to mount it on.

In fairness, we did try a number of other locations to give the thing a fair chance of finding a signal. And in fairness it did find one, but only in the centre of a large town. Every other location greeted us with the same distinct lack of channels, which was disappointing to say the least.

And this is a real shame because we like the device, we like the design, we like the software, we like the feature set.

The timeshifting TV function is well implemented, the Electronic Program Guide intuitive, the digital video recording perfectly adequate.

The remote control is strong enough to work from one side of a room to the other, which is unusual in many of these TV Stick type devices.

Best of all, the combination of being able to scan through TV listings via remote programming online and setting it to record with a click of your mouse is really cool.

There’s even a year’s free subscription to the tvtv.de service that enables the computer to boot up from standby when a TV show begins and record it to your hard drive without any additional input from your good self.

On the tech specs side of things you get automatic optimization of aspect ratio, Dolby digital (AC3) recording, teletext and subtitles, DVB radio support and user-defined favourites lists by genre and location.

But we just can’t use any of it on the move because of the underpowered, inadequate aerials, even if there are two of them.

Verdict

Superb feature set makes this good value, but only if you can test it in the areas you are likely to want to watch TV in before parting with your case – otherwise you could be bitterly disappointed.