British homes have always relied on the over-the-air broadcast of TV channels. But in an HD and 4K world, and with 4G mobile services in demand, the available bandwidth for terrestrial TV is shrinking. So surely it would be better to use the much less limited satellite broadcasting platforms to send signals to homes?
Indeed it would, and Elgato has a similar idea, with its EyeTV Netstream 4Sat, which is designed to let you stream any free-to-air TV channel to your phone or tablet. But there's even more to it than that, because this box of tricks also operates on a new system called Sat>IP, which has been designed to let you take the stream from the Elgato, and pass it back to a TV through a low-cost adaptor box.
This is all based around a new standard called Sat>IP. The idea is to take the rather limited number of feeds most people have from a satellite dish, and use them more effectively. So the Elgato box allows you to stream video to four users, each watching a different channel. The box takes four LNB inputs from your dish, which for most people will be either two more than they have, or all of their feeds. You'll also be able to use just two LNB inputs, but you won't be able to stream different channels to all four of your theoretical users.
Sat>IP is interesting for a number reasons. First, it's a nice way to start sending HD video around your home. Now, instead of having to have coaxial cable going to any room you want satellite TV in, you can have one room, in which the Elgato is connected, then it will stream via powerline, ethernet or perhaps even fast wireless. That's a very real advantage over the existing system.
Perhaps most interesting though, is the fact that Sat>IP was developed by SES - which is the company behind the Astra satellites that serves UK homes with Sky and Freesat, and TV services across Europe. But perhaps more interesting is that BSkyB is also involved, and that suggest that perhaps it considers the future of multi-room Sky to be delivered in this way, offering subscribers access to its channels on any device they want, at least in their own home.
A look around information on the Sat>IP site also suggests that it's possible to stream encrypted channels to some devices. This is less relevant in the UK, because Sky doesn't allow this, but European users might be able to make use of it. And with Sky as a partner in the system, perhaps we'll see a change of opinion from the company at some point.
Listed on the Sat>IP website are a number of satellite boxes that can use streams from the Elgato, and you can also use the firm's app on your Android or iOS device, as well as on a PC or Mac using one of several apps available. Elgato says its app isn't compatible with all phones and tablets, but it does support Nexus devices, as well as many of Samsung's phones. As a guide, you need a modern phone with a dual-core processor running at 1GHz or more.
The Elgato EyeTV Netstream 4Sat was launched today, and costs £260. We have a review sample on its way, so we'll let you know how it is very soon.
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