Hands on with Elgato’s eyeTV Mobile, part 1: Unboxing

Portable TV… TV on the go. Two generations ago it was a dream. A generation ago it was common. Now, today, it’s almost unheard of. You can blame DVDs and smartphones, but the real reason no one brings a TV into a moving car is… it doesn’t work. Digital TV signals simply don’t work in moving cars. They need to lock into a signal, and simply aren’t designed to work while moving.

The need for mobile digital TV has given rise to a whole alliance of MDTV providers, who have been working hard to create a new standard for digital broadcasting that works with traditional broadcast technology but provides a separate signal optimized for mobile viewing. So far, though, the mobile TVs have been very hard to find.

Enter the Elgato EyeTV Mobile. This is an accessory that works with any recent iPod, iPhone or iPod touch to provide TV tuning services. It turns your device into a television. You can watch video without consuming your data plan, and without any subscription required. You must be in one of the markets currently broadcasting mobile DTV: click here for a map of mobile broadcasters.

The eyeTV Mobile comes in the sort of quality retail packaging that used to be really common for consumer electronics. It’s a very nice exterior box with silver foil, surrounding an interior box with a swing-open front.

Opening the front flap shows a basic installation guide as well as the unit itself, which is a little larger than a quarter. Further disassembling the box gives you a full complement of accessories: a microUSB to USB cable for charging, a desk antenna with a magnet mount and suction cup and a telescoping monopole antenna. All these accessories are really tiny but seem to be very high quality, especially for the price you pay.

The eyeTV unit was not charged at all when I got it. It must have power in order to operate, so I connected it to a computer using the USB cable and waited for the red light on the unit to turn green.