**UPDATE  We spent a fornight with the Equinux Tizi Hands on.. Please head over to our updated review**

TV tuners are plentiful ranging from cheap and cheerful USB gadgets to more expensive network-enabled devices such as the Slingbox range or Elgato’s Netstream. However, the Tizi is the first TV tuner I’ve seen that is exclusively designed for the iOS platform.

equinux tizi 4 Equinux Tizi iPhone TV tuner
Portable TV: Equinux’s Tizi

Tizi TV can only be controlled by the free Tizi.tv app that you download from the App Store within iTunes. There’s no other software available that will allow it to work with an ordinary Mac or PC.

In hardware terms, the Tizi is a straightforward DVB-T tuner that receives standard-definition Freeview channels. It can’t handle HD channels, but that’s no great loss on the modest screen of an iPhone, or even the 10in screen of an iPad. A little more disappointing is the fact that it doesn’t support BBC ‘red button’ services either.

The glossy black gadget is about the size of a fat credit card, with a 6in extendable aerial on one end and a mini-USB port on the other. That USB port is only used for charging the internal battery, though, as the Tizi uses 802.11g Wi-Fi to transmit the TV signal to your beloved Apple gadgets. And, rather than connecting to an existing Wi-Fi network, the Tizi actually creates its own self-contained Wi-Fi network instead.

equinux tizi 13 Equinux Tizi iPhone TV tuner
The Tizi’s mini hotspot can be password protected

This arrangement allows the Tizi to act as a ‘mobile TV hotspot’, so that you can carry it around with you and watch live TV in any location that has decent Freeview reception without the need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot or thrash your 3G tariff. The Tizi will only broadcast to one iOS device at a time, but you can password-protect its wireless network to prevent anyone else stealing EastEnders away from you.

The Tizi.tv app is very straightforward. With the iPad or iPhone held upright, the app displays the TV image in the upper half of the screen, with a scrolling list of channels in the lower half. Turn the device sideways into wide-screen mode and the TV image expands to fill the screen.

equinux tizi 5 Equinux Tizi iPhone TV tuner
Video can be viewed full-screen when you rotate the iOS4 device

The image quality is perfectly acceptable given that it’s standard-def only, and you can record programs to watch later or to transfer on to a Mac or PC using iTunes. However, the Tizi records in MPEG-2 TS format, so you’ll need to look around on-line in order to locate suitable media player software for watching your recordings on a Mac or PC. VLC should do it, but the Equinux FAQ may save you some trouble on this and other matters.

The disadvantage of connecting directly to the Tizi wirelessly is that your iPad or iPhone can no longer use an existing network to remain connected to the Internet. Hence, it’s not possible to quickly switch over to your web browser or any other app that requires Internet access – although 3G Internet access is still possible.

equinux tizi 3 Equinux Tizi iPhone TV tuner
Alas, no interfacing for an external aerial

The other thing that I found disappointing is that the Tizi can’t be connected to an external aerial. I tested the Tizi as I travelled around London over the course of several days. Its outdoor reception was generally pretty good, and I was able to watch TV inside a number of suitably trendy coffee shops, as long as I sat near the windows. Overall, the battery life matched Equinux’s claims of around 3.5hrs.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Freeview reception in my own home in central London was non-existent and, however cumbersome, without the ability to connect to the larger aerial on my roof the Tizi was simply no use at all for watching TV at home.

equinux tizi 2 Equinux Tizi iPhone TV tuner
Nice idea, but the fixed antenna could be a problem for some

Verdict

The Tizi is a perfectly good option for watching live TV on an iPhone or iPad – as long as you’re in a location that has very good Freeview reception. That’s the case with most Freeview tuners, of course, but most conventional tuners also have the ability to connect to an external aerial as well. The fact that the Tizi relies solely on its own modest 6in aerial limits its usefulness here in the UK, where Freeview reception still varies widely across the country

**UPDATE  We spent a fornight with the Equinux Tizi Hands on.. Please head over to our updated review**

**Updated 11th June.

Seem’s that this article has been very popular so here’s some of the FAQ we get about this product.

What’s the Tivizen review reception like?
That all depends on your area. Where I live I need a signal booster for my TV at home, however just up the road I was able to use the antenna just fine. There are so many factors like how built up your area is that there is no definitive answer. Countries like Germany have great freeview signal in comparison to the UK.

Where can I buy the Elgato tivizen?
Watch this space

What is the Tivizen wifi password?
It’s written down in the packaing or you can reset the device and set one up for yourself. I’m not going to write down the default password on this blog 😉

Should I go for the Elgato Eye tv or Tivizen?
This all depends on what you want. Do you carry your mac around with you and for use on the road? If you want to watch TV on your iPhone without using your data connection for an online stream then the Tivizen is the choice for you. More home or office based go for the Eye TV (review coming soon hopefully

Should I choose the Elgato Tivizen or Equinux Tizi
Hopefully the people reading this will be able to donate me a unit for a like for like comparison. Equinux.com have been in touch and I’m itching for a review sample!!!

Can you use tivizen when its charging?
Yes

Can I purchase replacement batteries for my Tivizen
Yes 😀

Anything you want to ask just Yell Us!
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