Miglia TVMini – USB 2.0 HDTV Digital TV

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The other week we reported on the excellent Elgato DTT receiver with the EyeTV 2 software.

This week we’re back again with the Elgato EyeTV but with different hardware; the Miglia TVMini. It allows you to watch, pause, record and rewind free-to-air digital TV straight on your Mac.

Unlike the Elgato, the TVMini is as its name describes, Mini! It���s the exact same size as the iPod shuffle and in the same quality finish as well. This means this chewing gum packet sized stick can straight in to your USB slot, attach an aerial to it and you’ve got yourself a digital terrestrial receiver for your Mac.

That’s all the hardware required to get this thing installed. The next step is to install the EyeTV 2 software. We reviewed this last time so check out the review for further details on this.

This time I reviewed it on the MacBook Pro since the software is now Universal Binary. Great news for those who can receive HD broadcasts and for those who will want to export these videos to other formats. The export speed and video motion is superb and flawless. My PowerBook G4 1.5GHz often struggled to accomplish other tasks when I had the EyeTV software running. Exporting was no fun either as it took forever and a day to finish. The Intel chip really does light (and almost literally) a fire on the EyeTV software. As with any CPU intensive task, you will find that the MacBook Pro will start to ‘sweat’ after a while.

The quality of the picture is superb and for some reason we did manage to get 100% signal quality and strength more often than with the Elgato DTT. Whether this was the aerial or the receiver itself, we’re not sure.

Even on a small 15-inch MacBook Pro screen (non-glossy) you get stunningly sharp pictures. It takes your breath away when it comes to outputting digital terrestrial broadcasts. Never before has digital TV over an aerial looked so well. With the Progressive Scan function switched on (turn on manually using Preferences) the picture quality is nothing short of breath taking.

Few things are different to the Elgato in terms of the accessories that ship with it. The antennae is a little bit different but is none the less a complete disaster when it comes to picking up a stable signal. Might just be the area that I’m in (I did try this in various locations indoors and outdoors) but 90% of the time I don’t get anything picked up and the other 10% of the time is the picture flickering on and off the screen.

You need a dedicated aerial or you need to be in an area of good reception or like me, you won’t be able to pick up the signal to receive all or any of the channels.

The compact nature of the Miglia TVMini means you can take it on the road with you in your pocket. No cables are required, just needs an antennae of some description and a decent signal pick up. The remote is optional; you can control the interface without it. All functionality can be done through the remote but the buttons aren’t as user-friendly as you might expect but after some trial and error you’ll get used to it.

Once you do pick up the functionality of the remote, you’ll find it an easy to use tool in navigating the EyeTV software.

The USB stick is small enough to fit in your pocket but can become a bit of an eyesore with it sticking out of the USB port of a portable Mac. It didn’t look good and I was always conscious of it when I needed to move my MacBook Pro. The concern was that the USB might snap of or damage the USB port if I accidentally knocked it or caught it on something. But I guess that applies to all USB devices really. A USB extension cable does ship in the box so if you need to extend the distance or prefer to attach it this way then you’ll find this to do the job.

All in all, the Miglia TVMini gets the thumbs up for a TechCast Recommended award, mainly for it’s compact and lightweight 200g Shuffle-like design. The two year standard warranty isn’t too shabby either and may come in to hand if you’re going to be taking this from place to place.

The software that comes with it is the well tested and tried EyeTV 2 from Elgato and the best digital TV application that I’ve used for the Mac so far.

At the moment, Apple Store UK are offering 30% off the manufacturer price and comes with free shipping at £69.95. This offer is valid until 09/07/2006.

Get it whilst it’s hot ladies and gents because if you want TV on your Mac, there’s no better compact alternative.

Just go buy one now ok.

2006-06-01 Onwah Tsang

7 comments - why not add yours

  • rbrown says:

    Did you really get good reception with the included ariel ? I live witin 4 miles of a major TV transmitter and the only way to get a decent, continuous picture and sound is to plug the TVMini into the roof ariel. This begs the question what is the point in having a tiny, mobile dongle for a laptop that requires a serious ariel just to get reception.

    I tried being fair and used the ariel from my portable TV (it is small and portable and has a signal boost) and still got poor quality and only 12 channels.

    To me this is a product that is merely in development. It quite simply does not work without a super high strengh signal from a roof top antenna. I can only assume that this “review” is straight from the marketeers mouth.

    Posted on 14th June 2006
  • oni says:

    In response to rbrown:

    I didn’t get a good reception with the included aerial. If you re-read the part about the included accessories, all is explained there.

    My comment about the good reception was with regards to a roof aerial. However if you read further on, as I said above, you will discover that the included aerial achieves very little if any reception at all.

    I also go on to recommend that a dedicated aerial would be required. You will most likely find this to be the case with any digital receiver device – not just the Miglia TVMini. If it’s the case that you do get good digital reception already through a set top box for example, then I would suggest testing it using the same aerial that box is connected to and if you still find low reception then I would recommend that you take this device back to where you got it from for a replacement or contact Miglia for further advice.

    If you look at other alternatives you will often find it’s the same problem. Reception is key to getting this device working as I have discovered in my other review on the Elgato EyeTV for DTT.

    I can assure you that the EyeTV 2 software (produced by Elgato and reviewed previously on the Elgato EyeTV for DTT) is not a product in development. It is an extremely effective application that various other Mac TV receivers use and that is because of it’s feature and build quality.

    And this “review” is not from the marketeers mouth. It is my own works without the influences or editing of any external or third party sources and would appreciate it if you reserve judgement like that in future on my articles before making assumptions.

    Posted on 15th June 2006
  • rbrown says:

    Hi Oni,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond.
    >”…(I) would appreciate it if you reserve judgement like that in future on my articles before making assumptions.”
    I am sure that you would but if you publish your “works” on a website for public consumption you can’t expect that to be the case now can you ? If you read the marketing spiel for the TVMini (which I know you did) you will find that a great many of your phrases very closely echo it. This may be subconscious influence from doing thorough research and would probably be avoidable in future by a more critical editorial eye.

    To the average reader who has read only marketing info and your review the two are almost indistinguishable except that you mention the poor reception. To go on to state that the product is anything more than average/poor is in my view very poor judgement and pandering to the manufacturer. It is meant to be a mobile device for crying out loud, what use is it if it requires a roof top Arial ? I have a portable TV with a portable Arial that gets good reception but even with the same Arial attached the TVMini does not. That makes it a poor product. Inferior to a cheap, 90s portable TV tuner. The remote is ugly and the EyeTV software is like windows software skinned for a mac (read hard to use).

    If you can really recommend that people go buy this with a clear conscince then good luck to you fella. I say wait until the technology is more mature or at least better implemented.

    Posted on 15th June 2006
  • oni says:

    In response to rbrown:

    I usually respond to comments on anything published on the site if not for keeping readers coming back to see more, then out of being polite.

    I’d have to still disagree that the review closely echoes marketing information. I think the review is critical of the products benefits and downsides. The mention of the poor reception isn’t the only thing I describe as being a downside.

    True, the device is meant to be portable but I still disagree that the quality of the device is not good enough to get the decent reception. And the portability aspect is in relation to the size of the device as I have found that not all USB digital receivers are this small.

    I still stand by the point that it is the aerial, area or in the worst case the weather affecting your signal quality Рall of which do have effects on it. To test this theory I took my MacBook Pro with to work with the Miglia and the supplied aerial in various areas on my way to lunch. I was able to pick up reception in 3 out of 4 public stops I made. Agreed, it doesn’t work everywhere you go but where I am it is just the reception as even those with roof aerials and digital set top boxes sometimes aren’t able to pick up all the channels.

    To also test that it was the signal, area, reception, etc that was affecting quality and reception rather than the device, I used the Elgato DTT receiver which I previously reviewed and the results were the same.

    Digital TV can be intermittent with its problems in reception. I know this because I have a digital set top box and every now and again you experience problems with picture and signal and this can be down to a million things – it’s the nature of the technology as you stated.

    I guess your thoughts and feelings on EyeTV are just down to your experience in using it.

    Personally I think it’s great. I have no difficulty in using it with either of the digital receivers I’ve had and the remote whilst not as intuitive as one would hope as mentioned in the article, once you learn the buttons like with any other remote you just get used to it.

    As my research has also suggested, the EyeTV 2 software has received great reviews from the bigger publications when used in conjunction with the same receiver as well as receivers from other manufacturers. Feel free to look these up.

    I’ve yet to come across a better solution with as much functionality and ease of use as the EyeTV 2 software.

    The remote scheduling and export to iPod after recording are bonus features for me!

     

    Posted on 15th June 2006
  • Gareth56 says:

    Despite having had a brand new digital aerial erected on my roof and being able to see the transmitter and being told by the chap who installed it that the signal was excellent I can only receive a fraction of the Freeview channels that I should be able to via the Miglia TVEye. I don’t hold up much hope from Miglia support, but I’ll ring them tomorrow as their FAQ just suggested sticking an attenuator in the line to see if that would help…it didn’t. So unless Miglia support can come up with some other explanation/resolution as to why I can’t receive most of the Freeview channels it’s getting sent back to Apple this week for a refund. Sad really because if it did work properly then it would be a great little gadget and I really doubt that the stick aerial provided is in any way suitable even when in the area of a strong signal. Perhaps a bit more development work is required by Miglia before releasing it on the market.

    Posted on 18th June 2006
  • KGA says:

    I have to disagree on the negative comments on the signal coverage on the TVMini. It may depend on what channels viewers want to view but I get at least twenty channels including all free to air BBC and ITV, Sky three, Sports etc. I have used the TV all over the house, in the Garden, in pubs in my area and in central London.

    Oddly I seem to get more of the more mainstream channels if I do not use the exhaustive scan.

    My only criticism is that the adapter which connects the antenna to the hardware is quite lose.

    I would also like add, Miglia’s back up is excellent. I had a problem with my controller and by return of post, following my email I had a new controller sent special delivery.

    Posted on 11th July 2006
  • commenter says:

    I also am an owner of a tvmini and would have to agree with everyone else that it completely under-delivers.

    Despite getting perfect Freeview reception to my normal TV in the sitting room, when attaching the TVmini to the same aerial it struggle to pick up a handful of channels and regualrly drops out and freezes. Got a replacement tvmini but no change… Miglia then would not replace or refund the second one.

    The aerial supplied in the box is a joke – for them to even include it shows how much they are taking everyone for a ride. As has been said before yes the stick itself is compact but what is the point if you have to upgrade your roof aerial that suffices for all other kit.

    Of all my friends that bought this product no-one was able to get acceptable reception. Luckily they were able to return.

    Sounds great in principle but avoid at all costs.

    Posted on 28th November 2006

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