• Kaiser Baas Network TV Tuner

    A few weeks ago I was playing around with my Elgato EyeTV software and I noticed that the software also supported a couple of different HD network TV systems, and not just the Netstream device that Elgato make for themselves. (Click the link to see a review for that device).

    I did some hunting around the web and found that one of the supported Network / IPTV systems is called Freebox, unfortunately not available here in Australia. HDHomeRun powers the Kaiser Bass Network TV Tuner and it is available here and there are a couple of ways to get hold of one - direct from the supplier via hdhomerun.com.au and also available via JB HiFi.

    The Kaiser Bass Network TV Tuner box is a dual TV tuner device that connects to your computer via ethernet or WiFi (802.11n recommended) It does the same job that the Elgato Netstream box does, however, its major selling point is its price: $169.95 plus $15 postage and packaging. Compare that to the current price for a Netstream at $300.

    I've not managed to find a recent review of this system using a Mac so I asked the good folks at Kaiser Bass if they could provide me with a review unit, they have been kind enough to do so - so we can all find out if this is any good!

    Lets break the whole package down - In the Box you get:

    A network cable, a power supply, a male to male tv co-ax cable, a software disk and, of course, the Kaiser Bass Network TV Tuner unit.

    The network cable and co-ax are pretty good quality looking items, the power supply appears to be internal on the unit so the power pack is a nice plug that doesn't take up more than socket space on a powerboard.

    The Kaiser Bass Network TV Tuner is nowhere near as big as you probably expect it to be - I know I was surprised at just how neat a design it is.



    The main difference, out of the box, is that you do not get the Elgato EyeTV3 software with the Kaiser Bass Network TV Tuner. This alone will cost you somewhere around Ä75!

    I'm lucky enough to own a couple of USB Elgato tuners so I got the software with them, and you can, if you have a licensed copy of the software, use this hardware with it. I'd recommend that - you'll find out why later in the review.

    Set up is so simple with the hardware - first plug in your aerial, then the network cable and finally the power. The device doesn't do it's own wireless so you must use ethernet to connect. I'd recommend using an external aerial if you've got one available, however in testing I managed to get all the channels to work perfectly and had great signal using a "junk" magnetic aerial that I got in the box with another USB TV tuner!

    I decided out of the box to follow the instructions that came with the it, I don't know about you but having never set one of these up before I thought it best to see what to do. I honestly wish that I could say that this was as simple as setting up your Mac for the first time. Alas, it wasn't to be. It took me nearly 5 hours to get the darn thing to work. Partly that was because I read the manual, for what it was worth, and partly - and most surprisingly - it was because I already have EyeTV installed.

    Let me explain - The software that is supplied for Mac is, to not put too fine a point on it, hateful. Please - if you decide to buy the device after reading this review - please, I beg you, do not put it on your Mac. You'll cry, you'll pull your hair out and you'll want to jump up and down on the horrible person that reviewed it in the first place! I *almost* feel sorry for the PC users who probably don't have much better than this shocker to do their computer controlled TV.

    I wasted a significant amount of time trying to see what the software was able to do.

    My recommendation is that you use the Elgato EyeTV software. If you've already got the software installed on your Mac I'll give you a tip that will save you even more time (not to mention hair and some sanity, especially after the pain of that horrible HDHomeRun software!)

    To get the EyeTV software to see the Kaiser Bass device you *MUST* run the EyeTV Setup Assistant. I found an article on the Elgato site suggesting that you may need to leave the system in device detect mode for a wee while. If you do this you'll save yourself a lot of frustration.

    Once you are all set up you should be cooking with gas. If you've used EyeTV with a USB tuner before you'll know how the software works. This isn't a review of that though.

    So, how does the Kaiser Bass Network device perform? Brilliantly. I'm extremely happy with how it worked. I've noticed that the picture quality seems to be more stable on the recordings that I've been making - there is less jitter and pixelation on them. This is probably because the way we've been recording two shows at once before is using 2 USB tuners through 1 USB 2.0 powered hub that is shared with a keyboard and a mouse.


    If you want, you can also run your USB tuners at the same time - I've just finished testing it and we had 4 shows recording at once with no problem at all (apart from hard drive space!) You can do everything with this device that you can do with the more expensive Elgato Netstream. If you already own the EyeTV software and were considering that then I'd recommend that you consider this instead.

    Conclusion:

    Sure, it's not metal boxed, it doesn't come with fancy software (but if you've got it already why pay for it again?) and the supplied software should be banned under the Geneva convention, but when it comes to the cold hard folding cash - this wins hands down.

    Software 1/5
    Hardware 4/5

    Iíve now got the challenge of getting my better half to let me buy one!

    My review unit was kindly provided by the folks at Kaiser Baas who sell the Kaiser Bass Network TV Tuner here in Australia.
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