Approximate time to read: 3 minutes
The Broadway 2T, made by PCTV but sold by Hauppauge, looking not unlike your typical router is actually a wireless method of streaming TV (and other video sources) to any internet connected device. Mostly for use around the home it also provides method to access the stream wherever you may be.
In the box you get the receiver box (which contains dual DVB-T receivers – not HD, unfortunately), power supply, Ethernet cable, IR-Blaster cable, some rubber feet, wall mounting kit, a drilling template, a mini indoor antenna (best avoided for decent reception), a CD containing software and a paper quick start guide. The Broadway hardware itself is quite attractive – a 2-tone box with twin aerials and a glowing power light on the front. It also has quite a full set of connections on the rear, including an aerial socket, Ethernet, S-Video, separate audio, etc.
To get things started, though, you need to connect power, a TV source (and this can be any compatible source, including IP cameras) and to connect via LAN to your router. Once that’s done the Broadway will boot and once the power light has stopped blinking, it’s ready for use.
To setup at home you now just simply need to browse to a specific URL, specify an administration login and password and then allow the Broadway to tune channels, etc. You also get to set up a pin which is needed when anybody wants to watch the transmission. To do so, they simply visit the same URL and supply the pin.
Now, up to now I’ve simply mentioned “the browser” for viewing. However, it’s a little trickier than that. From what I can tell, and the instructions are a bit “wholly” on this, the Broadway supports Flash based browsers and anything from Apple. I assumed the latter meant HTML5 support but my tests didn’t seem to show this as the case, hence the default Android browser didn’t appear to work unless Flash was installed and Chrome on Android didn’t work at all. None-the-less, with Flash installed on my Android phone I was able to access the TV feed without a problem – just note that Adobe are withdrawing support for Flash on mobile devices and it won’t be in the Marketplace for much longer.
To access your TV feed away from home you’ll need to be able to set up port-forwarding on your router and have a fixed IP address. The latter is because you have to provide your IP to Broadway’s servers, which will map your feed to your external device. It’s all quite complicated, not helped by the Spartan instructions, and I suspect the majority of people wouldn’t be in a position to be able to do this. This is a shame as it offer a fantastic capability.
I previously mentioned in the box was an IR Blaster. IF you’ve chosen a Virgin or Sky box as a TV source then this will allow the Broadway to change channels. The Broadway will need to be located near to the source box, but the Blaster will then send the appropriate signals to it.
Lastly, there are 2 USB ports on the rear of the device and 1 on the front. These are labelled as “For future use”, however the latest firmware will enable these and allow you to attach storage for recording. Recording is only possible when storage is attached although pausing works without, so some internal storage must exist for this.
The same firmware also provides an EPG, although I found that programme information only appeared to update when I switched to that channel – I certainly couldn’t find a way to get traditional EPG information (i.e. a grid of programmes on different channels and times).
The viewing experience is different depending on the browser you’re using – there is a full blown version for desktop browsers, which includes channel listings by the side of the TV viewer. The viewer has a full compliment of controls too. On smaller browsers, for example a smartphone, these are separate screens and the viewer has a simple “click the screen to pause” facility. All of this means that it makes good use of each type of device – however, the front-end for the mobile version appears a lot slicker than the desktop equivalent.
The included CD contains some software to watch the TV via a desktop application rather than a browser, as well as a plugin to allow viewing in Windows Media Center.
Watching TV was okay. The interface, particularly the large desktop version, can be slow to respond. The EPG is rather lacking but otherwise it’s relatively easy to use and has a lot of good features. At around £175, though, the price is quite steep and may the biggest turn-off for buyers.
It’s a brilliant piece of hardware that works well. But the interface is clunky and the ability to view TV away from home is not at all easy to set up. It’s also quite costly.
Bearing in mind that most TV can now be viewed live online anyway, the 2T will really struggle to justify it’s expense. However, if you plan to plug in other devices, such as a satellite box or camera then this additional flexibility maybe just what you need.