Review: Miglia TVMini

Watch and record TV on your Mac (September 25th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Miglia Technology

Price: $99.95 US

The Good

  • Small, portable USB stick. Easy to install and use. Everything you need to record and watch TV in one tiny pacakge. Good price.

The Bad

  • Limited use, because TV antenna only works in areas with good reception. Some users dislike EyeTV software interface.

The Miglia TVMini, is another product that takes advantage of Elgato EyeTV 2 software to watch, pause, record and rewind free-to-air digital TV straight on your Mac. The hardware is the same size as the original iPod shuffle and has the same quality finish. This chewing gum pack sized stick plugs right in to your USB port. Attach an aerial to it and you've got yourself a digital terrestrial receiver for your Mac; that's all the hardware required.

Works Better on G5 Macs

This time I tested EyeTV 2 software, reviewed previously, on the MacBook Pro since the software is now Universal Binary. Great news for those who can receive HD broadcasts and for those who 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 though. Exporting was no fun either as it took forever and a day to finish. The Intel chip really does light a fire under the EyeTV software. As with any CPU intensive task, you will find that the MacBook Pro starts to sweat after a while.

Exceptional Picture

The quality of the picture is superb and I managed to get 100% signal quality and strength more often than with the Elgato DTT. I don't know whether this was because of the aerial or the receiver itself. Even on a 15-inch MacBook Pro screen, I got stunningly sharp pictures. It took my breath away when it I output digital terrestrial broadcasts. When I turned on the Progressive Scan function in the Preferences, the picture quality was amazing.

Antenna a Bit Weak

The antenna is a little bit different from Elgato's DDT product, and it is a complete disaster when it comes to picking up a stable signal. It might just be the area that I'm in, but I did try the TVMini in various locations indoors and outdoors. 90% of the time I didn't pick up anything and the other 10% of the time, the picture flickered on and off the screen. You need a dedicated aerial, you need to be in an area of good reception, or you won't be able to pick up the signal to receive any of the channels.

Totally Portable

The compact nature of the Miglia TVMini means you can pop it in a pocket and take it anywhere. No cables are required, but it needs an antenna, and a decent signal pick up. The remote is optional, and you can control the interface without it. The remote isn't as user-friendly as you might expect, but after some trial and error I got used to it. Once you learn how to work the remote, navigating the EyeTV software easy.

Convenient, but not pretty

The Miglia TVMini is a bit of an eyesore when sticking out of a portable's USB port. It didn't look good and I was always careful when I needed to move my MacBook Pro. As with other USB devices, I'm concerned that the USB connection might snap off or damage the USB port if I accidentally knock it or catch it on something. A USB extension cable ships in the box, so if you need to extend the distance or prefer to attach it this way, this is a nice convenience.

Overall, the Miglia TVMini is a well designed, compact, and promising product. The two-year standard warranty isn't too shabby either and may come in to handy if you travel around. The well tested Elgato software is the best digital TV application that I've used for the Mac so far. The whole outfit suffers if you're not in an area with good reception though. While there's no better alternative on the market, this is a product that depends on signal strength no matter where you travel, so buyer be aware.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

This article in its original format with photographs taken by the author can be found on The TechCast Network Blog: http://www.techcastuk.co.uk/?p=86

by Onwah Tsang, guest contributor


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