A quick search on the web will bring up startling figures about how much time we spend watching TV, and now you can add to that from just about anywhere in the world using your , iPod touch or .

Doing so is wonderfully easy, but the variety of ways in which you can get live (or indeed catch-up) TV on your iOS device can be a bit bewildering at first, so we spent many hours trying out lots of the hardware and software you can use. Oh, all right, we watched lots of daytime TV – it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

We’ve focused on ways to watch or record live TV using your iOS device, but that’s only part of the story – you may want to catch up on something you missed the previous night or enjoy some of the videos you’ve got stored on your home PC.

Let’s explain a couple of terms we’re going to be using. The first is streaming, which is the process of sending live TV over the airwaves to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using Wi-Fi or your mobile network. Remember that doing so over your mobile network will eat into your data allowance, and you really need 3G coverage to get a good picture.

TAP03.feature1.grab6 320 100 Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone

The second term is electronic programme guide, or EPG, which is the channel-by-channel list of what’s on now and later – like the one you get on your Freeview TV.

Choosing the right setup depends on how much TV you intend to watch and where, so keep that in mind as we explain the options and think about which fits your needs.

Elgato

The first hardware maker we’re going to look at is Elgato, which produces a range of TV-related kit.

At the cheaper end, there’s the £51 EyeTV DTT or £65 EyeTV DTT Deluxe Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone , which are USB dongles that plug into your computer and TV aerial and can stream to your iOS device.

At the other end of the spectrum is the £180 Netstream DTT Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone , which plugs into your router and TV aerial to stream live Freeview TV over your home network.

The company also makes the EyeTV Sat Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone , but this only work with free-to-air services such as Freesat, not . Virgin Media cabled TV and Freeview HD don’t work with Elgato gear either.

To get the USB tuners to stream live or recorded TV to your iPhone or iPad, you need the £2.99 EyeTV app . Elgato will also tell you that you need a Mac, and it must be running and connected to your network.

This isn’t strictly true, because if you install the free Orb system on your PC and the OrbLive app on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad (£5.99), you can stream live TV from an Elgato tuner in your PC to your iPhone over Wi-Fi or 3G.

The OrbLive app also enables you to record TV at the touch of a button, but there are drawbacks. Your PC needs to be on, the Orb software must be running, there’s no EPG and on the iPhone and iPod touch, you can only watch in portrait orientation.

To get started, go to www.orb.com to sign up. Once you’ve installed Orb on your PC, you’ll probably need to restart to detect your USB Elgato TV tuner. If you do have a Mac, the Elgato EyeTV software gives you full EPG and recording functionality on your iOS device while you’re on your home network.

Out and about, you can use the free My EyeTV service to connect to the Elgato tuner on your Mac at home and watch live TV that way, though your router settings may need some tweaking. And remember – picture quality outside of your home network will depend on your broadband’s upload bandwidth – with 1Mbps up, it isn’t brilliant but is perfectly watchable.

The Netstream DTT sends live TV over your home Wi-Fi network without the need for your computer – all you need is the EyeTV app on your iOS device. The great thing about the Netstream DTT is its dual tuner, so two people can watch different shows at the same time, or you can record one channel and watch another (if your Mac’s on).

You’ll need an aerial cable splitter to keep your regular TV plugged in, because the Netstream DTT can’t pass the signal through. Although these networked models can work separately from the computer, there’s a caveat.

The Netstream DTT’s functionality is limited if you don’t use your Mac as a middleman. If you’re prepared to leave your Mac running to watch TV on iOS, you get a full EPG and can set programmes to record – both at home and elsewhere. Without the Mac, you get live TV on the latest iOS devices around the house only and little else.

You’re probably getting our drift that Elgato gear is designed to be used primarily around the home on your Wi-Fi network, and it’s best used in conjunction with a Mac. It’s brilliant at what it does and the Mac software is very easy to set up, but to watch TV when you’re out and about, you might want to consider other options.

One last point regarding the Elgato kit – think about where it’ll go. You get a mini aerial with the product, but depending on how strong the signal is in your area, this may not be enough, meaning you’ll need to put the tuner near an aerial socket. The Netstream DTT also needs to plug directly into your router with an Ethernet cable.

Slingbox

HCC189.sling.01 420 90 Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone

Its name might suggest the Slingbox is designed to be flung over your shoulder as you go out, but it actually needs to sit permanently in your front room connected to your TV setup and router.

It’s a powerful bit of kit that effectively makes your home TV setup available from anywhere you can get 3G or Wi-Fi reception on your iOS device. It even enables you to watch and control your cable or satellite box from your iOS kit, meaning you can watch any paid-for channels you subscribe to.

There are three varieties of Slingbox – the SOLO Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone(£120), PRO (£140) and PRO-HD Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone
(£240). To discover more about the ins and outs of the three, have a look at this comparison page .

One notable difference is that the PRO and PRO HD have a Freeview tuner for use when you’re watching TV out and about. This is important, because so long as you’ve got a second Freeview box for your home TV, you can enjoy live Freeview on your iPhone or iPad without affecting what someone at home’s viewing. However, if you start watching TV from your Sky box on your iPhone via the Slingbox, anyone at home will see the same channel as you if they try to watch Sky.

The Slingbox doesn’t have its own EPG, but it will feed one through from an external source. Ditto a recording facility – it doesn’t have a means to do this itself, but if you’ve got a personal video recorder (PVR), you can control that from your iOS device through the Slingbox.

And if your TV and router are in different rooms, Sling makes the SlingLink Turbo Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone
, which sends the TV signal through the power lines in the walls. It’ll set you back around £70, but will mean you don’t need to move anything around to be able to stream TV over the internet to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

And drawbacks? The Sling Player iOS app isn’t particularly cheap at £17.99, and it’s a different version for the iPad and iPhone, meaning you may have to shell out twice.

You can’t set up a Slingbox using an iPhone or iPad – you’ll need a computer to do this. You may also need to have a fiddle with your router’s port forwarding settings to get stuff working, although Sling provides some router-specific help.

And, like the Elgato gear, the limitations of your home broadband’s upload ability could hamper the picture quality. But make no mistake, this is a powerful bit of kit that packages up your finely tuned home TV setup and lets you take it anywhere in the world.

equinux tizi

TAP02.kit1.tizi 420 90 Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone

The Equinux Tizi Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone is a standalone, battery-powered digital TV receiver. It picks up Freeview signal, just like your rooftop aerial, and transmits the high-quality picture over Wi-Fi to your iPhone or iPad. This means you don’t need mobile reception or to be in range of a Wi-Fi network to watch TV.

The significance of this is that it won’t touch your monthly 3G data allowance. When it’s fully charged, you’ll get a good three hours’ use out of it, and it’s so small and light that it’ll easily slip into your bag or pocket.

Its accompanying app enables you to record TV as well as watch live. At £150, it’s on the expensive side, although the app is free.

The drawback – and it’s a big one – is that you can’t attach an external antenna. In our experience, the little built-in one isn’t always enough to pick up signal in areas where a larger, rooftop aerial will. Annoyingly, the only way you can really find out is to get one, try it and then return it if it’s no good.

Despite this, the tizi is ideal for watching Freeview TV where mobile reception is poor, if you have an iPod touch or Wi-Fi-only iPad, or if your iPhone’s on a low monthly data package.

TVCatchup

TAP03.feature1.grab8 320 100 Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone

Despite its name, TVCatchup isn’t actually a catch-up service like iPlayer. It’s a website where you watch live TV in a web browser, completely free of charge (provided you don’t go over your mobile’s monthly data cap). It’s only available in the UK and you have to sign up, but you’ll be watching live TV on your iPad or iPhone in minutes.

You’ll find the usual Freeview channels, and iPad users can see the name of the current show and how long it’s been on. It’s a brilliant way to get live TV on your iOS device without any extra hardware or software.

But before you dismiss the other options we’ve talked about, there are a few things to bear in mind.

First, the quality isn’t always brilliant, and TVCatchup covers free-to-air channels only, so you won’t be able to get Sky Sports and the like. And because it gets the TV stream over the internet, it will eat into your monthly download allowance – be that of your iPhone or iPad contract, or your home broadband package if you’re on a capped deal.

The other thing to remember is that if your home broadband isn’t particularly fast and there are several people using it at the same time, you may find your video stream gets interrupted at the climax of the film you’re watching!

Sky

If you don’t fancy buying a Slingbox to watch your Sky channels on the iPhone or iPad, there’s another way – but it can be expensive, depending on your Sky TV subscription (or lack thereof).

You can only watch sports and news, with the iPad version of Sky’s Mobile TV app offering Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4, Sky Sports News and Sky News. On the Sky iPhone app , you can also get ESPN and At the Races.

After downloading the free app, you log in using your Sky ID or set one up at www.sky.com and then sign up for the Mobile TV service using the links from the app.

If you have a Sky TV subscription including the Sports 1 and 2 package, the service will cost you an extra £5 per month for access on one iPhone or iPod touch and one iPad. If you haven’t got a Sky Sports sub, it costs £8 per month for access on one iPhone or iPod touch or £35 for access on one iPhone/iPod touch and one iPad. So if you don’t have a Sky subscription and want Sky Sports on the iPad, it’s pretty expensive.

Using the app is a breeze – fire it up, log in and tap the channel you want to watch. A guide shows you the day’s viewing, but you can’t set reminders or anything like that. On the iPad version, you get a small preview at the top of the interface, which you tap to go fullscreen, so watching Sky TV on iPhone, iPod touch or iPad is simple – and you can do it over Wi-Fi or 3G.

The other app of note is Sky Remote Record. Also free, this handy service enables you to set a future recording or to start recording any channel you’ve got available on your Sky+ or Sky HD box remotely using the familiar TV guide interface. All you need to do is log in using your Sky ID and the app is automatically linked to your box.

BBC iPlayer

TAP03.feature1.grab9 420 90 Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone

The BBC’s popular catchup service is available in app form on the iPad , where you can also watch live BBC TV. The picture is brilliant, although the app may scale back the quality if you’re on a slower connection.

On the iPhone and iPod touch, you can enjoy the catch-up elements of iPlayer through the Safari browser by going to www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer – note there’s no live TV, though.

Unlike the PC or Mac version of iPlayer, you can’t download shows onto your iOS device, either.

Watching stored media

Live TV isn’t the only thing you can watch on your iOS device. You may well have a whole library of videos stored on your home computer, but these might not be in format compatible with iOS.

Using the Air Video app, you can stream many video formats to your iOS device either on your local network or over the internet without having to convert them to another format. It’s both Mac and Windows-compatible, but requires your computer to be switched on to get at the media.

Apps to complete your TV experience

TVGuide.co.uk

TAP03.feature1.grab3 320 100 Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone

TVGuide.co.uk has free slick listings apps for the iPhone and iPad. You get channel information, either as a list or a grid, and programme details. It enables you to add a show to your , set an alarm reminder or tell your Sky box to record.

Radio Times

The Radio Times app (£2.99), tailors its channel listing depending on the TV service you tell it you’ve got – including Freesat, Sky and Virgin. You can add favourite shows, find what films are showing and browse daily special picks.

AirView

You might also want to consider AirView , which streams stored videos between iOS devices, or from iTunes on your computer to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, provided they’re on the same Wi-Fi network.

Air Video

Air Video (£1.79) streams numerous video formats from your computer to an iOS device, both over Wi-Fi and the internet. It won’t play DRM-protected files, such as those you get off iTunes, though. There’s a free version you can try.

Your must have kit

TAP03.feature1.kitspread1 420 90 Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone

Just Mobile Gum Plus Power Pack – £50

www.xtand.net

There are battery packs that just beat this one’s price and capacity – try the Proporta USB TurboCharger 5000 (£40) – but this little beauty is pocket-friendly.

Mophie Workbook – £45

www.mophie.com

Two birds with one stone. This protective case folds into a stand for your iPad and if bright orange isn’t your colour, there are four other options.

Altec Lansing Octiv 450 – £100

www.alteclansing.com

A stand, charger and speakers for your iPad, all in one neat unit. Its adjustable arm means you can tweak the viewing angle to suit where you’re sitting.

AppleTV – £101

www.apple.com/uk

This isn’t for watching live TV, but if you have videos stored on your iOS device (see p84 for more on this), you can stream them to your home television using AirPlay and the AppleTV.

Three Mi-Fi – From £40

www.three.co.uk

This turns mobile signal into a mini Wi-Fi hotspot, so you can connect a Wi-Fi-only iPad or iPod touch to the internet to watch TV. Various other mobile networks also sell them.

Griffin A-Frame – £24

www.griffintechnology.com

A light, stylish and robust iPad stand – perfect for watching TV. It folds flat, so will easily slip into a bag when you’re on the move, and its rubber feet stop it from sliding around.

Vogel’s Basecover – £60 (case only, mounts are extra)

www.vogels.com

This system enables you to mount your iPad on the wall, in the car or stand it on a table. Flip the iPad round and it doubles as a hard protective case, too.

Continued here:
Tutorial: How to watch live TV on your iPad and iPhone