Equinux TubeStick Review

Ever since Apple announced its plans to launch the Apple TV, we’ve been inundated with TV tuners from a variety of different companies.

The TubeStick, from Equinux, looks like just any other TV tuner device. It’s a small white stick – about the same size as a pack of chewing gum – that plugs into one of the USB 2.0 ports on your Mac. You then plug in the Digital TV aerial that’s provided with the TubeStick and use it to play and record digital TV channels on your Mac (it only works with digital TV, not conventional analogue channels, so you’ll need to live in an area that has decent digital reception).

What makes the TubeStick different from the other TV tuners we’ve seen is the software that is supplied with it. There’s a basic program called The Tube, which you can use to play and record TV programs. This works well, and we liked features such as its ability to work with Apple’s own remote control units, and also to resize the TV picture to different formats, such as 4:3 or 16:9 depending on your screen. The only annoying detail was the long-winded and intrusive registration process for the software, which requires you to enter details such as your address and telephone number on the Equinux website before you can
use the software.

However, the TubeStick’s best feature is that it also includes a second program, called MediaCentral. This works like Apple’s Front Row, switching your Mac over to a new graphical display that allows you to quickly browse and play all your music, video and other multimedia files.

However, MediaCentral is better than Front Row in a number of ways. Unlike either Front Row or Apple TV, it can play video directly from websites such as YouTube and GoogleVideo, link up with a range of internet radio stations, and even allows you to make Skype telephone calls over the internet.

Even better is the fact that it does all this for the reasonable price of £39.95. That makes the TubeStick well worth considering if you’re looking for an affordable way of getting TV shows and web video onto your Mac.

OUR VERDICT

One of the more affordable TV tuners for the Mac, and it’s backed up with the MediaCentral software, which can teach Apple’s own Front Row a trick or two about playing internet video.

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