Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity
Upon closer inspection, though, the Cinergy DT has a number of subtle improvements on Elgato’s offering. Its sockets are of the smaller click-type, with two coaxial adaptors supplied, meaning you can attach two regular antennas should you wish to do so. It comes with suction cups for the supplied magnetic aerials – which have an annoying tendency to fall over on non-magnetic surfaces. The white aerials also have built-in joints so they can be angled for better reception. As with the EyeTV Diversity, the system comes with a (matching white) USB extension cable. Indeed, apart from the nasty orange-and-white scheme of the remote control, the whole system matches an iMac nicely.
Despite all this, however, the Cinergy DT system has a couple of drawbacks. It simply doesn’t produce the same signal strength or picture quality as the Elgato system.
In our test the Elgato produced 90 per cent strength and 39 per cent quality, while the Cinergy DT produced just 80 per cent strength and 34.5 per cent quality. While scanning for digital channels the Cinergy found just one less channel – 88 to the 89 found by the EyeTV Diversity – and in general use we noticed more cut out and stuttering – not enough to hamper the overall usability of the Cinergy DT device, but still, the difference was there.
While signal strength and quality varies massively from area to area, getting a good signal is going to be high on the agenda for a person looking to buy a diversity-based recorder. With both systems using the excellent EyeTV software package, the only other factor are the suction cups for the aerials and adaptors that enable you to connect regular coaxial aerials – neither of which are significant enough to outweigh the all-important signal-strength factor.
While the Cinergy DT USB XS Diversity is an admirable system, which offers vastly improved signal strength over single-aerial systems, it just doesn’t produce as good a result as the Elgato EyeTV Diversity. It’s still perfectly usable, but given the choice we’d go for Elgato’s offering.