The Broadway by Hauppage! is a pretty neat little device. It is a small box designed to be hooked up to your home television broadcast method of choice, and stream a live feed of your channels to your desired alternative watching mechanism. I had the opportunity to try one out this past week.
Broadway is a networked TV receiver which features a built-in cable ready TV tuner and set top box connections, a high definition H.264 compressor and a network connection with support for Ethernet and Wi-Fi using 802.11B or 802.11n.
Broadway converts and compresses the live TV signal to a Apple compatible H.264 video format (or Flash when transmitting to a Mac, PC or an Android phone) and streams it wirelessly to Apple® mobile devices via a home router. The Broadway router connection can be Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
The device comes to you in a fairly large box, which might give one pause when checking it out at the store because the packaging makes it seem like it might be a less than compact device. However, it’s snugly ensconced in a little cardboard nest inside and is only about half as big as the packaging makes it seem. Inside is an AC Adapter unit that comes with a prong adaptation unit which can be switched out depending on your country of residence, the Broadway itself, a couple of extra rubber feet, an “IR Blaster Cable” for receiving remote frequencies, and some simple, easy to follow instructions.
I had experienced a small amount of trepidation about installing this device, because I have not been so good with some audio/visual installations in the past, but getting the Broadway up and running was a breeze! All you have to do is plug in the wall adapter, screw in the coaxial cable for your TV, and (*for purposes of setup only) hook up the broadband connection. Switch it on and head to your computer to navigate to Distan.tv, and you’re essentially all set up! Select a password and username, and the Broadway begins programming the channels. For initial setup, it is necessary to have a hard line to your modem or router, but after that, you can move the Broadway to anywhere in the house and it will broadcast over WiFi.
There is no software to install for using the Broadway. This is an advantage, and also, in my opinion, a mild drawback. You simply navigate to the Distan.tv web page on whichever device you choose to watch from, and select the channel you want from a menu on the left side of the screen. If there were software necessary for operation, I am sure that they could have worked in a TV guide program. This is mysteriously absent from the operations of the Broadway. You select your channels from the list in the left hand column, and begin watching. The channels have obscure names linked to the broadcasting signal, as opposed to displaying the name of the network, so it can be a little confusing trying to navigate to exactly the channel you want. Since one of the purposes of the Broadway is to watch television on the go, it seems like it should have some sort of TV guide programming with it because it’s not likely you are carrying around a copy of TV Guide during your travels.
It’s a very handy tool. I like that I can stream live TV to my iPad anywhere in my home, or even if I am away from home. No extra setup steps required there, once you access the Distan.tv site on your mobile device at home once, it will automatically remember the IP address to access your specific Broadway device when you are out and about on another WiFi signal. In the home, it’s great for being able to move from room to room while keeping an eye on the news, and particularly useful in the kitchen when following along with recipes on Food Network. I don’t have a TV in my photo studio, so it worked particularly well for me to have my iPad set up right next to the computer screen while editing photos, keeping me up to date on the weather and news.
Overall, I think the Broadway is an excellent product for people who don’t want to miss a minute of their favorite programs regardless of where they are or what they might be doing. It was incredibly simple to set up, and pleasant to use. I never had any issues with lag or freezing screens, though the Broadway’s signal does run about two seconds behind actual TV broadcast. I give this product 4 out of 5 gears. It would be nice if there were an additional coaxial jack for the purpose of output so you don’t have to forfeit having cable in the room where Broadway is set up. Another smart addition would be some method of naming the channels and/or a TV guide widget.