Saturday, 18 June 2016

DVBLogic TVButler

DVBLogic TVButler

Andy Shaw tests a USB dongle that lets you record Freeview TV programmes and watch them anywhere, on any device

There are all sorts of devices for recording TV programmes, from Sky Plus to Freeview boxes with hard drives. The problem is that you still need to sit in front of your TV when you want to watch what you’ve recorded. Wouldn’t it be far more convenient to be able to stream your recorded programmes, and even watch live TV, wherever you are and on whatever device you have to hand?

This is the promise of the DVBLink TVButler – a USB dongle that plugs into myriad devices, records Freeview TV programmes to them, then helps you stream the recordings to all sorts of other devices, so you can watch live and recorded TV even when you’re away from home.

Fiddly setup

While this all sounds fantastic, the TVButler is far from easy to set up. To work properly, it must be connected to an always-on device. You have the option of using it with a NAS, a PC or a Raspberry Pi, but it only comes with printed instructions for connecting it to a NAS.

We experimented with it on a PC but this isn’t ideal – particularly if you want 24-hour access – and the configuration is tricky and largely unsupported.

We were more successful setting it up on a Synology DS414j NAS because the drive was already connected to our network and accessible from the web. The TVButler is compatible with many Synology, Western Digital, Qnap, Netgear and Asustor NAS drives, which have the necessary software availablein their app stores. You still have to use DVBLogic’s clunky server software but the available options were preconfigured more sensibly than in Windows.

Interface and recording

Once it’s set up, you can access it from the web or your mobile devices. You’ll initially see a blank programme guide. Wait a while, and this is eventually populated with Freeview’s listing information for the week ahead. From here, you can search the schedule and simply tap your device to make a recording. It works as easily, if not better, than most of the systems you find on set-top boxes.

We initially thought our test recordings hadn’t been successful, but we eventually found them in a different view to the default. We weren’t keen on how the iOS software, which we used to test the device, needs to launch a separate app to watch programs, but once you’ve accepted the software’s foibles, it actually works rather well.

The main drawback to the TVButler is the clunky software, and it’s been a while since we came across a service that’s so fiddly to configure. While it works well and does what it promises, the applications for recording and viewing programs could be so much easier to use.


The TVButler fulfils its claim to let you watch and record live TV, wherever you are. In this respect, it’s an incredibly useful device for TV addicts. But while the technology is great, the interface is an absolute mess – difficult to configure, unintuitive to use and reliant on you having the correct hardware in place.

If you’ve got a working NAS drive with a USB port, from a compatible manufacturer, then you’re halfway there, though it’s still no walk in the park to set up the TVButler.

- Digital DVB-T/T2 and DVB-C receiver
- Supports Freeview in standard and high definition
- USB 2 interface
- Fully compliant to DVB-C standard (EN 300 429), DVB-T standard (EN 300 744) and DVB-T2 standard (EN 302 755)