We don’t really watch television – aside from the odd programme which we watch on Netflix, TV doesn’t really feature much for us. But we know that many of our readers who are resident on the island want to stay up to date with television from their home countries. It used to be relatively easy – you had a big satellite dish fitted, and got the appropriate box, and away you went. But in recent years, the satellite companies have moved their footprint and made it pretty much impossible to successfully view foreign television in that way.
The answer these days is to watch television online. There are any number of “free” services you can use to stream TV, but they have two big issues for most people:
1/ The software keeps changing, which means you have to keep updating the computer or Android box to continue watching. It’s not just a time sink, for some people it’s beyond their IT skills.
2/ The quality and reliability are poor. At the end of the day, the TV companies don’t “give” their signal away free of charge. So most of the “free” streams are illegal – they basically rely on someone taking a legal satellite feed and then uploading it to a server. If they suffer a power cut, or flaky internet, the stream pixelates or crashes. The end users suffer at best a poor image and buffering and at worst, lose the channel altogether.
We were recently contacted by Ex Pat TV, who asked us to try one of their TV boxes and review it, so for the last week, we’ve been testing it out. Setting the box up was simple – we plugged it into our router, then connected it to the television via the HDMi lead supplied, and we were up and running. There are several packages available:
- Basic UK TV, which includes all the terrestrial channels you would expect plus radio
- Premium UK, which adds 40 additional channels ranging from ITV 2, 3 and 4, to Gold and including several movie channels
- A Sports pack, with plenty of sports options
- Additionally, there’s a basic Ireland, Germany, Italy, Greece, USA and Sweden!
The bottom line is there is something for most foreigners living in Lanzarote.
The picture quality is exceptional and is full HD – we didn’t suffer from any of the usual issues when steaming online. I gather this is a function of the compression technology used, and the fact that they are starting off with a clean and legal signal. Basically, it was just like watching television in the “old days” where the thing just worked! There’s no need for software updates – they’re all done centrally – and you get a proper channel list, so you don’t have to swap between different “apps” all the time to watch different channels or find out what’s on.
There’s a built-in two week catch up service, which kind of means you can record programmes if you aren’t going to be in when they are on.
All in all, we were really impressed, and the box itself is small and light enough for us to have been able to move it from the lounge to the bedroom without any issues, and of course, you can take it anywhere you can plug in to a router. So if you have homes in two or more countries, you can move the box from one to the other.
We’d highly recommend the system – you can find out more, and even arrange a trial, by contacting Paul Kelly at Ex-Pat TV – he’s based in Costa Teguise: Ex- Pat TV is the website, and email address is [email protected]