The XTi series from VBox lets you stream live TV and web-based digital content to any web-connected device on your home network. It is a sure-fire way of being able to watch Freeview TV on your smartphone, tablet or laptop, whenever you are connected to your home network. We tested the VBox XTi 3340.
Vbox Communications describes the VBox as a 'TV Gateway'. It’s a set-top box, in essence, but also a media streaming device. A media server for live TV reception and streaming over IP, with an electronic programming guide, and broadcasting in both HD and SD.
Within this particular box you get receivers that can handle DVB-S/S2/DVB-C/DVB-T/ATSC, and MPEG-2/4. It connects to your existing TV service and uses accepted industry CRM in sharing it around your network. This give you the ability to watch all of your TV content, on any device, even allowing for time shifting.
In essence the VBox XTi 3340 lets you have a digital video recorder and live streamer that is available to all connected devices throughout your home. We didn’t test this, but you can attach removable storage attached to the VBox’s USB port.
In the package you get the VBox itself, as well as a LAN cable and power supply, and an adaptor for your coaxial connector. You don’t get a coaxial cable, and you will need one. Something worth noting.
The VBox itself is, well, it’s a set top box. They are never pretty but this is less prepossessing than most. A squat black metal box that measures 188x161x50mm. It’s much smaller than, say, a Sky+ box, and as such it will fit in discreetly to your home media setup.
Across the front is a see through plastic pain featuring the name of the product and a series of status LEDs. The overall feel is decent enough, although we wouldn’t want to throw it around too much. The critical fact is that it is quite in use, and due to the vents all over its metal casing we never felt it get too hot in use.
The VBox XTi 3340 is a consumer tech device in terms of its feature set, but it is very much a networking device when it comes to set up and use.
The VBox comes with a 'Quick Set Up Guide'. I will quote it pretty much verbatim. 'Plug it in, connect it up, and then look online for networking advice'. I am of course joking, but only just. There is, to be fair, a comprehensive setup guide here. But Apple this is not, and if you aren’t happy changing your router’s settings, this is not the product for you.
You then set up the VBox via your PC, which is itself a pretty simple process.
And how is it in use? Worth the effort, we’d say. Once up and running the VBox scanned for Freeview channels.
It was then straightforward to watch- and record multiple channels at the same time. And we could do this wherever we were within the home network- even in the garden on this rarest of all things a sunny day. Install the free apps and you can watch on your smartphone and talet, too.
Video quality across our network was pretty good. We got the occasional dose of pixelation and sometimes the picture froze, but that is the fault of the thick walls in our house combined with our network and not this system. It is a consideration though - if your router doesn’t reach the top room of the house, the VBox won’t. (See also: Best World Cup 2014 TV deals.)
The VBox offers a lot of different features and functions, and in the right home it will be exceptionally good value. But it is not easy to set up, and the useful feature set is limited.
If, for instance, you are a Sky subscriber you may wish to simply pay for multi room or use Sky Go to watch via laptop or tablet. If you mostly watch catch up TV well, you can do that via any connected device.
By combining media streamer and TV tuner in one box VBox has created a great product for a limited, specific niche of people. There’s no storage included but that means the price of £185 is reasonable. See also: Sony PlayStation TV release date, price and specs.