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Eye on Demand | October 20, 2017

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Zattoo Review (For Live German Television)

Zattoo Review (For Live German Television)

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
7
User Interface
8
Channels on Offer
8
Device Availability
8
Airplay and iOS
9
8

Impressive

Not all that long ago, Eye On-Demand reviewed Zattoo in respect to their live UK television. But at the moment, Zattoo really come into their own as a live simulcasting service for German language television channels. Zattoo offers either a free or subscription based service with over 50 channels in the German language including Das Erste, ZDF, ProSieben, RTL, and many others from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

It is worthwhile noting that Zattoo differs quite significantly from standard on-demand services in that its main concentration is effectively replicating a normal live television service. An obvious benefit of this is mobile access to live television wherever you are, as long as you have an Internet connection.

Zattoo restrict their service to various regional boundaries however, but with an appropriate smart DNS or VPN service, this can extend the usefulness of Zattoo Live TV to a truly global level.

As already mentioned, Zattoo have two main models to choose from: either free or through their paid subscription. For many people of course, anything free sounds attractive and Zattoo’s free service may very well be sufficient enough. But there are significant differences between the two models, and here are four of what I consider are the more important ones:

1)   The free version is supported by limited advertising between channel switching in addition to any commercials shown on the live simulcast, while the subscription version has no additional ads.

2)   The free version allows up to 20 shows to be recorded which will last for 20 days in comparison to 250 from the subscription service that last as long as you remain subscribed.

3)   The subscription service also offers every show from the last seven days on all channels to be accessed at will, whether part of your recordings or not. Although not technically a catch-up service, Zattoo Recall as it has been named, does in effect operate not too dissimilar from one. You can even retain the recordings after the 7 days if you add them to your playlist. (See note below)

4)   Many of the channels, especially those identified as HD versions are offered at higher resolutions in the subscription service. Although not actually HD by correct definition they are certainly higher in quality than the free simulcasts and very pleasant to watch, bandwidth permitting.

5) Under the Premium service, additional German channels are available including ProSiebenSat1 channels: Pro7, Sat1, kabel eins, sixx, Sat.1 Gold, Pro7 MAXX and RTL channels: RTL, RTL2, n-tv, VOX, RTLnitro, SuperRTL.

When subscribing from Zattoo.de, prices are higher than via Switzerland at €9,99 per month (3 Months at €27,99 and 12 Months at €99,99), and this doesn’t include any Smart DNS fees that may be required if subscribing from outside of Germany.

Note: Zattoo Recall is not standard when using the service within Germany due to rights issues in that country. However, if you are accessing Zattoo via Smart DNS from around the world, Zattoo Recall is available.

One of Zattoo’s greatest strengths is its multi-platform support making it easy to watch either on your television or via mobile devices. It is naturally available through your standard web browser, but also via iOS, Android, Xbox and selected Smart TVs.

Considering this is a Swiss based service, it comes as no surprise to find the first few channels originate from Switzerland**, though they quickly merge with German channels as well. If the order is not quite what you would prefer, it is easy enough to create Favourites (Lieblingssender), which reside at the very top of the channel listing.

** When using directly from Germany without Smart DNS, only German channels are available. Smart DNS is required for all German language channels.


Tip: The order of the channels in the Favourites section appear in the order you select them – this way you can split the Swiss, Austrians and German channels to suit your own preferences.

Recording a show is as easy as visiting the EPG, although for some odd reason your Favourite channels are not shown in this view. EPG information covers just under the next two weeks, making it relatively easy to find an upcoming programme. Simply clicking the record button will begin recording a show, and because everything is saved in the cloud, you don’t need to keep any of your devices powered during recording. Storing everything remotely rather than on your local hardware removes any chance of offline access, but it also means recordings are controlled completely independently of hardware devices.

Quality ButtonVideo quality is Zattoo’s most interest variable. Zattoo offer a basic video stream, which is sub-standard definition in addition to what they call HiQ, a significantly higher quality stream on selected channels only available via their subscription service. At the time of publication, a respectable 23 German language channels were available in HiQ, including some rather important ones like SRF 1, SRF zwei, ARD, ZDF and Arte, with 28 others at the lower quality. And this is where it gets a bit interesting; iOS & desktop app users have access to considerably better quality streams where even the non-HiQ channels come in near standard definition, whilst the HiQ channels are even higher, bordering almost on HD.

Other platforms unfortunately are not so forgiving. Watching non-HiQ channels at their worst quality level is barely acceptable on my 40” television screen. Video can get a bit messy as soon as fast action occurs, making this unideal for sport or action films. For general programming it could be watchable from a good enough distance, but it would not be described as pleasant. However, if you are watching on a small mobile screen, this could be good enough for general viewing.

HiQ on the other hand, despite not being full high definition, is a notable improvement and from my experience would suffice for both sport or fast action sequences. Although not all channels are offered in HiQ, for quite a few viewers it could very well be the most important ones. In fact, the HiQ quality is extremely enjoyable and it is such a shame that not all are yet available at this level.

 

  • www.zattoo.com
    Zattoo provides two ways to access their channels on a Windows or OSX computer, either via a web browser, or their sleek desktop app/program. Both appear very similar to each other with pretty much the same basic features and which one to use will generally just come down to personal preferences.

    You must sign up with Zattoo to use their services but this is a painless process and can easily be done through their webpage. Immediately after signing up or logging in you will be greeted with an advert, unless you have purchased a subscription.

    Zattoo’s own commercials are not terribly long and at present seem to be a single advert at the beginning or during channel changes.

    The screen that greets you after the commercial is the somewhat cluttered Preview or Stöbern window, where you see a static screenshot of each channel Zattoo offers and in their own chosen order either by category or a live preview of channels. I think if this list could be more personalized, maybe stemming from the Favourites selection, it would make a lot more sense to me. But even then I doubt I personally would find this useful over standard browsing or EPG methods.

    That aside, the left hand pane clearly shows the available channels with your own Favourites/Lieblingssender, if created at the top. Simply select a channel to watch and it will begin playing in the main window. If you are viewing an HiQ channel, you will have the option to change the quality level by hovering over the video.

    Next to the Live TV tab is the Recordings/Aufnahmen tab where you can manage any shows set to record or those that are already available. Recorded shows will remember their last position if returning to playback at a later time but this is not cross-platform compatible, so if you continue on a different device you will have to remember where you left off.

    There are two ways to record shows. Either visit the Guide/Programm (EPG) where you will find up to two weeks of program information for most channels and select Record/Aufzeichnen. Alternatively you can just press the Save button (+) directly on the video screen. You can also start watching a recording from the beginning even if recording is still in progress, but there is no way to set up a series link.

    As for video quality, the web browser sort of sits in the middle ground. Without a sub, you shouldn’t expect anything better than an average 1200kbps* stream for all channels. Despite the high bitrate, this is actually just watchable, so expect some noticeable pixelation and artifacts if viewing on a larger monitor, or via HDMI to your main TV. Things do improve after a sub, with HiQ channels reaching a tested average of approx. 3150kbps* and non HiQ channels averaging 1540kbps*. This renders the HiQ channels very watchable, but the others just scrape in.

    Platform Pros:

    • Clean, easy and quick way to start enjoying live German language television.
    • Easy access to EPG and recordings.
    • Pleasant user interface.

    Platform Cons:

    • Not the best sofa friendly environment.
    • Video quality average for Zattoo levels, but not as good as via iOS.
    • Video quality can fluctuate more than other platforms.

    (Accessing Zattoo outside of the respective German language countries may require a Smart DNS or VPN service)

     

    Zattoo iMac

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19178″]

  • With a desktop app that looks almost identical to the web browser, why would anyone bother to install Zattoo’s OSX or Windows app? Well, better quality streams for a start.

    HiQ streams improve from a 1800kbps* average via browser to 2600kbps* when watched from the desktop app, only a shade under iOS. But the video itself also appears much more stable and clearer to the eye. Non-HiQ channels remain at the standard 1000kbps* average and sub-free access sits around 700kbps, but again videos playback better than on a browser.

    I expected excellent quality on my newer iMac, but I was actually quite surprised to find just as good playback with HiQ channels on my much older and far less powerful Windows laptop. Whack in an HDMI cable, and you have a cheap way to bring great quality television back on to your television.

    Outside of this, the UI is almost identical to the web browser, with the odd situation of the playback window constantly changing size depending on how the SD or HiQ stream fits either resolutions. This can be avoided simply by manually adjusting the screen size or opting for full screen.

    Platform Pros:

    • Higher quality streams under HiQ sub.
    • Stable video streams.
    • Clean UI.

    Platform Cons:

    • UI only has a few advantages over browser.

    (Accessing Zattoo outside of the respective German language countries may require a Smart DNS)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19178″]

     

  •  


  • As would be expected, Zattoo provide a free dedicated iOS app, though at present it is only available in one of the German country iTunes stores.

    Like on a computer you will have to log in before you can access any channels, even for the free service. And also like on a computer, you will be confronted with the baffling Preview (Stöbern) view. Thankfully the screen on the iPhone is too small for such pointless extravagances.

    Zattoo DE iPhoneAnnoyingly, Favourites/Lieblingssender are not replicated across platforms. This is not a terrible loss as you can easily create a new Favourites list on each device, but still a small and slightly irritating omission.

    In any case, the iPad app is not too dissimilar in appearances to the desktop version with the exception of the Guide/Programm (EPG), which is not nearly as comprehensive on this platform. The iPhone version works in much the same way though without the split screen showing the currently playing channel for obvious space reasons.

    Video quality on iOS is simply stunning. Even via a free account, streams come in at a pleasant 1050kbps*. But if you ever need an excuse to jump to Zattoo’s subscription service, the iOS app is a good one. Non HiQ channels stream in a very pleasant average of 1600kbps*. This is near standard quality and watchable both on the smaller iPad screen, as well as on a full sized TV via AirPlay. HiQ on the other hand takes the viewer to a whole new dimension. Tested on average at around 3200kbps*, this may not be quite 720p HD, but it is getting close.

    In fact, via iOS and under a sub, all channels are streamed in a very watchable manner, making this Zattoo service, via the iOS platform, possibly the best value German language simulcasting service available.

    One of Zattoo’s greatest iOS strengths however is the superb AirPlay support. Despite a somewhat custom video player, Zattoo supports full multitasking and full-screen features, allowing the device to effectively operate as a remote control while your channel plays happily on your television. You can switch off your iOS device to save power or use it for other purposes and your TV show will continue to play without any issues. Just remember to stop the app as it may continue streaming live TV for a long time after you switch off the television – something worth taking into consideration if you are on a mobile internet service or your broadband ISP has data capping limits.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent AirPlay support, making use of full feature list.
    • When in AirPlay mode, the iOS device makes an excellent remote. This is possibly the closest you will find to true channel hopping abilities.
    • Simply amazing UI even on the smaller iPhone screen.
    • The best quality video streams available, and up to 2800kbps* for HiQ channels under a sub.
    • Chromecast support.

    Platform Cons:

    • EPG access could be a little easier.

    (Accessing Zattoo outside of the respective German language countries may require a Smart DNS)

     

    iPad White

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19178″]

  • The following app has been tested on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 running KitKat 4.4. Due to the enormous fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, features, availability and UI may vary dramatically between devices.

    As you can imagine, Zattoo also offer an Android app which is available from the German and Swiss Google Play stores.

    To be honest, it would probably be very close to the iPhone’s version for features, but because there is no dedicated tablet version, the iPad edition pips the scale as Zattoo’s best platform. Still, when using as a remote for Chromecast, especially on a mobile phone, the Android Zattoo app is really impressive.

    The interface is much as you would expect. With the lack of the iPad’s split-screen UI, vertical handling of the device is preferable for most situations, with the exception of full-screen playback or browsing the EPG.

    In order to set favourite channels, you will have to do so on a different platform as the Android app for some odd reason doesn’t have this feature. I found it a little unreliable as well, since some channels which I set as favourites via the desktop app appeared at the top on my Android device, but not all.

    Video quality is as expected, a stunning 3270kbps* average for HiQ channels under a sub, with 1590kbps* for the rest, and 975kbps* when free. As you can imagine, the HiQ channels look amazing on the mobile screen.

    But the best feature of all is the apps native Chromecast support. If you have one of those fantastic little €35 HDMI dongle’s, even an older Android smart phone that has been languishing in the bottom drawer can find a new life as a remote to watch great quality streams on your main TV! For more details on chromecasting Zattoo streams, jump to the next tab.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent User Interface.
    • Fantastic for watching on the move (as long as you have network access)
    • UK Channels appear at the top of the EPG once set as Favourites.
    • Great Chromecast support.

    Platform Cons:

    • No offline mode for recordings.
    • No Split-screen mode as possible on the iPad.
    • Tablets just use the same app as the mobile phone, which doesn’t make good use of extra screen real estate.
    • No Resume feature.
    • No ability to set favourite channels.

    (Accessing Zattoo’s outside of the German language region may require a good Smart DNS or VPN service to Switzerland)

    Movies BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON HD BUTTON REC BUTTON PVR BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19178″]

     

  • Zattoo fully support native chromecasting either via the Chrome browser on a laptop or computer, or their iOS and Android apps.

    For the most part, Chromecast utilizes the Zattoo UI on whatever device was used to control it. The only difference now is that a small Chromecast button also appears if a device is within the network.

    Which means at least for this review, refer to the Android, iOS or browser tabs for an overview regarding the general user interface.

    To implement chromecasting, activate by pressing the Chromecast button found on the playback window, or if you use iOS or Android, there is a dedicated Chromecast button usually found at the top of the screen. When using a Chrome browser, don’t confuse the tab mirroring Chromecast button for the one with native support, as the playback quality is significantly lower.

    Once Chromecast is activated, if a channel is already playing it will shortly switch to the television. If nothing is playing, a Zattoo flash screen will be displayed instead.

    Chromecast

    Video quality plays at about the same bitrate as it would on the Android or iOS screen, and generally speaking looks great on the big screen TV for the HiQ channels. However, I have to say I think that despite the bitrate appearing almost the same, the actual visual quality is slightly lower via Chromecast. I notice mild levels of pixelation I don’t see via AirPlay or even the dedicated Samsung Smart Hub app.

    So what happens to the mobile device after the live stream begins? Well, Zattoo do quite a good job here.

    Whether you use Android or iOS as the controller, the UI is extremely good. In my opinion, the best device for simple channel changing is an iPhone or small Android Phone in the vertical position, whilst the ideal device for navigating the EPG is the iPad, which due to its split-screen feature, makes the best platform all up.

    Being a Chromecast stream, you can also move away from the playback screen by pressing the back button, and either browse the Zattoo app, use the mobile device for something else, switch off, or even remove entirely from the network. You don’t actually need the mobile device at all anymore, well, except to stop the stream itself or change channels.

    Tip: Make sure your Chromecast device is using your TVs USB port as the power source. Using Chromecast this way ensures live streams will stop when you switch off the television. If you just connect to the wall socket for power, you must make sure you also stop the live stream as technically that could continue indefinitely and cause all sorts of issues for people with data caps.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent way to bring Zattoo’s live, catch-up or recorded streams to your main TV.
    • Full multitasking on the mobile device used for controlling.
    • Easy to use.

    Platform Cons:

    • Video quality seems ever so slightly lower than some other platforms.
    • Stream will continue if TV is switched off before Chromecast on the mobile device if plugged directly into the wall.
    • No dedicated remote control (can not use universal remotes).

    (Accessing Zattoo’s via Chromecast from outside Switzerland may require a Smart DNS service configured in your router, along with blocking Google’s DNS lookups)

    Zattoo Chromecast

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19178″]

  • The Amazon Fire TV was launched in Germany on the 25th September 2014, and Zattoo was amongst the first apps to be found on this great new platform.

    First of all, lets start with the negative side to Zattoo’s Amazon Fire TV app – and it’s a big one. Because the new platform has not yet launched in Switzerland, the home of Zattoo, the German version is missing two vital features; recordings and Zattoo Recall. This is due to licensing restrictions in place in Germany, where neither of those features are officially provided by Zattoo.

    For many people, this will no doubt be a deal breaker. Unfortunately, if Zattoo follows the same pattern as shown by the Xbox One, this feature won’t become available until the Amazon Fire TV launches in Switzerland.

    What we are left with, is nothing more than a vessel to stream live TV.

    That said, the UI is the best I have seen from any similar IPTV service on a set-top-box. We loved the polished feel of Zattoo’s iOS app, and this Amazon Fire TV app oozes the same level of quality and thoughtfulness. Unlike the clunky Smart TV version, this is the closest we’ve felt a live IPTV service to be to a traditional satellite or terrestrial broadcast.

    First of all, the app starts immediately on the last channel that was watched. If you’ve switched off the TV the night before, and just pressed the select button on the Amazon Fire TV remote, your TV will fire up automatically straight to the live stream as a normal satellite service would – presuming your TV supports this HDMI Power-on function.

    Changing channels can easily be achieved by a single press of the up/down remote buttons, again, just like a normal TV, and if your bandwidth is good enough, the pause between channel changes is almost indiscernible from a normal satellite or terrestrial stream – I measured approximately two seconds between channel hops. The only odd thing is that it seems the up button moves down the channel list, and the down button hops up. Perhaps this was by design, but it certainly feels like an odd bug.

    Clicking the right button will bring up an info screen, and the left button the channel line-up, where it’s possible to quickly flick through channels before selecting if you prefer that method.

    Video quality was the usual stunning level we expect from Zattoo’s HiQ streams, averaging 3210kbps* for the HD channels, and 1650kbps* for all the rest. Thankfully, we didn’t experience any of the quality drop issues that was always present when using Zattoo’s Samsung Smart TV app.

    One thing to keep in mind, is that switching off the television doesn’t stop Zattoo’s live streams. As the box itself has no off button, Zattoo will continue to stream in the background. Just keep this in mind if you have bandwidth caps with your ISP.

    Platform Pros:

    • Highly polished user interface.
    • The closest I have seen a live IPTV service to resemble normal television.
    • Single click up/down channel hopping.
    • Stunning HiQ streams.
    • Easy to use.
    • Fast switching between channels.
    • Starts straight to last watched channel.

    Platform Cons:

    • No access to recordings.
    • No Zattoo Recall.
    • Channel up/down buttons seem the wrong way around.
    • Sometimes remote buttons are not responsive.
    • Zattoo will continue to stream when TV is powered off.

    (Accessing Zattoo from outside of their geographic region may require using a Smart DNS service)

    Movies BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON HD BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19178″]

     

  • Zattoo are also one of the first live television streaming services to offer a Samsung Smart TV widget, and although this may seem a tad unnecessary within Germany, Austria or Switzerland itself (since you probably receive most of those channels through your satellite or cable anyway) this really comes into its own when abroad. Using this app (along with an appropriate smart DNS service), you can watch live German language television without the need of an additional set-top box. It’s almost like having normal live German language TV as if you were back in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

    Of course, now is the right time to step slightly back into reality as it is not quite as faultless as I first made it out to be.

    First of all, you will still need to access the televisions smart hub, so the Zattoo German language channels are not seamlessly mixed in with your terrestrial, cable or satellite ones. Secondly, there is not yet any direct channel up and down buttons, requiring the viewer to use a more convoluted method denying any possibility of true channel hopping.

    Non-HiQ video quality is a bit of a letdown. Naturally as expected, all free streams are only available in the rather poor 550kbps* quality. This may be fine on a smaller mobile phone screen, but it is quite pixelated on the large television. Through a subscription, video quality significantly improves for the HiQ channels depending on the model of TV. On older televisions, including the E-series, the best the HiQ channels could achieve was an average of 1600kbps*. This may only be an SD quality stream, but it is still extremely watchable in most situations. However, all non-HiQ channels remain at the very poor 550kbps* quality.

    On the other hand, Zattoo on an F-series television pulled off a far more impressive stream, averaging at 2200kbps* for the HiQ channels. This was though at the expense of other bugs not present in the older televisions, such as preview screens and channel icons not loading up. Zattoo have stated they hope to add proper HiQ to older sets, but no timeline has been announced. Non HiQ channels came through at an average of 980kbps*, which were still better than on the F-series televisions.

    Like Zattoo’s other platforms, the widget starts on the multi-screen Preview page, ignoring any Favourite channels you may have set. To get to your Favourites is a four step process, pressing RED (A) for the Menu, down to Channel List, Enter to select and GREEN (B) for Favourites. Although if you are lucky, you may find your chosen channel right on the front screen anyway.

    It is only slightly easier to change channels, something Zattoo should certainly consider improving. And while I’m at it, Zattoo didn’t make life any easier by also ignoring your Favourites in the EPG view.

    All that negative talk aside, Zattoo’s Smart TV widget is so worthwhile, if you are confident enough in your tech skills, copying it across from the Samsung’s German App store to sit alongside your other local widgets may well be worth the effort.

    Keep in mind, Zattoo’s recording features also work directly from this widget, along with playback of your recordings and if you have the sub, Zattoo’s Recall feature allows you to access all available EPG programmes from the last 7 days, even if you forget to record them.

    As for recording a programme itself, it is as simple as moving forward on the EPG and clicking the select button on a programme. This is ideal for watching television abroad and may conveniently avoid any potential timezone issues.

    Creating a smart TV widget was a clever move by Zattoo and is unquestionably a step in the right direction. Although some work still needs to be done to fine-tune this app, I personally find this one of the most exciting developments in live Internet television. It’s about time that our smart TVs started making use of the Internet also for live streams.

    Platform Pros:

    • Sofa friendly Internet television direct on your Smart TV.
    • Access to most of Zattoo’s main features.
    • HiQ looks great on newer F-series TVs.

    Platform Cons:

    • Unless yo use a somewhat complicated method to bring the app to your local Samsung Smart Hub, you will loose access to local widgets.
    • Could do with some UI tweaks.
    • Seems to require a very good Internet connection, otherwise buffering issues can arise.
    • Non HiQ even under subscription streams still only at a very poor average of 550kbps* (sub standard definition) on E-series or older.
    • No true HiQ service on E-series or older TVs.
    • Will not remember favourite channels from global account.

    (Accessing Zattoo’s German language channels from outside of their geographic region may require using a Smart DNS service or VPN)

     

    Zattoo DE Samsung

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19178″]


  • Zattoo offers an excellent service at either price point, free or through subscription. The free service gives you 50+ German language channels, including the main German, Austrian and Swiss networks and if you want to subscribe for additional features, you can do so either by month, year or even a single day. The 7-day Zattoo Recall function is not only well thought out, it is in my opinion a killer feature, especially as you can save shows from the last 7 days to keep permanently – that is as long as you continue your subscription.

    Video quality used to be a serious letdown with this service, and it still is without a sub on most platforms. But Zattoo have made rather impressive strides via iOS, with the quality of streams on all channels to be at the very least good and at best, excellent. Because of this, and the value of the service, Eye on-Demand recommends Zattoo, especially under subscription on iOS – and more so if you have an Apple TV so that you can airplay the content to your main television. After-all, for starting at around €6.47 per month (+Smart DNS fees) you not only get 50+ German language television channels live, but in very good to excellent quality, PVR recording for up to 250 programmes plus access to all shows within the last 7 days!

    Overall, Zattoo does exactly as it says on the tin. If you want to watch live German television and record shows to view anywhere with an Internet connection, this service will accomplish it (Taking into account an additional smart DNS or VPN service for global access). The subscriptions on offer are not needed for basic viewing but are priced attractively enough that they are certainly worthy of consideration. You get a fair amount of German channels here, and with the ability to record shows onto their servers, this negates any real conflicts with time zone issues that may normally be a problem if you are not living within Europe or Africa. If you thought you would never be able to watch TV from Germany again because you live abroad, it may be time to consider brushing up on your native tongue!

    Pros:

    • Where available, HiQ high quality video streams are very good to excellent!
    • Full AirPlay support including multitasking.
    • Good range of platforms supported.
    • Includes all the major FTA German, Austrian and Swiss channels.
    • Additional European channels for those interested, especially including French, British & Spanish.
    • 7-day access to all channels and television shows after broadcast (subscription only).
    • Ability to start a live show from the beginning (subscription only).
    • Cloud recording for 20 shows (free) or 250 shows (subscription)
    • Remembers last spot watched in a recording for the same platform.
    • User Interface available in several languages including German and English.
    • Excellent Samsung Smart TV widget.
    • Chromecast support.

    Cons:

    • Video quality outside of HiQ is very average and although OK for general viewing, inadequate for fast action or sport.
    • EPG order is non-configurable.
    • No offline downloads.
    • No series-link recordings.
    • Limited cross-platform communication.
    • Zero support for free service.
    • Samsung Smart TV app is buggy and inconsistent between models.
    • Favourite channels are not stored in the account or cross-platform compliant.

    Technical Details:

    • Channels presented in HiQ: ARD1 HD, ZDF HD, KiKA HD, arte HD, 3sat HD, Phoenix HD, BR HD, NDR HD, SWR HD, WDR HD, einsfestival HD, ZDF info HD, ZDF neo HD, ZDF kulture HD, SRF 1 HD, SRF ZWEI HD, ORF eins HD, ORF 2 HD, ANIXE HD, Servus TV HD, RTL, RTL II, SUPER RTL, RTL nitro, n-tv, VOX
    • Additional channels presented in lower quality: SRF info, 3+, 4+, NOIZ, 7, Kabeleins, *STAR TV, DMAX, GOLD, 4, T5, nickelodeon, hr1, mdr, rbb1, SR1, radiobremen TV, plus1, tagesschau 24, BR alpha, tele ZURI, TELE TOP, Telebase, tele1, SPORT 1, EUROSPORT, N24, DAF, DW TV, MTV, VIVA
    • Platform support for iOS, PC/Mac/Linux, LG & Samsung Smart TV, Windows phone 7, Chromecast Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV and Android.

     

    Log:

    15.05.2013: Review published. Score 7: Impressive.

    16.07.2013: Updated with additional HiQ channels added (primarily RTL group). Score update: 7.2

    31.10.2013: Review update with streaming tests and improved quality over iOS: Score increased to 7.6

    06.12.2013: Review updated for Samsung Smart TV app.

    16.04.2014: Updated iOS review and bitrate tests.

    10.11.2014: Added Chromecast, Android and Amazon Fire TV Review. Score updated to 8.

    13.01.2015: Minor update correcting Android’s inability to set favourite channels.

    * Bitrates are averaged on multiple tests and may vary depending on available bandwidth, ISP throttling and geographic location.

     

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Comments

  1. James

    I have tried the new Zattoo app (android) with Chromecast support but can’t get anything to output onto the TV through the Chromecast.

    Would seem from looking on the Zattoo support forums, that somehow Zattoo have blocked the video from playing on a Chromecast if it detects a VPN connection ?

    See post (written in German)

    Ich verwende Windows 8.1, alles ist updated (Chrome, silverlight etc.) und ich benutze ein VPN.
    Wenn ich auf das Chromecast Symbol in Zattoo tippe, erscheint im TV das Zattoo Symbol und eine rotierendes Ladezeichen … für immer und nichts weiter passiert.

    Könnt Ihr das bitte fixen oder als Alternative die alter Version wieder verfügnar machen – die hat gut funktioniert.

    Beste Grüsse,
    Axel

    vielen Dank für Deine Anfrage.

    Leider müssen wir Dir mitteilen, dass wir Verbindungen über VPN nicht unterstützen. Zattoo ist derzeit – aus lizenzrechtlichen Gründen – in der Schweiz, Deutschland, Spanien, Frankreich, Dänemark und UK verfügbar. Ausserhalb von diesen Ländern stellen wir keine Sender zur Verfügung.

    Was wir Dir bestätigen können ist, dass Chromecast in unserem Player ohne VPN problemlos funktioniert. VPN Verbindungen werden nicht supported und wir bitten um Dein Verständnis.

    Bei weiteren Fragen stehen wir Dir zur Verfügung.

    Freundliche Grüße,
    Zattoo Support Team

    • Hi James, both you and Zattoo are correct. Even if your device that you are watching Zattoo on (Android, iOS or Web browser) is working via a VPN, when you send to the Chromecast, the a brand new stream is instigated from that device, so that would also need a VPN as well. However, unless you have a router with a VPN configured and working to a Zattoo country, this will not work.

      The way around it is to use a Smart DNS service. This will work with Zattoo and Chromecast, but two things need to be set up directly on your router. The first is the Smart DNS servers, and the second is an easy static route table to confuse Google’s own DNS servers. Most 3rd party routers can do this, and quite easily, bug some (especially German) ISP supplied routers are locked down. Check your own router, and try this method if possible: http://www.eyeondemand.com/2014/04/01/how-to-chromecast-via-smart-dns/

      OverPlay have a 48 hour period where you can get a full refund if it doesn’t work. If it does, they charge US$5/month and it works with a lot of other things.
      The Smart DNS service will add not only the German channels, but also Swiss, Austrian, French, Italian, Spanish and UK ones.

  2. Martina Watson

    I can’t receive any German stations aside from Deutsche Welle and something called Anlieger TV on Zattoo. Aren’t we supposed to get ARD, ZDF and a number of others? How can I fix this, please?

    • Hi Martina. Yes, when using Zattoo within Germany itself, you should receive all the main German channels, however, outside of Germany you will either need to tunnel into Germany via a VPN, or much better (and usually cheaper), use a DNS service. It is very easy to set up a DNS service, but sadly it is not free. OverPlay is the service we use at Eye on-Demand, and they charge just under £3 per month. This will unlock Zattoo’s regions giving all the main German, Swiss, Austrian, and even UK channels which does include ZDF and ARD. I have to admit, Zattoo’s free service doesn’t have the best video quality, but if you go via one of their subscriptions, it improves to almost HD quality (and that smart DNS will also open up the 7 day catch-up “Zattoo-Recall” feature under a sub which is normally only available to Swiss customers).

      Actually, that Smart DNS will open up loads of other content for you all around the world, but as you specifically asked about ZDF and ARD, it will also open their official websites as well, which offers catch-up and live streams.

      For an easy guide on how to set up Smart DNS, look here.

  3. zise

    Hello,

    I am using Zattoo with SmartDNS (overplay) in Germany which works great. I recently upgraded my OS to Windows 8.1. Watching Zattoo via web browser still works. But, the Zattoo Windows tile app does not work properly. I can watch all the recorded stuff, but live TV doesn’t work (“video failed tom play”). Does anybody hav the same problem? Is there a workaround?

    Thanks,
    zise

    • Hi zise, I’d suggest contacting OverPlay support on this one. Zattoo were supported on Win8 in the past, so perhaps they have made a change there and OverPlay need to amend their config files.

      • zise

        Hi,

        yeah, I’ve done that and my ticket has already escalated to Level-2-support. Let’s see what they got. If I get a solution I will post it here.

  4. James

    Thanks for thw advice Jo’

    My original post was before I realised that the Chromecasit fetched the video itself, and it wasn’t streamed directly from the tablet or other device.

    I’ve now got a DD-WRT router setup and am using either a VPN connection to Switzerland or am currently using a Smart-DNS service, with the google DNS servers blocked on the router for the chromecast.

    All works well, I’m impressed with the picture quality from Zattoo with the Chromecast.

  5. James

    Just noticed today that with Zattoo.ch HIQ package Pro 7, SAT1 and all the channels from RTL are now showing in HD.

    Hopefully the remaining channels from ProSiebenSat.1 group will follow soon.

  6. Paul

    FYI – I only noticed last night that the Amazon Fire TV Zattoo App now shows Recordings and enables you to add/delete a Recording from the Guide.

    Previously I had to sideload an additional Zattoo CH App to use this function.