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Eye on Demand | May 27, 2017

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Aertv Review (For Live Irish Television)

Aertv Review (For Live Irish Television)

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
6.5
User Interface
5
Channels on Offer
6
Device Availability
4
AirPlay, Chromecast & Mobile Support
7.5
5.8

Best on iOS

With the popularity of live television services appearing on the internet, it is a pleasure to see live Irish channels also on offer. Aertv provide a small, but solid selection of the main Republic of Ireland television channels, and thankfully with none of the bizarre broadcasting gaps found in the official RTÉ simulcasting service.

Despite what Aertv may allude to, it is effectively a PayTV-only service, charging a €5.99 contract-free subscription that offers a range of Irish channels, along with the BBC.

Originally, Aertv allowed a smaller selection of channels to be viewed free-of-charge and although this offer still exists today, the new limitation of only 10minutes per day disqualifies this free package as anything but a trial.

Instead, Aertv offer two subscription packages that provide the following channels:

Plus: (€5.99 per month): RTÉ One, RTÉ Two HD, RTÉjr, RTÉ News Now, TV3, TG4 and 3e, The Gathering, aertv Live, aertv Movies, aertv Music, aertv Sports, Unravel Travel, Dáil Éireann, BBC One, BBC  Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, CBBC, and CBeebies, as well as RTÉ Two HD, France 24 and Russia Today.

Premium: Adds Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra, Euronews, Nickelodean, Nick Toons, Nick Jnr, MTV, VH1 and Viva to the above, but a requirement is that viewers must be a Magnet Broadband customer in Ireland.

What I also found interesting for indie and alternative music lovers, was the Back to Basics section, which offer some really interesting live music videos from local Irish bands. If you love music, and want to support the local Irish music industry, this is a great feature of Aertv.

Aertv’s video quality has jumped by leaps and bounds since I published my first review, and ranges now from a very acceptable 1710kbps* standard definition stream, all the way up to an impressive 4760kbps* HD feed – but what you get depends quite significantly on the platform you plan to use.

As for how the video quality looks to the eye, there is no doubt that the best stream is from iOS on RTÉ Two HD, which even looks stunning when airplayed to a big-screen TV. Android’s picture quality seems to suffer the most in our opinion, but it is still more than acceptable under a sub.

Aertv’s free 10minute trial is a little unfair, and that’s being polite. The countdown starts from the moment the app is opened, not when the content begins streaming. Reading the EPG costs you precious minutes, so hop into the stream as quickly as possible.

 

  • www.aertv.ie
    There is nothing revolutionary in design with aertv’s website, and if anything it could be best described as slightly bland. Control often centers around a scrollable EPG window, which can at times be a bit fiddly to work with, especially with a laptop’s touch-pad.

    That said, by far the easiest way to change channels is via the drop down menu, as long as you are not in full-screen of course. Using this menu, you can easily switch between the available channels, it’s just a pity there is no way to access this when watching in full-screen mode which is how I assume most people will be watching.

    It is worth mentioning right now that if your timezone is not correctly set to Dublin, you will not be viewing the EPG correctly. This is only really a hassle if you intend on using the EPG to select programming, otherwise just make use of the channel switcher at the top menu.

    Don’t expect many other features with Aertv. Unlike services offered by Zattoo, FilmOn and NimbleTV, there are no PVR or even basic recording functions. What you get is just basic live television and little else.

    Platform Pros:

    • Easy to use on a PC.
    • Easy to change channels.

    Platform Cons:

    • EPG is a tad fiddly to use on a laptop’s track-pad.
    • Very basic layout.
    • No PVR services.
    • Video quality lower than on iOS.
    • No Chromecast support.

    (Accessing Aertv outside of Ireland may require a SmartDNS or VPN service)

    Live TV BUTTONSD BUTTON HD BUTTON

     

     

     

     

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

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]

  • Best Choice StampAertv offer a dedicated iOS app that can be downloaded for free from almost any country’s app store. And like so many things regarding streaming television services, the iOS app provides one of the most pleasant user experiences. This is especially so in Aertv’s case since their website and Android apps are a little on the basic side.

    As far as the iPad version is concerned, the left hand side of the screen is taken up by the channel listing, starting at RTÉ One and working its way down from there, with all the main channels available under the Plus package. (Presuming of course you are within the Republic of Ireland or accessing via a VPN or Smart DNS service).

    Changing channels therefore is as easy as tapping one of the available channel links and your stream will connect to the new service, whether displaying on the right hand side or via AirPlay on your main television – that is unless you are watching full-screen on the iPad itself, in which case you will have to exit the video.

    There is no true EPG of sorts, with the exception of information describing what is playing now, or next. This is certainly somewhere where the app could improve. Although without any PVR features it is not a necessity, it would still make life that little bit easier than having to look externally for future programme information.

    The iPhone version works in much the same way, except it is a pity that the channel listing screen doesn’t remain on when airplaying, as that could function as a quick channel switcher.

    Speaking of AirPlay, Aertv are one of the best players here, offering full AirPlay support – that is direct access from the video playback screen and full multitasking, so you can switch off your device or access other apps without affecting playback on your TV.

    And where there is AirPlay, video quality needs to be sufficient. Aertv don’t let us down here, at least on RTÉ Two HD which pumps 4760kbps* of HD streaming video into the iPad, resulting in stunning video quality whether on the mobile device or big-screen TV. All the other channels contend with SD however, where video quality is a much lower, but an acceptable 1910kbps*.

    iPhone owners are not blessed with such amazing picture quality, where our tests couldn’t find any difference between the RTÉ Two HD and the SD channels. All of them averaged 1760kbps*, which is a bit of a shame for AirPlay or iPhone 6 Plus users.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent AirPlay support including multitasking.
    • The best video quality of all platforms with great RTÉ Two HD streams.
    • Ability to pause live TV.
    • Easy to change channels on iPad using the Channels tab even when airplaying.

    Platform Cons:

    • No EPG or reminders.
    • Can only be used under a sub since Jan 2014.
    • No true PVR features.
    • No HD on iPhones.
    • No Chromecast support.

    (Accessing Aertv outside of Ireland may require a SmartDNS or VPN service)

    SD BUTTONHD BUTTON Live TV BUTTON AirPlay BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

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

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]


  • Aertv recently added an Android app, but it seems that they have provided the same version for either a smart phone or tablet, which means screen real-estate has not really been optimised for the larger display. This results in a less-than-efficient tablet app, but one that at the end of the day still achieves the results required – full-screen live Irish TV.

    …to a point. I did notice that when switching to full-screen mode, the video often stopped or paused for a while for no apparent reason, something which doesn’t happen on the other platforms. Perhaps this is just a bug that will be ironed out in later versions.

    As for the UI, it does appear a little bland on the Android app, especially when viewing on a tablet version. It lacks the split-screen mode offered on the iPad, and feels a little awkward to use.

    Once you select a channel and switch to full-screen, video quality should stream back at a average of 1960kbps*. Compared to the SD streams on the iPad, there is noticeably more pixelation and visual artifacts than on iOS. It’s not that the video is poor, but I certainly notice the difference when the two devices sat side-by-side.

    There is one channel offered in high definition, RTÉ Two HD. Our measurements achieved a reasonably good 3310bps*, which was lower than the lofty heights of the iOS app, but better than our results from the web. In this case the video quality looked significantly better than the SD channels.

    It’s just a pity we couldn’t test out the Chromecast support yet, as the Android app supports this great method to stream onto a proper TV.

    Platform Pros:

    • Very good quality streams, including RTÉ Two in HD.
    • Chromecast option.

    Platform Cons:

    • Picture quality not as good as it should be.
    • UI is not as well designed as iOS version.
    • No PVR features.
    • No EPG or reminders.
    • Bug at fullscreen playback.

    (Accessing Aertv outside of Ireland may require a good VPN service)

    SD BUTTON HD BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    IPVanish VPN DNS

     

     


  • Aertv offer little else over a basic live streaming service of selected FTA Irish television channels, along with a few proprietary additional ones.

    But despite the no-frills approach, there are a few things which actually work well in its favour. Mainly, although you can also watch live television through the official RTÉ player, even via Samsung’s Smart TV widget, the official service often has many programmes “blacked-out”, including all the commercials – which is a little odd at the very least and inconvenient to put it politely. This is not an issue with Aertv which streams all programmes, including commercials as you would expect on a normal terrestrial television.

    Coupled with that, the video quality, especially via an iPad which can reach levels exceeding 4600kbps. Even the standard definition streams look alright, and the whole thing airplay‘s beautifully across to the main television.

    Whatever anyone says about this service, besides being a great way to watch live streaming content on the move for residents of Ireland, Aertv have also been a godsend for the many Irish expats living around the world. If you go for a smart DNS service that supports it, you can even get reasonable quality streams whilst living seriously far away, presuming your ISP is up to the job.

    Pros:

    • Best on iOS with AirPlay, allowing you to watch live Irish TV on your main television.
    • Covers all the main FTA Irish channels.
    • Some interesting local music videos also available.
    • Video quality can be excellent.
    • Automatic bitrate selection.
    • Chromecast support via Android devices.

    Cons:

    • No PVR features for recording programmes.
    • EPG is based on your local time.
    • User interface via web is very basic, with a somewhat fiddly EPG.
    • No ability to manually change video quality, except on a sub to switch on/off the higher quality streams.
    • Limited platform support (No Roku Channel etc).
    • iPhone streams lack HD.
    • No HD BBC Channels.
    • No Chromecast from iOS.

    Technical details:

    • Channels include: RTÉ One, RTÉ Two (+HD), TV3, TG4, 3e, The Gathering Channel, The Gathering Live, Red Bull TV, Aertv Live, Aertv Movies, Aertv Sports, Aertv Music, Unravel Travel, RTÉ One +1, RTÉ News Now, RTÉjr, Dáil Éireann, BBC One, BBC  Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, CBBC, CBeebies, France 24, Russia Today.

     

    SD BUTTONHD BUTTON Live TV BUTTON AirPlay BUTTONChromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    Log:

    23.05.2013: Review published. Score 5.4 – Basic but Good.

    06.09.2013: Review updated with new subscription policy regarding video quality.

    13:11.2013: Major update including iOS app. Score increased to 6.1 – Best on iOS

    03.01.2014: Update as mobile apps now require sub, along with tests of the premium service. Score dropped to 5.2 due to very average premium video quality and lack of additional platform support.

    17.07.2014: Updated again as no free service is available any more.

    03.02.2015: Updated with Chromecast details, & Android support. Score updated to 5.5.

    12.02.2015: Complete overhaul and added Android review. Score updated to 5.8.

     

     

    * Bitrate tests were based on multiple averages and are subject to both the geographical location and ISP bandwidth at the time.

     

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