First Look: Belkin Dyle Mobile TV for iPad + iPhone (Dock Connector)
Announced in January 2012, Belkin's Dyle Mobile TV ($130) is a TV tuner for the iPhone and iPad, arriving a year and a half later with some pretty serious caveats. Reliant on the all-but-discontinued 30-Pin Dock Connector to connect to Apple's devices -- but compatible with Apple's Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter -- the black plastic Dyle Mobile TV sports a telescoping silver metal antenna to pick up local over-the-air TV broadcasts, as well as a watch battery compartment for power. A carrying case is included to make it easier to tote around when it's not in use. Once you load the Dyle app, you're prompted for a bit of demographic information to help the software figure out the local stations you can tune, providing a clean-looking list of options on the screen. Unfortunately, Dyle's service for whatever reason is location-restricted -- a coverage map showed no service at all in our area -- so the app can't actually display anything here for the time being. We'll revisit the accessory in the event that local support is added, but we were surprised to find it useless here given the lengthy development time. Updated December 2013 with additional details.
Updated December 2013: After months of waiting for Dyle’s service to become available locally, and several failed attempts to get the accessory to work in different cities, we finally had some success with the Dyle Mobile TV unit during a visit to Southern California. Pairing the accessory with an Apple Lightning adapter to enable it to make an electronic connection with 2012/2013-vintage iPads, we launched the Dyle application, selected a city (Los Angeles), and after several minutes of channel scanning were presented with a grand total of six stations to tune in. One of the stations fully worked, displaying a stable video stream that was smooth but not particularly impressive in resolution, while other stations didn’t tune in at all after minutes of what appeared to be caching. The software offers a program guide capable of telling you what’s on now and coming up next, but not much else.
Dyle’s coverage map remains pretty scattered, and the video quality we finally saw after a number of attempts in different cities wasn’t impressive enough for us to be able to generally recommend this accessory. We continue to have to go out of our way to find ways to use something that, at least in theory, should be extremely easy to connect and enjoy. Given this, the fact that there’s still not a Lightning version of Dyle isn’t particularly surprising, but it’s another reason you might want to hold off on making a purchase for the time being. Consider it only if you’re in a major metropolitan area with Dyle coverage, and really need over-the-air TV tuning.