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HomeFree Duet brings digital TV to the iPad

Avermedia is hoping to change the way people watch TV with its HomeFree Duet, a set-top box designed to bring the benefits of digital TV to Apple's popular iPad tablet.

While tablets and smartphones that include integrated TV tuners are commonplace in some corners of the globe, the UK and US have never really taken to the portable TV phenomenon - but Avermedia is looking to change that, while catching a ride on the surging tablet wave.

The HomeFree Duet is a neat little set-top box designed to take a DVB-T - FreeSat, in other words - connection and re-encode it for transmission over the Internet to your remote devices.

The signal is received by a twin tuner built into the system, and can be accessed via wired or wireless networking from any Windows-based machine - but it's when the device gets paired with Apple's popular iPad tablet that things get interesting.

Using a companion app available on the iTunes Store, users can watch live TV wirelessly on their iPad - and even change channel, access an electronic programme guide, and take screenshots of the action for sharing on social media sites.

The HomeFree Duet includes hardware codecs for the video stream, lessening the impact of transcoding video on the host system - which is how it manages to stream to the relatively underpowered iPad.

The dual tuner system in the HomeFree Duet allows two users to watch two different channels at once, and the device even supports reception and retransmission of HD content - although this is only availble to the iPad in SD.

There's no denying that the HomeFree Duet - which we were lucky enough to see in action at this year's CeBIT event in Hannover - is a neat piece of kit, but it has some way to go to reverse the apathy for on-the-go TV viewing that has typically been the response of UK consumers.