“There are plenty of compact, USB-connected TV tuner dongles for the PC but nowhere near so many for the Mac. Elgato’s EyeTV Hybrid is to be welcomed then, not only by owners of portable Macs looking for a handy tuner but by anyone who wants to turn a Mac Mini into a DVR or a media centre system,” Tony Smith writes for The Register.
“As the gadget’s name suggests, the Hybrid has both analogue and digital tuners on board, so it’s well prepared for the Freeview era,” Smith writes. “One end is home to the USB connector – a cap’s provided to keep it safe when you’re travelling – while the co-axial aerial port is on the opposite end. Elgato bundles an antenna along with an s-video/composite-video breakout cable that fits into a tiny port on the side of the EyeTV hybrid.”
“Completing the bundle is a copy of the company’s EyeTV DVR software, now upgraded to Universal Binary form for native performance on Intel-based Macs. This is really the heart of the package, and looking at the features it provides and its user interface, it’s no exaggeration to say Elgato’s app is streets ahead of other software of its kind that we’ve looked at,” Smith writes. “Out of the box, EyeTV is ready for terrestrial digital TV across Europe, Australia, Canada and the US, along with a selection of Asian nations, including Taiwan and Japan, with connection depending on the hardware you’ve got hooked up to your Mac.”
“The channels EyeTV can detect are listed in the app’s Channels pane. You can re-order the channels and uncheck ones you don’t want to view when you’re surfing through the list using the on-screen remote control,” Smith writes. “Other panes include Program Guide, which provides a horizontally scrolling programme schedule. Elgato’s bundled a year’s subscription to the online EPG (electronic programme guide) TVTV, which will cost you £14.90 if you want to continue with it past year one. EyeTV will also pick up over-the-air EPG info it it’s available. US- and Japan-specific online EPG services are supported too, and apparently the software supports remote scheduling instructions sent via your EPG services.”
“Adding a programme to your recording schedule locally is just a matter of clicking on it. EyeTV will extend the start and end times by up to 30 minutes to ensure you don’t lose part of your programme because an earlier show has over- or under-run. You can record programmes on the fly using the virtual remote,” Smith writes. “All the other customary DVR features – pause, rewind and fast-forward live broadcasts; a chase mode for watching recordings already in progress – are present and correct. You can set up any number of favourite-channel folders, each selectable from the remote control. And the software’s smart enough to adjust the window size automatically to suit the broadcast aspect ratio. In all, it’s very nicely done.”
Much more, including links, photos, and screenshots, in the full review here.
Related MacDailyNews articles:
Elgato EyeTV2 with Front Row-style interface for Macs (link to video) – July 26, 2006
Elgato CEO to head Apple Germany – October 18, 2005
If Apple wants to get serious about TV, they should snap up Elgato – October 14, 2005