EyeTV - ElGato | Miglia TV | TheTube - Equinux - MediaCentral
Pinnacle Sys | Hauppauge WinTV | HDHomeRun
WHATS NEEDED TO WATCH-RECORD TV?
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS FOR MY APPLE MAC?
- All current Macintosh-friendly USB TV tuners require a Mac with Built-In USB 2.0 speed ports - Which means...
- ElGato states minimally, a G4 running OS X 10.4+ 512mb RAM 1ghz or faster for EyeTV. HOWEVER, Equinux states a more realistic system requirements for The Tube software which is bundled with thier TubeStick Hybrid TV receiver
: A 1.6ghz G5 or Intel Core Duo processor Macintosh. Analog capture/compression and Digital HDTV content DEMANDS CPU horsepower! 1-2gb RAM lets you buffer more live TV in memory.
A good quote direct from ElGato:
"Any EyeTV product that has ever received ATSC or Clear QAM has the same processor requirements for playback. Dual G4s aren't a good choice, Dual G5s are great, Core Solos are OK, but a Dual Core Intel is the way to go (Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, or higher). You can try a lesser powered Mac (like a Dual G4, or single G5), but performance may suffer. On slower Macs, EyeTV will scale down HD video during playback - your HDTV content will be scaled to 1/4 of the normal resolution for playback (DVD quality), but the recorded file is still full HD.
- So, ya might get by with an old slower, G4 Dual Tower with USB 2 card installed. But be aware enabling Time-Shift abilities to skip forward, rewind, pause and buffer Live TV requires more computer resources. You'll likely run at 100% CPU utilization.
- On slower Macintoshes using TV Tuner devices - buying a tuner with Analog HARDWARE compression like the EyeTV 250+ will lessen the load on your CPU capturing from Analog video sources. But that doesn't help with HD 720p & 1080i playback.
- A fair amount of open disk space. At higher quality settings, DVR recording of TV programs will eat Gigabytes of space.
WHICH APPLE HDTV TUNER STICK TO BUY?
Both ElGato and Miglia were notorious for having TOO DIVERSE of product lines, too many models, too confusing of
names. With the switch to the digital era, El Gato reduced it's line down to 2 EyeTV models: The compact USB-Stick type 'HYBRID' software-based model, and the Desktop USB '250 PLUS' hardware-based tuner box. They recently discontinued selling, but still support the Ethernet network-sharable HD Digital Dual-Tuner: Silicon Dust's 'HDHomeRun'. Equinux offers a straight-forward 1 product Hybrid TubeStick tuner for Mac OR Windows Media PC. Miglia continues to have a more diverse product line because they're based in Europe, Miglia's main US North American NTSC TV devices is limited to the all-digital HD TV mini HD Express as they focus on International TV standards such as DVT and PAL. Overseas, they offer a uniqely ULTRA-SLIM laptop TVMini2 that does NOT block your other USB port - but it's not available for the NTSC market. For MacBookPro owners, they offer a rare ExpressCard TV model for your laptop's often under-used card slot with the TVBook Pro Express - but again not suitible for USA TV standards.
Mac friendly DTV Hybrid tuners are the ideal solution for someone who wants both an analog and digital TV solution for the Mac in one small USB stick or tuner box. A USB 2.0 interface insures streaming of superior quality, uncompressed TV content to your Mac and requires no external power supply. EyeTV software now works with an Apple Remote, and some tuners proivide thier own fuller-featured IR remote control in the package. Enjoy free over-the-air digital TV to your Mac via antenna, as well as analog TV via antenna and standard cable. All Hybrid tuners come with a breakout cable for composite video and S-Video connections, enabling you to connect a game system, set top box, or satellite.
Easy EPG: Electronic Program Guide SchedulingWhile EyeTV comes bundled with free access to TitanTV television schedules, that only helps USA users. ElGato's now providing support for a Canadian EPG guide in EyeTV 3. In the US, they're shifting away from TitanTV as an EPG provider and bundling the first year subscription fees to TV Guide's. At a later date, in 2011 and beyond, TV Guide will become the sole EPG provider for EyeTV as TitanTV access will be discontinued.
The Tube from Equinux in Europe initially didn't include schedule guide access for North America - only supporting a geeky .XMLTV open standards format: .XMLTV - This may someday allow EASY access to any market's program guide, but it just wasn't usable by anyone but Nerds. So Equinux now provides a year's access to their TUBEGUIDE US in North America, ICE-TV in Australia, and DTT supported FREEVIEW in Europe.
USE A HARDWARE-BASED MACINTOSH HYBRID TUNER FOR GAME CONSOLESThe EyeTV 250-Plus with it's Analog Hardware encoder assist is ideal to connect VCR, Composite or S-Video gear or - a game console and enjoy an excellent live play experience. Uncompressed analog video signals appear on the screen with zero latency. Analog TV can be recorded via a lower-cost Hybrid tuner with a software encoder, but the quality depends on the Mac’s processor and involves more CPU usage.
TUNE-IN! RE-THINK YOUR ATSC ANTENNA OPTIONSThere's really no such thing as a 'HD TV Antenna', your Apple compatible TV tuner stick simply receives whatever signals come at them. WHAT DOES MATTER in antenna selection is your distance and direction from your local transmission towers, whether your stations are primarily UHF or VHF freqencies - and in particular - what your local channel assignments will be after the 2009 Digital switchover date. Worse, many stations currently broadcasting Digital are not doing so at FULL-POWER and won't till the cutoff date.
Most over-the-air digital stations will be in the LOWER part of the UHF spectrum (to free up the higher UHF range) but some stations may end up in the upper VHF channels 7-13. So a COMBO UHF/VHF antenna covers all your bases. We're used to channels 2-69 for years, but that's going to get squeezed up and down more towards 7-50 after the switchover.
Indoor antennas generally are fine if you're close-in under 20 miles. The highly-rated amplified Philips pictured left is a great low-cost urban UHF/VHF Combo choice, with amplification & fine-tuning knob that helps. Beyond the urban core, outdoor antennas will save you alot of frustration. Read antenna reviews with skepticism. There's TOO MANY VARIABLES depending on distance, structures, building materials, antanna size, placement & direction, cable length, etc... that sometimes you just have to TRY different ones to see what works best for YOU. If you're RURAL, signal strength is always a challenge - don't skimp on your antenna investment - always think Outdoor Bigger Higher because it equals stronger reception. Simple as that.
DIGITAL DEMANDS MORE!
HDTV SIGNAL STRENGTH MATTERS:
Digital TV is less forgiving than Analog. Blockiness, Breakup and Blackout onscreen occur when a Digital signal falls too low. Analog TV is somewhat more forgiving and just gets fuzzy or static or ghosts - but it's not as visuallly jarring as a corrupt Digital signal that craps out. One nice feature of most DTA converters - as well as in ElGato's Eye TV software preferences - is their on-screen displays can SHOW YOU A SIGNAL STRENGTH METER OF ANY GIVEN STATION. Tthis can help you fine-tune your antenna's placement or direction for best signal reception. Again, you may find you're forced to upgrade your antenna post-transition - that's the dirty little secret no one is talking about. Don't skimp on your antenna, it's the single most critical piece to a good Apple TV DVR-PVR viewing experience.
'RABBIT EARS' : TV ANTENNAS FOR MAC TV TUNERS
Existing antenna's will continue to receive HD Digital Over-The-Air signals. In simplest terms - the small circular 'Loop' part of an antenna, or alternately, those square grids with bow-tie elements are for UHF ONLY reception on Channels 14 to 69. Pull-out VHF Rabbit-Ears are for Channels 2-13. For best reception, find models who's VHF dipole rods are the longest - cheap antennas may only be 38" extended - better ones have dipoles that extend up to 48". Which antenna type is right for you depends on your final LOCAL station assignements! Look up yours here.
For most folks a combo VHF-UHF unit covers all possibilities: whether an indoor set-top unit or the typically large rooftop 'Flying V' combo UHF-VHF types which are best in distant rural areas. For rooftops, the right boom-length & front element width to buy correlates to the number of miles from distant VHF frequencies. Smaller, shorter portions of the antenna at the rear pull in the UHF range. Amplified antenna's may help noticably -or not at all. Sometimes in marginal areas, antenna amplifiers merely aggravate and amplify the ghosts and grainy reception you're barely receiving anyways. And sometimes they can make a world of difference in reception. You can always _try_ one to see if it helps - before you consider replacing your existing antenna.
CONTINUE USING OLDER ANALOG MAC TUNERSIF YOU HAVE ANALOG CABLE/SATELLITE TV SERVICE:
Option 1 - Do Nothing. The Digital switchover is probably not an IMMEDIATE issue. Your cable service will continue to send SD - Standard Definition Analog signals for 3 years or more. But the Analog channels may become fewer and fewer as they too transition - and drag you and your wallet - towards Digital.
IF you opt (and pay) for HD Digital Cable, you'll want a new Digital capable TV-Tuner with Clear QAM support - but you need to ASCERTAIN REQUIREMENTS with your cable provider BEFORE buying! There's NO easy answer to this QAM issue, each provider varies if - or what channels they'll support unencrpyted using QAM. It's a lousy standard and it's a mess. But having Clear QAM in a tuner keeps your potential options open.
EXPAND YOUR APPLE COMPUTER MEDIA CENTERAPPLETV : TAKE TWO
Click To Save $$$ On RECERTIFIED AppleTV Units
The second iteration of the Apple TV with 40GB Hard Drive introduced at MacWord Expo 2008 is a significant step in the right direction. Now capable of directly accessing, purchasing and downloading content over the internet. You can bypass your computer if so desired - and do it all from the new on-device interface. A smart move; For many, an AppleTV just didn't make sense. It really presumed you had a ton of VIDEO content already on your Mac which many folks simply didn't. The real consumer want is RENTING MOVIES sitting on thier couches - (See Roku Neflix Player below) and that's all doable now with the new AppleTV software update. With a lower price on the Take Two model and completely re-thought software - Apple's revised media center box is one step closer to expanding Apple TV's appeal.
LCD IMAC & MAC MINI: TOP HTPC HOME MEDIA CENTER CHOICESThe Mac mini is proving to be a popular, affordable home theatre media center option. With the right DVI video adapter/connections, and featuring Optical/Analog audio ports, it can be the heart of a versatile Apple centric HTPC system. Likewise, the large 20" & 24" diplays of Apple's current iMac line with decent built-in stereo speakers make them an instant HDTV desktop television & theater minutes after plugging in a Mac television tuner. Complimented with an AppleTV unit, Your iTunes video downloads and all controlled by an Apple Remote - you can control your entire media collection.
HELP YOUR OLD ANALOG ONLY TV-TUNER
The FCC Mandate to convert all Over-The-Air television signals to digital in North America was extended to June 12th. You'll can still use older Analog-Only Mac TV gizmos after the digital television transition - it's just that you'll HAVE to a DTA conversion box to receive the new All-Digital Stations. Some low-power LOCAL Analog stations, most notably Rural Translator Stations _MAY_ continue to broadcast local access programming in Analog for some time to come. So, a converter box with ANALOG PASS-THROUGH is your smartest purchase (Only a minority of boxes with very specific model #'s can do this) With a Digital to Analog TV Converter Box - you can affordably continue to use your exisitng Analog TV Tuner with the antenna you may already own for Over The Air reception indefinitely. However, the tuning functionality and channel changing will be handled by the converter itself. Some aspects of, say, changing stations in ElGato's EyeTV software will be rendered moot - while the functions of recording programs, time-shifting and video export would still apply. The tradeoff: No automated scheduling or channel-hopping with the keyboard. Look for a selection of FCC approved, Coupon qualified DTV boxes at: tv-converter-boxes.com - Or check for In-Stock TV converters at: Newegg
SURVIVE THE DTV TRANSITION
I bought an Apex DT-250 converter, set it to Channel 3, did a new scan with the EyeTV Setup Assistant to tune in Ch 3 -- and got the DTA converter's setup menu onscreen. From there, I did a full channel scan and am now watching crystal clear HD Digital stations still using my low-cost Analog-Only Miglia TV Micro USB stick. If you're on a tight budget, a converter box is still cheaper than buying a new Digital-Only or Hybrid Mac TV gizmo.