Television on your Mac? Apple doesn’t think so. Yet Fortunately, Elgato does. EyeTV is just the ticket when it comes to recording television (or any kind of video) on your Mac.
The latest version better than ever for both the Firewire and USB EyeTV digital video recorders. This is what a Mac needs.
EyeTV is a digital video recorder. A personal video recorder. It records video from your cable TV to your Mac. It also records video from VCR’s, DVD’s, your camcorder, and pretty much any video source—to your Mac.
I bought one of the original Elgato EyeTV USB video recorders when it first came out a couple of years ago. The hardware has worked flawlessly. The software was a little buggy at first; so was Mac OS X. Elgato continually improved the EyeTV software and the latest version is a dramatic jump in features, functionality, capability, and ease of use when compared to the earlier versions.
Today there’s a bunch of Elgato video recorders; USB, Firewire, wireless. They handle about any kind of broadcast video you throw at it and the software is true Mac; simple, elegant, plenty of features when you need ‘em, and it works.
I’ll focus this review of Elgato’s software effort, on both the USB and Firewire devices, and what it means for the Mac. The only thing missing from the Mac mini is a way to get video inside. EyeTV 200 does just that.
EyeTV is what you want it to be. A Mac digital video recorder. Basically, EyeTV acts like a VCR, a TiVo, or any one of the dozen or so PVR’s (personal video recorder) or DVR’s (digital video recorders) put out by the cable companies to get you to part with an extra $10.00 per month.
Your Mac becomes a VCR that’s much easier to use and has more capability than any VCR you’ve ever used. It takes about 2 gigabytes of your Mac’s hard drive space to record around an hour of video. With 160 gigabyte hard drives on many Macs these days, you could easily record and archive 70 or 80 hours of video and still have room for all your applications, your music, your digital photos, and all your Mac’s applications.
The real deal is Elgato’s EyeTV 200 for just $299 as a fall special.
How’s the video image?
Remarkably good. So’s the sound. If a quality video recording is what you’re after, then you’ll want the EyeTV 200.
Again, a typical one-hour TV program will take up about 2 gigabytes on your Mac. Except the quality of the image, even full screen, is fabulous. It’s almost like watching a DVD, depending on the quality of your cable TV connection.
The EyeTV 200 receiver box is different, too. This one matches the brushed aluminum motif that Apple loves these days. There’s also an IR (infrared) remote control.
You’ll want to check the EyeTV 200 FAQs. Click Here for that, but remember that the latest version of the EyeTV software makes some of the FAQs obsolete.
For example, you can now record video using EyeTV 200 and export it to iMovie, iDVD, QuickTime, via MPEG Program Stream, MPEG Elementary Streams, MPEG-4, AVI (for Windows), and DV Stream in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio.
That’s pretty slick. EyeTV 200 requires at least a G4 Mac.
There’s really too many features to go into in a brief review of EyeTV. Suffice it to say that you’ll be impressed. It’s a Mac-only product that just feels like it should be built-in to every Mac in the first place.
The onscreen TitanTV television guide handles basic cable, digital cable, high defintion cable for most US cities. It’s a bit clinky, but works OK with EyeTV. Point to a TV program you see on the schedule. A pop up window has a record button. When you click record, a small file is downloaded in your browser which triggers EyeTV to record the program at the scheduled time.
It’s seamless, so there’s not much to think about. Point, click, record, click, playback.
Make sure you have plenty of hard disk space. Recording digital videos can be addictive and it doesn’t take long to rack up quite a few hours.
Unlike TiVo, or other PVR’s and DVR’s, there’s no additional monthly charge. It’s just you and your Mac and your cable TV connection and you’re in business.
Toast 7 Titanium is not included but there’s a direct link from EyeTV which will let you record your recorded videos direct to CDs, SuperVideo CD’s, or DVD’s using Toast.
What’s not to like? The price is a bit steep for a cable/video receiver. The software is the value. The latest version is as easy to use as earlier versions but is more capble; editing is easier, export options exist, and, so far it’s worked flawlessly, letting me record Sex and the City and The Daily Show when I had to leave home for the evening.
Is EyeTV or EyeTV 200 worth the money to make your Mac become a digital video recorder?
What’s missing? The formal connection to Apple. Obviously, Apple likes the folks at Elgato as they just hired Elgato’s CEO to take over Apple’s German sales efforts. Also obvious is Apple’s desire NOT to get into the DVR/PVR (like TiVo) business. Yet.
It wouldn’t take much to make the Mac mini into a great PVR that also does Front Row, ala the new iMac G5. My crystal ball says Apple is aiming higher than just recording TV shows and movies from the TV. It’s that closed-circuit, eco-system they want. Money for downloads.
Regardless, for now we have some excellent products from Elgato to fill the void.