One of my favorite Mac apps ever is Elgato’s EyeTV. For Mac users, it is the DVR. The whole premise is simple. Record TV on your Mac. Play TV on your Mac.
So, along comes a semi-competitor, a wannabe-like EyeTV-like app. What does it need to do? Record TV. Play TV. And, because EyeTV already does that so well, it’s must do something different. It does.
What Happened To: Watch. Chat. Record. Go?
The Tube is a poorly named EyeTV-like wannabe app that purports to: Watch. Chat. Record. Go. Watch and record TV using a USB TV receiver. Play it back on your Mac or iPhone.
That’s nothing new, but it is something Mac users yearn for.
Elgato’s EyeTV seems to do it well, utilizing a number of reception devices.
The Tube and the TubeStick (and other TV receiving devices) aim to do that and more. But end up not doing that and less.
Think Different. Very Different.
The Tube, with the proper receiver, lets you watch free-to-air digital TV on your Mac or iPhone. The app pauses live TV, records TV from an onscreen schedule, and lets you take TV with you, Mac or iPod or iPhone.
So far, so good, right?
They say the key to marketing is differentiation. Maybe that’s true, but a bakery that fills a doughnut with cod liver oil is thinking different. That ingredient probably won’t get many repeat customers.
The Tube has chat. Yes. That chat. Chat? Really? Using the extra cost TubeStick hybrid device to record and watch TV using The Tube app gets you TubeTalk live-chat so you can, you know, chat with other viewers while you’re viewing what you can’t watch.
Crash. Crash. Crash. Install on another Mac. Crash. Crash ad nauseam. Install on sparkly clean new MacBook Pro. Repeat crash. It’s like getting your first scratch on a new car. Sometimes I can get a whole 30-minute TV show recorded. Sometimes not.
Sometimes The Tube could not recognize the TubeStick. That’s probably not a good thing, right? Worse, once you get a TV show recorded, The Tube is supposed to convert it from the proprietary format to something useful. Uh uh. Crash.
Wait? Proprietary format? Yeah, it’s not H.264 or QuickTime or anything recognizable (like what EyeTV uses). Exports? Nope.
The TubeStick hybrid supports ATSC, digital cable, and analog signals. Sometimes. An adapter comes with TubeStick to use a different antenna system. Both are needed for best reception because over-the-air digital TV isn’t popular in every area. I got the best reception by holding my MacBook while standing next to a window. Suffice it to say that’s not a long-term solution for TV viewing.
As good as EyeTV is, and it’s an expensive but highly usable and dependable DVR solution, it’s the only TV recording and playback solution standing when compared to The Tube and TubeStick. For awhile, I thought I was the only one who had trouble. Misery loves company (here and here).
Is it the worse Mac app and product ever? Your mileage may vary, of course. Right now I feel as thought I spent my life savings on a sight-unseen used Yugo.