Elgato’s EyeTV 3.5 Software and Hardware

Note: Due to exams today, this post has been pre-written and auto-posted at midnight on Monday, December 13th.  Any wrong or incorrect information is strictly due to the time frame in which I wrote this post.

For my first Macintosh Mondays, I want to talk about a wonderful application that I have been using for a number of years now that just recently received an update that will no doubt help out many Intel Mac users, but will understandably tee off any Mac users still using PowerPC.

Elgato’s EyeTV PVR (or personal video recorder) software just hit version 3.5, which is actually a major milestone.  Many US Mac users may not care about Elgato’s EyeTV NetStream Sat hardware, which is only available outside of the United States, and only really works outside the United States.  Many of the fixes in 3.5 are mainly focused on that device, but the main thing for us US users of EyeTV is that the software is now Intel-only (and presumably Intel-optimized).

This is a milestone for this software, because I’ve been using the EyeTV software for a few years now and there are still some things that irritate me about this software, such as allowing for two different tuner devices on the same Mac or some sort of 64-bit optimization in order to not have to run EyeTV exclusively whenever I record DTV antenna-based content in full HD, 16:9 resolution with progressive scan de-interlacing.

What does EyeTV do?  The EyeTV software, for those of you who may be Windows users checking out my blog, allows your Mac to turn into a TiVo-like device, as well as (with a compatible TV tuner card) allowing you to watch TV on your Mac, hopefully negating any need for a HDTV if you have the proper hardware.  Also, there is an EyeTV app in the iOS App Store, which is about $5 last I checked, that allows you to stream live TV from your EyeTV devices to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

A Windows equivalent may be Windows Media Center or MythTV, or something like that; however, you need to understand that having iOS applications for your PVR software of choice outside of the Mac platform is very much hit and miss, and your mileage may vary.

Then, there’s the EyeTV hardware (I believe that all of them are also Windows 7 compatible as well for those Windows users), and included in this category are several items that couldn’t be any more different.  Please note that your mileage may vary if you are in another country besides the United States.

One of the newer products in the EyeTV line is the EyeTV HD, which allows you to configure your Mac out of the box (I believe it is Windows 7-compatible as well) to be a TiVo-esque device for your cable or satellite tuner device.  The EyeTV HD also includes an IR blaster, which is required to use any EyeTV device with your cable or satellite box and be able to change channels on-the-fly, which works exceptionally well for recording off of your cable box.  It is about $200 MSRP, although Amazon does have it at a slightly less expensive price tag most of the time.

Another product is the EyeTV Hybrid, which is a different product aimed at unencrypted analog cable as well as DTV antenna connections.  The EyeTV Hybrid is one of the two most versatile products in the TV tuner group, the other coming later on.  The EyeTV Hybrid (2010) works with DTV antenna signals, unencrypted analog cable, unencrypted *digital* cable (also known as Clear QAM, which is an unencrypted HD signal that is normally one’s local channels and selected HD cable channels, check your local cable TV provider for more details), and even terrestrial FM radio!  So, if one managed to find a DTV antenna that also had FM antenna capabilities (I could be wrong on this, but I believe some DTV antennas do have the capability of receiving both types of signal), you could record your favorite local network show in HD, as well as record the audio from your favorite terrestrial radio programs (such as those from your local NPR stations for those in the US; as for me, it’d probably be A Prairie Home Companion if I were to have one of these sorts of devices).  It’s pretty doggone cool if you ask me, and the device is a measly $149.95 MSRP, again, check Amazon because it is almost always cheaper than that.

Another similar product is the EyeTV One, which is only for recording DTV antenna signals.  This is one of the most specialized EyeTV tuner products of all, and is less expensive as a result, only $99.95 MSRP, and once again, your mileage may vary and you can always check Amazon for a better deal!

The final tuner product is the EyeTV 250 Plus, which is the other most versatile product in the Elgato EyeTV lineup other than the EyeTV Hybrid.  I’ve been using the vanilla 250 for several years now, and while it is the most painful product to use due to heavy overheating issues, it is easily the nicest product to record VHS tapes off of because of the onboard hardware encoding.  It is also a breeze to record off TV as well, also due to the onboard hardware encoding.  The most ideal use for this product would be if you are indeed traveling, and you wanted to, as I said prior, record DTV signals without taking too many hardware resources from your laptop, then this device is very ideal.  This product is also $199.95 MSRP, but Amazon will almost always have it cheaper.

There are also different video-related devices and software from Elgato, including the Turbo.264 HD, Turbo.264 Software Edition, and the Elgato Video Capture device that I might be able to speak about later on down the line if I were able to get more experience with these products.  You can take a look at these products, but then again, your mileage may certainly vary if you decide to pick one up without knowing too much about those products.

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