Apr 27 2009
mini PVR with EyeTV and ConvertX
software have made this more interesting than ever before. And, with the best options available, this will be the last Mac PVR tutorial you’ll need to read.
- Any Mac mini
- The Plextor ConvertX for Mac ($209.94 at Amazon)
- An analog video source
- Optional: href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000513KE/macmerc-20/ref=nosim/" target="_blank">KeySpan IR Remote (on sale at Amazon, $35.99)
- Elgato’s EyeTV (included)
There are plenty of hardware options that will turn your mini into a PVR. I selected the ConvertX for its hardware encoding, which takes the processing load off your mini (the EyeTV Wonder does not hardware-encode incoming video, and is not recommended for use with the mini). It also has the widest array of hardware encoding options including MPEG 1, 2 and 4 and DivX.
What’s more, the ConvertX is the least expensive of the lot (excluding the EyeTV Wonder) that comes bundled with Elgato’s easy to use software. And while we’re on that subject it is worth mentioning that the EyeTV software that comes with the ConvertX interfaces with TitanTV – a free online programming guide. Using TitanTV you can cue recordings from the web with a right-click.
Getting back to the nuts and bolts, you’ll find that the ConvertX comes with everything you need, with the exception of a coaxial cable. The EyeTV software installs in seconds and requires no reboot. EyeTV scans your channels and sends you to TitanTV to register.
Encoding options are what set this configuration apart from other setups. With the ConvertX and EyeTV you can capture to VCD (MPEG-1), DVD (MPEG-2), QuickTime (MPEG-4) or DivX. Within each format there are options for longer play or higher quality, with DivX offering the best compression to quality ratio. EyeTV exports to about anything QuickTime can
handle and to all your favorite iApps for editing and burning. EyeTV also has a built-in editing interface that allows for quick deleting of commercials.
But lets not forget the options: on the install disc, Elgato has included the key-maps to control the software using Keyspan Digital Media Remote software. So, your presentation remote can double as your TV remote. And, if this weren’t enough, the ConvertX also sports RCA and S-Video analog inputs, so when you’re not recording TV, you can transfer video from older cameras and VCRs.
The performance of the unit was as-expected. You can set aside you concerns of over-taxing the mini. With hardware encoding you won’t notice any slow down watching or recording. In fact on my mini I watched a recorded clip with the incoming television window still open at full resolution without a hiccup.
With superior hardware encoding options, the ConvertX is a unique
combination of TV tuner, PVR and analog video encoder. And, shouldering the processing load for you Mac it is perfect for the mini. The EyeTV software guarantees that you’re not missing anything by picking a less expensive PVR.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s a matrix of tthe PVR hardware options out there for Mac:
* This product has abysmal reviewer ratings
Please direct comments/corrections on the article to the author, brian AT macmerc DOT com.