Oct 21 2006
It’s a given that your Mac can handle video better than a PC. But, before Elgato we were all at the mercy of hardware capture cards that were expensive and had no good software to manage them.
With EyeTV at 2.0, it has become the leader in computer-based personal video recording. It integrates with free programming guides, supports one click recording and works nicely with OS X. Thankfully they aren’t satisfied with improving software. Now Elgato has released a smaller, more powerful hardware adapter that will put EyeTV and your Mac to work managing television recordings better than any other solution.
The new EyeTV Hybrid is barely larger that Apple’s IR remote, but includes some very unique features. The unit has an on-board coaxial port that will accept an analog cable. You can also receive broadcast television via antenna through the same adapter – including digital terrestrial television.
Digital broadcast television, available in most metro areas, includes quality up to HDTV. If your Mac is fast enough (G5 or Core Duo), you can record pure digital uncompressed signal up to 1080i. And, these stations are free to receive. You will need to get an antenna, but in areas of good reception a standard one will do. Check out this website to find out what kind of an antenna you’ll need and what stations you’ll get (in the US). The International version works in the UK, Germany, France and more.
Digital television is the Hybrid’s new trick, but the solution is also flexible. With an included adapter you can record video from S-Video and RCA sources. So, with a piece of hardware small enough to fit in your pocket you can record digital and analog broadcast television, analog cable, digital cable or satellite and even a TiVo (although the last three options you won’t be able to control from your Mac). That makes it not only the smallest, but the most capable recorder for the Mac.
I should say a word about the software. The EyeTV 2 software integrates powerfully with the operating system (a iTunes-like interface and Spotlight support), exports with a click to your video iPod and sports an integrated program guide.
The unit performed as expected in my testing. I was pleasantly surprised with the DTV coverage in my suburban location. The unit does not have any hardware encoding (hence the tiny size) – but the high-quality digital signals will come in raw with no processing burden on the Mac. They will eat up hard drive.
You will notice a performance hit on your processor when recording from an analog source. However, if your Mac meets the stringent system requirements, you probably have a Mac that is up to the task. Which leads me to the second complaint about the unit. If you have a new Mac, there’s no reason to sweat. But if you want to use the unit at all you’ll need Tiger and a G4 or better.
For users of older Macs, this will be an obvious disqualifier. There are other solutions that will work on older Macs. If your Mac fits the bill, then this is the solution for you. It is affordable and very capable. Unless your primary video source is digital cable or satellite, the tiny Hybrid is your best bet. Oh, and if you have a new MacBook then the size alone will win you over.
Together with the peerless EyeTV software, the Hybrid will bring more television to your Mac than any other solution, provided your Mac is up to snuff. Kudos are due Elgato for another powerful Mac product.