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Review: Elgato EyeTV 500 125

Posted by timothy
from the wish-there-were-linux-drivers dept.
nsayer writes "My wife and I just took delivery of an EyeTV 500 - Elgato's brand-new box for U.S. over-the-air digital television. Elgato makes PVR hard- and software for Macs. With the 500, HDTV reception and recording functionality has arrived for the Macintosh." Pudge reviewed the original (USB, NTSC) EyeTV nearly two years ago; read on for the rest of nsayer's review of the FireWire-based 500 model (first mentioned earlier this month). The 500 will play back both standard and high-definition digital signals, but only broadcast, not cable.

The package is simple. The 500 comes with the box itself, which is slightly larger in all dimensions than a paperback book; an IR remote control and batteries; a CD; a quick-start card; and a standard 6-wire FireWire cable. The back of the box has antenna-in and -out jacks (the purpose for the antenna-out jack is unknown. As delivered, it has a plastic cover on it), two FireWire jacks and a DC power input jack (there is no power supply, um, supplied, and DC power input is optional. They do not recommend you plug bus-powered devices into it if the EyeTV device itself is bus-powered). The front panel has a window with the IR remote control receiver and a status LED. The box is light for its size and liberally perforated with ventilation holes, but in extended use I couldn't detect any heat.

The installation procedure is simplicity itself: You connect an antenna to the antenna jack, you connect the FireWire cable between your computer and the box, you insert the CD into your computer and drag the EyeTV application from the CD to your Applications folder (or anywhere else you want it). The first time you start the EyeTV application, you'll get a setup wizard that will ask about your EyeTV hardware, discover it, and begin the auto-tune procedure.

This is the first place that EyeTV stumbles ever so slightly: The purpose of the auto-tune procedure is to fill in the channel list used for the channel up and down buttons and for the channel list drop-down menu. It takes a couple of minutes to complete, but the first time I did it, the EyeTV missed a station that I knew it should have found. When I repeated the procedure, it found that one, but missed a different one. Finally, the third try yielded 28 streams (I have a good outdoor antenna in Santa Clara, CA, aimed at the Mt. Sutro tower). Elgato should add some way of manually adding or deleting channels (I don't really care about non-English language and home shopping channels).

The other thing to keep in mind is that this receiver is designed strictly for over-the-air reception, and for good reception, you'll very likely need a good outdoor antenna. If you get cable TV, then this isn't for you.

The software integrates well with TitanTV.com, which provides program-guide information. You can click on shows on the TitanTV web site and watch the EyeTV tune to the correct channel or set up to record the show. Recording shows is more or less on a timed schedule basis - it's not quite up to the standard of a TiVo season pass. But the software does poll Titan for schedule changes (if you allow it).

Once you've recorded a show, an iMovie-like editor lets you locate the commercials and cut them out, although the job of finding and marking them is a manual procedure. Once you've marked them, you can compact the show, which permanently removes the marked sections, reclaiming the disk space they were taking.

And speaking of disk space, the CPU and hard disk requirements for digital TV content are enormous. 1080i shows can take potentially 20 GB per hour. An episode of CSI:Miami, after being compressed to 41 minutes, takes 11 GB. A 41-minute episode of The Tonight Show takes 8. Simply displaying these streams at full size in a window takes about 75% of the available CPU of my wife's 1.6 GHz single-proc G5. I wouldn't recommend buying one of these for a machine less powerful than that. The software will scale the image down if it needs to, so it won't outright fail on lesser hardware (and you will be able to access multicasted streams), but the big selling point of this box is being able to watch 1080i shows at full size on your 23" cinema display. If you want to do that, you'll need some serious processor muscle.

All in all, I give this product a big thumbs-up. Digital TV will truly revolutionize broadcast television over the course of the next few years just the way color did for our parents and grandparents. At $299, the EyeTV 500 is a great way for Mac owners to get started without spending a lot, but still enjoying all of the benefits (and breathtaking pictures) Digital TV has to offer.


Thanks to nsayer for this review. Have an interesting review in mind? Slashdot welcomes feature-length submissions.

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Review: Elgato EyeTV 500

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  • TiVo (Score:1, Insightful)

    by webword (82711)
    What about marketing efforts? What about documentation? If this isn't user friendly (usability is king!) then will this ever take off? What is the market perception going to be? Basically, what is the *business* behind the EyeTV 500? Bombs away!!
    • Re:TiVo (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hype7 (239530)
      Basically, what is the *business* behind the EyeTV 500?


      Well, I can't speak for the developers, but this thing does HDTV right?

      Well, the first thing that springs to my mind is that 30" behemoth Apple announced a couple of weeks ago...

      -- james
      • Lets summarize:

        G5 ~ $2,000 (It does not appear as though any laptop or lower end machine can power this thing)
        30" display ~ $3,300
        TV card ~ $300

        Total = $5,600

        Wanna buy a bridge?
        • Why? You end up with an extremely sharp 30" TV that also doubles as a sweet gaming rig (with the top of the line GeForce) and powerful workstation. Considering that a slightly larger plasma display only costs a little bit more, you end up with a lot of extra perks for your money.
    • their TV player and recorder program is very nice. the only thing that frustrates me is there's no CLI app to schedule recordings with.
  • Massive HD Space (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thedogcow (694111) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:48AM (#9697375)
    This setup could be very cool with an attached 23 or 30 inch Cinema Display...

    As far as HD space goes, could one use the newly discussed h.263 codec that was presented at WWDC to compress the movies into smaller file sizes?

    • Re:Massive HD Space (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It was h.264, it's different. h.263 is used in video-telephony and old MPEG1 at very low resolutions.
      Anyway I think that if the Elgato software supports exporting via quicktime (very likely) and you have MacOS X Tiger, it is very possible to do what you are talking about.
      h.264 has HDTV resolution transparency at 8 Mbps, so a 41 minute episode of CSI:Miami would take 2.5 GB.

      giandrea
    • It just dumps a native HDTV MPEG2 stream to disk. It is not QuickTime. I don't doubt that someone will make a transcoder that will be able to re-compress these streams since the format is standard and there is obviously a need. The new H.264 codec is not part of QuickTime yet though, so don't hold your breath.
    • This setup could be very cool with an attached 23 or 30 inch Cinema Display...

      Yes, it is.. ;-)

      -jcr

  • Too expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hackstraw (262471) * on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:50AM (#9697400)
    $300 is too much to pay for a tv tuner and mpeg encoder.

    Considering the price of a real TV or a PVR in the same ballpark price that do the similar (or more functions), I don't see the justification for the expense. This is another example of where computers impare normal functioning of human logic.
    • Re:Too expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MikeXpop (614167)
      It's very good if say, you have a laptop and want to record directly onto the computer for viewing later at another location.

      I can tell you from experience plane rides are much more enjoyable with all 3 seasons of Family Guy.
    • Re:Too expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anita Coney (648748) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:06AM (#9697553) Homepage
      I don't know where you live, but in the US HDTV tuners generally cost more than 300 bucks.

      The cheapest I could find on Amazon was $299.87, but it did NOT allow you to record and edit what you watch.

      Most HDTV monitors sold are just that, monitors. They do not include HDTV tuners. And even if your HDTV TV comes with a built in HD tuner, you cannot record HD content.

      I'm not saying that Elgato has the best deal, buy it certainly is a good deal.

      The best deal is ATI's upcoming HD version of its AIW series, which will only cost about 200 bucks. It comes with a remote. And if you have an ATI graphics card in your PC, you could use ATI's component video out adapter to connect your computer directly to your HDTV monitor.

    • Umm, hello? Did you bother to read at all? This thing records HD.

      Have you priced an HD DirecTivo or the DishNetwork HD PVR? They're $1000.
      • Umm, hello? Did you bother to read at all? This thing records HD.

        Yeah, I read it and HD doesn't interest me. I own an HDTV and it makes DVDs look good, and many TV chanels look bad. There is no content for HDTV (not much more on standard TV either), and when there is the tuners will be commodity products. I was actually commenting more on teh EyeTV 200, which is analogue and costs the same $300 as the 500 model. For $100, I would get the 200 model so I could consolodate all of my media stuff on my bac
        • Re:Too expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

          by steve_bryan (2671)
          "I own an HDTV and it makes DVDs look good"

          At the risk of being provocative (what, on slashdot?) I have to ask if you've had your vision checked recently. OTA HDTV blows DVD out of the water! Even if the material on Leno is lame the picture is stunning. Just for the record the resolution of DVD is 720 x 480 interlaced. That is about half the resolution that FOX was using (480p) but is being cranked up to 720p which is 1280 x 720. The other HD resolution is 1080i or 1920 x 1080 interlaced.

          Never mind. What
          • Just for the record the resolution of DVD is 720 x 480 interlaced

            Most DVD's (at least ones that you rent) are actually encoded as 480P/24, so you actually will see a significantly better picture (with the proper DVD player) on an HDTV than on an NTSC one.

            • "Most DVD's (at least ones that you rent) are actually encoded as 480P/24"

              I wish there were a little more clarity on this issue (at least in my own mind). When I've read the comments of experts on the subject, like Jim Taylor, I get the impression that the DVD video format itself diminshes the source resolution to interlaced even if using 480P/24 source.

              In any case I would readily agree that DVD's have superior resolution to NTSC so they benefit from playback on HDTV (and HTPC). On the other hand it is no
              • Well, strictly speaking they do have NTSC resolution (it's still 720x480), but it's frame-based compression, and there is no temporal difference between the two fields of each frame (this is really a content-issue, there's no technical reason this has to be the case, but nobody would ever make a 48i DVD). It's the lack of temporal displacement that affords the increased resolution: for each temporal sample, you have 480 vertical lines of resolution instead of 240 (one field). This doesn't really give you do
                • "the amount of compression varies a great deal between different DVDs"

                  That factor and the issue of the quality of the source material are both probably more important than 480i versus 480p for DVDs. On the other hand the first time I saw "Fastlane" in widescreen 480p on FOX I got very confused. I was new to HDTV and had heard FOX did not provide "real" HDTV but that picture was very impressive. It seemed sharper and better than any DVD I had seen on my PC.

                  In the end I'd agree with your statement "it's sti
          • I have to agree with you; HD programming blows DVDs away. Of course, I'm in the Los Angeles area, so the signals are being broadcasted.

            My HDTV has made regular TV looks worse; that's natural (DVDs made my LDs look bad and VHS tapes even worse). With HD programming, I have trouble watching regular TV, especially sports. Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals (both 720p) looked gorgeous and crisp; far better than even DVDs (the SD broadcast looked blurry and fuzzy).
            • "SD broadcast looked blurry and fuzzy"

              Ain't it the truth. Last season I had trouble watching football games that were not in HD. I'll be in luck this year because it seems like a lot more games will be available in HD.

              I stopped watching the local UPN broadcast of Enterprise because the affiliate is owned by FOX which has declined to upgrade the UPN affiliate station to HD even though UPN is producing it in HD. That's when I discovered suprnova.org and Azureus. The considerably compressed (to 350 MB) file
    • Re:Too expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iwadasn (742362)

      I don't know about that. My computer monitor is vastly better than my TV (which I don't have). I have one of these converters (the cheaper $199 one), and it works great. You tell me where I can get a 17 inch TV + Tivo + DVD burner for $200, praytell.

      In addition, the little tiny box takes up much less space than a TV + TIVO + DVD player/burner.

      In addition, being able to use the space on my hard drives (about 400 GB now) for either computer stuff, or TV stuff is also quite an edge. And I can share out the T
    • Well, you certainly have strong opinions. Too bad you have your facts muddled. I would agree they aren't paring the price down to the bone, but it is not exceptional. For the sake of clarity it should be mentioned there is no mpeg encoder for HDTV in the box. The signal is transmitted already digitally compressed with 8VSB modulation (in the US). So you are buying a receiver with 8VSB demodulation and FireWire interface. A similar box from Samsung (the T165) has a list price of $700 but can regularly be fou
    • Actually, it's not an mpeg encoder. The previous versions for analog TV were encoders. This version takes the mpeg2 stream straight from the digital broadcast and pipes it onto your hard drive. As a result, it's good for broadcast digital only - it cannot encode analog sources (because it isn't an mpeg encoder.)

      Think of it as a tuner that is willing to talk to your Mac via firewire, and a software suite that allows you to record that stream to your HD and play it back at will. Assuming that El Gato do
    • From the processor requirements and load, I'm betting the mpeg decoder is in software. I bet the only thing in the box is the HDTV tuner and firewire interface.

      That makes it $100 more than the pci card tuner for linux [pchdtv.com], which is about what I would expect for the external support circuits, enclosure, and Mac markup.
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:50AM (#9697402) Journal
    Is it just the "rules" that prevent HD component recording? Right now there's a huge variety of devices that can record from composite or s-video (TiVo, VCRs, DVD recorders, video capture cards on your computer, etc). I just want to dump HD component video into a recorder the same way I dump it into my TV.

    The big problem right now is that I can record over-the-air HD with devices like this (and even some HD VCRs and HD capture cards in computers), but I can't record the analog HD signal out of my DirecTV HD box and if I ever got digital cable, I wouldn't be able to record that one either. If I want to record DirecTV HD, my only option right now is to get a HD TiVo (for about $1000), but that's not an archiving solution. (and yes, I know there's hacks, but I'm talking off-the-shelf technology that my mom could use).

    I'm very well versed in this stuff but I find it incredibly frustrating trying to sort out exactly what types of signals I can record and when.

    -S
    • I thought broadcast HD signal has MPEG2 stream embedded in it. All the tuner card does it de-modulate the HD signal and the computer save the MPEG2 stream to your hard drive. BTW, a very large MPEG2 file. I think most of the stand alone HD recorders will down compress the MPEG2 video to use up less space. So computer base HD tuners are the way to go, if you want the highest quality.
    • Is it just the "rules" that prevent HD component recording? Right now there's a huge variety of devices that can record from composite or s-video (TiVo, VCRs, DVD recorders, video capture cards on your computer, etc). I just want to dump HD component video into a recorder the same way I dump it into my TV.

      It's not that so much as that there's not a sufficiently low-cost MP@HL MPEG-2 encoder chip out there that can be embedded in a recorder. Existing HD recorders rely on having the original digital stre

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:48AM (#9698019)
      Unfortunately, the EyeTV 500 respects the so-called "broadcast flag" that prevents you from recording television programs for the purpose of time-shifting. Because this constitutes a violation of your Fair Use rights, I am urging all netizens to boycott all high-definition TV products while my lawsuit against the RIAA is pending.

      It would in theory be possible to create a device that ignores the "broadcast flag" or hack an existing device to behave fairly. Unfortunately, under the draconian laws of the so-called "United" States of America, this is illegal. Of particular import is the DCMA that would make this act a federal felony. I, too, have a lawsuit pending to render the DCMA unconstitutional.

      In conclusion, I recommend a total and far-reaching boycott.

      Sincerely,
      Seth Finklestein
      Media Rights Privacy Expert Watchdog
      • 'Unfortunately, the EyeTV 500 respects the so-called "broadcast flag"'

        Ouch, are you certain of this? They've implemented it a full year earlier than required? If that is truly the case then I will never buy another product from elgato. They can go out to lunch with Jack Valenti all they want but they will not get another penny of my money.

        Good luck in your lawsuits.
    • I think the deal is that it's a LOT easier to just take the digital signal and dump it to disk, rather than taking an analog signal and redigitizing it (with all the corresponding CPU and D/A conversion required to not drop any frames).

      Of course, advantage of the analog signal is... no broadcast flag. That's probably the other reason you're not finding any component inputs anywhere...

      There are PC and Mac high-end video cards that capture component video, but they start at $500 and go up to thousands.

  • by green pizza (159161) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:52AM (#9697414) Homepage
    Why not just encode the SD material into DV25, which the MacOS loves. Then users can just use iMovie to edit. Why do devices like this insist on shipping with software intended to reinvent the wheel? I would love a simple PVR for my PowerBook, but I don't need editing features, I can use iMovie for that.
    • by Bakafish (114674)
      Because:

      A) This is a HDTV recorder, it does do *digital* SD, but all of the streams are simply dumped in RAW MPEG2 off of the decoder chip. There is no onboard transcoder chip that could re-encode that stream to DV on the fly, and it would be useless to downsample all the HDTV resolution streams to DV as it wouldn't be HD anymore.

      B) Transcoding RAW MPEG2 to DV in software is way slower than realtime, and would actually INCREASE the amount of space required to store the information by a lot.

      C) The RAW MPE
    • by Baumi (148744)
      The Austrialian/European version of EyeTV for digital over-the-air TV (DVB-T standard) doesn't convert the video format at all - it "just" singles out one MPEG2 stream from all those transmitted and sends it over to be saved on the Mac's HD.

      My guess is that the HDTV version works the same way. Re-encoding the material on the fly would probably be too processor intensive, so it's easier to have a simple editor built into the software. Besides: iMovie is pretty self-contained. It wants its own project files,
  • by bgarcia (33222) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:53AM (#9697420) Homepage Journal
    Elgato makes PVR hard- and software for Macs.
    Did anyone else read that as "Elgato makes a hard-to-use PVR, as well as some Mac software?"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can see the execs being very unhappy when their digital broadcasts are being shared over the net - without commericals.

    DMCA anyone?
  • Antenna out... (Score:4, Informative)

    by kulakovich (580584) <slashdot&bonfireproductions,com> on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:54AM (#9697432)

    Antenna out is for the rest of your boxes, you insensitive clod!

    But seriously, though - your source should go to your primary recorder, then out to any other inline devices, then to your tv. That way you get the best signal into the recorder.

    For instance, You'd go from source, to the eyeTV, to your VHS recorder, to your projector, then to your regular TV, were you to have all those things.

    My curiousity is this whole "but not with cable" thing. Just how does it block that?

    kulakovich
    • "My curiousity is this whole "but not with cable" thing. Just how does it block that?"

      It doesn't block it. They just use a different modulation scheme for digital cable. 8VSB is used for OTA digital TV while most cable companies use some variant of QAM. You need a QAM demodulator which is fairly rare for PC tuners. DVico makes a PCI board that handles 8VSB and QAM but it is PC only. A reason for the scarcity is that cable companies have a nasty habit of scrambling their signal and requiring you to use thei
    • by Detritus (11846)
      Cable uses a different carrier modulation method (QAM) than over-the-air HDTV (8-VSB). Some of the new TV sets include demodulators for both QAM and 8-VSB.
    • But seriously, though - your source should go to your primary recorder, then out to any other inline devices, then to your tv. That way you get the best signal into the recorder.
      Once they make a hack to record from this puppy, this *will* be your primary recorder!
    • OTA HD reception is ATSC based, while cable based HD is QAM - a different type of tuner.

      This site [wordiq.com] has some more useful information about the differences.
  • Why can't it record off of cable? Does cable use different frequencies for the same channels or something? I thought they were the same...
  • Would love it (Score:3, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @10:58AM (#9697479)
    except it's Mac only. I love Firewire but for some reason people who produce Firewire products like to make them Mac only, excluding about 80% of the potential audience.(PC's are about 95% of the audience but quite a few don't have Firewire).
    • Re:Would love it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Microlith (54737)
      I/O DATA out of Japan makes a firewire TV tuner that is both PC and MAC compatible, for about 23000yen or so (maybe more?)

      Only problem is that they don't sell it outside of Japan, and it's frigging impossible to get anyone to import electronics like computer components.
    • "except it's Mac only"

      Are you sure of this? I know they are only shipping with Mac software but if it conforms to FireWire AVC standards it should be possible to drive from the PC. That is part of the beauty of the FireWire stuff: it is supposed to be platform neutral. For instance VirtualDVHS on the Mac works fine with the DVico Fusion I board in my PC. I can record to the Mac over FireWire from the Fusion board and play back on the Mac locally or the PC over FireWire.

      Based on what is written in this re
      • Based on what is written in this review I have my doubts if they are conforming to existing standards.
        I can assure you that the device does conform to the AVC Tuner standards. I should know, I wrote the initial drivers for testing the hardware on Mac OS X (for EyeTV 300 though)...
        • Thanks for taking the time to reply. That is quite encouraging to hear. I didn't find out about your reply sooner because my damn mail program treated the notice from slashdot as junk mail. I'm glad I periodically check to see what the filters are doing.

          My concern about issues of standards was caused by the report that accompanied the article which seemed to make odd claims about saved file size.
  • If you own a Mac and have cable, I don't think you need to purchase any additional hardware to capture HDTV. Check out the link below. http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040 426151111599&query=hdtv
  • by green pizza (159161) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:01AM (#9697508) Homepage
    I want a souped-up ReplayTV.

    I currently have a DirecTivo, basiclly a two-tuner Tivo with built-in two-tuner DirecTV reciver. It's great... but it can't record my local TV. Now, DirecTV will be adding a few of my city's local channels to their broadcast in 2005, but not all of the channels.

    What I really want is a box with about 5 inputs and 2 outputs. I would like it to switch between my VCR, DVD player, generic DirecTV box (or two), and tune local TV stations. HD capability would be nice too. Add in PVR/timeshifting features and the ability to control said devices. Software upgradability would be nice, perhaps in the future it could learn how to control my future DVD player/recorder to burn to disc some of the shows I have recorded.

    I basiclly want a PVR that's also the hub of my home theater. I want to keep discrete components (use my TV as a display, use my audio reciever as an amp, etc) but I need some sort of switching/recording hub to control it all.

    An HTPC is an interesting concept, but until it can handle multiple channels of video I/O, it's not of much use to me.
    • You mean the HDVR2? I get my locals from the bird, but a friend hooked up an existing antenna for his. It records those just fine.
      • HDVR2 will be handy when all of my local stations go digital (two are holding out for the deadline). But this still leaves me with no easy way to plug in additional inputs (such as from a VCR or Camcorder). Three is also no easy way to seamlessly integrate the beast with a video switcher to handle multiple inputs from different devices.

        My audio reciever, on the other hand, has a built-in composite/svideo/component video switcher, which is somewhat handy, but it's more of an edge device (like my tv/monitor)
    • MythTV [mythtv.org] can do multi-channel recordings, either on the same PC (via multiple encoder cards) or via multiple PCs (each with one or more encoder cards). With multiple PCs, however, LAN bandwidth can be an issue. (For fairly high-quality recordings, say 600-700KB/sec per channel.) Your power bill can be an issue, too. ;-)

      Distributed, multi-channel recordings are very nice. If you have multiple PCs, you can also do distributed TV watching (watch a recorded program on a PC other than the one which recorded

  • The system requirements, processor drain, and memory usage seem like too high a price to pay, certainly for longterm useage. Maybe I don't understand the benefits, but my Tivo does everything that this does, only better.
  • by Casshan (4998) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:03AM (#9697524) Journal
    If you have a modern digital cable box with Firewire outputs, just download iRecord [comcast.net] and connect your Mac to the box with a quality firewire cable. iRecord is developing quickly into a good PCPVR solution for digital cable boxes.

    The interesting thing is that you can record anything the box is showing over the firewire output, including video on demand, HDTV, Music Choice, and digital-tier cable channels.

    You can then take the captured MPEG2 transport stream and convert it to a standard MPEG file by using VLC's advanced output options in the file open dialog.

    Now if someone can figure out how to send the MPEG transport stream back to the digital cable box for playback...
    • connect your Mac to the box with a quality firewire cable

      Did the salesman tell you the bits would sound better, or that the 0's and 1' would have more warmth to it? Any firewire cable will do, paying more for it won't make it better.
    • Now if someone can figure out how to send the MPEG transport stream back to the digital cable box for playback...

      The 6200 I was playing with was incapable of such a task - it had an output channel, but no input channel. Unfortunately I don't have it anymore since I do all my recording OTA and I don't have cable. With OTA tuners you can send the stream back to the tuner and have it play in all its high definition glory on a widescreen TV.

      This guy beat me to an application; all I have to show is a modified
  • by homgran (766092) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:04AM (#9697529)
    A few months ago, I stumbled upon this page [macosxhints.com] which explains how to record and play back HDTV signals using free tools and a cable box.

    Regarding playback, VLC [videolan.org] can *just* manage to play back HD 1080i recordings on my 1GHz TiBook (using the OpenGL playback option), so it sounds like it does not require the gargantuan system specs stated in the above article.

    Now if only we could recieve HDTV in the UK. :/
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Check out
    AVS Forum - Mac HD PVR [avsforum.com]

    and

    Some interesting software [comcast.net]

    If you have a cable box with a firewire port (most HD cable boxes have them, and if yours does not then you can get one from the cable company as there is a law saying that it must be available to you - at least that's what I have been told and the cable company agreed)... Anyway, it works pretty well.. Have fun.
  • and any other hdtv PC/mac related stuff before the broadcast flag [eff.org] kicks in =(

    Looks pretty cool, i've got to see if I can get my hands on one of these (although it looks like I can get 3 DTV stations over the air where I live... 1 is pbs the other a WB affiliate... =( )

    e.
  • by jeffehobbs (419930) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:18AM (#9697664) Homepage
    (link [slashdot.org] to previous critically acclaimed post).

    It doesn't sound nearly as elegant as the ElGato solution -- they make good stuff -- but for a quick n' dirty geek HDTV recording hack, the example code Apple provides actually does work.

    ~jeff
  • by Critical_ (25211) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:19AM (#9697669) Homepage

    The biggest problem right now with the HDTV stand-alone recorder boxes and computer HDTV tuners is that they cannot record from digital cable. Digital Cable uses QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) which means that it generates 4 bits out of one baud for encoding HDTV channels. Cracking that is the holy grail of HDTV recording and there are many users out there willing to put up lots of cash as an incentive for this happen. The point is over-the-air (OTA) HDTV is unencrypted and can be recorded for the time being using both stand-alone and computer equipment. Both satellite-based and digital cable-based HDTV use either QAM64 or QAM256 which cannot be tuned well by any equipment out today. There was a Dish 5000 reciever that could be hacked to output HDTV digital streams over firewire but the modulation on the network has changed so the box cannot decrypt the streams anymore for output. I would suggest waiting for the time being.

    To qualify the above statement, DViCO makes the Fusion HDTV QAM PCI card for desktops which unofficially claims to tune QAM256 but it still has problems with QAM64. Link [dvico.com] A simple seach at the AVS Forums [avsforum.com] should provide more information on current issues with the card. Lastly, for you laptop PC owners out there, Sasem makes a USB HDTV tuner which claims to tune QAM but is really only useful for OTA HDTV at the moment. Link [usbhdtv.com] ATI will be releasing an HDTV card soon but I am not aware if it has any QAM tuning abilities.

  • I have an EyeTV.. The "old" USB model that records crappy quality cable TV. My favorite thing to do is to record a certain channel while I sleep, from say 3am to 5am. Instead of the morning news, I browse through all the crap that happens on TV when we aren't watching... to complement my collection of crap on TV while I AM watching.
  • by Bakafish (114674) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @11:41AM (#9697922) Homepage
    ElGato just released version 1.5 today that lowers CPU requirements for HDTV playback. I read reports of dual 866 G4 being able to play back a full 1080i stream.

    The review was vague about being able to receive standard VHF and UHF over the air broadcasts. The online documentation also doesn't specifically indicate that it can receive them. And no Cable input? I mean come on, how is that useful. All the PCI based solutions provide dual antenna inputs. I could understand the lack of Cable based HDTV, but it should at least allow you to record and play standard def cable.
    • The review was vague about being able to receive standard VHF and UHF over the air broadcasts

      Allow me to clarify:

      The EyeTV 500 does not receive analog signals at all. It only receives digital TV signals and only works with a normal UHF/VHF antenna receiving broadcast signals over-the-air.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      FY'all'sI: I received my EyeTV 500 two days ago, made my own attenna by sticking in a 15" piece of copper motor wire to the antenna port and away I went! I pick up 9 channels using that dinky antenna. I'm only missing my local Fox channel. That's just a matter of a larger|better|raised|directed antenna.

      My PB12" G4 866MHz uses about 25-30% CPU to record a 1080i HDTV stream (while NOT displaying it). Playback of the stream at 1024x768 after it's done recording consumes about 95% CPU. I experience very f
      • Damn, too bad you AC'ed because I'm interested to see how the 1.5 software does with this box. I'll D/L it for my EyeTV USB and see how it is myself. I'm sure someone will make a nice drag and drop transcoder (come on fourty-two) that will make down sampling this easier. The H.234 codec should be interesting too.
      • I've tried the 3 currently-popular ones (can't recall them off the top of my head
        Did you try ffmpegX [mac.com].
  • in compliance with /. anti-MS policy the names Microsoft & Windows now appears in this thread.
  • This is off-topic, but as is obvious I am too lazy to go to the sourceforge site for slash to submit a bug

    Pudge reviewed the original [slashdot.org] (USB, NTSC) EyeTV nearly two years ago;

    The shortened article in the /. home has the link for 'Pudge reviewed the original' pointing to only slashdot.org and not to the exact review [slashdot.org]. The article which you see in this page has the correct link though.
  • In case you've got a fast enough network, you can stream (almost) live TV and recordings using CyTV [lucid-cake.net] (GPL). I can't tell for sure whether it works with EyeTV 500, but it does with the USB, 200, 300, and 400 versions, so I don't think there will be a problem.

    The next version will use ffmpeg for integrated realtime transcoding, so bandwidth requirements will be lower (but the server Mac should be a powerful machine). Disclaimer: I'm the developer of CyTV, so this comment is biased!

  • Why could you not have the firewire out from the EG500 goto a LCD HDTV that support firewire?

    Plus - doesn't this thing have a ATSC tuner for over the air? Those things retail for $300-$400. Ebay for $100-$300

    So - $300 for this unit is not bad - although not as flexible (inputs/outputs).

    And the pass Ant out (RF) is for signal passthrough of receiption from antenna - I doubt it's signal from the ATSC tuner or PVR.
  • This is great, it gives Macs the hardware needed to receive HD. But, it seems like the playback will be a bit rough. Without MPEG2 accel, it takes a ridiculous amount of CPU power to display good HD.

    On the x86 side, an 800MHz cpu can do it when using DxVA. If Apple would open up the APIs for hardware accel, this could be a much more accessible solution.

That does not compute.

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