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Pop's Posse
Nov 1, 2008, 08:26 PM
Maybe I'm missing something, but is there a way to watch cable tv on an imac? I tried looking for the answer here but it's still not clear to me. I have a24" 2.4 GHz imac and a Time Warner cable setup. I get the HD package also. So my question is this: is there any hardware to connect the cable box to the imac and if so, can I get HD via the imac?
I have read about Apple TV, but it doesn't seem to be what I'm looking for. I apologize if this has been addressed before. If it has, perhaps someone could steer me in the right direction to the thread.
Thank you.
Mike



CBGFilms
Nov 1, 2008, 08:32 PM
This looks promising :)
http://ati.amd.com/products/tvwonder650/usbmac/index.html


EDIT: That could be a little bunlky for you though, I'll see if I an find a USB stick type one...

cuestakid
Nov 1, 2008, 08:34 PM
http://elgato.com/elgato/na/mainmenu/products/compare.en.html

either the hybrid or the plus should work with both your imac and both have the capaibility to do HDTV.

mattraehl
Nov 3, 2008, 11:25 AM
Maybe I'm missing something, but is there a way to watch cable tv on an imac? I tried looking for the answer here but it's still not clear to me. I have a24" 2.4 GHz imac and a Time Warner cable setup. I get the HD package also. So my question is this: is there any hardware to connect the cable box to the imac and if so, can I get HD via the imac?


For Mac, Elgato EyeTV Hybrid is what you want, but you're not going to be able to do everything you'd like. The Hybrid can tune Digital over-the-air signals (ATSC), Analog over-the-air and analog cable (NTSC), and unencrypted digital cable (Clear QAM). The catch is that with digital cable, most markets don't get very many Clear QAM HD channels. Usually it is the network stations (ABC,NBC,CBS,FOX,CW, etc), plus maybe a few others like Discovery HD. Channels like ESPN and ESPN 2 HD, premiums channels, etc, are going to be encrypted. This means not only can you not record them, you can't even watch them on your iMac. If you get the analog channels (I think no matter what, everyone gets the analog cable stations?), you can watch those on your iMac, but it will look like crap. I would Google somethink like "Time Warner Clear QAM channels" plus whatever market area you live in, and you should be able to find some discussion or list of what Clear QAM channels you recieve.

I will say that what EyeTV does, it does very well. The software interface is nice and works very well. I use a Hybrid to watch OTA HD on my iMac, and I love it. I've never had it crash or miss a recording. The freedom to do "as you please" with your recordings (edit out commercials, export to iPod, DVD, downsize, offload to external drive, etc) is very nice.

The reality of trying to watch HD cable on any type of computer, Mac or otherwise, is not pretty. Every solution requires compromises. The only solution that allows you to watch and record what you want, without restrictions and full access to the original full quality recording, is a hacked cable box that will output over firewire. The problem is that buying a hacked box is both expensive and probably illegal. The only legal option for watching HD cable in it's original quality on a computer is to buy a pre-built Windows Vista Media Center PC that includes a CableCard and tuner from a manufacturer like Dell or HP, which is certified by CableLabs. Even then, it's really just a glorified TiVO - you can't do things like export to iPod, burn to DVD, etc. There is a product called Hauppauge HD-PVR which is reportedly getting EyeTV software support soon, which would allow you to watch analog HD (via component video cables) on your iMac, but then you're still not getting the original digital recording, and you have to go through your cable box as an intermediary.

ftaok
Nov 3, 2008, 12:17 PM
In addition to the stuff above ....

A TivoHD (or Series 3) can transfer recordings to a Mac using TivoToGo. Not sure how well it works, but I've heard that it does indeed work.

A Tivo with CableCard will be able to get every channel possible. And in the near future, you'll be able to watch VOD stuff as well.

ft

mattraehl
Nov 3, 2008, 04:18 PM
In addition to the stuff above ....

A TivoHD (or Series 3) can transfer recordings to a Mac using TivoToGo. Not sure how well it works, but I've heard that it does indeed work.

The transferred files are wrapped in DRM that basically only lets you play it back. So: no live TV, and no export to iPod, DVD, etc. At some point the DRM was cracked, but I don't know if there is a Mac tool that does this or not, since I don't own a Tivo.


A Tivo with CableCard will be able to get every channel possible. And in the near future, you'll be able to watch VOD stuff as well.

Yes, but you can't watch it on your iMac, which is what the OP is asking about.

GimmeSlack12
Nov 3, 2008, 04:23 PM
I have the same iMac as the OP (24" iMac AL 2.4ghz). I bought the Elgato EyeTV Hybrid and just plugged my coax cable into it. Boom! 24" TV in my bedroom now.

The Hybrid gives you a remote for controlling its own built-in tuner. Or if you plug a Cable Box in then you can just use that remote. The Hybrid does HD, and the EyeTV 3.0 software (comes with it) is really great. It makes the whole thing so easy. I would highly recommend any of Elgato's products (even though I've only use the Hybrid).

ftaok
Nov 3, 2008, 07:22 PM
The transferred files are wrapped in DRM that basically only lets you play it back. So: no live TV, and no export to iPod, DVD, etc. At some point the DRM was cracked, but I don't know if there is a Mac tool that does this or not, since I don't own a Tivo.I thought the DRM was only applied on shows that had the 5c protection on ... which I though only HBO was doing.

Yes, but you can't watch it on your iMac, which is what the OP is asking about.My points was that a TivoHD with a cablecard and TivoToGo would allow you to transfer shows to the iMac and watch it there. Not necessarily recording on the iMac itself.

In any case, there's no perfect and inexpensive way record all channels, including premiums, with a Mac (or a PC for that matter). All options have some sort of downside to it.

aelight7
Nov 3, 2008, 08:53 PM
is there any way to use your imac as a hi def monitor or tv? meaning any device that will allow you to plug-in hd cables (from ps3/xbox360/wii or other hd device) into the imac and use it as a tv? I have a pinnacle hd stick and the connection is standard video and it sucks, but it does work. I dont really want to spend the money on an hd tv and was wondering if the was something out there to do this or should I wait for something like this?

mattraehl
Nov 4, 2008, 05:11 AM
is there any way to use your imac as a hi def monitor or tv? meaning any device that will allow you to plug-in hd cables (from ps3/xbox360/wii or other hd device) into the imac and use it as a tv? I have a pinnacle hd stick and the connection is standard video and it sucks, but it does work. I dont really want to spend the money on an hd tv and was wondering if the was something out there to do this or should I wait for something like this?

The short answer is no, since video games seem to be what you're interested in. The long answer is, technically the Hauppauge HD-PVR takes component inputs (analog HD, the blue/green/red cables), and connects to your computer using USB, and you can watch the HD video on your computer. Supposedly it is getting EyeTV support soon. But it would be useless for video games - too much delay introduced between the console and the display.

Motley
Nov 4, 2008, 06:31 AM
Not sure if this still works but you should be able to request a cable box with an active firewire port. Then hook it up to your mac and with some software record and watch.

http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040426151111599

Thread at AVS (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=386740)

mattraehl
Nov 4, 2008, 01:52 PM
Not sure if this still works but you should be able to request a cable box with an active firewire port. Then hook it up to your mac and with some software record and watch.

http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040426151111599

Thread at AVS (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=386740)

This one's complicated. Some people have been able to make this work. It's certianly not for the faint of heart, so don't even bother if you're not technically inclined and up for a challenge.

I think this is the long and short of it:
At some point, the FCC mandated that cable companies provide a set top box with a Firewire (1394) port if requested. So...

Step 1: If you ask for it, your cable company might say "yes" and give you one. Go to Step 2. Or they might tell you that that the FCC does not have the authority for this kind of mandate. If you're not willing to file complaints with BBB, FCC, etc, and possibly hire a lawyer, you're out of luck. If you fight it and get one, go to Step 2.
Step 2: Follow all the instructions in the linked pages above. If it works, count yourself lucky, you can watch some cable on your iMac! If it does not work, you call the cable company and beg them to help you. They will probably claim that it is enabled, but you're doing something wrong. If they offer to replace your box, go back to the beginning of Step 2 and hope for the best.

In the end, this solution requires using beta-quality software, and hoping against hope that your cable company and set top box play nice. And it generally won't get you any more channels than a Clear QAM tuner like EyeTV Hybrid gets you. The only real advantage of this solution is that it doesn't require extra hardware, and all of the associated software is free.

aelight7
Nov 4, 2008, 11:12 PM
actually the Hauppauge HD-PVR looks like kind of what I was looking for. I referred to game systems because of ps3s blu ray player. that being said I think im going to go ahead and buy a new tv.

Pop's Posse
Nov 8, 2008, 11:14 PM
I ended up getting the EyeTV 250 Plus. My iMac requires about 35' of wire to reach the STB without having wires running across the middle of the floor. Because I had a load of coaxial cable laying around, I decided to try that type of connection. The result worked out ok, not great, but ok enough. I receive all the channels on the Imac that I get on my tv. That includes all the channels in the HD 800 tier. They obviously are not coming through the iMac in HD, but they can be tuned in. I can't say the picture quality is wonderful. It's ok if you leave the smaller picture running, but if you try to fill the scree, it's not great. I have to admit that it's a PIA changing channels via the STB because it's not in direct view of where the computer is.

I may try an s-video connection, but I don't think it would be a lot better considering I would have to buy a very long cable.

But in any event, thank you all for the responses.

Mike

mattraehl
Nov 10, 2008, 08:33 AM
I ended up getting the EyeTV 250 Plus. My iMac requires about 35' of wire to reach the STB without having wires running across the middle of the floor. Because I had a load of coaxial cable laying around, I decided to try that type of connection. The result worked out ok, not great, but ok enough. I receive all the channels on the Imac that I get on my tv. That includes all the channels in the HD 800 tier. They obviously are not coming through the iMac in HD, but they can be tuned in. I can't say the picture quality is wonderful. It's ok if you leave the smaller picture running, but if you try to fill the scree, it's not great. I have to admit that it's a PIA changing channels via the STB because it's not in direct view of where the computer is.

I may try an s-video connection, but I don't think it would be a lot better considering I would have to buy a very long cable.

But in any event, thank you all for the responses.

Mike

Yeah, that sounds like a pain - it's really stretching how the EyeTV was meant to be used. Did you try running the cable directly to the EyeTV 250 (bypass STB entirely) to see what Clear QAM channels you could tune? I don't know all your details, but this seems like a better solution. It should get you at least a handful of HD channels, ALL the analog channels, you'd be able to change channels using the EyeTV remote, and you probably already have a cable outlet closer to your iMac than 35 feet away. The only thing you would lose would be channels that are only in digital. But for all the other channels, you're already converting them to an analog signal over the coax from the STB anyways, so it's not like you'd be losing quality.

Pop's Posse
Nov 10, 2008, 02:26 PM
I really was not happy with the results I got with the 250 plus so I returned it. For nearly $200.00 I think I could do a lot better. I'll do some more research and see what I come up with. In the mean time, I still have my PC set up near my iMac and that has a TV tuner card installed in it. I get just as good results on that (it only gets the analog stations) as with the previous setup. I'll just have that on while I sit here using the iMac.

mattraehl
Nov 11, 2008, 09:05 AM
I really was not happy with the results I got with the 250 plus so I returned it. For nearly $200.00 I think I could do a lot better. I'll do some more research and see what I come up with. In the mean time, I still have my PC set up near my iMac and that has a TV tuner card installed in it. I get just as good results on that (it only gets the analog stations) as with the previous setup. I'll just have that on while I sit here using the iMac.

If you mean that you could find a better way to spend your $200 when you already have a computer with a TV tuner in it, then yeah, I can see that.

But as for doing better than the EyeTV, there are no other "add-on" products that tune more channels that what the EyeTV can get. The only way to get encrypted QAM channels on a computer is to buy a pre-built CableLabs certified PC. But it sounds like you never tried going around your STB to get the Clear QAM channels anyways. The only other thing out there that might get you where you want to be is the previously-mentioned Hauppauge HD-PVR , but at the moment it is not supported by EyeTV software, and it won't solve the problem of having your STB in a different room than your Mac.