iMac as an HDTV

Discussion in 'iMac' started by shakastange, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. shakastange macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2007
    #1
    Hey all,

    I am in the market for a new Mac since my TiBook died. I am going the desktop route and I will purchase an Intel iMac the next time Apple refreshes the line. I am also a console gamer. And I know HD is all the rage these days.

    The iMac display quite a few pixels which seems to be in line with High Definition. Is it possible to use your iMac as an HD monitor a game console? I know of El Gato's Eye TV that provides a similar function but for lower definition output. I own a VGA adapter (purchased from Hong Kong) that allows you to use a PC monitor to view your console games. That device has component inputs but I never had component cables for my consoles. Furthermore, the device reeks with cheapness and the output isn't all that good.

    So my question is: Has anyone knows of a device that allows HD input (I guess via firewire) to an iMac? Many thanks.
     
  2. isleofjib macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Location:
    CT
    #2
    there's been a lot of talk (or should i say hope) that the next refresh of the imac line will include a video input so you can use the monitor for your laptop, gaming, tv, etc. i sure hope they do.
     
  3. Peace macrumors P6

    Peace

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2005
    Location:
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    #3
    I have looked around for a HD input device for my iMac.Can't find one.I think it's because the movie companies don't want people recording HD movies.
     
  4. manhattanboy macrumors 6502a

    manhattanboy

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Location:
    In ur GF's bed, Oh no he didn't!
    #4
    use the miglia mini HD if you have digital cable.
    Beautiful on a 20"
     
  5. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #5
    There's really two separate questions here. How to use the iMac as an HDTV and how to use the iMac for console gaming.

    As for the HDTV side, the iMac's resolution is 1440x900, 1680x1050, or 1920x1200, none of which are standard HDTV resolutions (although the 1920x1200 is very close). So all of your HD content will be scaled from it's broadcast resolution (720p, 1080i/p) to the monitor's display resolution. In general, the less scaling required, the better. Will it look great, yeah, probably, but that will vary from person to person.

    As for how to get HD onto the Mac, you have a couple of options. The easiest is to use an HDTV tuner via USB2 or Firewire. The most popular devices seem to be ElGato's EyeTv line of products and Miglia's tuners. Both use ElGato's EyeTV software for recording/scheduling. Which device you get depends on how you intend to receive the HD signals. You could get the HD signals via an antenna or through your cable company. With an antenna, look for a device with an ATSC tuner. With cable, look for a device with a QAM tuner. Note, with these options, you won't be able to watch or record HD shows that are on a premium tier. You typically need a cable box for those channels, and as of yet, no one makes a Mac compatible HD tuner with CableCard.

    Alternatively, if you already have an HD capable cable box, you could use the Firewire port of the box and plug it into your Mac. You'll need to run VirtualDVHS or iRecord (and maybe both) to record these shows. It's not a TiVo like experience, but it works.

    If you use Satellite to recieve your HD, then your options are very limited. I think 169time.com sells modified DirecTV boxes with the Firewire ports active. The problem is that DirecTV and Dish are going to MPEG-4 and VirtualDVHS won't work, at least that's what I think I've read.

    Now, for console gaming. This really depends on your console. If you have an older console with composite outputs (i.e. PS-1; Saturn, etc.), then a device like the EyeTV Hybrid or the EyeTV250 will work. You generally need to turn off the Hardware encoding (at least on the 250), otherwise you get lag. Even with the "gaming modes", there is a slight slight lag since you're going from the console, to the Mac, and the Mac has to do some amount of processing. Most people don't notice or care about this small lag.

    For newer consoles like the PS3 and XBox360, you're probably better off with a real HDTV. Both of those consoles can pump out 1080p and as of right now, no one makes a device that allows for HDMI/DVI/component inputs into the Mac (at least I haven't heard about it).

    ft
     
  6. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    #6
    Came across this at some point in time.

    May or May not be relevant, just thought I'd point it out.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/printthread.php?t=386740

    I've been interested in this for some time. I'm still waiting on the next round of plasmas to come out before I switch to HDTV / build a Entertainment PC.
     
  7. shakastange thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2007
    #7
    Thanks for the help fellas. It seems like El Gato is the way to go until I can purchase an HD TV.
     
  8. isleofjib macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Location:
    CT
    #8
    thanks for that link, pilotError. seems like the biggest hurdle is top quality graphics cards. which brings up a question to me: what cards do makers like tivo and the cable makers use for their HD DVR's?
     
  9. odedia macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    #9
    I have to say, I use the 24" iMac as the main television in my house (for DVD/downloaded content, I barely watch anything actually on TV), and it's friking gorgeous. Seinfeld, high action, 3D movies, HD trailers, you name it - it looks perfect. My living room TV is an old 20" TV. Goes to show you how things are changing in the electronics world.

    Guess I won't be needing an Apple TV anytime soon :)
     
  10. darktiki101 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    #10
  11. isleofjib macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Location:
    CT
    #11
    could they be just a little less informative about what that does? :confused:
     
  12. timmystets macrumors newbie

    timmystets

    Joined:
    May 3, 2008
    Location:
    NY
    #12
    30" MAC Cinema Display - Playstation 3

    I've found the Tripp Lite P130-000 HDMI to DVI Gold Adapter - HDMI-F to DVI M
    The PS3 has USB ports
    However, what do I do with the fire wire cable from the monitor?
    I am not at all tech savvy, oviously.

    I want SO BAD to game on my monitor.

    Thanks Tim
     
  13. nostaws macrumors 6502

    nostaws

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    #13
    I use el gato hardware and software, and it has been great for me. I don't have TV at home (long story), so I record HDTV at work on my mac, and burn it on dvd for the kids. I love it.
     
  14. xxjuicymintxx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 2, 2008
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #14
    That's always convenient, and seems like it'd work out quite nice! Would the Mac Mini be powerful enough to receive the HD content? Like if I had it hooked up to a 1080p monitor?

    I love my MBP now, but was thinking of getting a 24" iMac + HDTV software. But maybe to save some money I could just use my MBP as the powerhorse, and get a Mac Mini + 24" monitor and be set. I could always use the MBP w/ the monitor as well. Dual solution? I think so.
     
  15. diamond.g macrumors 603

    diamond.g

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Location:
    Virginia
    #15
    Cablecard?

    Sooo, does anyone have any news on if Cablecard is going to ever be supported. I got the wife to buy off on a 24" iMac as a TV for the bedroom, but I need to be able to get all the digital channels (including encrypted).
     
  16. Leon Kowalski macrumors 6502a

    Leon Kowalski

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Gondwanaland Reunification Front HQ
    #16
    I don't know if this helps -- it depends on whether there's any software
    available to pipe the FireWire signal to the display:

    "Cable TV providers (in the US, with digital systems) must, upon request of
    a customer, provide a high-definition capable cable box with a functional
    FireWire interface.
    This applies only to customers leasing high-definition
    capable cable boxes from said cable provider after April 1, 2004. The relevant
    law is CFR 76.640 Section 4 Subsections i and ii. The interface can be used
    to display or record Cable TV, including HDTV programming."


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_1394_interface#Cable_system_support

    References 12, 13, and 14 in the above wikipedia article might be helpful.

    LK
     
  17. diamond.g macrumors 603

    diamond.g

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Location:
    Virginia
    #17
    I know about that. I have messed with it before. Your stuck with one tuner in that situation unless you buy multiple boxes, so no recording one show while watching another. Sadly using FW to a cable box is very un-Apple-like. It isn't something that my wife can operate without a users guide.

    Sadly iTunes isn't an option as it appears that none of the HGTV and DHOME stuff is listed (all stuff wife watches religiously).
     
  18. yagru macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    #18
    If I buy an EyeTV for my 24"; am I able to watch HD in fullscreen at full quality or is it limitted to a smaller viewing window?? Thanks for any info.
     
  19. MacBass macrumors 6502

    MacBass

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
    Location:
    La Crosse, WI
    #19
    You would need an HDMI-M to DVI-F, the DVI cable is permanently connected to the display, with a Male connector on it. The USB and Firewire cables from the monitor are simply for the 2-port USB hub and 2-port Firewire hub built into the monitor.
     
  20. xxjuicymintxx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 2, 2008
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #20
    I wish I could find a good way to game on the 24" iMac.
    They're so gorgeous, mine as well do everything on it.
     
  21. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #21
    There is a way to game on an iMac. Most of these USB TV tuners allow for you to add an audio/video source. Some have a "game-mode" which reduces lag.

    The big catch is that just about all of these (I actually think it's all of them, but you never know) are limited to s-video or composite video. If your definition of gaming is NES, SuperNES, Playstation 1, or a Commodore64, then you're alright. If you want HD console gaming on your 24"er, then you're out of luck ... for now.

    There is a new device coming (Hauppauge HD-PVR) which has component inputs. However, it's likely not to have Mac drivers (initially) and it's not known whether you can view the video on the PC screen. And I bet the lag would be huge if you could.

    ft
     
  22. xhambonex macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    #22
    Well I think this will make a lot of you very happy, if you have a monitor not an imac.

    http://www.engadget.com/2008/02/19/asus-hdtv-suite-hdmi-turns-your-monitor-into-a-tv/

    This will be awesome when it is released. Elgato makes some sort of box also, but this thing seems great. And you could hook up your console to it, at full 1080p and have it output 1080p. I have been looking into using a monitor as a tv, montior, and console gaming display for awhile now. Im buying an hdtv instead though, which will just double as a monitor.
     
  23. Mollemand macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #23
    I think this is a step in the right direction:
    http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7774&Itemid=1

    Now all we need is for Leadtek to stick it in a box, add an USB 2 connector and write some mac drivers.

    I've tried to find some sort of external DVI to USB device, because a HDMI to DVI cable is possible. That way you would also cheat the HDCP bull. I did find one device, but it does not run full frame rate all the way with 1080p content - and it's USD $700 which is a bit steep for a tv-tuner.

    Please PM me if any of you find a way to get 1080p content through the USB/FW.
     
  24. Leon Kowalski macrumors 6502a

    Leon Kowalski

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Location:
    Gondwanaland Reunification Front HQ
    #24
    Sorry, but that's physically impossible. USB2 has an (optimistic) maximum
    bandwidth of 480 MBit/s. A 1080p video feed requires almost 3000 MBit/s,
    (i.e., 1920 x 1080 x 60 Hz x 3 colors x 8 bits = 2.986 GBit/s).

    Given realistic USB2 bandwiths (only about half of the theoretical 480 Mb/s),
    a DVI/USB codec would need to achieve something in the neighborhood of
    10x compression. That is possible -- but not without a loss of video quality.

    LK
     
  25. Mollemand macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #25
    Thanks for doing the math - I didn't bother, but you're right. :(

    It would have been a bit more realistic with a 5:1 compression. What's the real bandwidth of the FW?

    Edit:
    Isn't 1080p 25fps? and the 1080i is 1920x540 @ 50 fps? That would get you to half of your calculation right there at approximately 1.225 GBit/sec
    /Edit
     

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