Compleat idiot confused about watching HDTV from cable on iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Merkin, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Merkin macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2008
    I am, in the next week, going to be ordering a 24" iMac, and I would like to use it as an HDTV as well as a computer. I am familiarizing myself with products like the Slingbox and the ElGato eyeTV, but I am new to the whole HDTV thing, so i have a few questions:

    I have an Insight Cable set-top box. I do not currently subscribe to the HD channels, but will be adding them, assuming i can find a setup that will work the way I want it. I can aquire a second box if the setup requires it.

    First question: do any of the 'hdtv on the mac' products up there deliver an uncompressed digital signal to the computer?

    Second question: will premium channels, which as far as i can tell are encrypted by the cable company, show up on my mac with any of the available products?

    Third question: When using a device that uses your router transmits your tv signal to your computer, does it only transmit over your local network, or does it transmit via the internet? My net connection isnt the most blazing thing on earth, and I will be using a wireless router (802.11g at the moment, may upgrade to n though) to transmit to the computer.

    Fourth question: Is there a product on the market that would basically go between my cable box and a firewire 800 port? That would probably be faster than an internet based option for me.

    Fourth question: Overall, which, if any, product would give me a picture on the imac that would be just as good as plugging a 1080p and/or 1080i television in to my cable box? I basically just want my high-dollar computer to do double duty as a high-dollar tv, and to do so without a loss of quality, and I don't know if it is possible.

    Thanks in advance for your input and advice!
  2. saulinpa macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2008
    I think that all products that do HDTV deliver the uncompressed image - that way they don't have to process it, just grab and forward. The problem is with the source. Most cable and satellite companies compress so the HDTV signal you get from them can be different than what the station is sending. Over the air (in the US) is the best way to get an uncompressed signal.

    Anything encrypted you won't have access to.

    Your router only will slow you down if you are watching a feed from the Internet. If you have something like HDHomerun plugged in you should be OK. 802.11g is supposed to be able to handle high definition feeds but it doesn't for me. Wired is best. 802.11n should be OK.

    Cable box to anything high def probably won't work as the copyright holders prevent the hardware guys from doing things that make sense.

    Just about all of the HDTV tuners will give you a great picture. You may need to spend some time tweaking things like de-interlacing. The big problem is that I sit two feet from my monitor so see all the problems; with a real TV I sit 8 feet away (even with a 71" projection screen).

    The forums on and have a lot of smart people that can provide direction.
  3. AlphaBob macrumors regular


    Jan 28, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Get a product that at least has a Clear QAM tuner. This is the HD format that most cable companies use for non-premium channels. Elgato EyeTV 250 Plus is an example.

    While you won't see the premium channels (you are correct assuming they are encrypted), you will see the other HD stuff.

    Oddly enough most pay-per-view items show up in Clear QAM on higher channels - at least whenever a neighbor on you loop is watching. So when they cough up the bux for some p0rn, you can watch it for free on your tuner. Then, of course, you will find out their particular sexual preference as they keep replaying one part over and over again. But that is just too much detail.
  4. Merkin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2008
    Thanks for the help guys!

    Upon further research, I am going to first try to hook my cable box directly in to my computer via firewire, and if the results there are unacceptable, i will look to an elgato or a slingbox.

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