EyeTV HD and iMac...help!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by AshCas, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. AshCas macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2011
    Hello! I'm looking into buying my husband the EyeTV HD to use on our iMac. We currently have a regular TV in our bedroom, and our iMac...ideally I'd like to be able to use the iMac as our TV (even if it's only watching DVR'd content).

    Right now we have one cable box in our living room, and I know I'd be able to feed the cable connecting the EyeTV to the cable box thru the wall. Here's my question - will using the EyeTV mess with the DVR we have thru our cable box? I want to be able to watch content on both, or have our DVR recording something, and the EyeTV recording something else. Is it an either/or type scenario?
  2. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I think you will need to provide and/or clarify some information.

    1. Is the iMac in the bedroom? Is that why you want to run a cable through the wall?

    2. Are you specifically interested in the EyeTV HD? Understand that this device does not have a tuner. It requires a separate device with a tuner and component outputs (e.g. your cable DVR).

    3. Other El Gato devices have tuners, but without a cable card, you're limited to what your cable company passes without encryption (aka clearQAM). Most cable companies send the local stations in clearQAM. You won't get channels like ESPN, TNT, CNN, etc. without using a cable card ... please note that Macs do not support cable card.

    I could provide some advice, but without knowing your intent and what equipment you already have, it might not be too useful for you.

  3. AshCas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2011
    Thanks! To answer your questions:

    1. Yes, the iMac is in our bedroom.

    2. I'm interested in the EyeTV HD because it seemed to get pretty good ratings when I was researching the EyeTV products. I liked it because if I understand correctly (and please bear with me, I'm not the techy of our family!), we'd be able to watch DVR'd content on our iMac, and also on our iPad/iPhones.

    Basically we've got an old TV in our bedroom, and I'd like to get rid of it, and use the iMac to be able to watch DVR'd content - just until we purchase our house in the spring and get a new TV. It'd be great to be able to watch live TV as well, but it doesn't seem like that's possible on iMacs.

    We've got a cable box with a DVR in the living room, so I'd need to make sure the EyeTV wouldn't mess with that....
  4. ftaok, Nov 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011

    ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    OK, here's one way to accomplish much of what you're looking for. The limitations of this system are considerable, but there's not much else if you want/need to watch or record premium channels.

    You would get the EyeTV HD and connect that to your living room DVR (using component cables - red/green/blue, red/white). The EyeTV HD would connect to the iMac using a USB cable. NOTE - if you currently use an HDMI cable from the DVR to the living room TV, you'll need to make sure that your DVR can simultaneously output HDMI and component. If the DVR doesn't output HDMI/component simultaneously, you'll need to use the pass-thru component connections on the EyeTV HD through to the TV.

    If your DVR can't output HDMI/component simultaneously, you'll need a different device. Hauppauge makes a device very similar to the EyeTV HD. It's called the HD-PVR 1212. The main difference between the two is that the Hauppage has the ability to pass-through the component signal so that the living room TV continues to work. It's compatible with EyeTV 3, however, they no longer sell a bundle with the Hauppauge and EyeTV3 software. You'll need to buy them separately.

    Next, you'll need to connect the IR blasters from the EyeTV HD to the DVR. These are basically small cables with a little "bulb" that you stick on the IR sensor on the DVR. This will allow you to change the channel on your DVR from the iMac. I'm not exactly sure how this is integrated in the EyeTV 3 software, but I'm guessing the El Gato guys have it working.

    Please note that with this set-up, you'll be watching the same thing on the iMac as is on the living room TV.

    EyeTV 3 can automatically import recordings into iTunes. Once the stuff is in iTunes, you can watch on the iPod/iPad/iPhone.

    One last thing, depending on how far the cable box is from the iMac, you may exceed the maximum distance for either USB or component. If they're on opposite sides of a wall, you may be OK.

  5. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    we have the eyetv hd connected to our motorola (verizon fios) box via both HDMI and Component. the component goes to eyetv, and HDMI goes to the TV.

    I use the eyetv to record my shows, and the wife continues to use the DVR for hers. the only issue we have is when she tried to record 2 shows at the same time I want to record something which almost never happens.

    i would say depending on the length of cable it takes to get from the cable box to the imac, everything else can be managed.
  6. flindet macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2011
    You could plug the EyeTV directly into the wall (not using your DVR) and it will probably work for some local channels and maybe a few extra, depending upon your provider.

    However, I'd recommend renting a dedicated cable box for your EyeTV. Attaching your EyeTV to the existing DVR sounds problematic to me because it seems they would compete for tuners. My guess would be that the DVR would think the EyeTV was just a television watching live a live signal. In the event that the DVR and the EyeTV exhausted the number of tuners the DVR is allowed to use, then one of them would fail to record. Which one depends on how the DVR assigns priorities (live television versus a scheduled recording).

    Renting a second box for the EyeTV would simplify the situation and would avoid the conflicts. Unless your provider charges some ridiculous amount for the second box, that would probably be the easiest option. Note, you do NOT need to rent a second DVR. You just need a second digital tuner.

    Then plug the second tuner into the EyeTV using the component cables. (Because you're plugging into an iMac, you'll then use the USB cable to go from the EyeTV to the iMac.) This should avoid most of the complications with encryption from the provider. However, in some cases, the provider may choose to not provide the signal over component if they want to send it encrypted. Luckily, in my experience, that has been rare.

    You will also need to subscribe to some sort of listings service so that your EyeTV can receive an XML feed telling it what shows are scheduled for what times and on what channels. EyeTV typically comes with an included one-year subscription to TV Guide (the XML service, not the magazine). After that it's typically $20 a year. I used Schedules Direct for MythTV, which is the same price. So, I believe the price is fair. That being said, there are alternatives, but using TV Guide will be the simplest. Certainly, use it while it's free.

    I hope this helps.
  7. peterjcat macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2010
    Just on this small point -- the EyeTV software does not have any access to the Hauppauge HD PVR's IR blaster, something to do with licensing apparently. To be able to control a cable box with EyeTV and a Hauppauge HD PVR you would need to buy a third-party IR blaster like (I believe) the IRTrans.

    It's a shame since the EyeTV software is IMO much better than the EyeTV HD hardware, which for me always exhibited ghosting and softness due to (I think) limitations of the onboard H.264 encoder. The Hauppauge HD PVR seems to produce a better image but has more limited software support on the Mac.

    I would very much recommend EyeTV HD for streaming to an iPad or iPhone but would hesitate to recommend it for playback on a big iMac screen. However things may have changed since I last used the EyeTV HD.
  8. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2010
    I have the EyeTV HD and have had none of the problems with ghosting that a previous post mentioned. The EyeTV does not have a tuner or cable inputs; you would definitely need a second cable box.

    One thing that you will need to be aware of is that the EyeTV HD produces large files. If you maintain any kind of library, you may well need an external hard drive. The EyeTV software can be bought separately. The Hauppauge box does not come with Mac software (I believe), though one of the developers offers software he has written. The EyeTV software does work with the Hauppauge box. The Hauppauge box does offer surround sound, which the EyeTV HD does not.
  9. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I just thought of an alternative. Keep in mind that this was something that I thought of doing years ago, but never pulled the trigger.

    Buy a Tivo and get a cable card from your cable provider. This will allow you to watch/record all of the channels you subscribe to. There is software for the Mac that will allow you to copy Tivo recordings onto the Mac for viewing. I think it's called Tivo Desktop (at least that's what it's called for Windows).

    I also believe there are apps that will convert the recordings and import to iTunes for iOS playback.

    The downsides to this set-up is:

    1. most cable companies will give you a cable box or cable card. Not both, unless you pay extra. Without the cable box, you don't have access to On-Demand.

    2. Tivo isn't cheap. Not sure what the monthly fee is these days, but you could always go for a Lifetime subscription. Either way, it's pricey. But Tivo is considered the best DVR experience you can get.


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