How can I watch tv on a mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by JesseW6889, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. JesseW6889 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    #1
    I have an iMac and a MBA, and I am trying to find a tuner of some sort that will allow me to watch tv on either one of them. The iMac boots into windows also, so even if it is a windows solution, that's fine.

    I have an old Hauppage 950 tuner which I can't get to work, but I'm in the US and I don't understand anything about what's going on with the digital cable switch over or what... I also purchased an Elgato HD HomeRun which supports Clear QAM and ATSC (no idea what that means!)

    I set up the HD HomeRun, but couldn't find any channels. Is it possible they're all blocked? I really have no idea what I'm doing, but I just want to watch tv on my 27" iMac :/
     
  2. RMo macrumors 65816

    RMo

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa, USA
    #2
    First, I'll explain the TV situation in the US. Digital TV, which is the current standard (and that in which all but a few legally exempted broadcasts use) is called ATSC. Older analog TV was broadcast in NTSC format. If all you plan on doing is watching over-the-air broadcasts, an ATSC tuner is your best bet. However, dual ATSC/NTSC is probably best, because if you plan on hooking up any other equipment (e.g., VCRs, cable boxes, etc.), they will probably output an NTSC signal, especially if they're older. (Some may also have RCA outputs--that is, the three red, yellow, and white connectors--while newer ones might do something nice like HDMI.)

    QAM is the format (technically, modulation, since it doesn't actually specify the underlying format...) generally used for cable. Thus, if you plan on using your Mac to receive cable directly, you'll need this. However, if you plan on using it behind a cable box, it won't matter and you'll need whatever the cable box puts out (probably NTSC if it's not RCA or HDMI). Some cable providers also encrypt some or all of their channels so that you need to use the cable box to view them. Your luck may vary.

    Since El Gato HD Home Run supports ATSC, assuming that you're in the US and that you've configured it to look for ATSC (if you have that option), that should be correct (assuming you're trying to find over-the-air broadcasts). I'm assuming you have it hooked up to an antenna, so you may need to try adjusting that until you find what works best. Your luck inside will vary, especially if you're on a low level or have lots of tall objects in the way. AntennaWeb is a good resource to help you with this.

    If you have it hooked up directly to a cable service, you'll need it set to QAM. (Some can detect which you have by scanning for everything, so maybe you don't need to set this--I don't know how yours works.) If it's cable but behind the cable box, then it's probably NTSC. NTSC won't get you very far for over-the-air broadcasts in the US anymore, however.

    Hopefully this helps. I have a TV tuner for my Mac mini, but I can only get about two stations because I live in the city in an apartment, and my reception isn't too good.
     
  3. JesseW6889 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    #3
    Hey, thanks for the response. I hooked it up and only got a few local channels in digital, so I'm sure everything is QAM and locked down.

    I'm guessing my option here is to get a cable box to decode to ATSC and run that through coax to a cheaper tuner (than the HD HomeRun) though Windows, and just keep it on channel 4, and change channels through the cable box?

    Thats obviously going to degrade the quality quite a bit... any other options?
     
  4. Washac macrumors 68020

    Washac

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2006
    #4
    Hi

    I went the tuner route, absolute rubbish, then I found this :-

    http://www.tvcatchup.com/

    Good for the UK anyway........
     
  5. rkmac macrumors 6502

    rkmac

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Location:
    JAFA, New Zealand
    #5
    I can personally recommend Elgato tuners and their corresponding mac software.
    I have the Elgato EyeTV DTT, but read about all their different tuners to find out which is the right one for you.
    It has worked really well so far and is quite easy to use to record programs and share them to an iPhone or iPad or other computer.
     
  6. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #6
    In my opinion, there's very little reason to watch TV on a computer, unless you're recording/timeshifting. Live TV is better suited for a regular TV and the cost/hassle involve isn't worth it.

    But if you have your heart set on watching TV on your iMac (and perhaps MBA), here are a few options.

    1. You can use your HD HomeRun to have a dual tuner on your network. Since you said ElGato, I'm assuming that you got the HD HomeRun that comes packaged with a dual-license version of EyeTV. This will allow you to watch your local channels on both your iMac and MBA. Check out http://www.silicondust.com/support/channels/ to see what channels your cable company puts out in clearQAM.

    2. If you want/need to have all of your channels available, you're gonna need either a cable box or CableCard. If you go with an HD cable box, you'll be able to take the component output and run that through the Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212 or the ElGato EyeTV HD. Both devices are have component inputs and sends a converted stream via USB. Keep in mind, that you need a cable box for this.

    If you want to go with CableCard, then you're looking at using Vista or Win8. The only CableCard device that may be compatible with a Mac using Windows would be the HD HomeRun Prime. I'm not too up on the specs, but it's basically a 3-tuner version of the HD HomeRun that can decrypt the premium channels that you subscribe to.

    3. Depending on which 27" iMac you have, you may be able to utilize the mini-DP input feature. Take an HD cable box's HDMI output and use an adapter to get it to mini-DP. Connect that to the iMac and it'll behave like a TV. I'm sure a Google search on this will uncover tons of info.

    ft
     
  7. JesseW6889 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    #7
    I don't see any kind of component input? I assume you're talking about a breakout cord that you can attach to a standard usb stick tuner? This option sounds great, since I do have a cable box I can use, can you clarify this any?

    As of now, I have the base 2011. Not sure that its going to stay this way, I still have a week to take it back and am considering switching it for the top of the line 2010 model for the same price.

    The HDMI to Mini-Dp converters you are talking about are in the $150 range, correct? I realize they would only work on the 2010 model too.
     
  8. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #8
    Different device. The HD HomeRun only has coax inputs. I'm talking about the EyeTV HD (or the Hauppage HD-PVR 1212).

    Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Keep in mind, only the 27" models have this "Target Display Mode".
     
  9. RMo macrumors 65816

    RMo

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa, USA
    #9
    QAM is not used for over-the-air broadcasts, so if that's what you're doing, what you get (via ATSC) is largely dependent on where you live and your antenna (and where it's placed). QAM is only relevant if you have cable (e.g., through Mediacom or whatever is available in your area--and they usually include a rented cable box in your subscription, and, again, if you use it behind the cable box, you won't be dealing with QAM anymore, though without special equipment you'll have to change the channel on the cable box instead of your computer).

    A couple other points:
    • A cable box decodes "non-clear" QAM. It will not be useful for over-the-air broadcasts (ATSC).
    • If you do have a cable box, your solution (about changing channels on the cable box, assuming it puts out a format your tuner can understand) will work.
    • A cheaper tuner may still work, but it may not--I have an AverMedia one right now, and their software is really buggy. Kind of wish I would have gone with an El Gato, but they might have a cheaper model that will suit your needs. I'm not familiar with all of their product line.
     

Share This Page