Inexpensive TV tuner/PVR?

coconn06

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 14, 2003
197
0
King of Prussia, PA
I've heard great things about the EyeTV, but it is very expensive ($329.00 for the 200) compared to similar options for the PC (such as this).

Are there any Mac TV tuner/PVR options comparable to PC products in both features AND price?
 

jxyama

macrumors 68040
Apr 3, 2003
3,735
1
if you don't insist on mpeg2, get eyeTV usb... around $100 used.

if mpeg2 is one of the "features," then i'm afraid the answer is no. you probably won't find a mpeg2 dvr for a mac for under $200. (unless used.)

eyetv 200 has a $50 rebate. that will knock the price down to $280. other option is formac studio tvr, which is $300.
 

JeffTL

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
733
0
If you don't particularly need it to connect to your Mac, there's always TiVo. Though at present you cannot edit video that is on the TiVo there are now several TiVo machines (Pioneer, Toshiba, and Humax, I think) that include DVD burners if you have money to burn -- just a regular TiVo is still cheaper.
 

spiro321

macrumors newbie
Sep 28, 2004
5
0
Mac TV

I use Miglia AlchemyTV DVR PCI tuner and it works well. It can record and schedule via iCal and comes with a remote control. Sells for around
$140.
 

coconn06

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 14, 2003
197
0
King of Prussia, PA
spiro321 said:
I use Miglia AlchemyTV DVR PCI tuner and it works well. It can record and schedule via iCal and comes with a remote control. Sells for around
$140.
How's the quality on it? I've heard that PCI tuners (as opposed to a separate unit like the EyeTV) can suffer from interference and therefore lesser quality. Also, I can imagine a separate unit would be able to do hardware compression well, but a PCI card might have to rely on software compression, which would degrade system performance.

What does your experience with the AlchemyTV tell you about these issues?
 

spiro321

macrumors newbie
Sep 28, 2004
5
0
coconn06 said:
How's the quality on it? I've heard that PCI tuners (as opposed to a separate unit like the EyeTV) can suffer from interference and therefore lesser quality. Also, I can imagine a separate unit would be able to do hardware compression well, but a PCI card might have to rely on software compression, which would degrade system performance.

What does your experience with the AlchemyTV tell you about these issues?
I have no complaints with the quality, the picture is as clear as on my tv. Compression is something that is lacking however, I recorded a one hour program at 320x240 resolution and it took 5GB with default compression. There are preference options where you can adjust the compression settings. Haven't used these features so can't comment on them. I'm just a casual user. When I do watch TV my machine does not suffer from any performance hits. (Dual 2Ghz G5 1GB RAM)
 

Piarco

macrumors 68030
Jun 24, 2004
2,529
0
Londinium
Well as EyeTV seems to be out of my price range at the mo (and if I'm honest I don't actually need it!) I'm going to give the link & software that sigamy gave a go. I've already got a Happauge Nova-T USB digital terrestrial sat box for my PC and its totally supported under those multimedia drivers. Will give it a go and see how it compares with my PC usability. I'll report back after I've had an extensive go!
 

sigamy

macrumors 65816
Mar 7, 2003
1,300
2
NJ USA
Please do let us (me) know how it goes. Also, do you know if that USB box would work with DirecTV in the US?
 

Piarco

macrumors 68030
Jun 24, 2004
2,529
0
Londinium
Would you believe it... it works! After following the instuctions to the letter and realising I needed slightly more patience that I was giving in the initial channel scanning, all went well and I can now watch all of the channels I get on my PC with the supplied Happauge software on my PB using iTele and MSplayer.
I haven't tested the functionality of the software yet (i.e. recording) but I have inadvertantly tested the live pause function... accidentally clipped the space bar on my way out and came back thinking the program had frozen - but on hitting the space bar again, the program resumed from the place I had left - very nice! With that in mind I can confidentally presume that the video side of things works a treat too.
Obviously what you do miss out on is an all encompassing frontend - a viewer and channel list with all of the relative buttons and options you get from that. Using the iTele and MSplayer gives you at least two windows to flip between, but seeing as its free, thats a minor point.
Picture quality (with it being digital) is as good as it can get being shown on a laptop screen/TFT, and with the PB having a smaller screen than my PC it looks even better! And with it being mpeg2 theres no loss in quality when it gets recorded.
Sigamy I can definately say the Nova-T is European and Australian only. There is a new model for the states called the WinTV-HD but it doesn't seem that is supported by the drivers on that link you provided. But if the results I've had are anything to go by it may well be worth getting the US products (FusionHDTV) and giving it a go. Don't know how much they cost, but its got to be cheaper than the EyeTV range. If you've got any more questions about the Nova-T on a Mac let me know and I'll try to answer them!
 

flyfish29

macrumors 68020
Feb 4, 2003
2,173
4
New HAMpshire
Tivo is the way to go. $100 if your already have Direct TV and $50 if you don't. It is a 35 hour recorder I think. The instructions say you can print to video with the TIVO output...if you really wanted to edit something you could "print" through a Digital video camera into your Mac in iMovie or something else and edit away? If you don't need to edit then TIVO rocks. We just got is a few months ago and it is the best purchase (minus our iMac of course) we have made in quite a few years.

Also, doesn't burn up my hard drive space on the iMac.

Pausing live TV doesn't suck either. My son says he doens't want to come to dinner until something is over...I just pause and he walks in, eats, then goes back to watching what he was right where it left off.
 

Piarco

macrumors 68030
Jun 24, 2004
2,529
0
Londinium
flyfish29, I think that we're on about a suppliment to main TV rather than a wholesale replacement - I already have SkyPlus (TiVo done right in the UK) but having a secondary tuner in the comp room is quite cool, and handy for watching when doing work/surfing. I have made use of it to make DVDs out of programs (i.e The Proms 2004 for my parents) and as VHS is definately dying out, its very useful to have until I buy a standalone DVD recorder.

I would be doing the same on my PB, but decided to opt for a combo drive rather than the superdrive as I thought that as my PC has a dvd burner I wouldn't need a second one.... but I've found myself on a couple of occasions wishing that I had spent the extra :(
 

salmon

macrumors regular
Aug 13, 2004
113
0
Nova Scotia, Canada
Plextor ConvertX for Mac

I recently found this one, I beleive the Mac version is quite new. I know nothing about how it works, but it does have the same software as the EyeTV.

Unfortunately, I can't find it for sale anywhere in Canada. Maybe early next year. :rolleyes:

Plextor ConvertX for Mac
 

ifjake

macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2004
562
1
i found this thread from doing a search, so i may be bringing up an old topic or something.

do any of these DVR firewire boxes actually have TV tuners, with the coaxial cable jack or whatever it's called, the big ol' screw looking one? i don't own a TV for the dorm, and i'd like to be able to record a show next january that i won't be able to see as well as just having the ability to watch TV. the elgato thing looks like a decent deal, i just really can't find any information on any of these firewire DVR boxes that straight up tells you whether you need a seperate tuner or not. it's kind of annoying.
 

Miner Willy

macrumors regular
Apr 30, 2004
107
0
Bradford, UK
me want one now...

Piarco 75, Which Hauppauge box have you got because they vary quite wildy in price (between 37 and 107 quid)

Also whats the quality of the mpeg 2 like. I'm slightly concerned that if I lay 100 quid out I be throwing my money down the drain.

If anyone has got any experience of using the Hauppauge USB boxes can you tell us.

Cheers
 

Piarco

macrumors 68030
Jun 24, 2004
2,529
0
Londinium
Miner Willy, its the digital terrestrial NOVA-T USB box. Costs around £60 upwards, and the only downside is the lack of remote. MPEG2 quality is pretty good, and for some reason seems to be even better when its being recorded (that may just be me though), and looks really good on my 12" PB. On a larger screen at close range its not exactly up to normal TV (due to the resolutions, but thats true of all comp based tuners.

MattRoberts.... avoid the MyTV2GO like the plague! It a cheap product all round, and really does require a full house mounted ariel to give semi-decent pictures. I bought one and listed it on ebay the same day it was that bad. It was struggling to get a clear picture on any channel whilst the NOVA-T was picking everything up in digital clarity.... if anything it should be the other way around!
 

Miner Willy

macrumors regular
Apr 30, 2004
107
0
Bradford, UK
Many Thanks

Thanks Piarco 75, I figured that it might be, £60 pounds seems like quite a bargain really when compared to the El Gato one. I know that you don't get their dedicated software but it seems that iTele will do the trick and I've got more video/mpeg editing software than you can shake a stick at.! It seems the forum at http://www.defyne.org/dvb/ has all the help most people will need.

cheers again
 

shake

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2002
132
0
Toronto, CANADA
i use Miglia's Alchemy TV like a previous poster said.

as far as interference in the TV signal for using a PCI slot... never heard of this. the quality is great. a PCI slot has WAY more bandwidth than USB ever will. So if you buy a TV tuner thats usb-based... well, its going 2 suck. and do you really need another breakout box on your desk?

i have used the card (with FM tuner option) for months and have never had a problem. i even play my xbox games through it using my mac monitor. no latency. try that with USB!
 

parrothead

macrumors 6502a
Sep 24, 2003
642
0
Edmonds, WA
I have been very happy with my EyeTV USB. If all you want it for is to watch some TV that you might miss and occasionally burn a VCD then it is great. If you want crystal clear DVD quality results then, yes, you will want to go with the EyeTV 200 or some other product. I would say the USB box gives you results similar to what you would get from taping a show using a VCR.
 

mikeabnooy

macrumors member
Jan 22, 2004
31
0
shake said:
i use Miglia's Alchemy TV like a previous poster said.

as far as interference in the TV signal for using a PCI slot... never heard of this. the quality is great. a PCI slot has WAY more bandwidth than USB ever will. So if you buy a TV tuner thats usb-based... well, its going 2 suck. and do you really need another breakout box on your desk?

i have used the card (with FM tuner option) for months and have never had a problem. i even play my xbox games through it using my mac monitor. no latency. try that with USB!

OMG are you serious??? i thought there wasn't a single tv tuner card that could handle it. What mac are you using? from what i heard there is always a latency problem when using a game consol
 

Piarco

macrumors 68030
Jun 24, 2004
2,529
0
Londinium
shake said:
So if you buy a TV tuner thats usb-based... well, its going 2 suck. and do you really need another breakout box on your desk?
Um, because I'm using it with a Powerbook? And I went with a usb box for my PC because its an SFF rig, and that single PCI slot is occupied by a high end audio card currently. Can't say that dispite the bandwidth I've had any problems at all either watching or viewing TV, which is all I'm going to use it for, so bit of a non-issue really!
 

HenMaster6000

macrumors regular
Dec 16, 2003
142
0
I have a piece of junk called the "LifeView USB". I got it at a yard sale. If you go on e-bay I'm sure you'll find plenty of cheap devices, probably much like my own. But watch out for crap, a lot of these devices only import 640x480 video, which is of severely lower quality compared to what you're likely used to.
 

mrgreen4242

macrumors 601
Feb 10, 2004
4,352
1
Just an FYI, but if you can hunt down a series1 TiVo somewhere and install a network card in it, you can rip the video off the TiVo to you Mac and it will end up being a vanilla MPEG2 file, so you can edit it and burn it to DVD, or whatever it is you want to do with it.

I can't remember the link righ tnow, but google for 'tivo video extraction os x' and you should see it on the top of the page... it looks moderately easy (command line tools, but well documented), but I haven't tried it yet (no Mac till after MWSF ;) ). If it works well (iMovie supports native MPEG2 work, right?) I will fiddle with writing a GUI frontend for the utilities later this year... I need an excuse to learn how to program in OS X.

Rob