Mac Mini HTPC with EyeTV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by apatel87, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. apatel87 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #1
    Hi, I am sure that this question has been answered before but I was wondering as to the best setup for a Mac Mini HTPC. I have a list of questions so please bear with me. Also, any screenshots would be much appreciated:
    1. If I have basic channels coming for free through the coaxial input in my apartment what additional functionality would EyeTV bring? WOuld it capture HDTV signals off the air? What additional channels would I get?
    2. What programs aside from Plex would you recommend for the HTPC. Hulu desktop? Do people use other skins other than Mediastream or Aeon for Plex? Any screenshots or download links?
    3. Would Snatch on the iPhone be enough to control the Mac mini? Are there other recommended applications. I heard that a lot of people get the diNovo Edge keyboard. I would prefer using something that I already have.


    Thanks! Also, any suggestions/recommendations for this startup would be great. Thanks.
     
  2. Dee908 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    #2
    Though I don't have a Mac Mini I've been interested in setting up one as a HTPC and have been doing some research, hopefully I can answer a few of your questions

    1. I don't think EyeTV brings extra channels, it's something I do not own so don't take my word for it. What I do know is that the EyeTV can connect to an OTA antenna and that way you'd be able to get a few HDTV signals, the limitations however is that there is only one input. Something such as the HDHomeRun offers dual inputs and that way you can connect both an OTA antenna as well as a coaxial cable for basic cable. A good thing about the HDHomeRun is that it's compatible with the EyeTV softwar, I believe Elgato once sold a package of the two together but this is no longer the case so it can be kind of expensive seeing as the EyeTV standalone software costs $79.95 and the chepeast I've seen the HDHomeRun is $145 on Amazon whereas the EyeTV Hybrid bundled with the software costs as low as $115 on Amazon so it's a question of how much you're willing to spend.

    2. Plex, Boxee, Hulu Desktop, VLC, iTunes 9, Quicktime X, as well as all the little things such as Perian, Flip4Mac, Microsoft Silverlight (for Netflix), Adobe Flash Player

    3.iphone apps capable of working include Keymote, Hippo Remote, Remote Jr., ofcourse Boxee's Official Remote, can't hurt using the Apple Remote for iTunes

    sorry the only skin for Plex I've really been interested has been Aeon I haven't checked to see if there are any others but you can check their blogs to see what people have come up with.

    also for more informtion there are a million people on youtube showing off their setups and someones compiled a pretty nice playlist here

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=6F137064CA9D21C6&search_query=t4+mac+mini+htpc

    also I read a guide back in August when I first started considering a Mac Mini HTPC which I found very helpful

    http://www.tuaw.com/2009/08/21/tuaw-guide-setting-up-the-ultimate-mac-mini-home-theater/

    the best of luck with you're setup, let me know how it works out for you
     
  3. j2048b macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Location:
    Cali
    #3
    T

    How about an eyetv hybrid and a mini

    is an eytv hybrid good too with the mini for the home theater?
     
  4. benlee macrumors 65816

    benlee

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #4
    I have a Mac Mini as my HTPC. I do not have EyeTV but perhaps the way I use my setup will help you with your other questions.


    Because my desk is in the same room as the TV, I regularly just go to my main computer and use screen share. It connects in seconds and do what I have to do and sit down. I was using Plex, but now I just use Quicktime X. While not as pretty, I can just use finder to find the movie I want--I think it is faster.

    I also use snatch to control the Mini from my couch. Which is usually sufficient. I also keep a cheap usb mouse connected to the mini, for quick mouse use, but mainly to easily awake the Mini (although use of the new Wake on LAN in Snow Leopard makes this less of a necessity). I also use Symplicity Media which I use to host my iTunes library to my computer at work.


    Please share your file setup--I know how much thought and planning can go into setting up a Mac Mini HTPC.
     
  5. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #5
    1. No additional channels.
    2. Plex, Handbrake, MacTheRipper, MakeMKV (or AnyDVD HD under Windoze) and you're pretty much set. A good 5.1 DD/DTS system and a 1080p projector. :)
    3. Snatch is da bomb! That's what I use.
     
  6. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #6
    OK, this is a good question, but it can be confusing if we're not all using the same terms.

    off-the-air - do you mean a TV signal via an antenna? This is typically called over-the-air or OTA.

    basic channels - do you have a cable set-top box (STB)? Or is the cable plugged directly to your TV? Typically, when people say basic cable, they mean analog channels. There's "limited basic" which is usually the local networks and some home shopping channels. Then there's "extended basic" which would add channels like ESPN, TNT, Spike, etc.

    I'm assuming that you have cable TV service provided by the apartment landlords and you're plugged in directly to your TV. Do you have an older TV or a new one? If you have an older TV (tube), then going with the EyeTV may get you some additional channels. It depends on whether they've started phasing out analog channels or not. The EyeTV has a digital tuner that can tune into unencrypted digital channels, some of which may not be available in analog.

    Check out this LINK on Silicon Dust. Plug in your zip code and it'll tell you which digital channels are available from your provider.

    Keep in mind that unencrypted digital channels (aka clearQAM) isn't typically supported by the cable company. It's up to you to get help if you need it.
     
  7. apatel87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #7
    Thanks a lot for the advice. I havent subscribed to cable as I am a student and dont spend enough time at home to actually watch TV. I usually try to catch up on shows through Hulu. I dont have a STB, rather it is just an analog input from the coax input in my apartment. I get the basics: Fox, ABC, CBS, FX, weather channel, and a few listings for the Chicago area.
    Would Eyetv do me any good? I dont see what more I would get aside from a digital input (maybe higher resolution?) and a nice slick interface with DVR capability.
    I am not too familiar with HDHomerun. I will google it but if anyone has tips about it that would be greatly appreciated.
     
  8. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #8
    Depending on how your apartment is set-up, you may be able to get lots of clearQAM channels. Most systems I know of pass the HD locals in clearQAM, so you'll benefit there in that you'll get HD resolutions and 5.1 audio.

    EyeTV will buy you DVR capabilities and a little integration with iTunes.

    HDHomeRun is a dual digital tuner that will work with EyeTV, but you have to buy the software separately, plus it doesn't do analog. Both EyeTV units do analog.

    I listed the Silicon Dust website for the channel mapping tool. I wasn't actually recommeding the HDHR to you. Although it does seem to be a great device.
     
  9. apatel87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #9
    Thanks a lot for the help. Looking at the silicon dust website, I really wasnt able to figure out the channels I would get because the names of the channesl there were different. However, i am assuming that I would not get more than the ones that I get now. I only difference is that they would be digital as opposed to analog. Also, I have the EyeTV software but I dont have the tuner. Is the hybrid the best tuner or are there more affordable tuners that have similar functionality? (capture OTA channels and allow for coaxial input) Would the analog coaxial input into the hybrid work nicely with the TV guide software?
     
  10. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #10
    I don't actually have any EyeTV products, but I have researched them ad nauseum. Make sure you verify anything I say before buying. El Gato has a great forum that covers many questions and concerns. Also, AVSForum has lots of good info.

    Not sure how you got the EyeTV software without any hardware, but I do know that the software is compatible with many 3rd party tuners, not just the ones from ElGato. Here's a list of compatible tuner.

    As far as the difference between the Hybrid and the 250+ ... the 250+ has encoding hardware built in. This would only be helpful if you're recording analog signals. This could be from your cable connection or from an analog source like a VCR or camcorder. If you want to save the money, the Hybrid will leverage your Mac's CPU for encoding analog.

    As for the channels, it's really dependent on your cable system. On my system, they've been slowly dumping the analogs. For instance, CartoonNetwork, AMC and several others have been dropped from the analog line-up. I will need a STB or QAM tuner to view these channels (this is where the Silicon Dust channel mapper comes in handy). This is how I say that you may end up with more channels using a clearQAM tuner. Keep in mind, many cable systems will like encrypt all of the clearQAM channels (except the ones that they are forbidden to ... like ABC, Fox, etc) after they drop all of the analogs. In this case, the EyeTV (and devices like it) become less useful. But then again, if this happens on your system, you would lose your analogs, so it's the difference between a few HD channels and none at all.

    Last thing, the coax coming into your apartment isn't necessarily analog or digital. The cable company sends both analog and digital through the same cable. It's up to your devices to tune to analog or digital or both.
     
  11. apatel87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #11
    thanks a lot for the advice. Im basically deciding whether its worth 120 dollars for the few additional HD channels and the nice UI. All of this is really confusing so thanks for breaking it down for me.
     
  12. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #12
    No sweat. But instead of spending the $120 for the Hybrid, you might want to look at some of the cheaper hybrid tuners. They can typically be had for $50 to $60 ... since you have the software anyways.

    The older version of the EyeTV hybrid was made by Hauppauge anyway. I think it was equivalent to the Hauppauge 950.

    Just make sure it's on EyeTV's compatibility list. If you have a Microcenter nearby, it could be worth it to check their clearance bin. Maybe even an office supply store like Staples or OfficeMax. Lots of goodies to be found in the bin.
     
  13. cisco697 macrumors newbie

    cisco697

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Location:
    Oceanside, CA
    #13
    I have basic cable that goes straight to my Silicon HDhomerun that then goes to my eyetv 3 software and it is awesome. My wife loves it and it works great. Two tuners and I am set to recored two channels at once.
     
  14. digitalmac macrumors member

    digitalmac

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    #14
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7C144 Safari/528.16)

    I have been using Elgato EyeTV 250 plus for about a year. It has been doing a good job for me. I mainly use this for recording my favorite TV shows. The come-up EyeTV v3 software allows exporting your TV shows to iPhone and Apple TV formats. On top of that, if you install the EyeTV software on multiple Mac, you can view the recordings through the network streaming. More to that is you can purchase an EyeTV iPhone app from the AppStore for $4.99 which you can control and watch live tv shows from your iPhone.

    However, one drawback of this device is the lack of HD input. It only offers RCA input.
     
  15. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #15
    In case you didn't know, there is only one device out there that captures HD ... OK, there are several, but only the Hauppauge HD-PVR is reasonably affordable and bypasses all copy protection.

    It has component inputs and h264 hardware encoders. It's compatible with EyeTV 3 as well.
     
  16. digitalmac macrumors member

    digitalmac

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    #16
    That's good to know as I am also looking for a HD recorder to supplement my media centre setup.
     
  17. apatel87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #17
    Slingbox?

    I have been looking at different ways to watch TV on my mac mini HTPC and I was toying with the idea of using EyeTV for some OTA video and the basic channels that come for free through the coax. Has anyone used the slingbox with their mac mini HTPC. My parents have high definition and a fast internet connection at home and was thinking of putting a slingbox there and fetching that TV. Has anyone done this before? What internet connection does the receiving end have to have? What slingbox model would be best?
     
  18. apatel87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #18
    Today's woot.com deal is the ATI USB Wonder Tv tuner. Would this work for me? What is the additional benefit of having a QAM tuner. I was looking at getting the Hauppage 950Q but at $25 this seems like a steal.
     
  19. cheapa55 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    #19
    I've been thinking about that as well. I would like to hear other's input on this too. Thanks!

    btw, best slingbox to use would be the pro-hd.
     
  20. mdgolom macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    #20
    I currently have three computers all running EyeTV units (2 - 250+, 1 - EyeTV 200). The nice thing is EyeTV will allow me to share the video from one Mac to another from within the application. I personally prefer the 250+ over the Hybrid since it has the built-in encoder. I have an older version of the Hybrid and wasn't impressed with the quality of the recording.

    Thank being said:

    1. The EyeTV will not offer you any additional channels. You can pick up HD channels as long as they're offered in ClearQAM which means they're not encrypted. I have Comcast in Baltimore and I can get most of the local stations on the 250+.

    2. I have Hulu desktop and VLC. Other than these, I have a PC running iTunes that holds all of my movies. I can watch them on any other Mac that's also running iTunes.

    3. I picked up Rowmote as a replacement remote which is $4.99 and handles a lot of the various programs out there. I'm not sure if it has a keyboard option or not.

    Hope this helps.
     
  21. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #21
    The benefit that a QAM tuner provides is the ability to receive all of the digital channels that your cable provider passes through as clearQAM (unencrypted). Typically, the channels that they pass through are the local HD channels. On some systems (like mine), they are currently passing all of the extended basic channels (in SD) as clearQAM ... but who knows how much longer they'll continue to do so.
     
  22. apatel87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #22
    do you know if this tuner (www.woot.com) would be compatible with EYEtv? The older model of this is lasted as compatible on the Eyetv website. Thanks!
     
  23. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #23
    I can't say for certain that it would or wouldn't work, but all it looks like is a hybrid tuner. I can't believe that one company's hybrid tuner is all that different from someone elses.

    Besides, if it doesn't work, you could always sell it, perhaps for more than you paid. Or if you have to eat the cost, it's only $20.

    EDIT - I just checked the specs. Looks like this does not have a QAM tuner (which I guess you already know). Depending on how far you are away from the transmission towers, you may or may not be able to pick up any digital channels using the antenna. However, you'll be able to watch and record any of the analog channels you get over cable ... assuming that this works with EyeTV.
     
  24. apatel87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    #24
    Sorry I am not sure if having a qam tuner would benefit me because the only channels I get are through the coax cable. I just get the local ones. If I had a qam tuner would I get them in HD?
     
  25. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #25
    In theory, yes. Cable companies are not allowed to encrypt locally broadcasted channels. Does this always happen ... well no. If your system was typical, if you had a QAM tuner, you would be able to tune into the local HD channels (usually ABC, Fox, CBS, etc). In most areas of the country, that's 7 to 8 channels.

    Granted, if you live close enough to the towers and had an adequate OTA signal, the ATSC tuner in that device would be able to get the same channels, so it could be moot.

    Here's the other point to consider. Many cable systems are slowly dropping their analog channels so that you would need either a cable box or a QAM tuner to get any of the extended basic channels (ESPN, TNT, etc). If you system is doing that, then the QAM tuner would be beneficial.

    It all hinges on your cable system.

    You might want to check in at AVSforum.com and take a look at your local thread to see what others are doing. I'll get you halfway there ...

    CLICK THIS and do a search for your city and provider. If there's a good thread, you might find out which channels you can be getting with an QAM tuner right now.

    BTW, regarding the ATi device, it doesn't look like it'll work. Some of the stuff I was reading on woot and the ElGato forums looks like it uses something called USB burst or something that Mac OS doesn't support. But then again, it's only $20 to find out for sure. And it looks like they sell for $75 at Amazon, so you could probably get your money back if you have to ebay or craiglist it.

    EDIT - you should also check with your neighbors to see what they're doing. If you're in college, I can't believe that no one there has taken advantage of clearQAM. Also, does anyone in your apartment have a cable box? If so, what channels do they get.

    I also noticed (glossed over it last time) that you're near Chicago. If you have Comcast, I think they were one of the first to drop most of the analog channels. What's your zip and provider? I could take a look at the Silicon Dust listings and help you decipher it.
     

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