Need advice on EyeTV or similar product

zelmo

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
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Mac since 7.5
Couldn't find any posts on this topic (kind of surprised at that):

One of my co-workers finally ordered that new Mac she's been talking about for the past three years. She received her ship notification email yesterday. 20" iMac G5 1.8/1GB/250/AE/BT keyboard and mouse.
She also has been living with a 13" TV, and wanted to know if any of the EyeTV or similar products were worthwhile, since she'd like upgrade her TV and avoid having a bunch of electronics in her house. Certainly, the 20" iMac is a big step up from a 13" TV.
Does anyone have any tips for her? I think she is looking at the EyeTV 200 (cable). Any idea how many hours of TV you could store in about 200GB?
 

Steven1621

macrumors 6502a
Apr 10, 2003
796
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Connecticut
a buddy of mine has an eye tv in his dorm and it is quite nifty. granted it is more of a novelity for him, but i'm not sure how it would be to watch TV infront of the computer. Granted, i spend a ton of time in from of this thing anyway.
 

zelmo

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
1
Mac since 7.5
Steven1621 said:
a buddy of mine has an eye tv in his dorm and it is quite nifty. granted it is more of a novelity for him, but i'm not sure how it would be to watch TV infront of the computer. Granted, i spend a ton of time in from of this thing anyway.
I don't think TV is a huge priority with my friend either, which is why she'd rather not have a 27" TV sitting in her living room. You can get a flat screen 27" stereo TV for less than EyeTV 200 these days, so her decision is not about price, either. She works 2nd shift hours, so being able to record to the hard drive is handy. I think she's made the decision to do something like this. She just doesn't know enough about the available products to make an informed decision.
 

dogsbody

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2004
120
0
Channel Islands
Check out Formac Studio TVR

I've been looking at the Formac Studio TVR. It's got a firewire interface and records in DV. Also has s-video and composite video and audio I/O and requires no external power supply if running off a desktop.

Looks really good, and compares well to the EyeTV. The price seems better too. I'll be buying one myself soon.... :)

Sorry here's a link too Formac Information
 

zelmo

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 3, 2004
5,490
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Mac since 7.5
dogsbody said:
I've been looking at the Formac Studio TVR. It's got a firewire interface and records in DV. Also has s-video and composite video and audio I/O and requires no external power supply if running off a desktop.

Looks really good, and compares well to the EyeTV. The price seems better too. I'll be buying one myself soon.... :)

Sorry here's a link too Formac Information
Thanks! I'll tell her to check that out before she buys anything.
 

wdlove

macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
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dogsbody said:
I've been looking at the Formac Studio TVR. It's got a firewire interface and records in DV. Also has s-video and composite video and audio I/O and requires no external power supply if running off a desktop.

Looks really good, and compares well to the EyeTV. The price seems better too. I'll be buying one myself soon.... :)

Sorry here's a link too Formac Information
I contacted them to get a comparison. My concern is so that it will work with a Cable hookup. The latest EyeTV that also uses Firewire only works with an antenna.
 

Diatribe

macrumors 601
Jan 8, 2004
4,226
21
Back in the motherland
powermac666 said:
You can get a flat screen 27" stereo TV for less than EyeTV 200 these days.
Where? I want one for that price. :eek:

On a second thought, you were just talking about the screen being flat, not the entire TV right? Because if you were I'd want one. :D
 

m2uk

macrumors regular
Jan 13, 2004
171
0
Finland
Just remember (IME) that Formac have rather dire customer support, the included software is cack (see Vidl instead on versiontracker) and they require factory fitted ROM upgrades.

But I still use my unpatched version each day with Vidl and that s/w really makes it.

Will need to look for aEuropean digital cable version eventually.
 

dogsbody

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2004
120
0
Channel Islands
Should have checked MacRumors first...

Just processed my order for the Formac TVR Studio and the Lacie Big Disk Extreme 320Gb. Still prefer it to the others though.

I'll have to find the software you suggested. Thanks for the tip, m2uk.

Incidentally, I don't think I can get cable over here in Guernsey, so I guess I'll just have to use my Sky box through S-Video or composite...
 

wdlove

macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
16,570
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dogsbody said:
Just processed my order for the Formac TVR Studio and the Lacie Big Disk Extreme 320Gb. Still prefer it to the others though.

I'll have to find the software you suggested. Thanks for the tip, m2uk.

Incidentally, I don't think I can get cable over here in Guernsey, so I guess I'll just have to use my Sky box through S-Video or composite...
I will look forward to hearing your personal review of the Formac TVR Studio. My concern is that the comparison information was done Formac. Guess I'm just skeptical. My understanding is that EyeTV has a built in tuner that comes with the software.

Also customer support is important.
 

dogsbody

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2004
120
0
Channel Islands
Customer support is rather important - got pretty hacked off with Apple's Indian Call centre helpline some time ago - spent ages on the phone determining that the 'white spots on my Powerbook screen' were actually a hardware fault. Didn't appreciate being on the phone for 3/4 hour.

I'll post a review when I've had a play with it - doubtless the day it arrives. I just open things and start using them as soon as I can w/out reading instructions. Not always the best tactic... :eek:
 

erroneous

macrumors newbie
Jul 25, 2004
25
2
wdlove said:
I will look forward to hearing your personal review of the Formac TVR Studio. My concern is that the comparison information was done Formac. Guess I'm just skeptical.
The Formac comparison must have either been done against a very old version of the Elgato software, or they're, erm, bending the truth a little.

According to Elgato's product comparison matrix (which only compares the differing features of their own products) the 200 can do pretty much everything Formac's matrix says it can't. I know the nifty export formats were introduced in a recent software release only a few weeks ago, but they've had a remote/external EPG and reasonably functional internal editing software for ages.

I have an EyeTV 400, since I'm in the UK and we've got a decent Digital Terrestrial offering, and am happily recording tonnes of history programmes, reruns of Moonlighting that just started on one of the new channels, stuff I'd never get to watch otherwise. It won't yet record the audio-only radio channels we have, or pick up the broadcast MHEG programme guide/guis, but it's 90% of the way there, and the Elgato support people make positive noises about the features their software is going to get in the future.
 

ravenvii

macrumors 604
Mar 17, 2004
7,583
489
Melenkurion Skyweir
I saw that ElGato released the EyeTV software 1.6, and I was delighted to discover that it finally added closed captioning support!

... but it's for the G4 or above?! No G3?! WAAAAHHHH!

:( :( :( :mad: :mad: :mad:
 

dogsbody

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2004
120
0
Channel Islands
Arrived Today

Well, the Formac Studio TVR etc arrived today. It's pretty bulky and not very tidily manufactured at the back-end (bit like a Rhino) but it would certainly not look out of place next to a white iMac (old or new) thanks to it's very shiny surface.

Other than visual stimulation, I haven't done anything with it as it's for my pa and I'd feel bad about opening it without him being there or at least giving the all-clear to 'test' it.

I'll file a progress report when I've tried it out this evening....

Db
 

wdlove

macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
16,570
0
dogsbody said:
Well, the Formac Studio TVR etc arrived today. It's pretty bulky and not very tidily manufactured at the back-end (bit like a Rhino) but it would certainly not look out of place next to a white iMac (old or new) thanks to it's very shiny surface.

Other than visual stimulation, I haven't done anything with it as it's for my pa and I'd feel bad about opening it without him being there or at least giving the all-clear to 'test' it.

I'll file a progress report when I've tried it out this evening....

Db
You had my hopes up at the beginning. I will be patiently waiting for your review.
 

dogsbody

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2004
120
0
Channel Islands
Still not managed to review it! Sorry - got to sort out a friend's broadband, wireless hp multiprinter, sky plus and new iMac G5 tomorrow as well! Darn there's just not enough hours in the day

Fear not, however, as I shall attempt to review tomorrow evening and shall post forthwith.

Apologies, especially to wdlove for being so patient :eek:
 

Nawlins

macrumors member
Jun 9, 2003
80
0
Chicago
Does your Mac have to be hooked up to a cable TV connection for EyeTV to work? I've thought about getting an EyeTV, but I don't have a cable TV cord in my bedroom, where I use my Powerbook the most.

Alex
 

dogsbody

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2004
120
0
Channel Islands
Review of Formac TVR Studio

Hello,

Well, finally opened it all up and plugged in etc tonight. My first impressions about the thing is its size (it's about half the size of my PB15") and how many damned connections there are! There's loads - FW i/o, Composite Video i/o, S-Video i/o, L-R Audio i/o. Power i/o (output for the camera), coaxial cable/terrestrial in and a power switch. Although that doesn't really count...

Sorry, I digress.

Right, plugged it in, Ran the installers off the CD, found out that one of them wasn't necessary as it's for driving the Formac external DVD burner (sadly not included as a freebie - misers), and started up the Studio TVR application....

I was asked where I resided (it had UK listed under Pal-I and I always thought we were PAL-B, so I learnt something or was misinformed), and guided through setting up all the channels...which didn't achieve much as it wasn't connected to anything at the time. Never mind.

Oh at this point I should mention that I couldn't help plugging everything in at once, so the two LaCie D2s and the Formac were all plugged into my PB.

Here's a photo of this joyous configuration...

The problem was as I expected in a different post on this forum - the TVR wouldn't boot up at all if the D2s were plugged in, albeit they were plugged into FW800 and the TVR was plugged into FW400. (I thought 400 and 800 would run off different busses, so if anyone can enlighten me I'd be very appreciative.) Once the D2s were unplugged, the device booted up fine and all gathered round proceeded to be merry. :D

Sorry for the rambling - I get a bit carried away & only realise when people remark on how 'thorough' I am...

Anyway, connected the coaxial output of our Sky box to the TVR (our Sky only has SCART out and I don't have my leads on me at the moment, so Coax had to do for test purposes). There didn't appear to be a simple way to tune in just one channel on the TVR, so I just ran an autotune on the whole lot and it proceeded to tune in about 100 channels for me, only 5 of which had a signal (4 terrestrial and one from Sky). At this point I should mention that the interface does look very aesthetically appley with it's platinum-style windows, although the icons in the preferences panel are very grainy and, well, grey, but they do offer quite a few tweakages.

Here's a pic of the screen layout

There were several problems with window resizing as well, where I'd choose 'half size' and the window would do a genie-esque rendition of disappearing into the middle of the desktop and desist from appearing in any shape or form. At which point I had to quit the application by using the old apple-tab/q. Strange.

The quality of the picture was a little grainy, but this is to be expected when using a coaxial output rather than S-vid or Composite. There was also a DV-size mode and a TV-modus mode which gave a full-screen picture, with a quite neat controller down the left side.

TV pausing and recording worked fine, with an option for DV or Quicktime format recordings, although quite how you'd use the TVR with a laptop and record to external hard-drive is beyond me. I'm planning on buying an external power supply for the TVR to see if this rectifies the problem...

Erm...other things about the TVR...a nice feature is that when a film/tv is playing, you can 'drag', apple-style, a screen still to wherever you like. Nice way of screen-capturing DVDs (albeit played through S-Video or Composite, which rather defeats the object of owning a PB with a DVD player).

One fuss is that if the PB had been on my lap while I'd been doing this, I think my legs would have been carbonised as a temperature not entirely dissimilar to that of the sun's surface appeared to radiate forth from my PB's aluminum bodywork - this is possibly due to the Power demands of the little TVR unit. We'll see.

Oh - as you may have seen in the earlier pic, the windows pop out the side of the main window a-la Mail Mailboxes tray etc. Nice feature as they all cling on that way. Also, one of the trays contains all your recorded films which you can choose to export in whatever format you choose:

here's a shot of just that

Think I should stop writing now. I keep trying to put in bits in a vain bid to feel like I've reviewed the thing properly, but I can sense that this is mainly a stream of consciousness. So I'm going to go now, and people can ask questions if they want more information. Sorry!

Oh - would I recommend it? Well, my dad's happy with it cos of all the different connections on the thing. And I'm happy cos I can watch/record tv whilst chargrilling my thighs...but I can't help but think the Elgato, rather ironically, looks more Elegant and looking at the prices again, may even be at a better price point. Yes, at the sacrifice of less connections, but the TVR software was last updated in May 2003, which was a bit disturbing.

Ask away if you wish - I'll answer anything/post more shots if required. I'll even run tests on it if you like.

Db

PS If you've read this whole thing, you're a better man (or woman, although that's a moot point) than I, as I couldn't even be bothered to read back over all of it to spell/sense check...
 

erickkoch

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2003
676
0
Kalifornia
I use Eye TV. I must have an older one, it uses USB and there is no S-Video connection, just standard Red, White audio, and Yellow video connectors plus an antenna connector. I used it with an antenna but the picture was usually snowey. I now have cable and it works fine.

One thing you may want to know is that there appears to be a delay of about 2 sec while it processes video and sound. In other words, if you use the remote to change channels or scroll through the cable menus, you would operate the remote, wait a couple of seconds, then the channel or menus would change. This makes it impossible to use if you want to play your XBox, the delay would make things very challenging.

Maybe the newer fire-wire versions don't have the delay?
 

aswitcher

macrumors 603
Oct 8, 2003
5,351
14
Canberra OZ
I priced these for Oz and then compared them with stand alone digital tuner units with HDD. Price is about the same. If only these units had a Mac supporting USB or Firewire I would much prefer to have a stand alone HDD that I could just suck programs off I really wanted to keep. Sigh. Maybe next year.