Use iMac as a TV (looking for HDMI or Component)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by jdmlight, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. jdmlight macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2007
    Chicagoland Suburbs
    I would love to be able to use my iMac as an HDTV. I own an ElGato EyeTV Hybrid tuner and love it. The only problem is that it only has S-video and Composite (yellow plug) in. With such a gorgeous 24" screen (that can display 1080p), it would be awesome to put it to good use. I know that FW400 may not have enough bandwidth for 1080p HDMI, but maybe FW800 does? Also, Component (red, green, blue plugs) would be awesome too - maybe enough bandwidth for that?

    Anyone know of any products (or other solutions) that would work for me?
  2. iGrf macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2007
    Have been looking for a similar solution but so far I have not been able to find anything.

    maybe we should all mail ElGato and ask for a new product :)
  3. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    I want my HDTV!!!

    I'm also looking for the same solution to the same problem. I have a 24 inch iMac and want to output a digital cable TV set-top box into the iMac. The STB even has firewire outputs (IEEE-1394) and I can't get TV to show up on the iMac.

    I've researched extensively on the 'net, tried mPlayer, VLC, etc. and still can't watch HDTV on my iMac.

    Any help would much appreciated.
  4. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    you can connect a HD over the air antenna to the hybrid and receive free over the air HD.
  5. CKtoph macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2007
    This is currently the closest solution there is to watching HDTV content on our macs.

    There is no current method of feeding a digital signal (via HDMI or component) into the iMac. The closest you can get to feeding your cable box signal through is to use the video component cable out from your cable box.
  6. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    Do you mean to say the "composite video output"? I'd love to have component inputs into my brand new iMac with a digital cable box feeding them. So how does one do this without the component video input jacks? Is there a converter box of some kind? I only have firewire 400 and 800, USB 2.0, and ethernet input jacks into my 24 inch iMac 2.8Gh iMac. An otherwise fine computer (except for lack of video input capability).

    I'm still hoping for success on this!
  7. CKtoph macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2007
    Nah, I meant what I said. At the moment, it seems you can only feed a regular ol' yellow video cable into your iMac.
  8. jdmlight thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2007
    Chicagoland Suburbs
    Yellow video cable=composite
    Red, green, and blue video cables (supports HD)=component

    That's what Terry78 was asking.

    By the way, the best quality signal (aside from HDTV with an antenna) we can get is S-Video - the Elgato EyeTV Hybrid supports this. I use it with my PS2. Quality is much improved over composite (yellow cable).
  9. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    Is the PC world ahead of Apple in video input capability?

    Thanks for the input! I'm still having a difficult time with the fact that the PC world appears to be so much farther along in video input capabilities compared to the iMac. Or am I not understanding something?

    I'd think that there would be capability for HDCP-protected HDMI or DVI from a digital cable box into an iMac - but evidently Apple chose not to provide HDMI, DVI or component video inputs. I have a digital cable box with Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP, aka, 5C) output on Firewire. One would think that Apple could allow that input into DTCP-compatible Firewire inputs on the iMac - but again, evidently not. Couldn't Apple provide a Firewire firmware update to implement DTCP on those ports if lack of Firewire DTCP-compatibility is what's preventing digital cable input?
  10. McGiord, Dec 29, 2007
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    There is a way to record from a cablebox HDTV signal via firewire, but I think you are not able to watch it live (I hope I'm wrong about it).
    You need to download a firewire SDK that apple released to show the developers some of the good features of firewire, and also need other programs (it's free stuff).

    How I miss the old video/audio inputs that the macs used to have in the 90s...
    An HDMI input for the iMac! We want it noW!
    Mercedes-Benz OM352 engine history
  11. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
  12. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007

    I installed the Firewire SDK, and tried MPlayer and VLC without success. I could see the bitrate transmission from the cable box to the software DVHS but could not view live TV (my real desire) or even watch what I attempted to record. No joy.


    I already tried what he suggests. Again, no joy.

    Many thanks to both of you for your input. Hopefully, we'll get this resolved!
  13. chelsel macrumors 6502

    May 24, 2007
    I'm holding out hope that the new ACDs (if any) will have HDMI/HDCP inputs as many other high end non-Apple monitor has these. Unfortunately, I'm not holding out too much hope as it will probably be withheld until Blu-ray is inside the Macs.
  14. jdmlight thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2007
    Chicagoland Suburbs
    Unfortunately, that doesn't solve the problem that I was having (but it does bring up a really cool solution to a problem that I would have in the future when I get digital cable and a box). I was looking for HDMI/component (red, green, blue cables) to plug an Xbox 360 or PS3 in to my iMac. (I personally would never own a 360, but my friends do and they bring theirs over sometimes.) Since an iMac is obviously not a gaming computer, it would make sense to use it as a monitor instead and plug a gaming console in to it.

    God I wish I could've had about $800 more for a Mac Pro baseline with a 23" ACD. (using education discount)
  15. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    Digital cable + firewire = no video ouput on iMac

    I have a digital cable box (Scientific Atlanta Explorer 4250HDC) with active firewire (IEEE-1394) output and I can't view live TV using the procedure described in the project tigershark website. I've tried VLC, Mplayer, and VideoViewer as the viewers so far. I cannot figure out what I am doing wrong. I also have not been able to view TV recordings - although I have .ts files from recording with DVHS and have seen the bitrate indicator show activity.

    The project-tigershark website references a macosxhints article which says:

    " attention to these few pointers. First, create a new folder to store the recorded files into. Drag and drop this folder onto the D-VHS icon. You MUST do that drag and drop step, or your recordings will inexplicably fail. "

    Perhaps that is my problem. Whenever I try that step, the new folder does nothing when I drop it onto the D-VHS icon, it just covers the icon until I move it (i.e., the new folder) again. I can't move the newly recorded files into the folder either.
  16. dualist macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    View or record HD on your mac via FireWire

    You can use FireWire out from your FW enabled cable box in to your iMac, then use AVCBrowser (a developer tool which can be freely downloaded from Apple) to view the live HD (or regular video) stream. You can also use another Apple developer tool, AVCVideoCap, to record the live stream (even on a timer if desired) directly to disk.

    This link was already posted above. It has instructions on how to use AVCVideoCap, including a download link for the Apple developer site:

    Here is a link to using AVCBrowser:

    You need a Mac with plenty of horsepower to properly view HD. It works GREAT on my MBP, but is very choppy on my 1.8GHz SP G5. It should work just fine on a new (er) iMac.
  17. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    That second link you provided has the best information I've seen so far! I followed all of his instructions and everything worked as he described it, I even got the same screen output as his shots, until this step:

    "After that, simply click "Start Viewer" with VLC installed and your cable box's current channel will be opened and streamed to you."

    VLC never opens and therefore the channel does not play. Even when I manually open VLC, the channel does not play.

    I know that AVCBrowser sees the cable box because each time I make a change, such as changing a channel or opening the device, the AVC log reflects that the STB accepted it.

    Any help is much appreciated!

  18. dualist macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
    Remove from a folder if it is in one, so that it is loose in the Applications folder.

    Good luck!
  19. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
  20. UltraNEO* macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    You can have video feed via firewire, this is how home video from dv cams transfer recordings to a mac, any mac. however if you want an output... maybe you'll run into i'm not sure, have a look at those. :)
  21. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    I was responding to someone in your quote of my earlier post. I realize my iMac has firewire input and I'm currently using it now to try to obtain output from a digital cable set top box (STB). However, in spite of a thread (referenced above) that describes how to do it, I can't get that procedure to work for me.

    It involves using VLC, a free application, to show live TV on a Mac using the output from a digital STB. Everything works exactly as described in the thread ( up until TV video should be on my Mac's display.

    At that point, I either get nothing, or I intermittently get an error message ("main: cannot pre fill buffer") if I hit the play button or click on "Play" in the VLC main menu bar choices or try to use the VLC Streaming Wizard to obtain play capability.

    But thanks for the link to the video conversion devices. That could come in handy one day!
  22. dualist macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2008
  23. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    Tried resetting VLC's preferences. Got same result as before: VLC only shows udp://@:41394. When I right click that and then click on "Play" in the right click list, I get a VLC error message that says "main: cannot pre fill buffer".

    I found a post in the AVS Forum where someone had the exact same problem I do (i.e., getting only udp://@:41394 on VLC). I did not see a solution for his problem and now I'm having trouble finding that post again.
  24. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I don't know how much more time and effort you're wanting to spend, but I wonder if rolling back to a prior version of VLC would help? Maybe it's something that broke in a recent update?
  25. Terry78 macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    Thanks! I think that's a good suggestion. I'll first try deleting all the Firewire SDK 25 Developer apps/folders and reinstalling them. Then, I'll try rolling back to a previous version if I can find it (maybe on

    I found the AVS Forum post I referenced in my previous post above. If anyone's interested, search for "udp://@:41394" in Google (no quotes of course). I should have done that first.

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