using imac as a tv replacement to watch cable?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ScottyZ, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. ScottyZ macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2011

    I have an imac 27 late 2009 (which has one firewire 800 port) and I was wondering that if possible, what options are there to use my imac as a tv replacement?

    I live in the the san francisco bay area with comcast xfinity as my cable internet & tv provider.

    I'm not signed up yet but I only intend on watching the basic or 2nd lowest cable package, no premium channels like hbo, etc.

    I did quite a bit of searching and turned up with the

    1) elgato eyetv products - but the threads were old and comcast customers seemed to have major issues after the signals turned digital. plus, I'm not too clear on what exactly are the "free" channels in my area. I'd hate to only be able to watch some of the channels I paid for.

    2) the firewire sdk toolkit- this seemed to be hit/miss. Now I haven't signed up for cable yet so I haven't paid for a cable box. I saw the youtube video with the motorola cable box w/ firewire connection to an imac 27" but again, some of the things i've read, this doesn't seem to be a sure thing??

    3) slingbox- probably the most polished solution? but seems overkill and expensive as I dont mind having wires to my imac and I don't really care for watching tv away from home. plus, does it still require a tv?

    I really am at quite a loss here on if I can, then how do I go about using my imac to watch some basic comcast cable tv as a tvreplacement. Are there any simple straight forward solutions for my needs? (I don't plan on to record any shows either.)

    If anyone can help out with some advice I'd be much obliged!!

    P.s. I already use hulu/netflix and sometimes torrents but live tv still has its irreplaceables.
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    EyeTV is the most popular from what I've seen. They have various products for different setups. You could give one a try and return it if it's problematic, just make sure it has a return policy.
  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'm not a Comcast subscriber, but I'll bet their stuff is encrypted, meaning you can't get at it. Slingbox is perhaps your only hope; it essentially sits downstream from your cable or satellite box and takes video from there.

    The basic premise is that the proprietary providers (cable, satellite, uverse) require their own equipment. It's not easy to do what you suggest.

    Since you live in the Bay Area, you might try a combo of the EyeTV software, one of their USB dongles, and a good antenna. The digital offerings off of the Sutro tower are awesome, so you'd get most all the broadcast channels free. And the quality is better, IMHO, than compressed video from some other providers. And there are many more channels (KQED, for example, runs 4 IIRC).

  4. BrutusMaximus macrumors member


    Jan 26, 2011
    You could also use the Kanex XD. I got one for my 27" iMac, and i play my 360 on it. It's a great little device, plays in 720. It does hdmi into mini display port, so just slap your hdmi cable from your box, hit command f2, on your imac. and it's like 100 bucks on amazon, or at frys
  5. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007

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