I reviewed the Miglia TV Mini HD unit this summer and liked it. So when it came time to lay out my own money for a TV tuner, I decided to take advantage of the $99 EyeTV Hybrid Macworld special. I’d been waiting to buy one for a few months because I was uncertain whether Apples iTV/AppleTV would contain an onboard tuner. It did not.
I chose the Hybrid because (a) it was affordable (unlike a Series 3 TiVo); (b) it did both Analog Cable and ATSC tuning (the Mini doesn’t do analog cable); and (c) it was shipping now rather than at the end of February (like the new plus version of the TVMini, which will do analog cable). Yes, it’s a bit of a pain to have to switch cables to access both cable channels and my HDTV antenna. And yes, I would have liked onboard ClearQAM tuning, a la the TV Mini HD, but when I tested the QAM capabilities this summer they were…iffy. So while they might have been a nice plus, they weren’t an essential part of my decision. Since I live in a big city with excellent free-to-air local HDTV signals, I chose to forgo the QAM.
I learned the hard way that my Intel Mini hates the latest software update of EyeTV. (Version 2.3.1 works fine.) And I can’t seem to export to the iPod at all. (I can on my 733 G4, but it’s so slow that it’s not worth it.) Every time I try on the Intel Mac, EyeTV rolls its eyes backwards and gives up the ghost. (Which is better than version 2.3.2 which will not run at all without crashing.)
The MPEG-2 files, which play back fine in VLC do not open properly in QuickTime Pro (even with the MPEG-2 plug-in). I suspect something in the raw nature of the data. And when I try to transcode in VLC to MPEG-4, the aspect ratio of the recorded video keeps getting mucked up. On the other hand, the video plays back fine in the EyeTV software and the goal is (in theory) to act as a TiFaux PVR to play back on TV. But if I can’t get the videos transcoded into some form that iTunes will accept, I’m going to be out of luck in the AppleTV department. Any hints or tips from the reading public will be greatly appreciated.
Scheduling recordings work great–even if I’m sucking up two gigabytes per hour of standard TV. (I’m doing my first scheduled HDTV recording of Idol later tonight, which will give me an idea of the actual space and quality of HDTV recording beyond the 5-minute test-runs earlier today.) The EyeTV software is easy to use and integrates well with TitanTV. And the playback of recorded shows is also friendly. However, I have yet to find a way to extend the EyeTV library to add folders from an external disk and my main Mini disk is rapidly running out of space due to the quickly increasing number of SpongeBob episodes demanded by my 4-year-old.
More as this all develops.
Update: I’ve just downloaded and started using the most recent version of MPEG Streamclip which is fabulous for editing and exporting the EyeTV video. The edit features are much easier to use than the built-in EyeTV editor, it’s way way faster, and it works brilliantly on my Intel Mini. Forget about VLC. This is way better. Thanks Randy Stewart!