New EyeTV box converts video, works with game systems

Elgato Systems on Thursday announced the EyeTV 250, a compact Personal Video Recorder for analog TV. The Mac-compatible product combines hardware-based MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video encoding with the ability to connect a video game console to your Mac. Coming at the end of April, the EyeTV 250 will cost $199.

The EyeTV 250 looks similar to the already-released EyeTV EZ, which lacks any sort of on-board hardware-based video encoding — making it suitable for watching TV or playing games, but not an ideal Personal Video Recorder (PVR) unless you have a fast enough Mac. The EyeTV 250 is small — about the size of the original iPod, according to Elgato — and ships with a wireless infrared remote control for controlling playback and recording features.

The EyeTV 250, unlike the EZ, does include on-board hardware encoding that can convert analog television signals into MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 video. It also ships with EyeTV 2 software, so you can watch, record, pause and replay television, export recorded video to iPods with one click, burn DVDs using Roxio’s Toast 7 Titanium software, and export to other formats and platforms, such as H.264 or Sony’s PlayStation Portable.

Some gamers have an interest in using their Mac’s display to also play games on. Hardware-based video encoding introduces lag into the video stream that makes many computer-based DVR systems unsuitable for use with video game consoles, but the EyeTV 250 is switchable — activating a “Game Mode” option turns that hardware-based encoding off, so you can play games connecting your console to the Mac instead of using a television.

The build of the EyeTV software included with the 250 is a Universal Binary that runs natively on Intel-based Macs and PowerPC-based Macs alike.

The EyeTV 250 includes an adapter cable that lets it accept either composite video or S-Video connections, so you can plug the device in to video tape machines, cable and satellite boxes or game consoles.

System requirements call for a G4 or better, 256MB RAM, Mac OS X v10.4 or later, USB 2.0, 600MB hard disk space per hour of recorded video, and an Internet connection to use the Electronic Program Guide. A CD/DVD recorder and Toast 7 Titanium are required to create CD or DVD archives of recorded content.

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