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As much as I love playing games on my Mac, it’s not my only gaming outlet. In fact, I’ve got a veritable army of console gaming systems in my office—including an Atari 2600 all-in-one joystick from Jakks Pacific, and my beloved Sega Dreamcast. Until recently, that meant that I also needed a TV in my office dedicated to the purpose. But I’ve since replaced it—and reclaimed some valuable office space—thanks to Elgato’s $150 EyeTV EZ.

The EyeTV EZ is an external TV tuner. But unlike Elgato’s more expensive personal video recorders (PVRs), the EyeTV EZ doesn’t encode the incoming signal to MPEG video. As a result, the video is displayed on your Mac instantaneously, making it much better suited for gamers who depend on fast response times.

To use the EyeTV EZ for console gaming, you simply connect the console system to one of the available video inputs on the EyeTV, and then plug the EyeTV into a USB 2.0 port on your Mac. You’ll get the best image quality with the S-Video connector—assuming your console supports it (most do, though a special adapter cable may be needed). The device also includes a coaxial antenna cable jack, composite video, and RCA stereo audio inputs.

Once everything is connected, you can use the EyeTV software to display the video in a window on your Mac. You can even play in full screen mode. The package also includes an online programming guide and a wireless remote control for watching live TV.

If you’re just interested in watching live TV or playing console games, you should be able to get by with any G4 system. However, if you’d like to also record TV shows or your video game exploits, you’ll need a dual-processor Power Mac to get decent image quality. That’s because the EyeTV EZ relies on the software for video encoding, rather than the hardware as many of its more expensive systems do.

Keep in mind that the video from your console may look a bit fuzzy on your Mac—at least compared to an actual TV. That’s because a television signal has a lower resolution than your Mac. But if you’re tight on space—or if you’d just like to have your console and your computer sharing one screen—the EyeTV EZ is a very satisfactory and comparatively inexpensive solution.

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