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EyeTV 2.1

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For the past four years, Elgato’s EyeTV line of products, and hardware partners like Plextor that license the software, have been the gold standard of TV viewing and recording for Macs. With the release of EyeTV 2.1 (which runs on both PowerPC and Intel Macs), Elgato adds a number of useful features, such as a built-in programming guide, that make the update worthwhile for most EyeTV users. EyeTV 2 is free to users who purchased an EyeTV product on or after Dec. 1, 2005, and otherwise costs $79 to buy or upgrade.

The EyeTV 2 software can be used with all EyeTV models as well as a handful of third-party hardware products, such as Miglia Evolution TV (   ), and the Plextor ConvertX (   ). I tested the software by recording analog cable using the ConvertX, on an iMac G5 running OS X 10.4.4.

Interface makeover

The most obvious change EyeTV 2 brings to users is its redesigned interface. The new main window is clean and iTunes-like in its layout, making the program navigation quite intuitive--with one notable exception: the Edit button has been removed.

By contrast, burning DVDs with Toast and exporting videos to iPod Video are a simple mouse click away via toolbar buttons. The on-screen remote has also been updated. Aesthetically, the overall look of EyeTV 2 is quite slick, but at the same time it looks less distinctive than its previous incarnation: it now looks like an Apple iApp.

EyeTV 2 has an integrated programming schedule, which uses local TV information downloaded from TitanTV. This makes searching for and scheduling recordings very easy. One problem I had with the integrated schedule is that it doesn’t always state the programs that are currently playing on a channel, particularly if a program has already been broadcasting for 30 minutes or more. As a result, if you are looking at the schedule to choose what you want to watch live, you’ll find dozens of channels blank. Elgato representatives say this will be addressed in a future update.

Editing functions within EyeTV 2 have been improved, but finding the editing button required me to open the manual to discover that a small non-descript gray button on the top right of the View window was the magical doorway to the editing panel. Once I discovered where the editing controls were, it was simple to remove commercials from recordings. I was also able to export sections from a longer recording as QuickTime or even iPod-compatible movies—a very useful addition.

EyeTV 2 now saves TV recordings as single files that can be easily renamed or backed up to external storage. While this might seem trivial, the last version of EyeTV saved each recording as a folder of indecipherable files, making it impossible to separate one recording from another.

The core strength of EyeTV—reliably recording TV shows when scheduled—remains unchanged. That’s a good thing.

Macworld’s buying advice

EyeTV 2.1 is a solid upgrade for all users who already own EyeTV and other compatible Personal Video Recorder hardware. The integrated programming guide and new editing options make this ugrade especially worthwhile.

[ Anton Linecker is a technical video consultant and writer based in Los Angeles. ]

EyeTV 2’s makeover includes a new on-screen remote.EyeTV 2’s interface offers one-click iPod Video export and DVD burning via Toast.
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