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Miglia’s TVMicro, a device which lets you watch and record analog TV programs on your Mac, looks more like a first-generation iPod shuffle than a TV tuner—but how could that be considered a bad thing? In the TVMicro, Miglia has created a USB 2.0, bus-powered TV tuner that you can take with you anywhere you go.

The TVMicro was the first ultra-portable USB stick TV tuner for Macs to hit the market. Since its introduction, however, Elgato has introduced its EyeTV Hybrid (   ), which is very similar to a TVMicro with ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) capability added to it (which allows you to receive digital over-the-air content), thus taking some of the shine off the TVMicro. But, the TVMicro is $50 less than the Hybrid.

The diminutive TVMicro takes analog TV, from a cable connection or from an antenna, and passes it uncompressed to your computer. What you can do with the video depends on your computer’s processing power. The minimum requirement for watching television on your Mac is a 500MHz G4 processor (Your Mac also needs a USB 2.0 port to handle the job of sending uncompressed video through the device).

It is possible to record the incoming signal as either MPEG-2 (good for DVDs) or MPEG-1 (lower quality, suitable for video CD), but the recording quality you get depends on the speed of your system. For the highest MPEG-2 quality, a dual processor Mac is required. Happily, all Macs sold today come with dual Intel processors and USB 2.0 ports.

Miglia licenses Elgato’s EyeTV 2 (   ) software for the TVMicro, which is a smart move. The EyeTV recording software is quite mature and stable. Programming recordings, browsing TV program schedules, watching live TV, and editing recorded TV shows with the software is a snap. Additionally, you can burn your recordings to DVD using software like Toast 7 (   ) (not included) or export to a video iPod. Miglia also packages a remote control so you can change your channels and even start recording from across the room.

Macworld’s buying advice

Miglia’s TVMicro is a great portable analog TV tuner for Mac users. If you want something to let you watch TV on your Mac, you won’t go wrong with it. If you want to record TV shows, you’ll need a dual processor Mac to get the best quality. If you have a slower Mac, Elgato’s EyeTV 250 may be the better way to go.

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

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