Other TV tuner options
If you’re interested in something more than the two EyeTV tuner options already mentioned, there are other ways to view and record TV on your Mac. Elgato recently announced a bundle that includes SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun device and two copies of the EyeTV software. The $199 all-digital hardware includes ClearQAM and ATSC tuners, with dual-tuner support, and lets you enjoy different programs simultaneously on two Macs on your network.
Although Elgato bundles its hardware and software together, the EyeTV software works with several other vendors’ TV digitizers as well. Many models by Miglia, Pinnacle, Plextor, Terratec, and Twinhan include or work with the EyeTV software; if your model doesn’t provide the software, you can purchase the latest version of the program for $50. (This applies to users of older Elgato hardware as well.)
Elgato no longer supplies EyeTV software with devices from Miglia, though the software still works with Miglia’s hardware. And Miglia has begun including its new software, called The Tube, with its TVMicro Express and TVMini HD+ products.
Speed up your encoding
Exporting programs from EyeTV 2 to an iPod- or Apple TV-friendly H.264 format can be slow going—particularly on pokier computers such as the Mac mini. If you’d rather spend your time watching programs than watching your Mac churn away for most of the day converting a two-hour movie, consider Elgato’s $100 turbo.264.
This USB 2.0 hardware-encoding device can make converting videos a less painful process. For example, it took my 1.67GHz Intel Core Duo Mac mini all night and much of the morning to export Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, captured from HBO, for my Apple TV. With the Turbo.264 connected, the same job took just over two hours.
And it works with unencrypted DVDs as well as QuickTime-based applications such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro, so you can use it even without the EyeTV hardware or software.
[ Senior Editor Christopher Breen is the author of The iPod and iTunes Pocket Guide, second edition , and The iPhone Pocket Guide (Peachpit Press, 2007). ]