When Elgato Systems introduced the
; November 2002) two years ago, the company brought the benefits of digital-video recorders to the Mac. The new EyeTV 200 improves on the original USB model by offering better flexibility, higher-quality video, a remote control, and enough bandwidth to properly capture and display MPEG-2 video.
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The EyeTV 200 lets users watch TV on their monitors, in a variety of window sizes, while enjoying the TiVo-like benefits of pausing and replaying live TV. Even better is its ability to schedule and automate the recording of programs, either manually or through the nicely integrated TitanTV Web site (www.titantv.com). The EyeTV couldn’t be easier to use: attach a coaxial cable or antenna to it, and then connect it to your Mac’s FireWire port (the unit draws its power over FireWire, so there’s no need for a power adapter). Then use the Setup preference pane to automatically tune in the channels. To watch TV, use the full-size infrared remote control or the on-screen controller. Changing channels with the EyeTV 200 is much faster than with its predecessor. You can also connect the signal from a digital-cable or satellite TV decoder to the EyeTV, but it can’t change channels — you need to do that with your decoder box.
Bundled with a software package of the same name, the EyeTV can now wake your Mac from sleep or start it up for a scheduled recording. While this worked flawlessly on a dual-867MHz G4 desktop model, it was problematic when tested on a G4 iBook.
(It would wake or start up the iBook but wouldn’t receive a signal.) Elgato is aware of the problem and is working on a fix.
One of the EyeTV 200’s biggest advantages over the USB version is that it captures video in MPEG-2 instead of MPEG-1. MPEG-2 is the encoding format used for DVDs and satellite TV: it takes up a lot of room, but it has great quality. You can choose from Standard (1.8GB per hour) or High quality (2.7GB per hour) encoding or Super Video CD (726MB per hour), which captures a smaller image at lower bit rates. A Custom setting lets you choose the resolution, bit rate, constant or variable bit rate, and audio settings.
Via the software’s simple interface, you can then trim unwanted parts (commer-cials or padded space on either end) of recordings, for storage or burning to DVD or Video CD (which requires Toast 6 Titanium).
Macworld’s Buying Advice
For people who like to watch high-quality TV on a Mac and archive shows to DVD, the EyeTV 200 is a perfect choice. The MPEG-2 quality looks great on a monitor or a TV, and the built-in editing tools make quick work of trimming MPEG-2 files.