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EyeTV.

by Chris Coyier

My $100 “early adopter” rebate from Apple on my iPhone has found a home. I bought the EyeTV Hybrid from Elgato Systems (Mac only). The device itself is a little dongle with USB on one end and Coaxial on the other. All you do is plug it in, install the software, go through the quick setup wizard, and you have yourself a very powerful DVR. I would go so far as to say, is much better than TiVo. I actually do most of my TV/Movie watching on my computer anyway, so I have a bit of a bias in this matter, but even setting that aside, I think the EyeTV is the best DVR around.

The EyeTV has many features that are common to all DVR’s. It comes with a Remote Control. The color-coded program guide automatically downloads updates and has fully searchable data a week in advance. You can record shows in a range of quality settings, schedule repeating recordings and can even have recordings start a few minutes early and end late so you are sure to not miss anything. It handles conflicts. You can watch a recording while it is recording something else.

But EyeTV has some features that really put it above and beyond in my book. First and foremost, there are no monthly fees attached. The EyeTV Hybrid is a one-time-cost of $149.95 and you will have what you need to record TV for life. A close second is that there is no DRM hindering your recorded files. They do record in a proprietary “.eyetv” format, but you can select shows and have them export in any number of useful formats, including formats specifically for the iPhone or iPod. There is also really slick integration with Toast, a popular disc burning program for the Mac. Just select the shows you want to burn to DVD and press the little “Toast” icon and it will convert the files as necessary and burn a DVD of them for you, complete with nice customizable DVD menu! Similar options exist for the AppleTV and iPod/iPhone, where programs can be auto-converted and synced with your devices. Another great feature is just the control you get. It is very satisfying getting to use a keyboard and mouse to navigate and control everything rather than a remote.

Another cool feature is the ability for EyeTV to run an web server on your computer serving up and streaming your own recorded shows (think Slingbox). You really need a static IP to make the most use out of this, but there are ways around that. Imagine sitting at a cafe at lunch and catching up on your shows that you recorded at home. Awesome.

There are other, slightly more expensive, products that Elgato makes including the 250 plus ($199.95) which has some onboard encoding hardware reducing the burden on your processor. I would have actually bought the 250 plus, but I have read there is a slight delay with this device. That is fine for TV, but makes video gaming through the device impossible. Oh yeah, did I mention you can hook up game consoles through the EyeTV hybrid? You can. That deserves another “Awesome”. If you live outside the US, never fear! There are specific devices available for different countries’ cable configurations.

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5 Responses to “EyeTV.”

  1. Richard Says:

    Did I mention that you have no more excuses for not buying an Xbox 360, now that you have a way to play it on your Mac? Yeah.

    Do it.

  2. Horst Says:

    Hey ! nice thing! I am too lazy to check out the website, but hey: I am from GERMANY and would like to know if I could use that stuff here in my flat as well… stupid question ? don’t know… I don’t know a lot about these things.

    best greetings!

    (btw.: nice webpage – look for it almost every day!)

  3. Kyle Says:

    I would love to have this, but, sadly, I just have a PC. When I get a job, I’ll save up for a Mac Book Pro and this neat little device…That’s gonna be one big hole in my pocket.

  4. Chris Coyier Says:

    Don’t think of it as a hole in your pocket. Think of it as a ladder to a better life =)

  5. Chris Coyier Says:

    Hi Horst,

    Check out the information here:
    http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=about_impressum&newlang=en

    I think that’s German =)