Looking to get a TV Tuner

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I am looking to get TV Tuner to hook up to my Mac mini (2009). I am looking at the Elgato EyeTV 250 Plus. However, I see so many TV Tuner choices from Elgato, I am not sure if the EyeTV 250 Plus is the only one that I should be looking at. I would appreciate some input from others. My provider is Cablevision, if that helps.



I looked into Equinux TV Tuners, however, I feel they are dated. Could I be wrong?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    I've an EyeTV ... it works great.

    My only complaint was/is the lag involved in feeding it from a satellite (or cable) box. Because the EyeTV does some processing before it displays on the screen, there is some lag between the time you push a button on the remote and the response is seen on the screen. Less than two seconds doesn't SOUND like much, but boy it sure screws with you when you're used to instant response from the remote.

    I've pretty much quit using it since we upgraded the regular TV's with DVRs.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ginopiazza49 View Post


    I am looking to get TV Tuner to hook up to my Mac mini (2009). I am looking at the Elgato EyeTV 250 Plus. However, I see so many TV Tuner choices from Elgato, I am not sure if the EyeTV 250 Plus is the only one that I should be looking at. I would appreciate some input from others. My provider is Cablevision, if that helps.



    I looked into Equinux TV Tuners, however, I feel they are dated. Could I be wrong?



    Without a doubt, only consider a solution from Elgato.



    Technically, i think they just rebadge tuners from other manufacturers. But their EyeTV tuner software is second to none. It is worth buying from elgato just to get the software.



    Because you need cable TV tuning, their "one" tuner won't work. It only has ATSC and you would want QAM tuning.



    I would get either the hybrid, a usb based tuner, or an HDhomerun if they still offer it. The 2-tuner HDhomerun is what I use. It is a network based TV tuner. Any computer in your house can use it. I record TV on my iMac and play it back via my PS3. You'll still need the elgato eyetv software if using an HDhomerun. The 250 isn't bad, but it sounds like you just need the hybrid.



    My setup... antennas in the attic, network based TV tuner in basement, iMac as DVR on 2nd floor, PS3 for playback in hometheater. Plus, I can stream live TV to my iPad or iPhone. Pretty damn hightech for a cable-less Luddite like me.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    Currently, elgato's US product line includes the eyetv HD, eyetv hybrid, eyetv one, and eyetv 250 plus. Of these, the hybrid and the 250 plus offer ATSC/Clear QAM tuners. The HD is a DVR for recording premium cable and satellite programming. The one is strictly for over-the-air programming. The HDhomerun is not in the US product line. The only mention of it that I have seen is from users overseas.
  • Reply 4 of 24
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    Currently, elgato's US product line includes the eyetv HD, eyetv hybrid, eyetv one, and eyetv 250 plus. Of these, the hybrid and the 250 plus offer ATSC/Clear QAM tuners. The HD is a DVR for recording premium cable and satellite programming. The one is strictly for over-the-air programming. The HDhomerun is not in the US product line. The only mention of it that I have seen is from users overseas.



    To clarify, EyeTV HD is not a tuner. It is a device for controlling a cable set top box and also for digitizing (and optionally compressing) the analog output from that cable box.



    The EyeTV one is ATSC only. (does not support cable or satellite, antenna only)



    The hybrid can do both ATSC and also NTSC or unencrypted QAM from cable or satellite. (Can only tune basic cable digitally, all other cable must be analog!)



    The HD homerun is network based and does ATSC and unencrypted QAM. This also only supports basic cable digitally and doesn't do analog cable at all. It is available from other sites but the EyeTV software would then have to be purchased separately. I'm not sure why they no longer sell it as a hardware+software bundle, but the HDHomerun is listed as a supported device for the EyeTV software. Mine works flawlessly. It hasn't been rebooted or power cycled in a couple years!
  • Reply 5 of 24
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dfiler View Post


    ....



    The HD homerun is network based and does ATSC and unencrypted QAM. This also only supports basic cable digitally and doesn't do analog cable at all. It is available from other sites but the EyeTV software would then have to be purchased separately. I'm not sure why they no longer sell it as a hardware+software bundle, but the HDHomerun is listed as a supported device for the EyeTV software. Mine works flawlessly. It hasn't been rebooted or power cycled in a couple years!



    elgato's EyeTV 3 software is compatible with elgato's products. However, it is also compatible with an array of third-party tuners. The HD HomeRun® is one of the many compatible third-party tuners that can be used with eyeTV 3. The network digital tuner is part of the SiliconDust product line. SiliconDust supports its product on Windows, Linux, and the Mac. Although SiliconDust does not sell eyeTV 3, it recommends the software for Mac operation of its product. It appears as though SiliconDust offered a HD HomeRun®/eyeTV bundle in the past. However, that bundle is no longer available. It also appears as though this bundle was never offered by elgato.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Elgato used to sell the HDHomerun. It cost more than elsewhere but included the eyeTV software. Here's the press release: http://www.elgato.com/elgato/na/main...1-da8d97a36b1e



    As I understand it, at one time all of their products were rebadged or reboxed hardware from other manufacturers. I don't know if this is still the case. For instance, I think the hybrid is a rebranded hauppauge wintv hvr-950. Or perhaps they both source the same parts from another supplier.



    Edit:



    Oops, I don't want to sound like I was criticizing Elgato for not designing the hardware in-house. Their current business model is good and has consistently churned out excellent products. The elgato sold version of this hardware integrates seamlessly with the EyeTV software. Even firmware updates are painless.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    Just about to buy the new Mac Mini 2.4ghz.



    Basically going to set it up in the bedroom as a DVR with Time Warner cable.

    I plan on buying 8 gbs of ram to maximize the Mini's potential.



    EyeTV 250 to record HDTV and stream to iPhones/iPads/PS3.





    Does anyone have suggestions on a setup, software to use, and if 8 gbs is a little over kill.

    Only $150 on newegg.com



    Also thinking about setting a 64gb SDXC card and installing Mac OS X onto that as the primary boot drive. Been trying to do a lot of research on a setup like that benefiting me, but it doesn't seem like to many people have tired.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,804moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheKid2020 View Post


    Does anyone have suggestions on a setup, software to use, and if 8 gbs is a little over kill.

    Only $150 on newegg.com



    I'd say 8GB is overkill. If you are just using it for media, 2GB would suffice. I would go with 4GB though as that will cover you if any apps start hogging RAM.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheKid2020 View Post


    Also thinking about setting a 64gb SDXC card and installing Mac OS X onto that as the primary boot drive. Been trying to do a lot of research on a setup like that benefiting me, but it doesn't seem like to many people have tired.



    SDXC cards are not designed to run operating systems and the performance will likely degrade quickly over time. Only the latest UHS-I cards will be fast enough to rival a HDD for performance so it's not worth it:



    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardwar...ds-announced/1



    A better option would be to put in an SSD drive. In January, they should half in price per GB so you would get a 128GB internal for under $150 with nearly 200MB/s read/write. If they introduce a Mini with Light Peak or USB 3 then an external SSD for the boot drive would be worthwhile but for now, the internal drive is the best option.



    If you plan to store loads of movies, you'd be better to get an external FW800 RAID enclosure. You can get network RAID but they are slower.



    So: Mini + 4GB + internal SSD + external FW800 RAID.



    You can get a 4TB RAID here:



    http://g-technology.com/products/g-raid.cfm



    or even a smaller 1TB firewire-powered one:



    http://g-technology.com/products/g-raid-mini.cfm



    or just get a 500GB - 1TB external drive be it USB, FW800 etc for dumping movies on.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dfiler View Post


    Without a doubt, only consider a solution from Elgato.



    Technically, i think they just rebadge tuners from other manufacturers. But their EyeTV tuner software is second to none. It is worth buying from elgato just to get the software.



    Because you need cable TV tuning, their "one" tuner won't work. It only has ATSC and you would want QAM tuning.



    I would get either the hybrid, a usb based tuner, or an HDhomerun if they still offer it. The 2-tuner HDhomerun is what I use. It is a network based TV tuner. Any computer in your house can use it. I record TV on my iMac and play it back via my PS3. You'll still need the elgato eyetv software if using an HDhomerun. The 250 isn't bad, but it sounds like you just need the hybrid.



    My setup... antennas in the attic, network based TV tuner in basement, iMac as DVR on 2nd floor, PS3 for playback in hometheater. Plus, I can stream live TV to my iPad or iPhone. Pretty damn hightech for a cable-less Luddite like me.



    Do Macs not come with software to watch, schedule and record live TV broadcasts?
  • Reply 10 of 24
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrochester View Post


    Do Macs not come with software to watch, schedule and record live TV broadcasts?



    dfiler is giving you great advice, not trying to trick you into spending money unnecessarily. This thread is already filled with links to elgato's EyeTV 3, the most popular, if not the only, TV tuner software available for the Mac. Whether or not your hardware is provided by elgato, you use eyeTV to control it.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    I thought the 8 gbs would be a little much. I plan on doing video editing also. If 4 gbs is that much less, I'll go out route. Problem with getting a FW800 external is where am I going to import my camcorder videos? They transfer through FW.



    USB 1: external 500gb for Time Machine

    USB 2: external 2tb for Videos

    USB 3: EyeTV

    USB 4: iPhone

    FW800: FW800 to FW400 4 pin to transfer video from Camcorder



    The SD card slot is somewhat worthless now that I can use it as a boot drive. Would rather an extra USB or FW port now.



    Is there a way I can use a FW400 (4 pin) to USB cable and transfer camcorder content to internal HDD? Or that link you sent me about the 4tb raid HDD had an extra FW800 port. Can I use that port to transfer camcorder content?
  • Reply 12 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    dfiler is giving you great advice, not trying to trick you into spending money unnecessarily. This thread is already filled with links to elgato's EyeTV 3, the most popular, if not the only, TV tuner software available for the Mac. Whether or not your hardware is provided by elgato, you use eyeTV to control it.



    No what I mean is do Macs not come with software out of the box to do this; I.e., do you *have* to buy extra software for this, or can you just buy a tuner and use whatever Apple supply?
  • Reply 13 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrochester View Post


    No what I mean is do Macs not come with software out of the box to do this; I.e., do you *have* to buy extra software for this, or can you just buy a tuner and use whatever Apple supply?



    Macs do not come with TV Tuners built in. That being the case, there's no reason to include TV tuner software with a Mac.

    If you're going to go out and buy an external tuner (or internal card for a MacPro) it will come with the requisite software.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheKid2020 View Post


    Problem with getting a FW800 external is where am I going to import my camcorder videos? They transfer through FW.



    The three FW external HDD's that I have all have an extra FW port on them (total of two.) FW devices can be daisy chained... meaning you can plug them into each other in series.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post


    The three FW external HDD's that I have all have an extra FW port on them (total of two.) FW devices can be daisy chained... meaning you can plug them into each other in series.



    Awesome, thank you.



    One last question.

    Say I spent the extra money on a fast SD card and installed Windows 7 as a secondary boot drive? Again, only using that for some games I've payed in the past when I was only a Windows user. Or is it really not worth using an SD card.



    I am simply trying to use this Mini to the max. I don't see the need for having that SD card slot in the back unless I have a large SD card running all the time for either backups or a second OS.



    If I don't find a way to use it, I probably will forget it is there and never use it.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,804moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheKid2020 View Post


    Or is it really not worth using an SD card.



    Nope, not yet anyway. You wouldn't be able to use it for Windows as it needs to be on an internal partition. There will be a way round that but it's not worth the hassle. A 64GB card would be expensive and degrade quickly as well as not being as fast as a HDD in sustained transfers.



    It would be nice one day to have all drives in SD slots and they might ramp up in speed next year but stick to HDD and SSD for now:



    http://www.tcmagazine.com/tcm/news/m...nks-new-design



    As mentioned above, the FW camera works with the extra port on a FW drive. If you are going to be working on HD video, a fast drive helps because the files are huge. You could be dealing with 100GB+ per project and having a RAID FW800 at 100MB/s vs USB2 at 30MB/s makes a big difference e.g 20 minute copy vs 1 hour.



    USB sucks for using as a scratch disk. You can do active projects on an internal SSD though and then archive them to the USB drive. Getting 8GB RAM is fine if you want to but Minis aren't very future proof and Final Cut can't use the extra memory as it's still 32-bit. Video editing doesn't really need that much, it's only if you get into doing video effects but effects in FCP and Motion are done in real-time on the GPU. If you ever plan of using After Effects, definitely get 8GB RAM.
  • Reply 17 of 24
    ajayajay Posts: 117member
    BACKGROUND:

    I have basic cable that came cheap with internet on some Comcast promotion. I don't have a cable-box or DTV converter or DVR. All the shows that I ever watch are on channels available on basic cable (Fox / CBS / ABC / NBC / CW / MYNetwork) & if I need to watch anything else, Netflix or Hulu usually work for me.

    I've ordered the 15" MBP (2.2 GHz quad i7/ 750GB / 8GB / HiRes) 2 days ago & plan to use that with a TV tuner. I have a 2TB Lacie Quadra HDD which I can use to record shows. I assume the FW800 would be sufficient for this purpose.



    CONCERN:

    I read reviews on amazon.com & some other sites about Elgato products overheating / malfunctioning / getting fried & some folks have mentioned that Elgato did not play nice with Comcast cable-box for viewing encrypted content.



    QUESTION:

    Which Elgato tuner do y'all think would be best suited for my purpose? BTW I'm also open to 3rd party tuners & especialy (as some folks suggested) ones that play well with EyeTV software. Also does it matter to Elgato whether cable is fed to via a cable box or direct line from provider.



    Yes, I can ask Elgato or Comcast, but I get the nagging feeling that there would be some finger pointing between the two! So I would give more importance to responses from people who are actually using Elgato or have used it under such a setup.



    So any input would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance, folks!
  • Reply 18 of 24
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    It is impossible for any tuner to decode an encrypted cable channel. This is the goal of cable companies (and satellite and fios etc), and they've succeeded in that goal. In order to decode those channels, you must rent a card from the cable company and plug it into an appropriate set-top-box or computer. I'm not aware of any way of doing this directly on a Mac currently.



    As for Elgato hardware having problems, it is no more or less reliable than gear from any other electronics company.



    There really isn't much different from a consumer standpoint at this point in terms of TV tuners. It is the software that defines the experience. Elgato's EyeTV continues to be the only real solution on the Mac in my opinion. I guess it is a good thing that it also happens to be excellent software. My only complaint is that free TV schedules via TitanTV has been discontinued. They've given everyone a free year of TV Guide schedules. When that expires there will be a small yearly fee to have tv guide type info.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    ajayajay Posts: 117member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dfiler View Post


    It is impossible for any tuner to decode an encrypted cable channel. This is the goal of cable companies (and satellite and fios etc), and they've succeeded in that goal. In order to decode those channels, you must rent a card from the cable company and plug it into an appropriate set-top-box or computer. I'm not aware of any way of doing this directly on a Mac currently.



    As for Elgato hardware having problems, it is no more or less reliable than gear from any other electronics company.



    There really isn't much different from a consumer standpoint at this point in terms of TV tuners. It is the software that defines the experience. Elgato's EyeTV continues to be the only real solution on the Mac in my opinion. I guess it is a good thing that it also happens to be excellent software. My only complaint is that free TV schedules via TitanTV has been discontinued. They've given everyone a free year of TV Guide schedules. When that expires there will be a small yearly fee to have tv guide type info.



    thanks for the immediate response.

    I'm happy with channels on basic cable & not worried about the encrypted content. I did not mean to imply that I wanted to decrypt or view them illegally - apologies if my post could be interpreted that way.

    My concern had more to do the reliability of Elgato hardware in light of these negative comments - i.e., what everyone's personal experience has been.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    The hardware is fine.

    The softeware (eyeTV) is fine.



    The processing lag was annoying for me, but bearable.



    It's just not the same experience as a dedicated TV and cable/DirecTV DVR setup though.
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