Lueg Tech

Bill Lueg’s Tech Blog

Mac Home Media Center, Part 3

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Last Friday, I received my new 320 GB hard drive and Elgato EyeTV 250 and installed them. As an aside, replacing the hard drive in a Mac Mini is not for the timid. You might do better to add a Firewire or USB 2.0 external drive. I’d recommend Firewire. The EyeTV installation was a cake walk.

Once it was up and running, I was delighted at the quality of the video I was receiving. It’s equal to live TV or TiVo since essentially, EyeTV is just laying down on the hard drive exactly what it is receiving over the air. You can view live or recorded TV in any sized window you want including full screen. I’ll not go into how it works except to say that it’s not really “grandma ready” as is. The software is very powerful in letting you program any number of conditions.

One nice surprise was that while EyeTV is running, it doesn’t work the computer too hard, even while it’s recording. The CPU usage does go up while it’s displaying video, but displaying video is not necessary to recording it. So you can leave it on all day without having the Mini run hot all the time.

My only complaint is that you can only do any or all conditions and no mixture. For example, if I wanted to record talk shows that include a list of people, I can’t make that list of people and “talk” because the list entails the “any” option (logical OR), but the talk requires “all” (logical AND). You can get around this kind of thing in iTunes, for example, by using two playlists, one with the list, the other with the type of program and a reference to the list. EyeTV does not allow this at present. Should be an easy add.

Playback of recorded programs is easy enough, but I want to include it among the other things I watch in Front Row. Google Labs comes to the rescue again with their pyetv EyeTV Front Row add-in. In fact, you can even watch live TV with the add in as long as EyeTV is running in the background. So now you can have a one stop shop, as it were, for all your programming, live, recorded, on DVD, or residing in iTunes, not to mention photos in iPhoto.

There are ways you can use AppleScript to convert TV shows to be iTunes compatible so that you can take them on the road on your iPod or iPhone. But you’ll probably need Elgato’s Turbo264 which uses it’s own special hardware to encrypt the file to be H.264 compatible. Otherwise, you Mac will have to chew on the TV program for a lo-ong, hard time.

So as you can see, this is an extremely versatile DVR solution. TiVo is nice and more straightforward out of the box, but this is a jack of all trades potentially mastering them all. I look forward to playing with it some more. We haven’t even talked about editing video which is easily done.



Written by walueg

March 2, 2009 at 11:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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