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New USB Digital TV Tuner for Mac

November 15, 2006

The sometimes over-hyped digital convergence just took another small step toward validation. This time it's another blending of computer and TV -- by way of a USB digital tuner.

Yeah, I know those things have been around for PCs for some months, but I'm a Mac guy, and now there is a digital TV tuner for the Mac. I'm hyped! It does high-definition!

It's Elgato's EyeTV Hybrid analog/digital TV receiver. Plug it into a USB 2.0 port, plug an antenna into the other end, and you're good to go.

EyeTV Hybrid

And with the included software, it gives the Mac digital video recorder (DVR) functionality -- electronic program guide, scheduled program recording, pause, replay, commercial skipping. It lets you export video to your video iPod. A few people might be interested.

It's self-powered via the USB port, so you can take your Mac laptop to the park, plug in that little bowtie antenna you always keep handy in your backpack, and watch Good Morning America in HD (well, if you're a morning person, and if your little computer has an HD display--even the 13" MacBook will do 720p). You can always down-rez into a smaller window.

If you've got one of the new 24" iMacs with its 1920 x 1200 pixel display, then you've got a full-spec HDTV for less than $150!

The software lets you make the window any size -- use a preset or drag the corner.

EyeTV 2

How do they get all that processing into a little USB stick? Well, they don't. They use the computer's brains. So you'll need a Mac with a dual-core processor if you want to get HD. Less power needed for standard-def digital.

What's also cool (but perhaps a little weird) is you can watch two or more of a station's digital subchannels at the same time in different windows. Say 11-1 and 11-3, since they're all multiplexed on the same carrier frequency.

Or have a live broadcast in one window and a recorded program running in another window. Might be a use for that.

You can also get analog over-the-air and unscrambled analog cable, but no digital cable. The EyeTV Hybrid will accept analog output from a digital cable box, however.

Macworld magazine reviewed the EyeTV Hybrid digital tuner and EyeTV 2 software and gave both four and a half mice (out of five).

Need more info? This link for the EyeTV Hybrid, and this link for the EyeTV 2 software. Controller