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Review: Elgato EyeTV 500

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the wish-there-were-linux-drivers dept.

Television 125

nsayer writes "My wife and I just took delivery of an EyeTV 500 - Elgato's brand-new box for U.S. over-the-air digital television. Elgato makes PVR hard- and software for Macs. With the 500, HDTV reception and recording functionality has arrived for the Macintosh." Pudge reviewed the original (USB, NTSC) EyeTV nearly two years ago; read on for the rest of nsayer's review of the FireWire-based 500 model (first mentioned earlier this month). The 500 will play back both standard and high-definition digital signals, but only broadcast, not cable.

The package is simple. The 500 comes with the box itself, which is slightly larger in all dimensions than a paperback book; an IR remote control and batteries; a CD; a quick-start card; and a standard 6-wire FireWire cable. The back of the box has antenna-in and -out jacks (the purpose for the antenna-out jack is unknown. As delivered, it has a plastic cover on it), two FireWire jacks and a DC power input jack (there is no power supply, um, supplied, and DC power input is optional. They do not recommend you plug bus-powered devices into it if the EyeTV device itself is bus-powered). The front panel has a window with the IR remote control receiver and a status LED. The box is light for its size and liberally perforated with ventilation holes, but in extended use I couldn't detect any heat.

The installation procedure is simplicity itself: You connect an antenna to the antenna jack, you connect the FireWire cable between your computer and the box, you insert the CD into your computer and drag the EyeTV application from the CD to your Applications folder (or anywhere else you want it). The first time you start the EyeTV application, you'll get a setup wizard that will ask about your EyeTV hardware, discover it, and begin the auto-tune procedure.

This is the first place that EyeTV stumbles ever so slightly: The purpose of the auto-tune procedure is to fill in the channel list used for the channel up and down buttons and for the channel list drop-down menu. It takes a couple of minutes to complete, but the first time I did it, the EyeTV missed a station that I knew it should have found. When I repeated the procedure, it found that one, but missed a different one. Finally, the third try yielded 28 streams (I have a good outdoor antenna in Santa Clara, CA, aimed at the Mt. Sutro tower). Elgato should add some way of manually adding or deleting channels (I don't really care about non-English language and home shopping channels).

The other thing to keep in mind is that this receiver is designed strictly for over-the-air reception, and for good reception, you'll very likely need a good outdoor antenna. If you get cable TV, then this isn't for you.

The software integrates well with TitanTV.com, which provides program-guide information. You can click on shows on the TitanTV web site and watch the EyeTV tune to the correct channel or set up to record the show. Recording shows is more or less on a timed schedule basis - it's not quite up to the standard of a TiVo season pass. But the software does poll Titan for schedule changes (if you allow it).

Once you've recorded a show, an iMovie-like editor lets you locate the commercials and cut them out, although the job of finding and marking them is a manual procedure. Once you've marked them, you can compact the show, which permanently removes the marked sections, reclaiming the disk space they were taking.

And speaking of disk space, the CPU and hard disk requirements for digital TV content are enormous. 1080i shows can take potentially 20 GB per hour. An episode of CSI:Miami, after being compressed to 41 minutes, takes 11 GB. A 41-minute episode of The Tonight Show takes 8. Simply displaying these streams at full size in a window takes about 75% of the available CPU of my wife's 1.6 GHz single-proc G5. I wouldn't recommend buying one of these for a machine less powerful than that. The software will scale the image down if it needs to, so it won't outright fail on lesser hardware (and you will be able to access multicasted streams), but the big selling point of this box is being able to watch 1080i shows at full size on your 23" cinema display. If you want to do that, you'll need some serious processor muscle.

All in all, I give this product a big thumbs-up. Digital TV will truly revolutionize broadcast television over the course of the next few years just the way color did for our parents and grandparents. At $299, the EyeTV 500 is a great way for Mac owners to get started without spending a lot, but still enjoying all of the benefits (and breathtaking pictures) Digital TV has to offer.


Thanks to nsayer for this review. Have an interesting review in mind? Slashdot welcomes feature-length submissions.

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125 comments

TiVo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697307)

I like Tivo.

Obey the giant.

Re:TiVo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697539)

Yay!! Go, Mackintosh, go!! iPod is teh knig of mp3!! PowerPC is so fast!! Yay!!

--

Abu from New Delhijyi

Yes, but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697314)

How does it perform on porn? Flesh tones okay?

Re:Yes, but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697583)

Yeah, black is ok.

cool deal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697319)

Best things in life are free...yes, even iPods are free [freeipods.com] . Just sign up for one offer, which you can cancel within the trial period if you don't like it and sign up 5 more guys and you get a free iPod, shipping paid! Cool, innit?

Only a few years after everyone else had it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697326)

I hope the elegant ergonomics of the case made the wait worthwhile!

TiVo (1, Insightful)

webword (82711) | about 10 years ago | (#9697346)

What about marketing efforts? What about documentation? If this isn't user friendly (usability is king!) then will this ever take off? What is the market perception going to be? Basically, what is the *business* behind the EyeTV 500? Bombs away!!

Re:TiVo (2, Interesting)

hype7 (239530) | about 10 years ago | (#9697469)

Basically, what is the *business* behind the EyeTV 500?


Well, I can't speak for the developers, but this thing does HDTV right?

Well, the first thing that springs to my mind is that 30" behemoth Apple announced a couple of weeks ago...

-- james

Re:TiVo (1)

hackstraw (262471) | about 10 years ago | (#9697766)

Lets summarize:

G5 ~ $2,000 (It does not appear as though any laptop or lower end machine can power this thing)
30" display ~ $3,300
TV card ~ $300

Total = $5,600

Wanna buy a bridge?

Re:TiVo (1)

Exitthree (646294) | about 10 years ago | (#9697953)

Why? You end up with an extremely sharp 30" TV that also doubles as a sweet gaming rig (with the top of the line GeForce) and powerful workstation. Considering that a slightly larger plasma display only costs a little bit more, you end up with a lot of extra perks for your money.

Re:TiVo (1)

TheLittleJetson (669035) | about 10 years ago | (#9698489)

their TV player and recorder program is very nice. the only thing that frustrates me is there's no CLI app to schedule recordings with.

Wake me up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697358)

when it's out for the PC

Digital Broadcast (0, Redundant)

GICodeWarrior (794483) | about 10 years ago | (#9697370)

Looks pretty sweet. I don't even have a HDTV yet, but with this I could view it using my computer.

Thanks for the link! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697373)

I hadn't before heard of this Slashdot you speak of.

Re:Thanks for the link! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697607)

You must be new to the gay community.

Massive HD Space (3, Insightful)

thedogcow (694111) | about 10 years ago | (#9697375)

This setup could be very cool with an attached 23 or 30 inch Cinema Display...

As far as HD space goes, could one use the newly discussed h.263 codec that was presented at WWDC to compress the movies into smaller file sizes?

Re:Massive HD Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697451)

As far as HD space goes, could one use the newly discussed h.264 codec that was presented at WWDC to compress the movies into smaller file sizes?

there - fixed that for you.

Re:Massive HD Space (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697517)

It was h.264, it's different. h.263 is used in video-telephony and old MPEG1 at very low resolutions.
Anyway I think that if the Elgato software supports exporting via quicktime (very likely) and you have MacOS X Tiger, it is very possible to do what you are talking about.
h.264 has HDTV resolution transparency at 8 Mbps, so a 41 minute episode of CSI:Miami would take 2.5 GB.

giandrea

Re:Massive HD Space (1)

Bakafish (114674) | about 10 years ago | (#9697976)

It just dumps a native HDTV MPEG2 stream to disk. It is not QuickTime. I don't doubt that someone will make a transcoder that will be able to re-compress these streams since the format is standard and there is obviously a need. The new H.264 codec is not part of QuickTime yet though, so don't hold your breath.

Too expensive (3, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | about 10 years ago | (#9697400)

$300 is too much to pay for a tv tuner and mpeg encoder.

Considering the price of a real TV or a PVR in the same ballpark price that do the similar (or more functions), I don't see the justification for the expense. This is another example of where computers impare normal functioning of human logic.

Re:Too expensive (2, Insightful)

MikeXpop (614167) | about 10 years ago | (#9697464)

It's very good if say, you have a laptop and want to record directly onto the computer for viewing later at another location.

I can tell you from experience plane rides are much more enjoyable with all 3 seasons of Family Guy.

Re:Too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9698287)

Yeah but they are even more fun with all 4 (production, not airing) seasons of Futurama.

Re:Too expensive (4, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 10 years ago | (#9697553)

I don't know where you live, but in the US HDTV tuners generally cost more than 300 bucks.

The cheapest I could find on Amazon was $299.87, but it did NOT allow you to record and edit what you watch.

Most HDTV monitors sold are just that, monitors. They do not include HDTV tuners. And even if your HDTV TV comes with a built in HD tuner, you cannot record HD content.

I'm not saying that Elgato has the best deal, buy it certainly is a good deal.

The best deal is ATI's upcoming HD version of its AIW series, which will only cost about 200 bucks. It comes with a remote. And if you have an ATI graphics card in your PC, you could use ATI's component video out adapter to connect your computer directly to your HDTV monitor.

Re:Too expensive (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697849)

Have you seen the pcHDTV [pchdtv.com] (HD-2000) tuner card?
It is <$200, and is Linux-only! Many are making a decent HDTV system using it...

Re:Too expensive (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 10 years ago | (#9697917)

Cool, thanks for pointing it out!

Re:Too expensive (1)

paulkchen (38445) | about 10 years ago | (#9697592)

Umm, hello? Did you bother to read at all? This thing records HD.

Have you priced an HD DirecTivo or the DishNetwork HD PVR? They're $1000.

Re:Too expensive (1)

hackstraw (262471) | about 10 years ago | (#9697680)

Umm, hello? Did you bother to read at all? This thing records HD.

Yeah, I read it and HD doesn't interest me. I own an HDTV and it makes DVDs look good, and many TV chanels look bad. There is no content for HDTV (not much more on standard TV either), and when there is the tuners will be commodity products. I was actually commenting more on teh EyeTV 200, which is analogue and costs the same $300 as the 500 model. For $100, I would get the 200 model so I could consolodate all of my media stuff on my back porch. Right now, I have a TV, reciever, speakers, and a CD player. Soon, I will have a computer and speakers. Thats it.

But not until the usability and cost can justify itself.

Re:Too expensive (2, Interesting)

steve_bryan (2671) | about 10 years ago | (#9698366)

"I own an HDTV and it makes DVDs look good"

At the risk of being provocative (what, on slashdot?) I have to ask if you've had your vision checked recently. OTA HDTV blows DVD out of the water! Even if the material on Leno is lame the picture is stunning. Just for the record the resolution of DVD is 720 x 480 interlaced. That is about half the resolution that FOX was using (480p) but is being cranked up to 720p which is 1280 x 720. The other HD resolution is 1080i or 1920 x 1080 interlaced.

Never mind. What I'm guessing you mean is that you enjoy watching DVD's on your HDTV but not the TV stations. Depending on your location there might not be much available to your antenna but all the major networks are doing their new programs in HD. That includes PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, WB, UPN, and FOX (with FOX making the transition this fall). We get all those in Minneapolis except for UPN. That is a lot of programs and they all put DVD to shame for picture quality but that is no guarantee the story will be similarly improved.

On the other hand if you are watching upconverted regular programming or 480i the picture is usually better than NTSC but seldom as good as DVD.

Re:Too expensive (1)

flimflam (21332) | about 10 years ago | (#9699321)

Just for the record the resolution of DVD is 720 x 480 interlaced

Most DVD's (at least ones that you rent) are actually encoded as 480P/24, so you actually will see a significantly better picture (with the proper DVD player) on an HDTV than on an NTSC one.

Re:Too expensive (1)

steve_bryan (2671) | about 10 years ago | (#9699999)

"Most DVD's (at least ones that you rent) are actually encoded as 480P/24"

I wish there were a little more clarity on this issue (at least in my own mind). When I've read the comments of experts on the subject, like Jim Taylor, I get the impression that the DVD video format itself diminshes the source resolution to interlaced even if using 480P/24 source.

In any case I would readily agree that DVD's have superior resolution to NTSC so they benefit from playback on HDTV (and HTPC). On the other hand it is not even close to the resolution afforded by ATSC. That is the surprisingly unrecognized fact that the absolute best resolution video signal available to the home viewer is no longer laserdisc, cable, satellite, or DVD. It is rabbit ears. Commercial supported (or PBS) over the air (OTA) digital TV meets or exceeds the resolution from all the other sources (OK, I've glossed over pre-recorded DVHS but their crippling copy protection and limited life time of the format makes them no more than a footnote).

Re:Too expensive (2, Insightful)

iwadasn (742362) | about 10 years ago | (#9697997)


I don't know about that. My computer monitor is vastly better than my TV (which I don't have). I have one of these converters (the cheaper $199 one), and it works great. You tell me where I can get a 17 inch TV + Tivo + DVD burner for $200, praytell.

In addition, the little tiny box takes up much less space than a TV + TIVO + DVD player/burner.

In addition, being able to use the space on my hard drives (about 400 GB now) for either computer stuff, or TV stuff is also quite an edge. And I can share out the TV shows over FTP or windows sharing, or whatever. It's just nice to have everything in one place.

Re:Too expensive (1)

steve_bryan (2671) | about 10 years ago | (#9698215)

Well, you certainly have strong opinions. Too bad you have your facts muddled. I would agree they aren't paring the price down to the bone, but it is not exceptional. For the sake of clarity it should be mentioned there is no mpeg encoder for HDTV in the box. The signal is transmitted already digitally compressed with 8VSB modulation (in the US). So you are buying a receiver with 8VSB demodulation and FireWire interface. A similar box from Samsung (the T165) has a list price of $700 but can regularly be found for $300 - $400. It also includes more functionality though I don't know if it is engineered as well. There are also some FireWire based PVR's from LG and Zenith (Zenith is owned by LG ELectronics of S. Korea). They include a hard drive and cost about $1,000.

The beauty of this type of product (TV tuner for a PC or Mac) is the low cost of entry. If you already have a good high resolution monitor and huge cheap hard drive, all you are missing is the tuner to enjoy HDTV. Where are you going to buy an HDTV that includes recording capability for $300? Right now the prices of truly stratospheric for large flat thin monitors (plasma or LCD). This allows you to enjoy HDTV now and wait for the inevitable price drop so your desired monitor is hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.

Note that there is the assumption that your viewing needs are no more than a few hours or less per day. The rest of the time your Mac can be devoted to its usual tasks. Even when a program is being broadcast you have the option of recording it in the background and watching when it is convenient. Simply recording the transport stream is a low resource capability that could be accomplished on a rather modest Mac (I know what I'm talking about as I've been using VirtualDVHS on the Mac for some time). It's the MPEG decompression that is taxing and even that is not out of reach if you use the transport stream decoder in VLC (free software from videolan.org). I'm assuming that elgato is recording the transport stream like all the other HDTV tuners.

Re:Too expensive (1)

silentbozo (542534) | about 10 years ago | (#9698394)

Actually, it's not an mpeg encoder. The previous versions for analog TV were encoders. This version takes the mpeg2 stream straight from the digital broadcast and pipes it onto your hard drive. As a result, it's good for broadcast digital only - it cannot encode analog sources (because it isn't an mpeg encoder.)

Think of it as a tuner that is willing to talk to your Mac via firewire, and a software suite that allows you to record that stream to your HD and play it back at will. Assuming that El Gato doesn't cripple this functionality in compliance with the proposed broadcast copying flag, $300+ may very well be cheap if it's the only way you can record digital TV off the air, without having to reencode the signal.

Re:Too expensive (1)

spotteddog (234814) | about 10 years ago | (#9698502)

From the processor requirements and load, I'm betting the mpeg decoder is in software. I bet the only thing in the box is the HDTV tuner and firewire interface.

That makes it $100 more than the pci card tuner for linux [pchdtv.com] , which is about what I would expect for the external support circuits, enclosure, and Mac markup.

Still waiting for component HD recording (5, Interesting)

sdo1 (213835) | about 10 years ago | (#9697402)

Is it just the "rules" that prevent HD component recording? Right now there's a huge variety of devices that can record from composite or s-video (TiVo, VCRs, DVD recorders, video capture cards on your computer, etc). I just want to dump HD component video into a recorder the same way I dump it into my TV.

The big problem right now is that I can record over-the-air HD with devices like this (and even some HD VCRs and HD capture cards in computers), but I can't record the analog HD signal out of my DirecTV HD box and if I ever got digital cable, I wouldn't be able to record that one either. If I want to record DirecTV HD, my only option right now is to get a HD TiVo (for about $1000), but that's not an archiving solution. (and yes, I know there's hacks, but I'm talking off-the-shelf technology that my mom could use).

I'm very well versed in this stuff but I find it incredibly frustrating trying to sort out exactly what types of signals I can record and when.

-S

Re:Still waiting for component HD recording (1)

totalnet (732635) | about 10 years ago | (#9697588)

I thought broadcast HD signal has MPEG2 stream embedded in it. All the tuner card does it de-modulate the HD signal and the computer save the MPEG2 stream to your hard drive. BTW, a very large MPEG2 file. I think most of the stand alone HD recorders will down compress the MPEG2 video to use up less space. So computer base HD tuners are the way to go, if you want the highest quality.

Re:Still waiting for component HD recording (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | about 10 years ago | (#9697951)

Is it just the "rules" that prevent HD component recording? Right now there's a huge variety of devices that can record from composite or s-video (TiVo, VCRs, DVD recorders, video capture cards on your computer, etc). I just want to dump HD component video into a recorder the same way I dump it into my TV.

It's not that so much as that there's not a sufficiently low-cost MP@HL MPEG-2 encoder chip out there that can be embedded in a recorder. Existing HD recorders rely on having the original digital stream available and recording that, instead of reencoding an already-decoded signal (which introduces more loss anyway).

Re:Still waiting for component HD recording (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9698019)

Unfortunately, the EyeTV 500 respects the so-called "broadcast flag" that prevents you from recording television programs for the purpose of time-shifting. Because this constitutes a violation of your Fair Use rights, I am urging all netizens to boycott all high-definition TV products while my lawsuit against the RIAA is pending.

It would in theory be possible to create a device that ignores the "broadcast flag" or hack an existing device to behave fairly. Unfortunately, under the draconian laws of the so-called "United" States of America, this is illegal. Of particular import is the DCMA that would make this act a federal felony. I, too, have a lawsuit pending to render the DCMA unconstitutional.

In conclusion, I recommend a total and far-reaching boycott.

Sincerely,
Seth Finklestein
Media Rights Privacy Expert Watchdog

Re:Still waiting for component HD recording (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9699707)

Is it just the "rules" that prevent HD component recording? Right now there's a huge variety of devices that can record from composite or s-video (TiVo, VCRs, DVD recorders, video capture cards on your computer, etc). I just want to dump HD component video into a recorder the same way I dump it into my TV.

It's the "Rules" of economics. It takes a *huge* amount of processing power to compress a live HDTV stream, or a *huge* amount of bandwidth to store it to disk uncompressed.

You can buy analog HDTV recording gear right now, but it just costs a fortune because the amount of data it has to process is an order of magnitude larger than what you need to deal with for SDTV

Wait for a few more iterations of moore's law to pass and you'll eventually see consumer-grade analog HDTV recording.

Re:Still waiting for component HD recording (1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | about 10 years ago | (#9699720)

You don't deserve my help, but I feel sorry for you, pasty-faced couch humper. Check out 169time.com [169time.com] . And tell 'em Bucky sent ya, pasty-faced couch humper!

iMovie-like editor? (3, Insightful)

green pizza (159161) | about 10 years ago | (#9697414)

Why not just encode the SD material into DV25, which the MacOS loves. Then users can just use iMovie to edit. Why do devices like this insist on shipping with software intended to reinvent the wheel? I would love a simple PVR for my PowerBook, but I don't need editing features, I can use iMovie for that.

Re:iMovie-like editor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697674)

Then use iMovie, the files are MPEGs.

Re:iMovie-like editor? (2, Informative)

Bakafish (114674) | about 10 years ago | (#9698168)

Because:

A) This is a HDTV recorder, it does do *digital* SD, but all of the streams are simply dumped in RAW MPEG2 off of the decoder chip. There is no onboard transcoder chip that could re-encode that stream to DV on the fly, and it would be useless to downsample all the HDTV resolution streams to DV as it wouldn't be HD anymore.

B) Transcoding RAW MPEG2 to DV in software is way slower than realtime, and would actually INCREASE the amount of space required to store the information by a lot.

C) The RAW MPEG2 stream can conceivably be dumped directly to DVHS, or piped to the FireWire port on an HDTV (Mitsubishi, Sony, etc...) Try doing that with DV.

If you want to use iMovie, no one is stopping you. You can transcode it yourself. In order to record in DV you would have to give up the ability to watch TV in realtime, or they would have to invest in a onboard chip to do the transcoding (think thousands of dollars per box.) So that's why.

By the way, there are FireWire *standard* definition Tuner units for the Mac that record in Native DV, but again this is HD.

Re:iMovie-like editor? (2, Informative)

Baumi (148744) | about 10 years ago | (#9698762)

The Austrialian/European version of EyeTV for digital over-the-air TV (DVB-T standard) doesn't convert the video format at all - it "just" singles out one MPEG2 stream from all those transmitted and sends it over to be saved on the Mac's HD.

My guess is that the HDTV version works the same way. Re-encoding the material on the fly would probably be too processor intensive, so it's easier to have a simple editor built into the software. Besides: iMovie is pretty self-contained. It wants its own project files,etc. For simple editing, you'd want something like QuickTime Pro, which can edit a single file without all the hassles iMovie puts you through. And, basically, EyeTV's editor feels almost like QuickTime Pro (a bit better with the thumbnails and such) but it comes with the device and is integrated into the recording and scheduling software whereas QuickTime Pro costs extra money and is an external application.

If you really need to do some iMovie tricks with your recordings, I'm sure there's a way to turn them into a DV stream, but most poeple won't want to do that, so I think it's wise they don't force users to create an iMovie project just to edit out some simple commercials - EyeTV's own editor does that just fine.

Antenna Out (0, Flamebait)

turbotalon (592486) | about 10 years ago | (#9697415)

DUUUH- The antenna out is for simple pass-through, just like VCR's and most TV's have so you can use several devices on the same antenna or cable without using a splitter. How long has this guy been doing A/V stuff??

Misunderstood... (4, Funny)

bgarcia (33222) | about 10 years ago | (#9697420)

Elgato makes PVR hard- and software for Macs.
Did anyone else read that as "Elgato makes a hard-to-use PVR, as well as some Mac software?"

Re:Misunderstood... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697473)

Actually I read that as "Elgato makes PVRs hard."

How long till the MPAA and broadcasters come after (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697426)

I can see the execs being very unhappy when their digital broadcasts are being shared over the net - without commericals.

DMCA anyone?

Re:How long till the MPAA and broadcasters come af (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697990)

Yet more technology that will become outlawed if INDUCE/IICA passes.

Re:How long till the MPAA and broadcasters come af (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | about 10 years ago | (#9699288)

They already "fixed" this "problem" with the broadcast flag [eff.org]

Antenna out... (4, Informative)

kulakovich (580584) | about 10 years ago | (#9697432)


Antenna out is for the rest of your boxes, you insensitive clod!

But seriously, though - your source should go to your primary recorder, then out to any other inline devices, then to your tv. That way you get the best signal into the recorder.

For instance, You'd go from source, to the eyeTV, to your VHS recorder, to your projector, then to your regular TV, were you to have all those things.

My curiousity is this whole "but not with cable" thing. Just how does it block that?

kulakovich

Are you nuts? (0, Troll)

Scott Richter (776062) | about 10 years ago | (#9697558)

For instance, You'd go from source, to the eyeTV, to your VHS recorder, to your projector, then to your regular TV, were you to have all those things.

This guy's doing HDTV and you want him to put it through his damned *VCR* first? Ugh! If you put the TV last, you ensure that you see the worst signal possible all the time. I'll take the possibility that my VCR gets a crappy signal - after all, how often do I use it now?

The way to daisychain this is to go through things that'll preserve the digital signal first, then the TV, then export the TV's signal to whatever legacy recording devices you have that have intermittent need of a signal. Either that or use a good splitter to divide the video signal upstream. But don't put a hi-def video signal through your VCR and it's shitty aluminum coax connector - think of the children!

Re:Antenna out... (1)

steve_bryan (2671) | about 10 years ago | (#9698522)

"My curiousity is this whole "but not with cable" thing. Just how does it block that?"

It doesn't block it. They just use a different modulation scheme for digital cable. 8VSB is used for OTA digital TV while most cable companies use some variant of QAM. You need a QAM demodulator which is fairly rare for PC tuners. DVico makes a PCI board that handles 8VSB and QAM but it is PC only. A reason for the scarcity is that cable companies have a nasty habit of scrambling their signal and requiring you to use their STB. The cable card initiative remains an unfulfilled promise.

On the other hand if this product (EyeTV 500) handles NTSC (ie analog TV) then it should be no big deal to view and record unscrambled analog cable TV. It is digital cable TV which is remains out of reach. Oddly enough some of the chips that provide 8VSB demodulation include QAM but the makers of the PC TV tuners don't enable that capability (see AccessTV for the PC and the recent community efforts).

Cable (1)

Detritus (11846) | about 10 years ago | (#9698552)

Cable uses a different carrier modulation method (QAM) than over-the-air HDTV (8-VSB). Some of the new TV sets include demodulators for both QAM and 8-VSB.

Re:Antenna out... (1)

smclean (521851) | about 10 years ago | (#9698823)

But seriously, though - your source should go to your primary recorder, then out to any other inline devices, then to your tv. That way you get the best signal into the recorder.
Once they make a hack to record from this puppy, this *will* be your primary recorder!

Re:Antenna out... (1)

nvrrobx (71970) | about 10 years ago | (#9700208)

OTA HD reception is ATSC based, while cable based HD is QAM - a different type of tuner.

This site [wordiq.com] has some more useful information about the differences.

Inputs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697434)

Very interesting that you can't just plug in a s-video input, or a coaxel one at that.

Re:Inputs? (1)

Mr. Cancelled (572486) | about 10 years ago | (#9697634)

Yeah, what's up with that? Talk about alienating a HUGE potential market. I have an ATI AIW on my media box, but was seriously considering something like this for my Mac (which is in a different area of the house). I guess EyeTV won't be getting my hard earned cash! On a related note, all of Eye TV's recorders (that I've seen) record in mpeg2 format - Does the Mac have a decent Mpeg2 editing solution yet? It's very frustrating that I can chop commercials off my mpegs on my Winbox in seconds, but there's only choppy workarounds at best for doing the same thing on my new Mac (which seems to prefer DV only ). I really can't understand why Quicktime Pro doesn't support this (and I wish I would have known before buying the pro version from Apple. Their documentation's VERY misleading).

Still a little confused (2, Interesting)

turbotalon (592486) | about 10 years ago | (#9697445)

Why can't it record off of cable? Does cable use different frequencies for the same channels or something? I thought they were the same...

Recording Digital Video off of Cable (2, Informative)

cbelt3 (741637) | about 10 years ago | (#9697503)

For the nonce [wikipedia.org] , this solution [macosxhints.com] seems to be functional. Get the firewire enabled video box, record into DV compatible tool, and away you go.

Re:Recording Digital Video off of Cable (1)

foidulus (743482) | about 10 years ago | (#9697647)

The only problem with that solution is that you pretty much have to have a high end G5 to record the stuff. And also, for live broadcasts such as sports, can you just watch instead of recording it?

Designed for digital stations (2, Informative)

green pizza (159161) | about 10 years ago | (#9697556)

Why can't it record off of cable? Does cable use different frequencies for the same channels or something? I thought they were the same...

Modern TVs can tune both cable and over-the-air stations in a similar manner, and certain cable and air stations share the same frequencies, but not all.

This device is designed for tuning and recording digital (including HDTV) stations. To get these, you need an over-the-air antenna.

Digital cable comes in a variety of flavors, depending on your cable provider. There is no easy way for Elgato to support these. (And there may even be legal issues as some digital cable boxes have bizzare authentication systems).

Would love it (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 10 years ago | (#9697479)

except it's Mac only. I love Firewire but for some reason people who produce Firewire products like to make them Mac only, excluding about 80% of the potential audience.(PC's are about 95% of the audience but quite a few don't have Firewire).

Re:Would love it (3, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | about 10 years ago | (#9697595)

I/O DATA out of Japan makes a firewire TV tuner that is both PC and MAC compatible, for about 23000yen or so (maybe more?)

Only problem is that they don't sell it outside of Japan, and it's frigging impossible to get anyone to import electronics like computer components.

Re:Would love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697919)

And the Mac folks wonder why firewire doesn't catch on like it should and why USB2 is so popular.

Re:Would love it (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 10 years ago | (#9698599)

So? My chances of picking up a random USB-2.0 product off the shelves and finding that it uses some kind of windows only driver are still quite high. My chances of picking up a random firewire device off the shelf and finding that it works with my mac are a bit more encouraging.

Firewire continues to be used in digital video-- it is unlikely that your cable box, hdtv, of digital vcr will be equipped with usb ports, but 1394a ports are quite common.

Re:Would love it (1)

steve_bryan (2671) | about 10 years ago | (#9700344)

"except it's Mac only"

Are you sure of this? I know they are only shipping with Mac software but if it conforms to FireWire AVC standards it should be possible to drive from the PC. That is part of the beauty of the FireWire stuff: it is supposed to be platform neutral. For instance VirtualDVHS on the Mac works fine with the DVico Fusion I board in my PC. I can record to the Mac over FireWire from the Fusion board and play back on the Mac locally or the PC over FireWire.

Based on what is written in this review I have my doubts if they are conforming to existing standards. For instance where do they get 20 GB per hour? ATSC is no more than a 20 Mbps stream which is less than 10 GB per hour if you just dumped it to your drive. Is this some sort of pre-emptive Broadcast Flag nonsense?

In any case, at this price the Samsung T165 is probably a better buy for Mac users. But the Roku dropped from $500 to $300 (similar product but no tuner or FireWire) so maybe the EyeTV 500 will come down to something closer to $200 where it would be a more attractive choice.

If you have cable - just use firewire (1)

igorsway (669877) | about 10 years ago | (#9697493)

If you own a Mac and have cable, I don't think you need to purchase any additional hardware to capture HDTV. Check out the link below. http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040 426151111599&query=hdtv

Re:If you have cable - just use firewire (5, Informative)

igorsway (669877) | about 10 years ago | (#9697551)

Here's a working link. HDTV to a Mac [macosxhints.com]

This isn't the device I want (2, Insightful)

green pizza (159161) | about 10 years ago | (#9697508)

I want a souped-up ReplayTV.

I currently have a DirecTivo, basiclly a two-tuner Tivo with built-in two-tuner DirecTV reciver. It's great... but it can't record my local TV. Now, DirecTV will be adding a few of my city's local channels to their broadcast in 2005, but not all of the channels.

What I really want is a box with about 5 inputs and 2 outputs. I would like it to switch between my VCR, DVD player, generic DirecTV box (or two), and tune local TV stations. HD capability would be nice too. Add in PVR/timeshifting features and the ability to control said devices. Software upgradability would be nice, perhaps in the future it could learn how to control my future DVD player/recorder to burn to disc some of the shows I have recorded.

I basiclly want a PVR that's also the hub of my home theater. I want to keep discrete components (use my TV as a display, use my audio reciever as an amp, etc) but I need some sort of switching/recording hub to control it all.

An HTPC is an interesting concept, but until it can handle multiple channels of video I/O, it's not of much use to me.

Huh? (1)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | about 10 years ago | (#9697536)

You mean the HDVR2? I get my locals from the bird, but a friend hooked up an existing antenna for his. It records those just fine.

Re:Huh? (1)

green pizza (159161) | about 10 years ago | (#9697616)

HDVR2 will be handy when all of my local stations go digital (two are holding out for the deadline). But this still leaves me with no easy way to plug in additional inputs (such as from a VCR or Camcorder). Three is also no easy way to seamlessly integrate the beast with a video switcher to handle multiple inputs from different devices.

My audio reciever, on the other hand, has a built-in composite/svideo/component video switcher, which is somewhat handy, but it's more of an edge device (like my tv/monitor). I want a core video switch/pvr that can switch, record, and route multiple video streams for my home theater.

Re:This isn't the device I want (2, Informative)

darrylo (97569) | about 10 years ago | (#9697819)

MythTV [mythtv.org] can do multi-channel recordings, either on the same PC (via multiple encoder cards) or via multiple PCs (each with one or more encoder cards). With multiple PCs, however, LAN bandwidth can be an issue. (For fairly high-quality recordings, say 600-700KB/sec per channel.) Your power bill can be an issue, too. ;-)

Distributed, multi-channel recordings are very nice. If you have multiple PCs, you can also do distributed TV watching (watch a recorded program on a PC other than the one which recorded it).

MythTV also has the cool feature where, if all the encoder cards on your current PC are busy recording shows (which means that you can't watch something else), MythTV will transparently use another encoder on another PC, and stream that output to your current PC. Sehr cool.

Unfortunately, MythTV can be a royal pain to install and configure. The easiest approach is to use something canned like KnoppMyth [mysettopbox.tv] , but the current version (R4V4.1) still needs a fair amount of hacking/tweaking to work with high-quality encoding cards like the Hauppauge PVR-250 or PVR-350. Still, it's better than starting from scratch.

Seems like too much for too little. (1)

Lifix (791281) | about 10 years ago | (#9697515)

The system requirements, processor drain, and memory usage seem like too high a price to pay, certainly for longterm useage. Maybe I don't understand the benefits, but my Tivo does everything that this does, only better.

Re:Seems like too much for too little. (1)

nsayer (86181) | about 10 years ago | (#9699414)

Your TiVo does not do the one thing that this box does: receive and record HDTV (unless you spent about $1000 for an HD DirecTivo).

Re:Seems like too much for too little. (1)

Lifix (791281) | about 10 years ago | (#9699796)

Your TiVo does not do the one thing that this box does: receive and record HDTV (unless you spent about $1000 for an HD DirecTivo). No, I just have regular TiVo, however when presented with the option in the article, or a HD DirecTivo I would easilly pick the Tivo simply because I don't want to buy a G5.

Re:Seems like too much for too little. (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | about 10 years ago | (#9699730)

You can of course use QuickTime to transcode into a tiny little MPEG-4 file for long-term storage.

Do this for free with your digital cable box... (5, Informative)

Casshan (4998) | about 10 years ago | (#9697524)

If you have a modern digital cable box with Firewire outputs, just download iRecord [comcast.net] and connect your Mac to the box with a quality firewire cable. iRecord is developing quickly into a good PCPVR solution for digital cable boxes.

The interesting thing is that you can record anything the box is showing over the firewire output, including video on demand, HDTV, Music Choice, and digital-tier cable channels.

You can then take the captured MPEG2 transport stream and convert it to a standard MPEG file by using VLC's advanced output options in the file open dialog.

Now if someone can figure out how to send the MPEG transport stream back to the digital cable box for playback...

Another alternative for Mac users... (5, Informative)

homgran (766092) | about 10 years ago | (#9697529)

A few months ago, I stumbled upon this page [macosxhints.com] which explains how to record and play back HDTV signals using free tools and a cable box.

Regarding playback, VLC [videolan.org] can *just* manage to play back HD 1080i recordings on my 1GHz TiBook (using the OpenGL playback option), so it sounds like it does not require the gargantuan system specs stated in the above article.

Now if only we could recieve HDTV in the UK. :/

Re:Another alternative for Mac users... (1)

Exitthree (646294) | about 10 years ago | (#9698041)

Since you have a 1 GHz TiBook, am I correct in assuming that it's running at a vertical resolution of less than 1080 pixels? Perhaps it runs because it is scaled down for your screen. Or are you displaying it on an external monitor?

HD Without Extra Hardware ( sort of ) (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697554)

Check out
AVS Forum - Mac HD PVR [avsforum.com]

and

Some interesting software [comcast.net]

If you have a cable box with a firewire port (most HD cable boxes have them, and if yours does not then you can get one from the cable company as there is a law saying that it must be available to you - at least that's what I have been told and the cable company agreed)... Anyway, it works pretty well.. Have fun.

buy these while you can... (1)

enrico_suave (179651) | about 10 years ago | (#9697623)

and any other hdtv PC/mac related stuff before the broadcast flag [eff.org] kicks in =(

Looks pretty cool, i've got to see if I can get my hands on one of these (although it looks like I can get 3 DTV stations over the air where I live... 1 is pbs the other a WB affiliate... =( )

e.

Is it known whether.... (1)

jet_silver (27654) | about 10 years ago | (#9697949)

this device respects the broadcast flag or not? I've seen this device hyped several places but no one seems to be saying.

Apple provides free HDTV recording tools at ADC (5, Informative)

jeffehobbs (419930) | about 10 years ago | (#9697664)

(link [slashdot.org] to previous critically acclaimed post).

It doesn't sound nearly as elegant as the ElGato solution -- they make good stuff -- but for a quick n' dirty geek HDTV recording hack, the example code Apple provides actually does work.

~jeff

Don't bother purchasing these right now... (4, Informative)

Critical_ (25211) | about 10 years ago | (#9697669)

The biggest problem right now with the HDTV stand-alone recorder boxes and computer HDTV tuners is that they cannot record from digital cable. Digital Cable uses QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) which means that it generates 4 bits out of one baud for encoding HDTV channels. Cracking that is the holy grail of HDTV recording and there are many users out there willing to put up lots of cash as an incentive for this happen. The point is over-the-air (OTA) HDTV is unencrypted and can be recorded for the time being using both stand-alone and computer equipment. Both satellite-based and digital cable-based HDTV use either QAM64 or QAM256 which cannot be tuned well by any equipment out today. There was a Dish 5000 reciever that could be hacked to output HDTV digital streams over firewire but the modulation on the network has changed so the box cannot decrypt the streams anymore for output. I would suggest waiting for the time being.

To qualify the above statement, DViCO makes the Fusion HDTV QAM PCI card for desktops which unofficially claims to tune QAM256 but it still has problems with QAM64. Link [dvico.com] A simple seach at the AVS Forums [avsforum.com] should provide more information on current issues with the card. Lastly, for you laptop PC owners out there, Sasem makes a USB HDTV tuner which claims to tune QAM but is really only useful for OTA HDTV at the moment. Link [usbhdtv.com] ATI will be releasing an HDTV card soon but I am not aware if it has any QAM tuning abilities.

Mod parent up.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9698493)

Very important info and answers a frequent question

Re:Don't bother purchasing these right now... (2, Interesting)

Wesley Felter (138342) | about 10 years ago | (#9699237)

You'll never see a digital cable PCI card, since it would be almost impossible for a PCI card to meet the OpenCable robustness requirements.

Your best bet is to get a digital cable box with Firewire (your cable company is legally required to provide one) and hook it up to your computer.

Re:Don't bother purchasing these right now... (1)

yo5oy (549821) | about 10 years ago | (#9700077)

can you point me to the law that mandates firewire on digital settop boxes as my google fu wasn't up to par? TIA.

Tv sux (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9697770)

how could anyone care this much about TV? Maybe when I was 8 years old.

El Gato? (-1, Offtopic)

minus_273 (174041) | about 10 years ago | (#9697782)

My name is Gato, beat me up and get 15 silver points...

Fun thing to do with EyeTV (1)

piecewise (169377) | about 10 years ago | (#9697814)

I have an EyeTV.. The "old" USB model that records crappy quality cable TV. My favorite thing to do is to record a certain channel while I sleep, from say 3am to 5am. Instead of the morning news, I browse through all the crap that happens on TV when we aren't watching... to complement my collection of crap on TV while I AM watching.

New software released today (4, Informative)

Bakafish (114674) | about 10 years ago | (#9697922)

ElGato just released version 1.5 today that lowers CPU requirements for HDTV playback. I read reports of dual 866 G4 being able to play back a full 1080i stream.

The review was vague about being able to receive standard VHF and UHF over the air broadcasts. The online documentation also doesn't specifically indicate that it can receive them. And no Cable input? I mean come on, how is that useful. All the PCI based solutions provide dual antenna inputs. I could understand the lack of Cable based HDTV, but it should at least allow you to record and play standard def cable.

Re:New software released today (2, Informative)

nsayer (86181) | about 10 years ago | (#9699173)

The review was vague about being able to receive standard VHF and UHF over the air broadcasts

Allow me to clarify:

The EyeTV 500 does not receive analog signals at all. It only receives digital TV signals and only works with a normal UHF/VHF antenna receiving broadcast signals over-the-air.

Re:New software released today (1)

Bakafish (114674) | about 10 years ago | (#9699519)

That's what I thought. This is an issue obviously as you would need an EyeTV 200 and EyeTV 500 to have a decent system, sigh.

Re:New software released today (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9699325)

FY'all'sI: I received my EyeTV 500 two days ago, made my own attenna by sticking in a 15" piece of copper motor wire to the antenna port and away I went! I pick up 9 channels using that dinky antenna. I'm only missing my local Fox channel. That's just a matter of a larger|better|raised|directed antenna.

My PB12" G4 866MHz uses about 25-30% CPU to record a 1080i HDTV stream (while NOT displaying it). Playback of the stream at 1024x768 after it's done recording consumes about 95% CPU. I experience very few dropped frames due to the OS needing 5-10% CPU from time to time. Recording and playing simultaneously consumes 100% CPU and results in noticable-but-less-than-annoying dropped frames on the playback (the recording is fine, it still has all the frames).

I would bet that a 1.25 MHz G4 or better could record and playback at 1024x768 without a hitch.
It's when you want to playback at the full 1920x1080 that you need a G5 or two.

I took the recorded stream and saved it to a Quicktime-wrapped MPEG-2 stream. I dropped that on bbDemux and got an M2V and AC3 out of it. I used DiVA to transcode the M2V to Quicktime-wrapped 3ivx (it transcoded at 5fps; damn I need a G5). I attempted to transcode the AC3, but haven't found a tool that will do it properly yet. I've tried the 3 currently-popular ones (can't recall them off the top of my head), but they all yield corrupt audio.

All of the above was using version 1.3.9 software. I'll try the new stuff tonight and update my numbers.

compliance (1)

Leadmagnet (685892) | about 10 years ago | (#9698024)

in compliance with /. anti-MS policy the names Microsoft & Windows now appears in this thread.

Re:compliance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9698383)

I whole heartedly support this ridiculous post and this shitty thread!

Also, obligatory Stallman-esque OSS zealotry:

I refuse to awklowlidge the existance of Mac OSX on the grounds that it is not completely and truly 100% Free.
You are either a slave to the Man or Free. What say you men? GULGULGUGULGUGLGU

Profile of Mac User (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9698735)

Any Macintosh user will satisfy three of the following conditions:
  • Has weird fantasies with Eric Estrada in a bubble bath
  • Likes shiny plastic objects
  • Does not mind paying three times as much for anything
  • Constantly goes to gay bars to "break a twenty"
  • may be married, but insists in choosing the material for the curtains
  • has worked as a graphic designer for at least three years
  • is still in the closet
  • loves broadway musicals
  • works out so that he can "meet" people

Wrong link in the article on homepage (1)

vijaya_chandra (618284) | about 10 years ago | (#9698982)

This is off-topic, but as is obvious I am too lazy to go to the sourceforge site for slash to submit a bug

Pudge reviewed the original [slashdot.org] (USB, NTSC) EyeTV nearly two years ago;

The shortened article in the /. home has the link for 'Pudge reviewed the original' pointing to only slashdot.org and not to the exact review [slashdot.org] . The article which you see in this page has the correct link though.

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