Review: Elgato EyeTV Hybrid

Digital and analog tv on your Mac (October 4th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Elgato Systems

Price: $149.95 US

The Good

  • An all-in-one package capable of switching between analog and digital signals. Small and compact USB hardware. EyeTV software included.

The Bad

  • Must supply your own remote control. Need good reception. Requires Mac OS X 10.4.x

The latest innovation to come out of Elgato labs is the EyeTV Hybrid. The Hybrid comes in a USB stick form factor and has a simple USB plug at one end and an aerial input on the other end. This is great news for those who like a neat and portable design. Enhancements do come plentiful in this model. In addition to the small size, a tuner is squeezed in to this package.

Analog and Digital Access

You now have full access to analogue and digital transmissions over the air. Previously you were restricted to one or the other. For me, this is the single most significant feature in the Elgato EyeTV Hybrid, since in the UK it is not always possible to receive digital transmissions over the air. Due to a built in analogue tuner in the Hybrid, I can now watch the basic five analogue broadcasts when I cannot receive digital.

The built in analogue tuner means you can also use the Hybrid for your satellite set top box, camcorder, or even games console! The support for 720p and 1080i is a bonus and ensures future compatibility with HDTV services. Please keep in mind that you need a Dual G5 or Intel Core Duo Mac in order for HDTV to work. Elgato provides a FAQ and PDF on the site if you want more information on HDTV.

Complete Package Sans Remote

The box includes the EyeTV 2 software, the Hybrid USB receiver, USB extension cable, break out cable for Composite, S-Video and Audio, Quick Start Guide, and full manual on CD. The award-winning EyeTV software, has not received as much recognition for its design, features and functionality as I would like. I think it is one of the best kept secrets in the Macintosh market.

Due to the built in Front Row support, you no longer need a separate remote control to control the EyeTV software. The interface can be activated and operated using the Apple Remote. Actually, it just would not seem right if it did not have some form of Front Row integration or ability to use the Apple Remote. If your Mac does not have the Apple Remote then you need to buy a remote from Elgato or you are stuck.

If you are not familiar with the EyeTV software, the technology behind the software is similar to what a Personal Video Recorder does on your TV. You can rewind, fast forward, and pause live TV. You can also record manually or use the programming guide to schedule programming. The current version (2.3.1) works with Mac OS X 10.4 and later, although they recommend at least Mac OS X 10.4.7.

Schedule your favorite shows

A subscription to an online programming guide such as TVTV.co.uk is required to have full programming guide functionality, schedule recordings, plus the ability to set up remote recordings over the web. (Editor's Note: The US model has a built-in program guide.) With a subscription you can download programming for several days and schedule recordings simply by clicking on the relevant programming in the TV guide. These programs are added to your scheduled recording list, titled, and timer recorded. You can even select the Convert to iPod format button so that when your recording is finished, EyeTV converts the file to an iPod ready format of H.264 or MPEG4, and exports it to iTunes.

Remote Recording

The remote recording facility is a smart feature that I have not seen implemented by anyone else. If you leave your Mac connected to the Net and you go away, forgetting to pre-set your EyeTV software to record a program, all you have to do is log on to the TV guide service and choose the program you want to record, and it is downloaded to your EyeTV schedule on your Mac. Never again will you miss any of your favorite shows! Whilst it is not something you will need to use all the time, that one time emergency set up is great.

Kudos to Elgato for creating such a seamless experience with the hardware and the software. Following the same design philosophy and paradigm that Apple Computers takes with their own products, the lines between form and functionality is yet again blurred by the hard work from the people at Elgato.

This article in its original format with photographs taken by Oni can be found on The TechCast Network Blog: http://www.techcastuk.co.uk/?p=144

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Onwah Tsang


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