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September 14, 2011 - Dave Hecei
I am a TV junky. I admit it. I watch way too much television. I like cop shows, mysteries, dramas, sci-fi, sitcoms, but I hate most reality shows. There, I said it. To help with my TV habit, I have my Mac mini connected to my Home Theatre setup. I use it to watch TV from the Internet, but I
also use it with an Elgato EyeTV 250+ USB tuner box. This allows me to use my mini as a DVR – Digital Video Recorder. Elgato has just introduced a new type of tuner, the HD HomeRun and it is a bit unique.
The 250+ that I have now has a connection for cable, composite video, and S-video. It also has left and right RCA audio jacks. It has a separate AC adapter for power and USB to connect to most any Mac. Besides being a TV tuner, it is also a decent video capture device. This allows it to record video for other sources like a cable/satellite box, VCR, DVD, and camcorder.
The tuner part of the 250+ receives the new over-the-air digital broadcasts, cable channels 1-125, plus something called clear-QAM. These are the non-scrambled digital channels that are available on most cable systems. On my cable I get all my local networks plus several cable network channels. This limited, but I get almost a dozen HD channels and about a dozen non-HD digital channels.
I love the 250+, especially the included EyeTV software (currently at version 3.5.3). It is used in conjunction with TV Guide (free for the first year) to give you a complete schedule of shows and a simple click to record system.
Elgato recently introduced a new device called the HD HomeRun. What makes the HomeRun unique is that it does not connect directly to any computer. It has a cable connection, Ethernet port, and power port. You heard me right, an Ethernet port. The HomeRun can alsowork wirelessly. Just make sure you have a newer 802.11n wireless router and 802.11n adapters for any computer. (802.11n is more than 2x faster than g and several times faster than b).
Inside the HD HomeRun are dual TV tuners, which can receive over the air, cable, and Clear QAM channels. Dual tuner means that you can watch and record two different shows at the same time. From what I have read, the HomeRun gets all the same channels that my 250+ does, it just has two tuners. Unlike the 250+, the HomeRun works with both Macs and Windows 7 PCs (must have Media Center – not included in some Windows 7 versions). They even make an HD HomeRun iPad App. I have the EyeTV iPad App and it works great. It allows me to watch TV anywhere I can connect via WiFi.
Just like my 250+, the HD HomeRun comes with EyeTV 3 for the Mac and a free year of TV Guide ($19.95/yr). This is an amazing media center application that allows you to control everything. You can watch, pause, rewind, and record TV from any connected (late model) Mac on your network. EyeTV uses TV Guide to give you 2 weeks of program listings and the ability to easily set up what you want to record. It essentially turns your Mac, or PC, into a DVR box. You can setup one-time recordings or even have EyeTV record a whole season of your favorite show.
Elgato makes some of the best video devices for the Mac. Along with what I have mentioned here, they also have the EyeTV HD, EyeTV Hybrid, EyeTV One, turbo.264 HD, and the Elgato VideoCapture. Check out their website for information on all their great video products.
I’m hoping to get a HomeRun here soon. If it works even half as well as my 250+, I’d be impressed. I’m thinking that I’m going to be very impressed.
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