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Monday, May 23rd, 2011 In-Depth review of Elgato eyetv HD

After playing with the device and putting it through it's paces for over a week, has created an in-depth video review of the Elgato eyetv HD high definition video recorder for your Mac! With the amount of material to cover on this device, the review was divided into two parts. You can click either of the links below to jump to that video to view directly on YouTube in full HD.

Part 1: Elgato eyetv HD Review - Intro & Setup

Part 2: Elgato eyetv HD Review - In Use

What is the Elgato eyetv HD?

High Definition Video Recording Hardware
The EyeTV HD is a small USB 2.0 connected device with a built built in hardware HD recording system. It captures HD video via component inputs. This allows it to record the high-definition output from a set top box or other HD source.

Works with Canadian Cable or Satellite boxes
The EyeTV HD incorporates an infrared control system which allows the EyeTV software to seamlessly control the satellite or cable box from companies like Rogers or Bell for automatic recordings.

H.264 Recordings
The EyeTV HD records in quality H.264, the standard format Apple uses for iTunes, Apple TV and playing content on your Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Unique dual-format capture mode
EyeTV HD records in full HD in H.264 format, and features a unique dual-format capture mode so that can you record in HD and iPhone format at the same time. This feature allows really fast exports to iTunes from EyeTV, and facilitates the streaming of live and recorded TV to an iPhone or iPad using the optional EyeTV app which sells for $4.99 in the Canadian iTunes App Store.

Full Featured High Definition DVR (Digital Video Recorder)
The EyeTV HD is powered by the slick EyeTV 3 software for Macintosh. EyeTV includes features you’d find in a well-roundedt DVR system like a TIVO. Starting with the basics like pausing live TV and automatically recording your favorite shows, and extending to advanced features like its built-in editor for removing commercials and the ability to stream to iPhones, and iPads, which is a really cool, impressive feature.

EyeTV HD vs other EyeTV devices
In addition to video capture capabilities, all previous EyeTV hardware devices (i.e. EyeTV Hybrid, EyeTV 250 Plus) have incorporated TV tuners in their designs. The EyeTV HD is different in that it is a video capture device but does not contain a tuner. It depends on the satellite or cable box to handling the tuning function. This is what makes it possible to watch and record premium TV content in Canada with the EyeTV HD. The set top box handles the descrambling of the encrypted content, and the EyeTV HD hardware handles the recording.

Overall thoughts
Looking from afar at this device, it kind of felt like it was going to be one of those intimidating devices that would have a million complicated options and kind of be hard to setup. While the Elgato eyetv HD does have a lot of options, I found the setup of the device very straightforward, and most of the features were easily discovered without even cracking the manual.

The software is quite slick and fun to use, but the real gem and "Mac Moment" I had with the device was controlling it remotely from my iPhone... Being able to watch live TV out on the road and also being able to control it's recording functions. Perfect if you forget to record your favourite episode, or if someone tells you about a new TV program you should watch.

I put the Elgato eyetv HD up there as one of those really cool gadgets that most Mac users will love.

My only complaint was the physical remote. The buttons are not clearly labelled as to their function and I actually found the buttons not very responsive. I had to click very hard on the buttons, sometimes two or three times to get to work.

At first I was kind of confused on how to get the image to my TV. I thought my Rogers PVR should still be spitting the signal out to my receiver. I was just in the wrong mindset on how the device would work. After a few moments of scratching my head, I realized that my Mac would be the device spitting out the video to my receiver. With a Macbook Pro, it isn't really an ideal setup to always plug in my Mac, but I could see with this setup, a Mac Mini working perfectly, with the Mac Mini plugging directly into the receiver with HDMI and being a permanent part of my home theatre. When I've saved enough pennies to get a Mac Mini, that's just what I plan to do!

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