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Mac Mini Home Theater

Making the Mac Mini the Centerpiece of your Home Theater


Tag: eyetv
EyeTV iPhone App

EyeTV iPhone App

This is a follow-up to my recent review of the Elgato EyeTV 250 device for the Macintosh.  This review will address the iPhone application specifically.  If you want to know my impressions about the device itself, please check out my review.

As far as features are concerned, the EyeTV iPhone app delivers.  It essentially allows you to stream live or recorded tv shows from your Mac directly to your iPhone (via Wifi AND cellular data streams).
The user interface is very clean and simple to navigate.  The first screen gives you four simple options:

  1. Live TV
  2. Recordings
  3. Schedules
  4. Guide

This is one of the best looking and simplest iPhone apps I’ve used so far… if only it worked…

Before I begin to tell you all the things that DIDN’T work for me, I will preface my remarks by saying I am using an iPhone 3g, not the newer 3gs, so it is possible most of these issues are resolved by using the newer hardware.

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Elgato EyeTV Software

Elgato EyeTV Software

I picked up the Elgato EyeTV as part of my experiment to see if I could cut out my DirecTV service entirely.  The short answer is… “no”, at least not quite yet.

The Elgato EyeTV 250 is a USB device for the Macintosh that allows you to watch and record TV broadcasts from over-the-air (OTA) or clear QAM (unencrypted digital cable) signals.  Setup was pretty standard fare — plug in USB connector and power outlet, install software, connect antenna or cable source.  I tested the device with both cable and antenna and the results were a bit mixed.  The scanning channels process took quite a while for both sources, but the cable source returned better initial results.  When using a smaller “digital OTA antenna” I wasn’t able to get all of my major network channels (CBS, NBC, ABC, etc).  However, after connecting to a larger antenna which is mounted in the attic, I was able to pull in all the major networks.  While this was great for my Mac Mini media center (which doesn’t really move), it did mean that it wouldn’t be easy to take the USB device as a travel companion and grab TV from different locations while on the road.

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Media Center Face OffPerhaps the most important aspect of a Mac Mini Home Theater is the actual software you use to view your media.  The ease of use, stability, and flexibility of the software program is ultimately going to determine if the Mac is a viable solution for you to use on a regular basis.  In this article, I primarily weight the pros and cons of three apps which evolved from the Xbox Media Center Project as well as Apple’s own Front Row application.  Find out which is my favorite after the break…

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