Elgato Eye-TV

The Elgato Eye-TV is a TV tuner USB add on for the Macintosh.  I recently had the pleasure of installing one for a co-worker.  Before I go on, I have to say that I am a Windows Vista person and this was my first real experience with the Mac OS X and a recent vintage Macintosh.  Years ago, I owned a Mac ‘Classic’ and in a previous job, had to deal with a handful of really dreadful Mac’s running System 7.  UGH.  And they said Windows was bad!  System 7 was atrocious.  Really bad.  But, I digress.

Installation of the Eye-TV took all of five minutes.  I inserted the CD, drug the software into the Applications folder, plugged in the device into a free USB port and started the software (After taking a minute trying to figure out just how the hell to start an application on the Mac…a decidedly UNINTUITIVE part of the OS.)  In a flash, the blue window popped and I was then walked through a simple setup.  This part of the install was just like any other tuner device I’ve ever installed.  After setup was complete, there was a functioning tv-tuner/video capture device on this really nice Mac. 

The quality of the video from the Eye-TV was astounding.  I was really impressed by the signal.  A VHS VCR was the source(!) and that was being fed by a Verizon FIOS DVR box.  Even going through this old VCR, the signal was quite crisp and fairly sharp.  With an antenna connecting, I think the HDTV portion would be a whole lot better. Unfortunately, I was kind of pressed for time, so I did not get to see this part. Maybe another day.

The interface for the device was just ok, though.  It has a smallish ‘remote’ control window that is more than capable, but the rest of the interface seemed a bit disjointed.  I think it bothered me so much because I have used many different tuner devices on the Windows side and none of them had a nice interface and I really expected this one to be a heck of a lot better.  Sadly, it was sort of a mish mash of iTunes and Explorer.  Really odd. It was workable, but I expected more.  The Windows Media Center has nothing to worry about here.

Elgato’s Eye-TV is $149.95 and available here.

UPDATE: (Dec 17, 2009)

A software update to the Eye TV package will now allow you to stream the video and audio from the device to your iPhone over the Internet.  The update uses HTTP live streaming to the iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser, via a web site, and, thus, gets around Apple’s restriction on such things on the iPhone.  The software update is free.  Read more about it here.

This post has been featured on the Windows 2 Apples Video News podcast.

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