Company: Miglia

Price: $249

A box slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes, an extendable antenna, a remote, and two cables. That’s all there is to the TVMini HD from Miglia, the company that is bringing television to your Macintosh.

The TVMini HD is the latest product to come from Miglia, and it’s impressive. If you’re looking to watch over-the-air High Definition (HD) and Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) content on your Mac, with the ability to record, then look no further. The TVMini HD does just that, using the best Mac DVR software out there today, EyeTV.

Let’s start with the hardware. This is, as far as I can tell, the first real portable solution to watch digital television on your Mac. (For 1080i viewing, a dual G5 Macintosh is required) It works with both ATSC and Clear QAM for un-encrypted cable or satellite signals. What does that mean? Basically, for ATSC, it means the TVMini HD is in full compliance with the Advanced Television System Committee’s standards, which all over-the-air television content providers should be following. Clear QAM is free, un-encrypted digital channels broadcast in your area. You should check that there are indeed local clear QAM in your area before looking at this devise. You can check online at to find out if, and which, stations are broadcasting a digital signal in your area.

The TVMini HD box is small, and has two plugs in the back. One is for the antenna or cable television wire (see below) that screws into the back of the unit. The other is a USB 2 port that connects to your computer. The TVMini HD is powered by USB, so there is no power cable. The front of the unit sports a USB and Lock light, as well as an infrared receiver for the remote. It’s as unassuming in appearance as it could possibly be, which I think works as a plus.

The antenna works to pick up any over-the-air HD signal, just as an analog radio antenna helps your radio tune-in stations. You can also plug your digital cable directly into the back on the TVMini HD for any clear QAM’s. I found that, for the most part, I picked up many more stations using my cable than the antenna, but your results will vary depending on where you’re located.

The unit also ships with a remote control. The remote supports every major function you would expect. I used the remote a few times during my testing, but I sit a foot away from the Mac that I am using for this review, so I really don’t have much use for it. However, if you connected the TVMini HD to, say, a Mac mini being used in an entertainment system, this would work really well.

The software included is EyeTV 2.1 from Elgato Systems. This is, by far, the best TV viewer and DVR solution for the Macintosh. It allows you to watch, pause, and rewind live TV. It allows you to record and schedule recording TV, acting as a DVR. But it also does much more than that.

EyeTV 2.1 supports direct export for the iPod video, so that any program you record can then be saved out as a MP4 video file, viewable on your iPod. Even better, you can do this in two ways, either clicking the iPod button to convert any previously recorded program, or when you set up a program to record, click the iPod button in the recording schedule window, and after recording, it will be sent to iTunes to be synced up with your iPod.

Want to preserve your program to DVD? EyeTV 2.1 also works perfectly with Roxio’s Toast. One button click and Toast will launch, allowing you to burn your recordings directly to DVD. Who needs to go out and buy a boxed set of the show 24 when you can create your own? Like iTunes, the EyeTV Programs window will allow you to set up playlists. Keep all your Lost episodes together, even sorted by date, duration, or size.

What is a DVR without an on screen guide? Who wants to set up manual recordings, like you would on a VCR? EyeTV takes care of that for you by downloading and displaying TitanTV listings for your area. (Free registration is required) From the schedule window, you can simply click the round Record button, and when that shows airs, EyeTV will record it for you.

On the negative side, EyeTV 2.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger), so if you are still using Panther or an older Mac OS X system, you may want to upgrade to take advantage of this fantastic software. (Both Tiger and EyeTV 2.1.)

If Apple were ever to release their own DVR solution built into the Mac OS, they would be hard pressed to beat the EyeTV 2.1 software. It’s simple to use, full featured, and works with all the other software solutions (iTunes and Roxio) you want.

All in all, I had a great time using the TVMini HD with EyeTV 2.1. Both simply work. You get a clean, crisp picture with the ability to record and play on both your DVD player (via Roxio) and iPod. You can also view recordings right on your Mac as well, of course.

A large hard drive is required for many recordings, so if you plan of keep an entire year of Lost on your Mac, consider getting an external FireWire drive. It will save you space, and allow you to keep much more recorded content on hand.

ATSC standard Digital TV receiver
Support free over-the-air ATSC signal 480p, 720p and 1080i (with wide screen support)
Real Time Digital Video Recording (DVR)
Supports Teletext and EPG
Scheduling Recording
Channels Auto Scan
Software Upgradeable

Macintosh with USB 2.0 connectivity
PowerPC G4/500 and higher or Intel Dual Core
Mac OS X 10.4.x Rating: 4 out of 5


Leave a Reply