System Requirements from the Elgato.com website:
• Macintosh computer with a Power PC G4,G5 or Intel Core processor
• 512 MB of physical RAM
• a built-in USB 2.0 port
• Mac OS X v10.4 or later
• Internet connection required to download Program Guide data
Note: 720p or 1080i HD features require a Dual PowerPC G5 or an Intel Core Duo processor.
Recently, I reviewed the new EyeTV 3 software by Elgato and loved it. EyeTV software is nothing without hardware, and there are several options on the market. One piece of hardware is Elgato’s EyeTV 250plus.
The 250plus will allow you to record analog and digital television stations on your Mac. If you do not have digital cable, it will pick up free over the air HD digital channels with an antenna attached. My local HD channels were picked up through my analog cable connection. I have been using another device to record analog TV on my Mac for a while now, and I didn’t realize how low quality the image was until I saw the digital channels on my machine. WOW!
The difference between the 250plus and some other TV tuners on the market is that the 250plus has its own hardware encoder. This means your computer’s processor is freed up to do other tasks while you are recording a television show. It also means the unit needs more power than a USB port can provide. As a result it has to be plugged in. This is fine, unless you are looking for a truly portable option.
Another great feature of the 250plus, is the “plus” aspect. The unit comes with adapters that allow you to connect your VCR, or camcorder, or other devices to the 250plus and record from them. Want to transfer old home movies on VHS to DVD? Instead of paying a lot of money for someone else to do it, buy the 250plus and do it for yourself.
Set up is easy. Once the EyeTV software is installed, you connect the unit to a power source, and connect the unit to your computer via USB. It is just that simple. After some software setting up, you are ready to go.
While viewing the channels worked great, I did have two minor problems recording the higher quality digital channels. I do not know if this was due to the processor in my machine, or the unit, but I would get occasional “blips” or “hiccups” in the picture. These were so minor and rare that the viewing experience was not ruined.
The second problem was in the aspect ratio of the picture. If I set the aspect ratio of the picture to be automatically set it would never get the ratio right. Digital would look good and analog was cut off, or the opposite would happen. This was easily fixed by manually changing the ratio. Once again, a minor issue that did not ruin the experience.
In addition to EyeTV 3, the unit comes with a lite version of Toast 8 called Toast 8 Basic, a VHS assistant for help converting those VHS tapes, and an iPod assistant for help converting video to iPod format.
On the hardware side, you receive the main 250plus unit, a remote control, a power supply, and the cable for connecting composite, S-video, and audio to the 250 plus. You also receive the USB cable for connecting the unit to your computer. The main unit is very small and does not take up much desk space at all. It measure about 2.5 inches wide, 4 inches long, and about 1 inch high.
At $199, the EyeTV 250plus is a bit pricey. There are other options which are cheaper, but they do not include a hardware encoder which, to me, makes the EyeTV 250plus a definite option the next time I buy a TV tuner for my Mac. I had a few minor problems, but they were not enough for me not to recommend this product. If you are looking for a TV tuner for your Mac this one is worth checking out.