The EyeTV line is a pretty nice family of TV tuners for your Mac that allow watching, pausing/rewinding, and recording of regular TV channels. Instead of streaming over the internet, the Elgato-made products do so through an aerial connection, either on your rooftop or supplied with your device.
Few can doubt that we’ve increasingly started to watch video on devices such as personal computers, tablets and even phones in recent years, moving away from the traditional experience with a TV set. EyeTV helps to bridge the gap between these two markets, by allowing your Mac to be your TV.
Although the product is mainly Mac-focused, a complimentary (not in the sense of price, however) iOS app is also available at an additional charge, that allows you to access your tuner’s power from anywhere with an internet connection. In today’s article, we’ll show you how to get going.
Setting Up EyeTV for Mac
Naturally, you’re going to need the EyeTV software up and running on your Mac before you commence. A disk copy of this software should be included with your device and is easy enough to set-up. Be sure to update your software though, should you install through optical media, especially since the latest update includes full support for Mac OS X Lion.
In order to get EyeTV ready for your iPad to access it, you’ll need to head to the Preferences menu and select iPhone. From that menu, you have two simple checkboxes that are fairly self-explanatory.
Firstly, you’ll need to tick the first box in order to have any functionality within the iPad app, at home or on the go. The latter option allows you to setup a “My EyeTV” account which will allow you to access the EyeTV software on a running Mac while you are out of the house, or otherwise away from the same WiFi connection.
If you wish to set and require a passcode, you can do so through the “More Options…” menu.
To the iPad
The EyeTV app is a paid download, which is fairly shocking. Considering the payment you made for the EyeTV hardware itself, the requirement to pay is a little unjustified, especially at $4.99.
My iPad was actually able to detect my MacBook Air automatically through its Wi-Fi connection, which should be pretty great if it works for you. Otherwise, you want to hit the “Edit” button, and then select “Add EyeTV”.
Upon doing so, you’ll be asked to enter your “My EyeTV” login details that we setup on the Mac. Choosing this method allows you to use this connection when you aren’t connected to the same local network, although, presumably the EyeTV still needs to be connected to a Mac that’s turned on.
Once you’ve then selected a connection, you can hit the gear icon to change bit-rates for the streaming content. This allows you to conserve data usage on 3G (or even increase if you want), WiFi and your local network. You can even test your network right from within the app to judge which speed and quality will suit your connection best.
I’d strongly advise you to turn down your speed a little after performing the test, to be on the safe side. This should accommodate fluctuations in your network speed and avoid issues with audio-visual syncing.
Using EyeTV for iPad
The EyeTV interface on iOS is a radical change from what you see on Mac OS X. The interface houses four main sections, which are accessible through the navigation on the left.
The TV streaming is probably what you came for, and is accessed through the EPG provided. Selecting a channel will fire it up and let it start streaming from your Mac. This will take some time to kick-in, however, and can be prone to the audio/video sync being off if your chosen quality does not match your network strength.
You can playback recordings you’ve made from the EyeTV software on your Mac, but this requires them to be exported for iOS compatibility first, which can take some time and must be done on your Mac first. Honestly, I would find it easier to just sync it with my iPad once the export was complete, so it wouldn’t have an unnecessary reliance on connectivity.
The Brief Review
To put it simply, I don’t like that I have to pay five bucks to get this app. It should really be free, since you need the EyeTV hardware to use it anyway. Also, due to the unfortunate intermittent audio-syncing issues, this app feels more like a tech demo than a final release product. Plus, it’s annoying to try and launch a pre-recorded TV show, only to find that it has not yet been converted.
However, it’s not all bad. In fact, even though I don’t think it warrants the price tag, I quite enjoyed using it – and it’s a nice last resort. It would be awesome if their was an EyeTV device for direct use with the iPad (and that doesn’t seem that unlikely, even though Elgato have not announced anything as of yet), but this interim solution will suit most casual users.
Do you use EyeTV on your iPad? On your Mac? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.