I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new EyeTV Hybrid US from Elgato Systems. When I read the technical specs, and saw that it was going to offer the best of both worlds (Digital and Analog) into a small USB dongle, I knew it would be the answer many of us have been looking for, all in a quest to turn our Macintosh into a TV media center. After extensive testing and using the EyeTV Hybrid for the last month, I am quite smitten with it. Check out their online demo, and read on and you will see why it made it into our Holiday Guide, and why I wish I didn't have to give it back. Overview Elgato has brought to the market a small two-in-one TV interface for your Macintosh. It delivers unencrypted free over-the-air ATSC Digital television (standard & HDTV) and Analog NTSC television from your antenna, cable, or satellite provider. It even adds versatility for those of us that want to use our Mac as an all in one solution, and hook up S-Video or Composite sources, such as video game consoles. Beefy Hardware Requirements The EyeTV Hybrid requires at lease one built-in USB 2.0 port on your Macintosh. Any Mac manufactured within the last several years will have at least one on board USB 2.0 port. If your Mac doesn't, odds are your machine isn't capable of running this unit anyway. To get the best quality out of the EyeTV Hybrid, you really need a powerful Mac, since compression and conversion take a lot of CPU power. You can get away with a G4 processor, but if you want to really enjoy the quality this product provides, I recommend a Dual G5 processor based Mac, or even better, one of the new Intel Core Duo or Core2Duo Macs. To decode the high resolution HDTV signals, you are going to need at least a dual G5 processor. Since this product uses the CPU for compressing the Analog stream during recording, it will require a fast CPU to do the background processing. Elgato specs say that 256MB of RAM will do (they recommend 512MB or more), but if you plan on using all of the features of the software, and want to play the Digital TV streams in HDTV 720P or 1080i, giving your Mac as much RAM as possible will certainly increase it's performance. If you plan on recording any of content, hard disk space is also another hefty requirement. Through the preferences, you can setup a default location for your videos to be saved. If you have a skimpy internal drive, you may want to look into a high capacity external firewire drive to save the videos onto. Recording sizes will vary, but an uncompressed typical ATSC Digital signal will be about 8GB for 60 Minutes of recording. Analog is less, and with DVD quality, for a 30 minute show, we averaged around 1-2 GB, depending on the content. Space for your saved recordings will vary, since you can choose different quality settings for recording. Space Requirements
- VCD ( 352x288 - MPEG-1 / 589 MB per hour.
- DVD (120Min) - 352x576 / MPEG-2 / 1.8 GB per hour.
- DVD (90 Min) / 720x576 / MPEG-2 / 2.7 GB per hour.