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EyeTV USB Owner Comments


EyeTV 1.6.7 Update: (12/22/2004) It's available at ElGato's EyeTV updates page. See the release notes for what's new. (Notes EyeTV 200 overall stability has been improved and a firmware update for EyeTV 610).

This page has some of the first USB EyeTV reader/owner comments (the later model EyeTV reports page was getting too big so older usb reports were separated here). I've not used one personally but welcome other EyeTV owner comments about their experience with it. (Include your system info, OS X and driver version details in reports.)

USB EyeTV Owner Reports: (for later/Firewire model reports, see this page)
(I welcome EyeTV owner comments - include system/OS/driver version details. Thanks.)

Note: All older reports below are from the original USB EyeTV model

(from the Jan. 13th, 2003 www.xlr8yourmac.com news page)

"Hi, I have had none of the problems regarding crashing during editing or out-of-sync audio with the EyeTV 1.1 update. (he's referring to the first EyeTV 1.1 report in Friday's news page.-Mike)
It runs great for me and the fine resolution is good enough to edit out almost all commercials while still leaving a little bit of a black screen as a break where the commercial would be. Editing your video to remove commercials is a great way to reduce file size, too. I went through all my recorded shows and freed up about 7 GB by getting rid of the commercials. It's easy to do and I actually enjoy doing it. EyeTV is an evolving product and El Gato Software keeps adding great features. The TV scheduling feature in Watson is a great enhancement to EyeTV.

Here is my setup for comparison to other EyeTV users that may report problems.
Dual 533 G4, 896 MB RAM, Internal 40 GB HDD and Pioneer DVR-105 superdrive, External (firewire) 80 GB HDD and Sony (Apple OEM) CDRW, GeForce4 Ti and 2 monitors. OS 10.2.3 QuickTime 6.1 (but also worked under 6.0.1), EyeTV 1.1
Kenny L."


(from the Jan. 10th, 2003 www.xlr8yourmac.com news page)
Here's the first reader report on EyeTV 1.1 (update noted in Tuesday's news).

" I downloaded the EyeTV 1.1 updater on Tuesday evening and have been playing with the editing capability quite a bit. First off, the bad news. I've had alot of crashing problems while using the editor. But the good news is that when it works it's wonderful. Editing is easy; a visual display shows key-frames with either a "Normal" or "Fine" resolution (although I found "normal" to be almost unusable. Too imprecise. Even fine doesn't display every frame.) By applying clip points you are able to choose beginning and end frames. Once you've applied all your clip points you then apply them (a one way street, sadly. No UnDo.) and viola! You've got a new movie with your clipped content edited out. Very handy. You can also pick clipped areas and export them out as stand-alone movies, thus segementing longer programs into shorter segments. Thus I was able to take a two hour movie, clip out the commercials and finally divide it into two VCDs for burning. Wonderful!

The only issue I had, outside of the crashing, was on one clip the audio and video got out of sync. Fortunately I'd made a copy of the original (after discovering the lack of undo) and I was able to make a second go at it and it worked correctly the second time. I was also a bit frustrated that I couldn't import programs I'd already exported out to MPEG back into EyeTV to be editted, but them's the breaks. Hopefully the software will be able to do this in the future.

The editor definately feels like a 1.0, but it's got enormous potential. It fills one of the gaps that the EyeTV package had, and hopefully it can only get better from here. I love this product!
-Jeremy H.
(he later wrote)
I'm running EyeTV 1.1 under Mac OS X 10.2.3 with Quicktime 6.01 and 512MB of RAM. I upgraded over the weekend to Quicktime 6.1, so we'll see how that goes. My machine is a Quicksilver dual Gigahertz, and I'm running my EyeTV off a powered USB hub. "


(Note: Older reports below were from before the v1.1 software update.)

A reader sent a long email with "EyeTV Tips and Tricks" as the subject line, but also included comments on a portable MPEG1 Movie/MP3/JPEG player (notebook drive based) with media card slots, burning EyeTV movies to DVD-R and more. The comments are long so they're posted on a separate page.

(Note: All reports below were before the 1.04 software update.)

Watson 1.6 EyeTV Programming Support: (from a reader email)

(added 11/12/2002)
"Watson 1.6 is out, and with it has been included the EyeTV programming support i contributed.
Watson is worth the price to avoid titantv for this feature alone!
http://www.karelia.com/watson/ (free trial)
-Ben"


(added 10/25/2002)
" If you choose to post this, rather than wait for my more thorough report, that's fine. But just use my first name, please.

Very interesting device. As your readers have reported, many pros, some cons.

One pro, which no one reported yet: I *am* able to record digital channels higher than EyeTV's tuner limit of 125 or so. I just set it to channel 3 and use my cable box to descramble the signal. (I noted this as a workaround in the early news page comments on the EyeTV. However the drawback doing that means you can't watch one channel on TV and have the EyeTV record another channel for instance, as well as not being able to program recordings that way.-Mike)

Actually, I may leave it that way most of the time for two reasons: 1) The picture seems to be better. I will have to double check if this is actually the case or if it is just my imagination. 2) I can use the cable box remote for much faster and easier channel surfing while watching live TV.

I was able to record onto an external FireWire drive connected to my 800 MHz G4 tower, and then move that drive to my PowerBook and view the mpeg without even installing EyeTV yet on the PowerBook.

Even the G4, with over 700 MB of RAM (about half dedicated to EyeTV) was pretty slow doing anything other than watching EyeTV. I may try cutting back on the amount of RAM given to EyeTV.

HQ picture looks quite good on the PowerBook. Almost like a good VHS recording. 9 minutes of HQ video was 180 MB+ !

I watched the World Series and used the Live TV caching to re-run the good parts and skip the bad parts.

I tried recording a program while I was away. Because I am going through the cable box, I had to schedule it manually. I distinctly remember setting the slider to one hour. I had debated whether to add an extra minute at the beginning or end, but decided I didn't need to for this program. I reset Energy Saver so the machine and the drive wouldn't sleep.

When I got home, it had only recorded 19 seconds of the show. The start time and end time were the same. I don't know if I screwed up manually setting up recording, but I do it all the time on my VCR, so I know what I'm doing.

Changing channels using the software remote is slow, jarring, and cumbersome. TitanTV sucks, as some of your readers have reported.
Will send a more thorough report after using it a bit longer.
Steve "


(added 10/18/2002)
" Regarding the 1.03 update: Seems to be much more stable than prior releases. The only problem I've noticed is that almost every recording I make ends up with a 1 second audio jitter somewhere during the first couple minutes of the recording. Audio and video sync has been improved.

Video quality could still stand to be improved. When compared to captures done using an ATI All In Wonder Pro (on an X86 machine), the EyeTV captures look blurry. I'm using EyeTV on an iMac G3/450 w/ 640MB running 10.2.1. The machine does little else other than act as a PVR and syslogd host.
Scott "


(added 10/8/2002)
" Well, at least I'm happy with the 1.03 update. So far at least. I only had 1.02 running for 24 hours (my EyeTV just arrived last Thursday) but the 1.03 seems to have corrected two big problems I was having with 1.02.

a) I'm running EyeTV with an antenna rather than a cable hookup, so the fix in 1.03 about displaying "No Signal" rather than hanging is appreciated. If I switched to a low signal channel under 1.02 it would become non-responsive.

b) The "red artifacts" after switching channels. I was seeing that all over the place in 1.02. Seems to be gone in 1.03.

As to the problems Manuel and TK reported (see recent reports below-Mike), I have had neither. I don't understand how TK could be dubbing and watching live TV at the same time since it only has one tuner, but I suppose you could record through the AV inputs and still watch the signal through the coax. Don't know since I only have the coax hooked up right now.

I'm running 1.03 on a dual gigahertz Quicksilver with 512 MB of Ram and running OS 10.2.1.
-Jeremy"


(added 10/7/2002)
" Tried 1.0.3. While making a dub AND while taping live TV, I got a randomly flashing green noisebar at the top of the screen. Back to 1.0.2.
TK "


(added 10/7/2002)
" Just upgraded to v 1.0.3 of the EyeTV software. I noticed that occasionally, the live video window would feeze then stutter between one or two frames. This would stop the recording. I already sent note to ElGato and am awaiting their reply
Anybody else have this kind of problem
My system consistes of a G4/400 running 10.2.1 with 768MB of RAM
Manuel E. "

I don't know if this is typical but I'd write El Gato tech support about this problem to see what they say/suggest.


Note: Reports below were before the 1.03 driver update was released.

(Mail dated 9/18/2002)
" I bought my EyeTV directly from ElGato software in Los Gatos, CA, for $200. According to ElGato tech support, they do not sell them in retail stores.

I installed OS X 10.2 on a new hard drive on a Beige G3 with a PowerLogix G4 upgrade clocked to 525 MHz. The EyeTV worked pretty well with this machine, but OS X is severely slowed while the EyeTV records. Don't plan on doing any other work on your computer when the EyeTV is running. Recorded videos played back fine on the computer using either built-in video or an ATi Radeon 7000 PCI video card. Even watching full-screen worked fine. The integration with Toast is very good for burning Video CDs, but you must do this from the EyeTV software using the "Burn as Video CD" option from the File menu. Attempting to drag-and-drop MPG files made with EyeTV onto Toast from OS 9.2.2 gives an message saying you can't do this, and that you have to use the Burn VCD feature from EyeTV while running OS X.

Watching Live TV with the EyeTV was great, especially being able to pause abd back up and replay parts, and being able to skip-forward using the 30-second skip forward button. The VCDs created by Toast from the EyeTV-captures played fine on the Beige Mac using QuickTime or MacVCD. They played fine in many different home DVD players that I tested, but the audio was mangled when played on a Pioneer DV-333, and I tested two of them and had the same problem on both. This is sad, because the Pioneer DV-333 plays other VCDs made using Cleaner Pro and MPEG-charger just fine. As a result I had to purchase a new home DVD player. All current DVD players that I tested in stores played the EyeTV VCDs just fine, even newer Pioneer players like the DV-353.

I also tried to run the EyeTV one a G3/366-upgraded PowerMac 8500, running OS X 10.2 using XPostFacto. To do this, the 8500 had a Sonnet Tango USB/Firewire card, a Sonnet Tempo ATA/66 card with 80 gig Seagate drive, and an ATi Radeon 7000 card. Video performance on the 8500's built-in video (with 4 megs VRAM) was too slow, causing the video to stop-and-start and stutter. On the ATi Radeon 7000 however, it was fine. Watching live TV seemed to work okay, but while recording shows, the EyeTV began to stop-and-start every few seconds until it finally froze. Essentially, it was worthless for recording anything beyond a minute or two, making this setup essentially worthless. I attribute the inability of the 8500 setup to work with EyeTV to the 50 MHz system bus on the 8500, along with multiple paths in-and-out of the PCI bus. It is worthwhile to note that the G4-upgraded Beige G3 setup also used PCI USB, ATA, and Radeon 7000 cards, and worked fine with the EyeTV.

By far the coolest feature of the EyeTV is that it does MPEG1 encoding in real-time for only $200. Archiving shows to VCD is effortless and a great alternative to using a VCR and VHS tapes. Consider the video quality to be similar to the slow recording speed on VHS. The TitanTV interaction is a bit slow, but worked as advertised. It is, however, much easier to set up regular scheduled recordings manually, than by using TitanTV. One quirk with the EyeTV software is the ability to record a show "weekly" or "daily." I think "every weekday" would be a much better option than "daily" since most shows aren't on 7 days a week. Maybe the next version of the software will fix this. Even though the EyeTV buffers shows that you're watching live, you can only begin recording from the live-point of a show. If you've been watching a show for ten minutes from the beginning, for example, and you decide "I wish I was recording this" you can't save it from the beginning. When you hit record, it will begin only at the live signal.

All in all, I'll keep it just because it can do real-time MPEG1 encoding for only $200. This is great for making home-VCDs from camcorder home movies. For use as a Personal Video Recorder, I think I'd recommend having a dedicated Mac that you don't use for anything else, just for recording TV shows. When you factor in the extra costs of a Mac, OS X, hard drives, possibly a new video card (OS X wouldn't work with my 3DFX VooDoo 5 card, so I had to buy a Radeon 7000) and possibly having to buy a new DVD player (if you own the Pioneer DV-333), you might be a lot better off just buying a TiVo. I also wish there was a Mac-based way to do basic editing of MPEGs, to cut commercials out of a recorded show.
Mark B."


A reader tip in reply to the VCD problem reported below:

(added 8/28/2002)
" Regarding not being able to burn a VCD from an EyeTV recorded program.. Two things to check come to mind:

1) Make sure your quality setting is "Standard" and not "HQ"
2) Make sure when asked to name your file, it has a .MPG extension and NOT .MOV.

Good luck!
Scott T. "


Here's the first report on EyeTV from a OS X 10.2/Jaguar user:

(added 8/28/2002)
" While at my local Mac reseller on Friday night waiting for Jaguar (I must get a life) I noticed they had eyeTV on sale for $176, so I picked one up. I installed 10.2 first, then eyeTV. So far I'm pleased, except for one thing. I can't get burn a Video CD of my recorded program. The eyeTV software Ver. 1.0.2 launches Toast 5.1.4 like it's supposed to, but I get an error from Toast that the file type is invalid for a Video CD and I should use my encoding software to create a suitable Video CD image.
[See reader tip above about using Standard quality setting and .mpg extension]

Of course, since I installed 10.2 first, I have no idea if the inability to burn a program to Video CD is due to eyeTV incompatibilities with 10.2, Toast incompatibilities with 10.2, or the fact that I DO NOT have Quicktime PRO, only standard quicktime 6.0 installed by 10.2 I know that the Pro version has importing and exporting codecs not in the standard version. Nowhere on ElGato's website does it mention requiring the Pro version of quicktime.

I'm curious if anyone else who has upgraded to 10.2 has this problem or if is just me.

My machine specs are:
G4 400 AGP, Radeon AGP card (retail), 10.2, 640 megs RAM, QueFire! 4x4x24 Firewire CD/RW.
Eric J. "

I don't own an EyeTV but welcome other 10.2/EyeTV owner comments about their experience with it.



(Note: Reports that follow were before OS X 10.2 was released at retail)

(added 8/16/2002)
" I purchased the EyeTV with some trepidation after reading the mixed early reviews on Xlr8yourmac.com, but after receiving the unit with the 1.01 version of the software I've been very happy with it. I've had problems with only two shows, an episode of Earth Final Conflict that seems to be fine in it's Quicktime MPEG1 format, but crashes the EyeTV software whenever I try to write to VideoCD (v1.02), and the Sims episode of Drew Carey which I believe I lost due to my own klutziness.

Now I'm collecting VideoCD copies of Enterprise (and advertisers should be happy to know that the commercials are still there). Those of us spoiled by DVD's should be disappointed with the inferior picture quality of VideoCDs, but watching an EyeTV recorded VCD of Chasing the Giant Squid last night on my DVD player I forgot I was watching a cd-rom recording and not live TV.

My only issue is with the inability to edit the recorded movie files, but this is a limitation of the MPEG1 format and not ElGato's fine gadget. Those who wish to edit their recordings are better off using a device like the Dazzle DV bridge that saves in a non-MPEG1/2 format followed by editing then converting to VideoCD or DVD. I happily give the EyeTV an A+.
Dave "


(added 8/16/2002)
" I've set up a mailing list on coolist.com for EyeTV Users...
It's a "unofficial" mailing list, not supported (or affiliated) with ElGato Software. Right now the easiest way to subscribe, is to go to this url:
http://www.coollist.com/subscribe.html
For List ID: "EyeTv" (w/o quotes, of course)
Your Email Address, is of course, your email address.....

There does not yet appear to be any advertising content "added" to the mailing list, unlike (for example) yahoogroups.....

I hope to allow this to be a forum for hints, tips, techniques, etc to be exchanged between EyeTV owners...
- Benjamin Schollnick"


(added 8/15/2002)
" I ordered my eyeTV during the expo, and first used it with version 1.0.1 of the software under OS 10.1.5 on my Cube (450mhz, 1gb ram) and Powerbook (500mhz G3, 512mb ram).
The system works perfectly for me, and I haven't had any problems, except that it does not work through my "economy USB hub" from Belkin. Plugged it into a USB port on studio display, and it's been working flawlessly. Version 1.0.2 has also been working very well for me. I would highly recommend this to any cube or powerbook owner.
-Jonathan Eisch "


(added 8/14/2002)
" Great site. Read it everyday and the comments on the site convinced me that it would be okay to buy an EyeTV. I'm running 1.0.2 on a Quicksilver dual 800MHz using 10.1.5 and am pleased overall. The program does have issues if there is any decent load running on the machine, but with a lighter load it generally responds quite well, although channel changing IS annoying. It isn't a replacement for a TV, but it is a great way to record shows that you miss.

It does crash from time to time, but I figure it will get better with later releases. I only wish there was an easy way to edit the mpeg files to get rid of commercials and that DVD-Rs could be written in VCD format so I could put a whole season of The Simpsons on one disc, but I can just dump the files there as an archive anyway. Not perfect, probably not worth $200 in terms of reliability, but I think it is worth the money to easily get an mpeg archive of my favorite shows.
-Mark Sloan "


(added 8/13/2002)
" I purchased the EyeTV during the Expo to save the $20 and have been delighted with it every since. I have recorded shows and put them on CD to watch on TV and it works great. Picture quality is as good as or very close to VHS. My only complaint is the slow channel changing speeds. I am running EyeTV 1.0.2 on MacOS 10.1.5 (and praying it works as well or better on 10.2). I would and have recommended this products to others.
Brian "


(added 8/12/2002)
" Mike,
Although I've had a few lock ups and issues that were only fixable by restarting with the releases prior to v1.0.2, I've had very few problems with this release (1.0.2), and am quite satisfied with my purchase. I think some people perhaps have different expectations of the device than myself, and perhaps that's justified due to the TiVO-like advertisement claims for the product, but my expectations are very minimal for this product. I needed a device that would encode analog video (VHS tapes) into a VCD compatible MPEG-1 stream in real-time. Done. I know the issues with editing MPEG's under QuickTime is a hassle, but that's not El Gato's fault, and I don't associate such shortcomings with them or their product.

Problems I have seen with freezing video are when I've changed the channel on the VCR that feeds the EyeTV signal. This break in the video signal may be throwing off the device, as it may rely on some type of time code to sync the video encode process, and that's getting broken if there's too much static or the channel is changed. Dunno, just a theory.

I would personally hate to see this product fail because some people out there are hesitant to get it based on a few people's unfortunate and/or "outdated" experiences (most reports are for v1.0 or 1.0.1).
[Note - I list the most recent reports here first - as well as noting/linking the software updates, etc. - but do not remove older reports farther down the page. -Mike]

If you're on the fence about getting this product, decide what you'd like it to do. If you want a TiVO, get a TiVO. If you'd like to make VCD's (which they look GOOD for VCD's, by the way), then give it a shot. Thus far their tech support and software update cycle have been great. =)
Best,
-Jeremy "


(added 8/10/2002)
" Re Frank's comments posted 8/9:

Hmmm my unit and software have not frozen at all. Works fine. In fact while I am running v1.0.2, I can't recall having problems with v1.0.1 either.

It hasn't crashed for me yet and I use it every night. More than I would like to admit, actually. Never had the window NOT open. I get no stutters either.

And I have had no problems hearing from tech support either. I don't expect them to drop everything they're doing to email me but they have been responsive when needed.

Had no problems purchasing it either. Placed my order, they said allow 5 business days to process (I expected they were booked up pretty bad as I ordered it the Friday night of MacWorld NY week). I asked for cheapest shipping and it came on the 29th. No hassles at all.
I can't imagine what Frank's problems are.
Regards,
Bob Patterson "


(added 8/9/2002)
" First, this product is NOT great. The marketing is, nothing more (yet at least). ... QT 5 and 6 do not support editing MPEG 1. This is well documented by apple. I sent the link before. Don't have it here.

This product is completely unreliable and more frustrating than anything I've ever used before.

It doesn't always tape the show.
It crashes frequently.
Frequently the TV window will not open at all.
Even more frequently, the window showing TV will freeze and show no more TV. It will allow you to rewind, but will not display any current broadcast.
Even when something IS recorded, the show usually has a few 'skips' in it where you miss 5-10 seconds of the show. That's a great one. In fact, it has yet to record even one show without doing this. Often it claims to have recorded a full 32 minutes of a show, but in fact has only 5 seconds of the show.
You can't leave this thing unattended for more that one day (or less even) because it will simply not work. This product is unreliable, so that makes it near useless - considering that it's there for your convenience.
The display stutters even when not taping. Freezes frequently.
I've used it with analog and cable and experienced all of this constantly.
El Gato is horrible. They do not have a phone number, they do not reply to emails. DO NOT REPLY TO EMAILS. Actually purchasing the product was almost as frustrating as using it. They post this obviously misleading idealistic review on their web site. Don't beleive it.
This product COULD be great. It's not, though - it's unbearable. Really, I loved it the first day until I saw how completely unreliable it was. I'm writing this right now because it has failed 6 times today, and I wasn't even recording anything. Yes, I have the latest update (1.0.2). It crashed on me the first 3 times I used it. It doesn't finish scanning for channels. I have tons of fast disk space and all of that.

Unless you want to be an unpaid QA tech for El Gato, avoid this product. I hope it gets better in the future, but selling this in it's current state is highly irresponsible.

While writing this, EyeTV has frozen 3 times during live broadcast (not even recording). Thanks, ElGato.
Frank "


(added 8/6/2002)
" Greetings,
- I too am running the Beta because of the my cable system. No problems, and very stable too.
- TitanTV was poor this Saturday evening, otherwise its been OK. Hey its free and can only get better...right?
- Burning a VCD was easy, except I ran out of space on my harddrive. EyeTV just stopped the conversion without any warning and left a partial file.
- I did burn a VCD after cleaning up the Trash. The integration with Toast is very good. Quicktime would not run the VCD, but VideoLan did. Another note, some home DVD players cannot read standard CDR's, but can read CDRW's. So if you make a VCD, make sure to test your home DVD player and not assume you made a coaster.
- I also used the 'save to Quicktime' menu option. The file size was reduced about 15% on a cartoon and 5% on a live action movie. This is helpful since 1 hour can be greater than the 640mb CD. Also, the cartoon would only run on VideoLan, and the live movie worked on Quicktime and VideoLan...go figure?
- I need to investigate burning the root EyeTV file (mpeg) to CD. I like the video controls that EyeTV has (VideoLan and QT cannot skip in 30 second intervals). I assume there is no issue, but you never know...
- Now I have to spend another $200 to get a larger harddrive.
- I have a PBG4/400 running 10.1.5 with a 10gb harddrive. EyeTV runs a little slow and the fan will come on occasionally. Hopefully 10.2 will help out.

-Overall, its worth the $200 bucks. If Elgato could trim out commercials and improve the changing channel speed, I would give it 5 of 5 stars, otherwise 4 of 5.
Thank you,
Martin "


A reader replied to a previous EyeTV owner comment with a suggestion:

(added 8/6/2002)
" I don't own an EyeTV, but after reading this might save up for one for christmas.
I have used this program- bbDEMUX 1.2.2 -successfully to separate the audio from the video, and save them into separate files, so you can transform them into something else.
Here is the link:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/macbbdemux
-Ted Calvin "


(added 8/6/2002)
" I agree with the comments of a couple of the recent responses, namely Mitch Pilchuk and Marc.

I am running EyeTV 1.0.1 on an iBook 700, 128 MB RAM (a bit lean). I noticed the blinking colors noted by Mitch as well, some channels, not all and not all the time. Looks almost like a ghost image flashing at other locations in the window. For my purposes it isn't too distressing but I hope ElGato can find a cause and a cure.

I mainly watch it live. My computers are not near my TV, so I use EyeTV to catch the evening news. some movies, and a few other things I would miss if I had to rely on my TV.

Like Marc I had hoped to do some editing as I saw a couple things I wanted to save. Though I watch in live mode, EyeTV does record MPEG-1 in 100 MB segments. These can be saved if they are pulled out of the EyeTV disk location before quitting the EyeTV app.

When I tried to edit in QT 6 Pro however I found that the bugaboo that showed up in QT 5 (editing had worked in QT 4.1, but when 5.0.2 came out there was a note that it was to be fixed in the next version [maybe, a future version?] of QT ... well, it isn't fixed in QT6).

I am told that you can demux the MPEG, and export the resulting files to .mov format, then add the audio track back to the video. I don't know if you can export as a stream to iMovie and then edit both sound and video that way. I haven't tried either one, but the bbdemux app (note that this is an OS 9 app) can be found here:
http://umn.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/macbbdemux/bbdemux1.2.2.sit

Is there a way to export MPEG-1 muxed files into a streaming format that could be edited in iMovie?

A couple times, in "Live" mode, the video and audio have somehow gotten out of synch. Quitting the app and restarting has fixed that, but it's not a great fix if I were recording a movie, say. One time when this happen was when I was setting up the channel designations in Preferences->Setup. I had the Prefs window opened for an extended period, and when I closed it I noted that audio and video were out of synch. I tried a few channels and they were all out. I quit the app and restarted, and all reverted to normal.
Regards,
Bob Patterson "


(added 8/5/2002)
" FYI
As an overly curious user of the ElGato EyeTV product, here is a link to the encoder chip specifications used in the unit itself.
http://www.emblazer.com/z1510.shtml
I found this to be quite interesting. The chip also supports encoding Motion JPEG and data rates up to 1M bps.
Eric "


(added 8/5/2002)
" I purchased EyeTV on their web site on the last day of MacWorld. When I got it, none of the channels were found to have any signal on them. I noticed the mention of this problem in the 1.0.1 update of their software.

I sent an email to ElGato and a day later they sent me a link to Eye TV 1.0.2b4 beta.

Wow.
This is a great product. There are a few problems with the beta that I could find. One is that it doesn't like channels that are scrambled (these are channels that my cable listing doesn't even have in it). When you pick a scrambled channel, EyeTV seems to freeze. It may come out of it but after five minutes, I did a force quit. Once I blocked out the channels that were scrambled, It worked great.

The other problem is some blinking of bold colors on certain screens. I still have to study this one. It doesn't happen on all channels and seems to happen when bright colors contrast dark ones.

Not bad for beta. I love this thing. I am recording David Letterman as I type this. There is nothing like scrolling through the commercials and parts of Letterman that I don't want to watch.

EyeTV has to be commended for their support. While there isn't a phone number listed for support, only an email address, they somehow are managing to make me happy. This thing is great.
One more cool thing. When EyeTV is minimized, the video is live as it sits in the dock
Mitch Pilchuk "


(added 7/31/2002)
" Hi Mike,
I purchased my EyeTV for ElGato's website on 7/15/2002. It arrived about 8 days later, so I have had nearly a full week to play around with it. On the whole I have been satisfied with it, especially after the 1.0.1 update fixed the channel switching speed and helped some of the crashes I was having. But I still have some problems and observations:

  • When saving to quicktime in either the low quality of high quality, you get an mpeg1 file either at ~170 KB/s or at ~340 KB/s. Now what I was hoping to be able to do is easily edit these QT movies using QT 5 pro to edit out things like commercials or the buffer time before and after the shows in order to get files I can save and watch without using the EyeTV program. However in both QT pro 5 and 6 and Cleaner 5 the editing controls are disabled. Additionally the audio seems to be mixed in with the video so that if you try to export the movie into another format (I tried dv, Motion JPEG A and B) or open the file in Final Cut Pro you lose the audio. Since I am not a video wiz by any means, I might be missing something, but it seems there is no easy way to edit the files. If any of your readers or other EyeTV users have any suggestions they would be very welcome.
  • CPU usage/computer lag really needs to be improved. While watching live tv or watching a show I recorded in the EyeTV program CPU % is usually around 50%, but more annoying than that is the slight overall system slowness which occurs at the same time. There is a slight, but noticeable difference between my computer's (TiBook 800 MHz) responsiveness when the EyeTV is running and when it is not. The sluggy performance goes away when live TV is paused or when the TV viewing window is closed; at these times the CPU usage is down to about 10% as well. The performance lag is not very much, but it is annoying. I am running the program off of an external firewire drive, so that might have something to do with it, but based on earlier reports I thought it would help instead of hurt.
  • The Titan website is generally too slow to be useful for me, but manually setting record times is very easy and once you have them set you can have them auto-repeat daily or weekly, so you never really have to go back and change things.
  • Otherwise I like the system, it just needs some work. I would love to be able to edit the quicktime movies to save room and to be able to take the recorded movies with me without having to carry my firewire drive - I am bummed that you can't do this and hope it is something there is a fix for.
    Thanks,-Marc "


    (added 7/30/2002)
    " My EyeTV arrived today and it came with version 1.0.1 version of the software on the CD-ROM. There was just one application freeze (the dreaded spinning beach ball). After a force-quit and application relaunch everything worked perfectly. The video is as good as it gets for AT&T CATV. The titantv.com website lets me click on a program, and after a few seconds, some little file temporarily appears on the desktop, and the EyeTV video is tuned to the new channel. This really rocks!

    CPU utilization at the high quality setting is less than 50% on a DP800 QuickSilver. Call me a satisfied customer.
    - John "


    (added 7/30/2002)
    " Mike
    I ordered my EyeTV during the week of the MacWorld Expo, and I just received it today via UPS. I was all set to download the updater when I discovered, to my complete surprise, that the latest version (v1.0.1) was bundled with the device! They must be hand-packing these things to fill orders.

    Anyway, I have to agree that the product has some slight shortcomings, but all of them are minor, and will most likely be addressed in future upgrades. Let's not forget that ElGato Software are the guys that Roxio contracts to do Toast. They know how to put together a good piece of software, and I would venture to say they know a bit about hardware and software integration.

    EyeTV looks good! The interface blends nicely with OS X.

    I tested the product on my PowerMac G4/550 MHz (overclocked :P) with a retail Radeon 32MB DDR, 1.5 GB RAM, 80 GB ATA133 RAID 0 stripe across two 40GB 7200 RPM ATA133 Maxtor drives, and 1.5 Mbps DSL via CAT-5, as well as my fiancé's iBook with 366 MHz G3, 128 MB RAM, 10 GB ATA66 notebook drive, Rage Mobility 128, and 1.5 Mbps DSL via AirPort, and performance was acceptable on both.

    For MPEG-1 video from broadcast SD television, this is as good as it gets. I have no complaints about the quality for the price range, and it's easily viewable in full-screen on my 19" monitor at 1600x1200, and in a window it does its thing in the background quite nicely.

    I had some minor issues with the device being recognized by the software, but it's hard to tell who's fault it is (OS X or EyeTV). A simple unplug and replug fixed the issue.

    The TitanTV website is horrendous. This is the biggest shortcoming of the product. I'm a web-developer by trade, and from my perspective, it's a slow to navigate, barely customizable, piece of crap site. In my opinion, ElGato should take a cue from Watson, and the upcoming Sherlock 3, and provide a distilled version of the information available on TitanTV through an interface built in to EyeTV. The integration with TitanTV is provided exclusively through Internet Explorer. Basically, EyeTV registers itself with IE to handle file downloads of a certain type. When you decide to watch or record a show, and click the link to watch or record, you are actually downloading a file which is automatically opened by EyeTV, processed, then erased. This would be seamless if it weren't for the awful performance of the TitanTV site where you must click the watch or record icon, wait for a pop-up window to load, ignore the note that EyeTV support is “coming soon", click another watch or record button, wait for the download manager to download the file, and wait for EyeTV to open the file and tune the channel, and/or schedule the recording.

    Obviously there are some kinks to work out, but overall, ElGato deserves praise for bringing a product with a ton of potential to the Macintosh community!
    Erik Mattheis "


      (added 7/29/2002)
      " Hi again Mike,
      Just thought I' drop a line to let you know that the eyeTV 1.01 update actually makes the device work.

      With the 1.0 software the TV was viewable, but channel changing would take 10-15 seconds and the automatic recording function would more often cause the eyeTV software to unexpectedly quit then produce anything.

      With the 1.01 software the channel change takes 3-4 seconds and I was able to use the TitanTV web site to pick a program and it was recorded perfectly.

      One of the most exciting aspects of this for me is that I am using unsupported hardware. I am running this on a Powercomputing Powerwave upgraded to g4/450 with 256M of Ram and Mac OSX 10.1.5 with Ryan Rempel's XpostFacto (Thanks Ryan!). USB via a Macally USB/FW combo card.

      One of the annoying aspects of running OSX on my unsupported PCI macs is that the audio in doesn't work, neither via a Plaintalk mic nor via the RCAs (on the 8500/7500). The eyeTV in addition to providing a TV tuner via USB, also has RCA inputs for both Video and Audio (stereo). So eyeTV gives me the first audio (and video) input I have seen under OSX on my old rigs.

      The video quality is not that good, although there is a "high quality" option that produces a larger file size (twice the size?), and a better picture.

      I'm glad I didn't return eyeTV right away, and hopefully the Elgato (how cool is that name) people will continue improving the software and maybe even introduce a better (firewire?) tuner.
      Marty"

    The reader comments about a possible future Firewire version has me interested...


    Earlier Reader Reports using Software V1.0:
    (from a reader email on July 19th)

      " Hi Mike,
      About two weeks ago i received a flyer in the mail about a new DVR for the mac, EyeTV. [Comments here on EyeTV in the Monday and Tuesday's news, including a TIVO owner's comments comparing features, etc..-Mike] I was very impressed to say the least, EyeTV promised alot.

      Well, I went to MacWorld NY and I decided to buy one. The booth they had set up was packed, everyone was really impressed seeing it in action and I was as well and took one one home. The introductory cost $179, plus the $14 NY state tax brought the price back up to $193.00. I took it home, set it up and that's when the problems began. If you are looking for a replacement for TiVo or Replay you are going to be very disappointed. In fact I ended up returning it the very next day. Here are some of the problems I encountered during the short I had the device, or rather limitations I should say.

      • USB connection requires a powered slot, preferably one on the back of the computer. (I have numereous devices which require the same slot, two USB Apple Monitors, SoundSticks, plus seeven other USB devices. After plugging it in several of them were no longer recognized, I had to do some juggling to find the right combination.)

      • The unit is not self powered. ( this is definately a major limitation, the device draws too much power from the USB bus)

      • The site where you can program the device is dog slow, half the time Explorer stopped responding while trying to pick shows. Sometimes after picking shows and getting them to show up in your programming list, they disappeared after quitting the app. I had to do it all over again.

      • The playback controller has a bad design. It is very difficult to scrub though the recored playback and skip the commercials. It has a feature which is supposed to remember where the commercials are and skip over them after viewing the show for the first time. Maybe it works but it is too hard to get it to the correct place in the playback to do so, the progress bar is way too small.

      • Changing channels is very slow, it takes sometimes up to ten seconds. Sometimes not all, it just freezes the video. Other times the video froze but you could hear the audio for the next channel.

      • Overall slowness. If you are expecting to get appliance-like control you are going to be disappointed as well. This thing hogs 70% of the cpu all the time (while plugged into a USB port), so doing other things while you record a show is almost impossible, for instance adding a show to the program list with your browser.

      EyeTV does have one thing going for it. The fact that it converts live video to mpg 1, which makes transferring to video disc very easy, but that is the only thing I liked about it. Instead i went to the OWC booth and bought an InterView 2.1 for $59.95. While it doesn't do half of EyeTV portends to do, it can capture live TV with barely a noticeable slowdown, and combined with BTVpro and TVreminder I have almost the same functionality. I do have to program the recordings myself but it takes less time to do so than through TitanTV. com.

      I wish this had been a favorable review, I was really hoping it would live up to its hype. I don't have the fastest Mac, a BW G3 with an OWC G4 550, but the requirements say any Mac with a USB port. Maybe someone with a dual G4 would have better results.
      Derek Gordon
      [On 7/23 Derek sent more comments]
      I just wanted to add a few things that i forgot to mention about EyeTv and my experience at MacWorld. Looking back now I realize I may have been hasty in my purchase of EyeTV. After reading other readers comments who purchased their devices at MacWorld about how they felt like late beta testers, I remebered something that the ElGato representative said to me when buying mine. "Do you want it now or would you rather have us ship you one later,(wink, wink). As others have mentioned it may have been rushed to get to MawWorld on time. I feel that if I had waited a couple of weeks my comments would have been more positive. Also, when I went to return it at their booth they were quite shocked, besides there were about 60 people crowded around me who wanted one, several of whom were making purchases at that moment. They asked me what was wrong with it. "Are you sure you want to me say." Well they pulled me around the back of their booth, sat me on a stool and asked to me to wait while one of their reps figured out what to do.
      Well while i was waiting, one of their reps was making alot of promises about upcoming versions of EyeTV and the software. He said that later versions would be firewire, when that would happen he didn't know. Also that they would be upgrading their software, and that future models would include a remote. That being said I'm glad I made the return. What EyeTV really needs is its own hard disk, not a large one, just one large enough for caching live TV so the channel changing slowdown is eliminated. Also the TV guide should be incorporated into the EyeTV software, for example like Watson. Anyway, just my 3 cents.
      Derek Gordon "


    Another EyeTV owner (with iMac G4/800) wrote with his comments:

      " I'm still withholding judgment. As for the powered USB port. It says in the installation instructions that one is required. Personally, I'm relieved that I didn't have to plug in yet another electrical device in my office.

      Other PVR's use the same site for their scheduling information, yes the site can be slow at time, but it has never caused a hang for me in explorer.

      I have had no problems skipping commercials. Software interfaces can be updated or improved.

      Changing channels is a big pokey, but a few seconds pokey, not 10 minutes in my case. The video is adequate, but not exceptional.

      My major grievance so far is with the software. It has proved to be very buggy and prone to crash. It will frequently crash when it starts recording a show. When you restart the program, the video will be blocky and distorted, but the sound will be fine. The only way I've found to remedy this is to unplug the device from the USB port and re-attach it.

      The manufacturer has a 30 day money back guarantee. I've had it for 3 days now, so I will give them more time to get their act together. I suspect this product may have been rushed out the door a bit early to take advantage of Macworld.

      My computer: iMac G4 800, 512 MB RAM, recording to a 160GB external firewire hard drive.
      Tim Bennett "

    Another reader wrote noting some problems:

      " I also bought an EyeTV at MacWorld, and I'm disappointed. It is potentially amazing, but the reality is unusable. The problems are all easily addressable, though, and the engineer I spoke with seemed eager for feedback and helpful advice.

      The problems I'm having:

      • App crashes regularly, usually at the end of recordings.
      • App often records a "thumbnail" resolution MPEG stream instead of the expected VCD MPEG stream.
      • App is very sluggish.

      To be useful, a TiVo-like app would need to be extremely simple and reliable. Unfortunately, I can't trust the EyeTV at all -- when I set it up to record, it often doesn't do so, or records something unusable. Perhaps the next version of the software? I really want this to be great...
      - Laird Popkin
      [he later wrote]
      My machine is a G4/733 DVD-R with a Cinema Display and 1.5 GB RAM. I have two external Maxtor 80 GB FireWire drives, a cable modem (from RCN), and am plugging the unit into a powered USB four port hub (generic). I also have a USB printer (Epson Stylus Color 740), and a USB/PDA interface (to a Palm), and USB Sound Sticks. I'm just starting to test plugging directly into those ever so precious CPU USB ports, and it's possible that will fix some of the problems I'm seeing.

      I should emphasize that while I am having a lot of problems with the EyeTV, when it works it's quite nice (I love having tons of shows a click away, and love being able to easily burn a VCD for my kids), and their engineers have been very responsive to my bug reports, and asked me to beta test. Given the fact that their software appears unstable on my machine, they appear to be doing all of the right things to address it. "


    Jim Heid (who reviewed EyeTV at his web site) wrote with more comments:

      " Hi,
      Just wanted to briefly comment on some of the reader emails regarding EyeTV. As I said in my review on my Macintosh Digital Hub site, it is definitely no TiVo killer -- inferior picture and sound, and it's more cumbersome to use TitanTV for scheduling.

      I've been using EyeTV for a couple of weeks now, and have fallen in love with its ability to easily stash TV programming on my PowerBook. I queue up a few hours' worth of TV shows and watch them on the road or on a flight.

      EyeTV turns my PowerBook into an iPod for television.

      Its performance on my PowerBook G4 has been completely acceptable -- I can play back several shows at at once (only the front-most show's audio plays), and even minimize a show and watch it play in the dock.

      Skipping commercials is a cinch: press the right-arrow key to skip in 30-second increments.

      A replacement for TiVo or Replay TV? Certainly not. Very cool? Definitely. But I would probably recommend running it on a Mac with a fast video system and a native G4 processor. An upgraded G3 is probably too sluggish.
      Best,
      Jim Heid
      Author/Host, "The Macintosh Digital Hub" book/DVD
      Publisher, Macintosh Digital Hub Site
      http://www.macintoshdigitalhub.com/ "

    (Updates added on July 23rd, 2002 follow)

      " I got my EyeTV today, and while there are certainly some bugs (this is 1.0 software people...if you have ever worked in the biz you know that really means it is just late beta software :) ....but I have already found alot to love, mixed with a few things to chuck spitwads at.

      The functionality of the hardware is really quite straightforward. I plugged it into a powered usb hub, installed the software and was cruising along immediately. I give them a solid 8 out of 10 on the setup assistant.

      Quick hint though - I noticed a pretty good performance improvement in over all system responsiveness while recording when I chose to locate my EyeTV library on a firewire disk instead of the system disk...which makes sense.

      The software itself is really quite impressive...bugs aside. It has only frozen up on me once...and I know what caused and will be forwarding that info to Elgato. I have avoided attempting to change the channel while a recording is in progress...and have not experienced any further crashes so far.

      I like the software and am impressed with the quality of the video. It is exactly what I thought it was when I bought it...and I have not been let down so far...my expectations were to see a few bugs (it's a brand new product that was raced out the door for MacWorld after all). I got what I expected and I think it will get much better with the next update...but certainly works now.

      If there was a bone to pick, it would have to lie with the TitanTV site's oft mentioned slowness. I have a pretty nice connection...but most of the time that didn't play into the equation. Their site is just dog slow sometimes, and fine others. I think it gets rather busy at around the end of each hour...as users look to see what's on perhaps?

      If ElGato could buy a few Xserves and mirror the TitanTV site specificly for EyeTV customers then I think it would be a 100% improvement in user experience. The site layout is not all that bad (though figuring out what cable network I could choose to actually show the right channels was annoying do to the slowness and layout...hint - just select the super duper premium to actually see all of the stuff...like Comedy Central 8).

      But the key thing to remember is that you can set your own schedule faster than you can download the dang thing from TitanTV anyway!!! I am serious...it really takes less than 10 seconds to set up a recurring show schedule, so I don't think you should let TitanTV slowness keep you from trying this thing out.

      Overall I feel like a relatively happy late beta tester...(though I was not actually a beta tester mind you...until now that is 8)~ I see plenty of potential, and have no complaints what so ever about the video quality. Heck even the ripping to VCD or Quicktime is remarkably simple and quick. Once the kinks are sorted out in later software updates, I know I will rave about this thing. But it still works plenty good enough for me so far in my vast 14 hours of experience.
      Jeff Woods
      G4 450 PowerMac, 896 mb ram, 32 mb Radeon, 100 gig firewire disk.
      Ti G4 P 500 Powerbook, 512 mb ram, same 100 gig firewire disk.
      Runs pretty much the same on both of them...just a little better on the desktop system, which is not unexpected. "

    (Another report added July 23rd)

      " Hi,
      Like many other folks, I purchased EyeTV at Macworld. For point of reference, I am running it on a dual 800 QuickSilver with 1.5gb ram, cinema display and a comcast online connection. So, this is no slouch of a setup...

      The EyeTV program is slow as molasses when you change channels. I think I understand why, it has to do with the fact that it is writing video to the disk and changing channels must do something to that process. I have not tried totally eliminating the disk cache to see if that improves things.

      I have 3 primary gripes: The interface that you use to store programs has bugs galore. Once you store a program schedule, simply editing it changes it to the last channel you were watching. VERY annoying to say the least. So, once you store a program schedule, best to leave it alone or you will end up having something other than you think.

      The other thing is Titan TV. What a crap site that is. It is slow, slow, slow and it is buggy. I have had explorer crashes and what not like the others. All in all, what I do is figure out what I want to record and then put it into the program manually.

      The biggest complaint though is about support. I have sent all sorts of emails and have not received even an automated reply. I expected better.

      So, to me, the good news is that this is all software and if EyeTV manages to keep alive I am sure that they can improve it. It would be REALLY awesome if they would release a few API's so the open source community could build on to the device.
      John Byrne "


    (Reports added 7/25/2002 follow)

      "I'm using it on an iBook 600 and have no problems manually recording or viewing or changing channels.
      Some comments:

      1. The "program guide" recording interface does not work consistently for me, but that's a software (and Titan TV website) issue.

      2. Please keep in mind the limits of video quality when your input is a standard TV signal.

      I watch at no bigger than double size and standard quality looks fine.

      3. The jump/instant replay buttons are great for skipping commercials.

      4. I think it will make a great video server/central DVR for us home users.

      I plan to extend cable into the room with the iMac (with its external 120GB Firewire drive) and hook the EyeTV up to the iMac.

      Then I should hopefully be able to watch wirelessly via Airport on my iBook, even in OS 9 (the video files can be read with Quicktime, though you lose the table of contents feature)
      For $200 I'm very happy with EyeTV as a DVR.
      Bill S. "


      " I just got mine via UPS yesterday. It works exactly as I had hoped. The video quality isn't fantastic, but it's good enough. It runs smoothly on my PowerBook G4 (667/16MB video), with about a 4 second delay when switching channels, but only when switching to channels you haven't recently visited. Switching back and forth between ESPN and Fox Sports Net (channels 30 and 31 in Seattle) is instantaneous once you've visited them both. Playback is even better, and channel-changing in general is even faster when I hook it up to my dual G4/800. I have yet to try recording anything, my primary goal was to be able to watch ESPN and Fox Sports on my computer screen.

      Now I just need to find a signal amplifier, because running a splitter just before my cable modem attenuates the signal so far that my cable modem ceases working (the 'cable' light sits there flashing, trying to sync up). The EyeTV still works fine though, and the problem would exist with a normal television as well. I need to find a signal amplifier...

      Another thing to note is that I have the EyeTV connected to a non-powered hub when I use it w/my desktop. The hub is connected directly to the machine, and the other devices plugged into the hub are a Handspring Visor cradle (which is externally powered) and a Zio! CompactFlash reader (which is bus-powered). I imagine adding anything else to the hub might make the EyeTV cut out, though.
      -Jarod Wilson "


    I've not used one personally but welcome other EyeTV owner comments about their experience with it.



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