Customer Reviews: Elgato EyeTV Hybrid TV Tuner for Mac or PC (10021020)
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on September 17, 2010
We bought this device as a replacement for TiVo once we upgraded to HD and our old Series 2 wouldn't support HD. We are very pleased with how this device has met our needs for personal recordings. This is definitely something we would recommend to others.

I read complaints about the subscription cost for the TV-Guide information. $20/year is very low, especially compared to TiVo's $13/month. Besides, this information is just a convenience. You may choose not to maintain this subscription and schedule all manual recordings. But to me, the low annual cost is well worth the convenience of scheduling a season recording.

Some reviews comment that recordings are pixelated or lagging. I personally haven't seen it lag at all. I have seen it pixelated, but this wasn't the fault of the software. Instead, it was related to my placement of the rabbit ears. The software can't record better than the signal it is receiving. Once I moved my rabbit ears to a better position, I haven't had one bit of trouble with pixelation.

There are other complaints that the file sizes are huge. Of course they are, you are recording HD video. The product is doing what it is supposed to do. We are using a Mac mini to serve as our DVR box, so we have 1TB of space to work with. We upgraded to this model so that space would not be a concern. This should be plenty as long as you are keeping up with watching and deleting your recordings. The Mac mini also comes with a Mini Display to HDMI adapter, so I can hook it up to my existing home theater configuration with little work. The picture is great!

We have used this configuration to record many shows that broadcast when we were not home and had not been home for hours. The computer has woken up on time for every recording. We haven't missed one! Keep in mind too, that the Mac mini has been praised for it's low energy use, so you can have confidence that you aren't throwing money away by leaving this device in standby.

One complaint I have about this software is that the schedule files and the recording files are stored in the same folder on the computer. This does not appear to be configurable. I can change where I save them, but cannot have the schedules in a different folder than the recording files. This would be a nice upgrade to the software. This poses a problem to me when running Time Machine to back up this computer. Time Machine allows me to exclude folders or specific files, but not to exclude file types. This would also be a nice upgrade to Time Machine. Since I have seen this EyeTV software crash once and delete all recordings that were scheduled in that session, this is somewhat of a concern for me. I was able to get around this by writing an AppleScript to create a second folder that synchronizes all the schedule files. Then Time Machine automatically backs up this synchronized folder.

The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid comes with a remote, and they claim the IR receiver is housed within the black strip of the device. I cannot get the remote to work, even from inches away, so I have just given up on that. However, Elgato has done a great job of working with Apple so that the software works beautifully with the Apple Remote. We have one that is ~4 years old (the old white one) and it works flawlessly with our brand new Mac mini. The IR receiver is clearly visible on the front of the computer and the remote works great for volume, playback control, and even navigating through the on-screen menus.

Another added feature of this device is the iPad app that they offer. The app does cost to download, but it gives you the ability to watch recordings on the iPad from anywhere in the house. This works nicely for a kids show while the adults are using the TV, or some similar scenario. We don't have AppleTV now, but I can see how this can work great with AppleTV to allow us to be in the bedroom watching a show that was recorded in the living room. In short, the way Apple products network so well together has given this solution extra flexibility and value.

Primarily we use this to record programs broadcast over the air through our rabbit ears and the HD is beautiful. However, we also have the ability to hook this device up with our DirecTV though S-Video or composite (RCA). Now, it's not HD, but the picture isn't terrible either. Besides, it's nice to have the ability to record something that is not over the air if we want. This device does not interact with the DirecTV box, but if we use the Auto-Tune feature of DirecTV and schedule a manual recording on EyeTV, we don't have to miss that football game that is only broadcast on the BigTen Network.
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on October 13, 2010
This is an amazing product. Using my over-powered iMac as a DVR and to watch live over-the-air TV content FOR FREE--now that's the kind of thing all this technology was supposed to do for us!
EyeTV's software is very, very user-friendly. After picking up a $40 UHF/VHF antennae I set it up, opened the EyeTV box, screwed the cable adapter into the EyeTV, connected it to the antenna cable, plugged the EyeTV into my iMac, opened the software, and in a few minutes it had found about 35 over-the-air stations. It took only a few minutes to schedule my first recording.

Then I opened the live stream of a football game, so I tuned my old TV to the other game of the afternoon and checked scores for both games at once during breaks in my chore routine. Then I remembered that I could pause and record the live stream on my iMac, so I that game later.

The hiccups caused by my slow internet connection are gone in recordings (of course EyeTV can't fix my DSL), so I tend to use the live recording function to watch live TV without buffering. In order to watch it all from the couch instead of at my desk I'm going to spring for an HDTV to connect to the computer. I have yet to use the remote for the EyeTV or my Apple remote, but I'm confident they'll work just fine.

Still, the antenna gives me about 80% of the programming I want and almost all the cable-only content is online for free. I'm looking into software that can capture all streaming online video; then my joy will be complete.

I hear that the biggest challenge with EyeTV is when your over-the-air reception is dicey. If you're worried that you won't get enough channels you can buy an antenna from an electronics store and connect it to your TV to check your reception before you spring for the EyeTV. I live in a city, so I picked a multidirectional antenna, but a unidirectional antennas could be better for more distant signals.

UPDATE ON CUSTOMER SERVICE: The EyeTV died on me last month after 8 months of use. That's completely OK because after a few attempts at getting it working again Elgato's customer service replaced it immediately and had me send the the old one back.

After several more months of use I find the software to be a little buggy. I may be the settings. It's not as user-friendly as an Apple product, so it's disconcerting to have to re-boot the device so frequently. I do still love what it does even if it's just pretty reliably.

UPDATE 7/9/11: I'm changing my review title from "Slick solution!" to "I sure love it when it works!" I'm getting tired of having to re-boot the Hybrid after discovering that it failed to record a couple of my favorite shows. This seems to happen about once every two weeks. I had planned to fast forward through flat parts of mountain stages of the Tour de France, but by the time I discovered that the Hybrid wasn't recording, most of the mountain stages were over. Same with the episodes of new seasons of summer TV shows. Grrr.

Then, this week I moved to a new apartment, set up the Hybrid exactly as it was before, and now get an error on my iMac saying a USB device is drawing too much power and the hub is being disconnected. All other USB devices, including my USB-powered external hard drive, work fine. I've tried unplugging everything except the Hybrid and my wired keyboard/mouse, and then tried plugging it into my powered USB hub, but kept getting the same error message. I had both the Hybrid and my iMac packed and carried carefully during the move, but perhaps it got jostled.

Maybe the device failures and the power problem are related, and I'll put a ticket in with Elgato, but this is a lot of trouble for any techy product. As I said, I do love it when it works, but I am frustrated with its unreliability.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on October 18, 2010
I bought a second Elgato EyeTV Hybrid to see if I could operate 2 tuners at the same time (i.e., record two programs at the same time or watch one, record another). Works like a charm. EyeTV3 software recognizes both tuners and programs appropriately.
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on June 15, 2012
The good side of the Elgato Hybrid is that it's compact, easy to set up and the perfect way to watch TV on your Mac . . . when it works. The bad side is that it's fairly expensive and much too cheaply made for the price. I purchased one that worked great for a few weeks, then simply stopped functioning. I received TWO further replacements within the warranty period, and both of them stopped working after a few weeks. The last replacement, although only 4 weeks old, was out of the original warranty time. The unit gets very hot while operating and my guess is that the circuits melt. In any case, the fact that you'll need to be replacing the unit every 6 to 8 weeks absolutely negates any pros. I think most online reviews failed to test the units over a reasonable period of time. Out of the box,the Hybrid is great. Six weeks later it's pretty much trash. Elgato needs to raise their production quality standards and build a functional, durable unit for the price. There's a lot of potential in the Hybrid - it's a shame.
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on November 14, 2012
I join the many others who like the product until it died--13 months after purchase (the warranty is a 12 month warranty). It's a flimsy product, so I treated it with delicate hands and only I handled it, but still it failed.

Service through El Gato is ridiculously complex. After creating a service ticket, I was asked to do hours of PRAM reset, system profiles, etc, then resetting of my iMac's systems, all for a little gnat of a device that should be built well enough to deliver more than a year of service. Service and support failed.

My advice is that you don't waste your money. Perhaps El Gato will come out with a sturdier product in the future.
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on April 2, 2013
I don't like spending money - why pay for 200 channels so I can have the legitimate pleasure of not watching 90% of them and having ads screaming at me BUY THIS BUY THIS BUY THIS! $100+ a month for that privilege? No thank you. But, my family does watching certain shows. Now, we're in a conundrum. So I bought an Apple TV and this little device and a Leaf Antenna. I hooked up the antenna to this, plugged this in to my Mac, told my Mac to record my favorite shows and put the files in iTunes. Now when I want to watch my favorite shows, I turn on my Apple TV and load them up wirelessly from my Mac - I know this sounds confusing but it is amazingly simple. I can now skip through the ads and have crystal clear FREE HD. Well worth it in my opinion.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 1, 2012
I bought this for Mom for use with a 27" iMac. Now that's a beautiful computer, and the Elgato EyeTV gives it a beautiful TV picture too. It is used with a local Cable provider - Cable Vision - without a box. There were no issues. It took mom a minute or two to figure out which pieces she needed to get it all together, but once she did it was easy sailing from there on.

The software installation was a breeze and it was really easy to use. Much much better than the Hauppage software she was previously using. It was also easy to set up recurrent recordings.

Overall, this worked exactly as we could have hoped. Perfect picture, perfect software, easy install/setup.
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on November 25, 2015
We cut the cord years ago using this and the included DVR software. Put an antenna in the attic and we were good to go. We pay for the TVGuide data and can schedule recording by clicking on a show in the grid. Generates pretty big files as broadcasts are mostly HD around here. Just have a Mac Mini hooked to the TV which is also our DVD player and game machine.
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on July 26, 2011
I've tried two different models of the EyeTV Hybrid tuners and they just don't work as reliably as my old Miglia TVMax. The Miglia had build in memory buffer so you would not loose program segments if your computer became busy for a moment. None of the new EyeTV digital tuners have buffer memory (told to me by Elgato support). You won't realize you have a bad recording until you watch it. The program will play along just fine, then skip a few seconds. That's caused by the computer becoming busy for some reason during the recording and it could not keep up capturing the data stream, so some seconds get lost. It's very annoying. I've become so frustrated with this that I have gone back to analog recording using my old Miglia TVmax which has built in buffer memory, but only records analog channels (my cable provider still transmits basic channels in analog).
Also, like another review mentioned, the tuner will stop working and miss recordings until you unplug it from the USB port and plug it back in. You won't know anything went wrong until you notice your scheduled recordings are only 3 seconds of blank nothing. Hopefully you don't miss something you really wanted to see.

Elgato needs to come out with more reliable tuners that have built in data buffers.
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on December 9, 2012
I will rate this item first for the Eye TV software and then for the Hybrid device.

The Software is very good and works intuitively. It takes about ten seconds to figure any one process out. For those who never want to miss a specific program (for example I like The Big Bang Theory) it records and stores TV programs, once set up, without hassle. It will convert recorded programs to formats that one would need for their paritcular set-up (iPad for instance) and will record live programs allowing the viewer to skip back, to catch that particular phrase, or forward, through the commercial you have already seen twenty times. The software gets four out of five stars.

The Hybrid device is a bit of a disappointment. It does convert digital or analog signals and send them to a computer as described but, it does not do a good job with HD signals. HD signals are often pixilated and recorded so that the prgram skips continually. It does not do this all the time, but when it does, the program is not watchable. I give the device two out of five stars.
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