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Customer Review

on May 24, 2010
I bought this for two purposes:
- digitize old VHS family videos to bring them into the internet age
- be able to watch TV in a room where there's a projector and computer but no TV tuner

It works great for the 2nd one and while I haven't gotten to the first project yet, it came with the necessary cables and I trust that (easier) task will go just fine.

The EyeTV software was able to find a few dozen channels on my low-end cable plan, identify the stations, and let me browse by channel or by the program guide. (It lists channels by the station FCC identification, but it would be more useful if it also showed any network affiliation; sometimes I want to say "show me the local ABC station" and not remember "KGO-TV".) This works out pretty well as long as I use the builtin program guide, which is free for the first year and $20/year after that; it'll probably get less useful if I don't pay to renew that subscription in a year.

It's nice being able to select shows from a menu, schedule them for recording, and watch a show after it's started and while it's being recorded (all this modern stuff that anyone who already had a DVR will take for granted, but it's new to me and works well here).

The only downside I've found is that the software is slow (it uses pretty much the whole CPU while watching video, and while the video window is onscreen, the rest of the EyeTV app is sluggish to respond to my mouse input). At times, the video stream will stutter or drop frames. FWIW I'm using this with a recent (2009 model) Mac Mini, with a Core 2 Duo processor running Snow Leopard, at 720p (1280x720) screen resolution. It works fine, but just barely; it feels like the machine is creaking at the seams.

I'll also note that it uses amazingly little CPU while recording TV in the background (I guess it just saves the encoded stream away, directly from the cable company, without decoding or decompressing it?), but as soon as I show the video onscreen, it uses most of the available CPU capacity.
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