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EyeTV HD rips to Mac, streams to iPad

Elgato announces its new Mac-connected DVR with h.264 accelerated HD video encoding, integrated IR blaster, bundled software, and the capability of streaming to the Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Photo of Elgato EyeTV HD and an Apple iPad.
The Elgato EyeTV HD makes quick work of encoding HD television to your Mac and streaming it to your Apple iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Elgato

There are a handful of ways to record TV to your computer using an external video card or over-the-air tuner. Only one method, however, promises HD-quality recording and an iPad-compatible app for streaming your recordings over the air. It's called the Elgato EyeTV HD, it's Mac-only, and it's available now for $199.

The sandwich-size hardware isn't much to look at, but put it between your Mac and your cable/satellite box and you've got a powerful tool for capturing the TV you're already paying for. The box sports component and S-Video inputs capable of 1080i capture resolution or 720p. There's no HDMI, but by going analog, users are able to escape the headaches of digital video DRM. The EyeTV HD is bus-powered, so all it needs to get the job done is an available USB 2.0 port on your Mac.

The EyeTV HD comes with recording schedule software powered by TV Guide. A plug-in IR blaster communicates between your EyeTV and your cable box to tune in the appropriate channel when a show is ready to rip. Unfortunately, scheduled recording of over-the-air transmissions is a no-go.

Thanks to hardware acceleration, the EyeTV HD can simultaneously encode two versions of any incoming video: one optimized for HD playback on your Mac, iPad, or Apple TV; and a smaller file for use with an iPhone or iPod. Recordings are made in the h.264 video format with a maximum resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels at 30 frames per second.

The killer feature, though, is that iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch users never really need to sync to their computers to transfer their recorded content. By installing the optional EyeTV app ($4.99), users can stream live TV or any of their recordings over the Internet from their computers using Wi-Fi or 3G. The same app can be used to dive into your recording schedule and make changes.

If you're a Mac-having TV addict who isn't already outfitted with a TiVo and a Slingbox, the Elgato EyeTV HD may be just the solution for taking your favorite shows on the go.