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Smart Guides narrow down shows and automatically record upcoming broadcasts of, say, your favorite sports team.
Digital video recorders that connect to a TV rely on a hardware-and-software combination to capture and play shows—Mac DVR solutions are no different. Tuner hardware turns airborne signals or a cable feed into something the computer understands, but it’s the software that drives the user experience. Elgato’s EyeTV 3 app is designed to work with any of the company’s TV tuners, but it also supports hardware from a dozen companies, including some that only offer PC devices. The application presents the video window, allows browsing through a channel guide, lets you make basic edits to recorded shows, and more. While its interface could be improved, most of its functionality is intuitive, wringing every last feature out of your TV tuner hardware.
We tested EyeTV 3 with Elgato’s EyeTV 250 Plus hardware (3 out of 5 stars, 12/07, p63), but the results should be the same for any of its supported tuners (see the entire list at www.elgato.com/elgato/na/mainmenu/products/software/EyeTV3/product3.en.html). After a simple registration for the free TitanTV guide, we were able to flip through live television programs. A few ambiguous buttons make EyeTV’s floating remote too slick for our tastes, so we navigated the software with onscreen clicks instead. The software buffers live TV to allow impromptu rewinding, and we clicked directly on the timeline bar to jump to different points in previously recorded shows. Best of all, Mac-like windows allow users to browse through recordings and manage controls with a very short learning curve.
We wanted an automatic way to record all the episodes of a series, but instead we had to use the Smart Guide to manually program variables such as the name of the show and the day it airs. Still, the results can be powerful, capturing just football games with your favorite team, for example, but there are a few needless hoops to jump through just to record The Simpsons every week. Once your show has been recorded, an editing interface lets you trim unwanted bits, such as commercials. Preset export options can then process files for viewing on an iPod or Apple TV, but videophiles can also muck around with the more in-depth settings. EyeTV 3 can even serve those video files as webpages, instantly allowing locally networked computers to watch shows via a Web browser. This feature also works over the Internet with some advanced router setup.EyeTV 3 adds brains to more than a dozen TV tuner devices, bringing some refreshing changes to the way you watch TV.