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Elgato eyeTV in New Zealand

Tweet The world is moving, analog TV is on it’s death bed and digital TV is streaming into the world at faster speeds, higher rates, better quality. At home we have a dodgy 21″ CRT tv we bought brand new for $250 – yeap big spenders. It’s not ready for the digital world – sadly [...]

The world is moving, analog TV is on it’s death bed and digital TV is streaming into the world at faster speeds, higher rates, better quality. At home we have a dodgy 21″ CRT tv we bought brand new for $250 – yeap big spenders. It’s not ready for the digital world – sadly my wallet too isn’t ready for the digital world.

Being typical in this modern world I wanted this digital TV, here in NZ we have the Freeview platform that is being rolled out & between now and 2012 we will follow the USA’s lead and turn off our analog signals. So what were my options. I could spend $200(ish) and buy a Freeview decoder to sit by my TV and give me these signals, or I could spend $800+ and get a nice Freeview decoder + Digital recorder to watch one channel while recording another. I could switch to PayTV (Sky) and puchase their MySKY HDi option … but that binds me to monthly contracts.

Enter stage right, Elgato eyeTVBoxshot_EyeTV_DTT. Elgato have a range of (I think Mac only) TV tuners that are as simple to install as a USB plug. I’ve known of their range for a while but never really was sure if they’d work in New Zealand or not. I’ve seen plenty of mixed results from people who’ve tried to install and run these before.

I did a bit of looking around and Elgato themselves say they support the Freeview network – albeit the European version, but it’s Freeview none the less. I found a few kiwi’s who had the Elgato system working and I figured at $155 it’s worth a shot.

What to buy:
Okay one of the more confusing things for those of us not so savvy to TV terms, it can be a bit confusing. I was under the false impression that Freeview in New Zealand needed a satellite dish. This is NOT true, Freeview is broadcast both on satellite and UHF (or is it VHF), so for those of you without a Sky Dish (or Freeview one) on your roof, you can just use your UHF/VHF aerial. NOTE: the eyeTV device will come with an aerial – but trust me, in NZ it’ll be next to useless, you’ll want the big one on your roof. (click product name to go to Elgato site for full details)

  • eyeTV DTT – great introductory item for UHF/VHF (DVB-T) signals, just plug in your aerial
  • eyeTV DTT Deluxe – same as DTT, with extra aerial & subscription to online EPG (program guides – not available for NZ)
  • eyeTV Diversity – same as DTT but with 2 tuners allowing easier watching of 2 channels
  • eyeTV Hybrid – same as DTT but also includes support for Cable TV (DVB-C)
  • eyeTV 250Plus – DVB-T tv tuner, plus extras for video & TV conversions
  • eyeTV Sat – best option for satellite (DVB-S) this unit supports card systems like sky to unlock content. I’ve not used this so can’t tell you if it does or doesn’t work with sky cards.

Where to buy:
Buying is, well interesting. I went to JB Hi-Fi who have the device in stock for $195, I didn’t pay that for it. Ascent Technologies have the eyeTV DTT for sale online for $155, and JB Hi-Fi will match that price. So I picked it up in store for $155!

Setting up:
I got it home, plugged the eyeTV DTT usb stick into the Mac. BTW the stick is about the same size as a USB Memory Stick. You then plug in the aerial (I tried the supplied one first) and run the brilliant EyeTV software. It scanned it’s channels and failed to find anything – oh no.  I had sudden visions of just kissing $155 goodbye.

I decided to then plug into the big aerials on the roof of my place. (As a side note, my house has multiple aerials the past owner put up & has some signal merge units under the house, this means I have both UHF & VHF coming into one place – I think this is kinda common here in NZ, but check your place). As soon as I re-ran the tuner it found all the channels.  Note some tutorials you find say “in New Zealand run the exhaustive scan” – this is over 1,300 channels and it takes a while.  You don’t need too. All of the NZ channels are found within the 88 common channels it scans on the common scan setting.

Using eyeTV:
I have to say, watching TV on my iMac just seems wrong. Beautiful, crystal clear … but wrong :) Anyway, that aside, eyeTV is software that just works. It will find the channels, it’ll use the DVB information where it can to tell you whats on and give you program information. The interface for setting recording schedules etc, is simple and the playback is brilliant. I am still impressed with how clear it is.

Another couple of terms you want to get your head around. DVB & EPG … DVB, I think stands for Digital Video Broadcast – it’s really the signal, and as part of this the providers can send some of the information about what’s coming up, what the show is etc. EPG stands for Electronic Program Guide and is an external solution for getting a guide as to what’s coming up. The DVB that comes over VHF shows you maybe the current day’s details if you are lucky – nothing more.

New Zealand doesn’t have any formal or paid services, however the underground community has some EPG solutions & some people have set up ways of making this work with your eyeTV system. I found this video & it had shows how to add the EPG for NZ & get a weeks details in one shot:

Extra bits: – Multi Channel Support
One of the things that I had to learn after I got this was that the eyeTV DTT doesn’t let you watch more than one channel at once. Okay well actually that’s not true. See digital channels are often Multiplexed (yeah it was a new word to me too) – this means they send more than one channel on the same frequency. For example, TV one, TV two, TV 6 and TV 7 are all broadcast to Freeview on the same frequency. You can easily watch (or watch & record) these channels at the same time. EG: Watch something on TV One while recording something on TV 6.

To do this, you need to be watching your channel, then using the file menu, open a new window – BUT – you must hold the CONTROL key down on your keyboard. (HINT: open the file menu, then toggle the CONTROL key and watch, one of the menu items changes – click that one!) You’ll see a new window open with one of the multiplex channels in it.

However, you can’t watch PRIME and record TV3 – they are on different frequencies. If you want to do that you either need 2 eyeTV DTT units OR you need eyeTV Diversity.

Extra bits: – iPhone
There is a nice iPhone app for eyeTV which allows your iPhone to access eyeTV on your Mac (provided it’s running) so you can watch TV on your phone. This is brilliant and I find myself using this a bit already. For example the other night my wife was watching CSI, while recording NCIS and I was watching a pre-recorded episode of Mythbusters on my iPhone in another room of the house.

You can stream live TV to your iPhone over wifi with eyeTV converting the signal to H.264 on the fly for your phone. You can set eyeTV to convert (or export) recordings to H.264 for iPhones once it’s finished recording – meaning your content is available all the time. If it’s not converted, the iPhone can’t watch it.

NOTE: this is a slow & CPU intensive process – if you do this lots, invest in a Turbo.264 HD device from Elgato to help speed up this process.

The iPhone app is NOT a remote for your computer, and if you change channels on the iPhone, you will change channels on the computer, running the risk of annoying whoever is watching TV there. One annoying factor is there is no way from the iPhone app to tell what channel is currently playing on the computer.

You can look up the guide, schedule recordings and watch any recording over wifi with your iPhone – it’s great. Also if you use the FREE Elgato MyEyeTV service, you can remotely get access to your TV & content over any WIFI & internet connection. Yes that means I can watch LiveTV or my recordings, over WiFi here at work – from my mac at home. Of course bandwidth will be expensive and I’m sure my employer would “love it” – but hey, I can :D

Summary

So there we have it, my thoughts on using eyeTV in New Zealand.
In Short:

  • eyeTV works great in New Zealand
  • eyeTV supports NZ Freeview
  • eyeTV DTT is a good introductory TV tuner for mac’s in NZ
  • JB Hi-Fi stock eyeTV DTT’s & will match Ascent Technologies $155 online price
  • Ubertec (in Parnell) carry a wider range of Elgato gear
  • eyeTV 3.2 supports multiplex channels (watch one, record another – as long as they are on the same frequency)
  • eyeTV 3.2 is required for iPhone support (some routers will not support uPnP required for remote access via MyEyeTV)
  • eyeTV supports pausing & resuming live TV

Any questions, throw them in the comments & I’m happy to answer where I can. I’m still learning with this stuff, but I have to say I’m pretty impressed at really how simple and easy this process was.

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