My High Def Life: A few complaints and moans

by Erica Sadun

Not all is perfect in High Def land. As you may recall, I purchased an EyeTV Hybrid to accessorize my Mac Mini in anticipation of the release of AppleTV. I'm trying to build a high def streaming media center to be able to bypass TiVo and enjoy HDTV recording on my Mac. Today's post is the complaint post. It's about all the little bits that are bothering me about my setup with EyeTV and the Hybrid. All these problems occur under normal EyeTV/Hybrid operation running under a standard installation of Tiger. I'm ignoring any flaky behavior I observe while running EyeTV under developer preview operating systems.

The channel listings don't always update. Having channel listings that you can browse and select for recording is one of the key selling points of the EyeTV software. Unfortunately, those listings are not consistent. Although I have not had any problems downloading standard analog cable listings, I'm running into repeated problems keeping digital over-the-air broadcast listings up to date. No amount of restarting the computer, restarting the program or selecting "Update TitanTV Guide" has worked in terms of updating the program guide. Right now, I'm trying to see if I can fake the program out by messing with the global Application Support folder, but so far no luck. Instead, I have to launch a browser, navigate to TitanTV and download "tvpi" files from the TitanTV site. I can then load these schedules into EyeTV for future recording. This is a complete pain.

Don't "touch" the computer while recording. My 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo with 1GB RAM is "underpowered" when it comes to HDTV recording. Any interaction with the system taxes it beyond what it can handle, producing breaks and interrupts in the recorded data. To produce a clean recording, I have to set the schedule and then leave the computer alone until the recording completes.

The program can get confused. The other day, my iPod export of an EyeTV show finished just as another show was due to start recording. Guess what happened? Nothing. The program missed the recording and never started, instead getting hung up in an odd "about-to-start-recording" mode. I have owned a TiVo since 2000. It has never gotten so confused between playback and recording that it missed a show.

The iPod output tags are confused. For whatever reason, when EyeTV exports video to iTunes, the episode name is set as the "Artist" and the TV show is the "Name". This results in episodes of SpongeBob being called "SpongeBob Squarepants" as part of a TV Show called (for example) "King Krusty".

In-program export is fracking slow--and incompatible. Using MPEG Streamclip to convert video is approximately an order of magnitude faster than EyeTV. It's insanely and unnecessarily slow. And the iPod video it produces often doesn't even sync to my iPod without reconverting through iTunes or QuickTime.


2007-02-06 16:22:58
I've experienced the first and last of your issues myself in my limited experience. The TV listings is particularly annoying: here in the UK, I get listings for More 4 in German. I don't think More 4 even broadcasts in Germany.

My other annoyances are about controlling EyeTV with the Apple remote. I find I have to click a few too many times to change channel. I realise I could use the EyeTV remote, but for me that would destroy the Apple-like simplicity of the system.

Erica Sadun
2007-02-06 16:33:02
Just FYI, trashing the EyeTVEPG.db in /Library/Application Support did the trick for getting the listings updated.
2007-02-07 13:11:24
You say that your computer is underpower. It's why i prefer too choose a one with compression on board an not on software. Your computer is at the limit of the specs. I don't have a HDTV one nut if i choose a tuner for that i'm going to take it compression on board.
2007-02-07 17:59:14
What's your harddrive speed? I have a TiPB 1Ghz which is over 4 years old. I also have an EyeTV 500, which is their HD recorder. I have a 7200rpm drive in my TiPB, and while my little old G4 based laptop is taxed, it certainly can be "touch"ed while recording without "breaks". I'm no expert, but I can't imagine you have bottlenecks on a Core Duo Mac, when I don't on my old G4.
Rob Pettengill
2007-02-08 13:25:58
I'm a bit puzzled about why the mini should be underpowered for capturing hdtv... Are you trying to transcode the broadcast at the same time you capture it? HD broadcasts in the US are already compressed with MPEG2 compression. If you save it natively compressed then all you need to do is get the bits from the tuner to the disk - an easy job for USB2 and even a slow disk drive for the about 20Mbit/sec data rate. Transcoding to mpeg4 compression will save lots of disk space, but without hardware accelleration may be marginal to do in real time. If this is the case, moving the transcoding to a seperate batch export from EyeTV may solve this problem.
Erica Sadun
2007-02-12 16:28:11
I think my problem was running the software on a way-too-small fragmented partition and that the disk couldn't keep up. I repartitioned yesterday to a much larger space and I'm going to re-record Heroes tonight and see how it goes.