To watch digital TV on you mac you need some hardware to get the TV signal into your computer, and you need some software to decode and display the TV in a window and to record programs etc. Here’s how to get it going.
1. The Hardware: a USB TV tuner stick.
One end plugs into your USB port, the other end has an antenna socket where you plug the lead coming out of your TV antenna. So the antenna lead coming from your roof now plugs into your computer as if it was your TV.
A TV USB tuner stick looks like this:
You need to get one suitable for your area, for example in Australia, Asia and Europe the standard is DVB-T (also called DTT). In the USA cable TV is popular, while Japan and South America have ISDB.
2. You then need to load up software, the EyeTV software is great, it has a setup assistant that will automatically tune the channels in for you, guiding you along the way like this:
3. Now you can Watch TV!
I found EyeTV to be a good solution for both the hardware and software. It records shows, you can watch them later and skip the adds. It comes with it’s own remote, but also works with the apple remote. It has different versions for the USA, Australia, UK and so on.
It has some nice tweaks too, so you can set the forward skip to be 30 seconds, so each press of the remote skips exactly 1 30 second advertisement, and then set the back skip to be 2 or 3 seconds to jump just that little bit back if you miss the start of the show again.
Not too hard to set up. When I did have problems, I emailed EyeTV support and they helped me within a day with my questions.
The macintosh will automatically wake up if it is asleep, record the program, then go back to sleep when it is finished. It can even power on from powered down to record a show if you want it to. This preference (start EyeTV when the device is plugged in) is the one that allows EyeTV to automatically wake up from sleep to record – it took me a while to work out!)
For $99 per year you can subscribe to IceTV, which allows you to have more detailed and up-to-date program information, and an iphone app that will allow you to tell your computer to record shows. I just used it for the 3 months for free and didn’t sign up as I found the recording not as reliable as directly from EyeTV.
Here’s a screenshot of the iphone program: