Review: EyeTV adds iTune-ish features, Leopard qualities in version 3
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Review: EyeTV adds iTune-ish features, Leopard qualities in version 3

If you're not familiar with EyeTV it's a PVR (personal video recorder) that lets you watch and record TV programs on your Mac. What's more, you can timeshift (pause and replay live TV), record to your hard drive, archive directly to DVD, schedule the recording of programs, export to iPhones and iPods, and use the EyeTV to connect and interface with video devices such as VCRs, DVD players and camcorders.

EyeTV 3 was announced at January's 2008 Macworld Conference & Expo. The update tweaks the interface and offers an extended program guide featuring intelligent searching and recording functionality. There are also new network features. Plus, sharing, editing and exporting programs on your LAN, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, Sony PSP and to DVD is even easier.

The redesigned user interface offers a new programs window in a Mac OS X 10.5 ("Leopard") look and feel that's very welcome. It has an iTune-ish feel that will make it comfortable to iTunes users who may have never used EyeTV.

The sidebar on the left presents all functions and elements in hierarchical order that's great for organizing recorded content. New options in the hierarchical sidebar includes “Playlist" with the default playlists Exporting, Reporting Now and Past Week. Recordings can be viewed in list view or in the Cover Flow mode made popular by iTunes. Clicking the right icon above “View” switches from the traditional navigational style view to a Cover Flow view. If you like that view in iTunes and Leopard, you'll like it in EyeTV 3.

The semi-transparent On-Screen Menu, an overlay menu, has been redesigned entirely, inspired, according to the folks at Elgato, by user interfaces from modern set-top boxes. This allows you to effortless control EyeTV via a remote control or keyboard and mouse. EyeTV 3 also has excellent integration with the Apple Remote. And the enhanced overlay lets you access all control settings from the couch, the bed, a recliner. etc.

When it comes to Smart Guides, a new, intelligent search function lets EyeTV 3 users combine multiple search criteria for refined EPG searches. Searches can be saved as Smart Guides that show up in the programs window sidebar and update on-the-fly, like a Saved Search in Mac OS X 10.5. A tab reveals if any TV series, movies, actors, etc. you enjoy are available.

The search feature in the Program Guide now works in realtime and shows results as you type. Type in, say, an "S" and you'll get Smallville, Supernatural, etc., in an instant.

Optionally, search results can be recorded automatically. You can also specify how many recordings you want to keep in your EyeTV Archives, similar to Podcast subscriptions in iTunes.

EyeTV 3 network features have also been improved and extended. EyeTV Archives can now be shared with other users in your local network just like iTunes and iPhoto libraries. Wi-Fi Access, which enables watching recorded TV shows via wireless network on an iPhone or iPod touch, now supports additional smart-phones from several vendors. It also offers the option of lower resolution for lower-bandwidth video connections. Password protection has been added too.

Another nifty addition to EyeTV 3's feature set is Smart Playlists, which group recorded TV shows using flexible search criteria. Smart Playlists also appear the sidebar. The video editor has been integrated into the player window as an overlay, no longer requiring users to exit the player window to cut and crop recordings. The results of channel scans can now be saved and
restored.

Finally, EyeTV 3's support for AppleScript has been improved, adding an integrated script menu and more robust script support.

With all the features Elgato has packed into version 3 of EyeTV, it will be interesting to see what they can come up with for version 4. But I'm sure they'll think of something.

A full version of EyeTV 3 is available for US$79.95, owners of EyeTV 2 can obtain the upgrade at a reduced price of $39.95.

Users of EyeTV 2 who obtained their software license separately or in combination with a hardware product on or after Dec. 1, 2007, are eligible for a free update. Users of EyeTV 2 who obtained their license before this time can upgrade to EyeTV 3 at the reduced price of $39.95.

EyeTV 3 is Universal Binary so runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel Macs. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, and Mac OS X 10.5.1 ("Leopard") is recommended.

Macsimum rating: 10 out of 10

 

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