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Topic # 29021 19-Dec-2008 17:51
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Hi there

Can anyone advise me on the possibility of using a Mac Mini to both record and play back Freeview HD?

Most things I've read on here relate to Windows-based PCs, but there appear to be a few using Macs - can anyone assist me with some basics on this?

- are there any TV tuners available that allow recording and playback of Freeview HD in actual HD?
- if so, are any twin tuners, and do any allow to play back another recording at the same time? (I assume this is more related to the Mac itself)
- is there a minimum spec that I need? I've been advised to go with an Intel Mini, but any min. levels of RAM and/or processor?
- can anyone point me in the direction of any good websites or postings on this issue, ideally related to NZ's Freeview?

I'm contemplating purchasing a Mac Mini (if it is suitable/affordable) instead of a dedicated Freeview HD PVR, so any advice on this more general point would also be appreciated.

Many thanks for your help in advance.

Cheers
Jonathan

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  Reply # 185194 19-Dec-2008 19:00
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jonathan18: Hi there

Can anyone advise me on the possibility of using a Mac Mini to both record and play back Freeview HD?

Most things I've read on here relate to Windows-based PCs, but there appear to be a few using Macs - can anyone assist me with some basics on this?

- are there any TV tuners available that allow recording and playback of Freeview HD in actual HD?
- if so, are any twin tuners, and do any allow to play back another recording at the same time? (I assume this is more related to the Mac itself)
- is there a minimum spec that I need? I've been advised to go with an Intel Mini, but any min. levels of RAM and/or processor?
- can anyone point me in the direction of any good websites or postings on this issue, ideally related to NZ's Freeview?

I'm contemplating purchasing a Mac Mini (if it is suitable/affordable) instead of a dedicated Freeview HD PVR, so any advice on this more general point would also be appreciated.

Many thanks for your help in advance.

Cheers
Jonathan


To get Freeview on a mac ( mini or otherwise) you will end up using a USB tuner ( elgato hybrid is a good one)

a) this will record and playback in what ever it receives (TV1/2 720p, TV3 1080i)
b) haven't seen any twin tuner options
c) mini should be OK, but there are serious rumours ( if such things exist) that the mac mini may get an upgrade in January ( it has not had any improvement since late 2007, so is a bit long in the tooth)

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  Reply # 185344 20-Dec-2008 18:06
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However, the elgato software does not work properly decoding the DVB-T audio. According to elgato support it does not contain the codec to decode the HE-AAC stream. Sounds great on the 5.1 channel though but sadly sounds awful on everything else.



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  Reply # 185416 21-Dec-2008 07:11
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Thanks for your replies - really helpful information.

I have come across the EyeTV Diversity (http://www.elgato.com/elgato/int/mainmenu/products/tuner/diversity08/product3.en.html), which appears to be the same as the Hauppauge WinTV-Nova-TD Stick (http://www.hauppauge.co.uk/site/products/data_novatdstick.html) - this is a dual tuner (digital only) stick, which appears to allow recording of two channels at once (or a stronger signal of one channel). It doesn't seem to be available here in NZ, but does this look suitable (if I can live without Prime)?

I understand the standard Hauppauge units be bought and installed on a Mac, using EyeTV software - both the Diversity08 and Hybrid (identical to the Hauppauge HVR-900) are listed as compatible on EyeTV's website. So does purchasing a Hauppauge stick and the EyeTV software seperately (if cheaper) indeed work ok?

This audio issue sounds like quite a big problem. From what I've read on this forum, much of the broadcast audio is not in 5.1, so the issue you refer to, webstereo, would be present much of the time. What have you done to get around this? Is there different (and similarly good) software that can be used? Do you know if  Elgato have plans to solve this in later versions of the software? I'd imagine this problem could be a real killer for me - if the sound's crap, I'm not sure I could cope! And if it's not solved soon, I'm not sure if I could hold out from just buying a HD PVR (when their price drops).

I've decided to hold off for a bit from purchasing a Mac Mini - will still need to purchase second-hand (young child, single income and all that!), but if a new model's to be released soon, it could be that more second-hand units come onto the market.

Anyway, would appreciate your thoughts on the above. Many thanks.

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  Reply # 185444 21-Dec-2008 10:53
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Dont forget you can always put windows on the mac. I would wait for the rumored model refresh tho, since nvidia graphics will get you hardware HD playback and you can stick more ram in it. Assuming it all goes to what has leaked so far.




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  Reply # 185959 24-Dec-2008 13:00
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If you stick with Eye TV there's no way "to get around it" as such. I use a 310 and watch DVB-S. I'd rather have standard def video and listenable audio than the alternative.Elgato says that if HE-AAC becomes more common then maybe they'll rectify it. I'm guessing that means we are the only ones that use it. Of course maybe TVNZ will start broadcasting AC3 audio with their HD video so that will pretty much sort it out for me anyway as I almost never watch any channel other than the "big three"

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  Reply # 185989 24-Dec-2008 15:52
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I took a different route with my mini mac.  I have the cheaper mini with the 1.8ghz CPU and 1GB of memory, so I set it up as a Media Portal client and its been as sweet as for the six month or so since I installed it.  I have the benefit of a seperate machine that I use to install the Media Portal TV Server, so the mini (after bootcamping with XP) just has to play recordings and movies off the server, which it does perfectly - even the HD recordings. Its driving a 50" Panny without any difficulty at all.

I used the directions on Mauricio's blog for guidance and its not missed a beat since then.  So, as a media client it takes some beating, but I am not sure just how successful it would be as a recording and playback device. I suspect that the CPU is working hard for HD playback and to try and record at the same time might be pushing it.

Cheers Mike

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  Reply # 186126 26-Dec-2008 10:09
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I use an EyeTV Diversity (ordered from Australia) which works fine with the dual tuners, been getting a lot of use the last few weeks.

The EyeTV software is a little flaky at the moment, I've been trialling lots of different betas for them, and they all have one problem or another, high CPU, blank picture on playback (but the file is fine - so transcoding is fine).

As far as the AAC-HE support is concerned, they do support it, but maybe not 100% to spec, personally I don't hear any issue with it - but then again I don't use the EyeTV for playback very often - I transcode to an MP4 file for later playback on my AppleTV.

Cheers, Ed.

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  Reply # 186146 26-Dec-2008 12:34
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eddyg: I use an EyeTV Diversity (ordered from Australia) which works fine with the dual tuners, been getting a lot of use the last few weeks.

The EyeTV software is a little flaky at the moment, I've been trialling lots of different betas for them, and they all have one problem or another, high CPU, blank picture on playback (but the file is fine - so transcoding is fine).

As far as the AAC-HE support is concerned, they do support it, but maybe not 100% to spec, personally I don't hear any issue with it - but then again I don't use the EyeTV for playback very often - I transcode to an MP4 file for later playback on my AppleTV.

Cheers, Ed.


Problem with EyeTV's software is it can only deal with the AAC portion of the HE-AAC audio so you get 22KHz audio instead of 44.1




Generally known online as OpenMedia, now working for Red Hat New Zealand as a Solution Architect for all things Linux, Virtual and of course Cloud. Still playing with MythTV and digital media on the side.

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  Reply # 186249 27-Dec-2008 10:21
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Have a listen to FM radio NZ national and then switch to AM radio NZ national.That's pretty much what the difference is with Eye TV audio on the HE-AAC front. TRanscoding doesn't make any difference either. How can it? If you don't hear it I suspect you may be listening on a laptop.



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  Reply # 186296 27-Dec-2008 19:19
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eddyg: I use an EyeTV Diversity (ordered from Australia) which works fine with the dual tuners, been getting a lot of use the last few weeks.


Good to hear from someone using the Diversity. So you're comfortably recording two channels at the same time? And can you also record two channels and watch a third recorded show ok? What are the specs of your Mac? I haven't had any luck finding the appropriate specs for EyeTV (esp recording 2/watching 3rd recorded) or a manual for the original Diversity.

eddyg: The EyeTV software is a little flaky at the moment, I've been trialling lots of different betas for them, and they all have one problem or another, high CPU, blank picture on playback (but the file is fine - so transcoding is fine).
Cheers, Ed.


What about the standard release versions of Eye TV - are they stable, or are they also flaky?

thanks for your help.
Jonathan



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  Reply # 186297 27-Dec-2008 19:25
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This does sound (no pun intended!) like a significant issue - I'm certainly fussy enough about the sound to have audio quality compromised to that degree.

Are there no other alternative pieces of software for Macs (using OSX)?

What about an initial compromise of running XP on the Mac Mini, and using something like GBPVR? (the idea being to switch to OSX/EyeTV once it supports HE-ACC) Will I run into any issues with this hopefully temporary solution? Will GBPVR work with the Mac's remote and/or the remote of the Diversity?

Or should I simply give up on the Mac Mini and go for something like a EEE Box, running the same GBPVR?

Thanks for any more assistance that anyone can offer with these questions.

Cheers
Jonathan

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  Reply # 186299 27-Dec-2008 19:33
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The problem with both the Mac Mini and EEE box is that they are underspec for DVB-T. To get a decent picture on our H.264 channels (TV3 in particular) a GFX card capable of H.264 is essential. A software based codec will work but it won't work as well and TV3 will max out the CPU's on both machines and possibly result in some stuttering if it can't keep up.

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  Reply # 186301 27-Dec-2008 19:43
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My bad if this has been answered already but...

With eyetv you can watch and record as many channels on the same MUX as you want at the same time. But the mini would die trying to watch two at once.
For the olympics I had tv one and sports going at the same time using PIP on 2.2 macbook pro. It was alright, but lagged some times.
If you want to watch or record other channels on a different mux at the same time you will need a second tuner, which eyetv handles well.

You get used to the sound after a while, and with tv 3 having a DD stream thats one channel not to worry about.

As for picture quality, it is not as clear as dvbviewer using EVR, but still looks amazing.

For recording you can use the xmltv script which graps channel listings for the next weekish so you just click what you want to record and thats it.

As eyetv doesn't use hardware decoding, the faster the cpu the better, so you should wait for the rumored mini update.



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  Reply # 186304 27-Dec-2008 19:56
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sbiddle: The problem with both the Mac Mini and EEE box is that they are underspec for DVB-T. To get a decent picture on our H.264 channels (TV3 in particular) a GFX card capable of H.264 is essential. A software based codec will work but it won't work as well and TV3 will max out the CPU's on both machines and possibly result in some stuttering if it can't keep up.


Kind of getting less keen on the idea of using a Mac Mini, the more I know of the limitations/issues!

Perhaps the new EEE Box may be a better bet, though? Seems to deal with the issue raised above regarding lack of hardware support of HD video. Would appreciate any comments on whether this new EEE does indeed sound adequate for dealing with Freeview HD (details and link below). While I'd be stuck with using Windows (or Linux, I guess?), its low power consumption is a bonus, and it would give me the benefits of an additional PC.

Then again, the alternative of just going with a Freeview HD PVR seems increasingly appealing - and DSE has the Zinwell at $849 until tomorrow which, while still quite expensive, would at least provide an immediate solution! (or do I wait around to see what the Topfield costs/is like... neverending questions!).

---

Built-in Video Decoder for High Definition Entertainment

The Eee Box B204 and B206 deliver crisp and fluid high definition pictures straight out of the box. They are equipped with a discrete graphics card that features a high definition hardware video decoder, vastly improving the quality of video and freeing the Eee Box’s processor to tackle other tasks. Ensuring quick and hassle-free connectivity to LCD TVs, monitors, projectors and home theater receivers is an easily-accessible HDMI output on the Eee Box B204 and B206’s rear I/O panel.

Graphics

ATI Radeon HD 3400 series with 256MB DDR2 memory


source: http://www.asus.com/news_show.aspx?id=13626


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  Reply # 186308 27-Dec-2008 20:13
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The new Eee boxes should be fine - ATI did have serious issues with H.264 hardware acceleration but they seem to be solved now.

I guess it just depends how long you want to wait, they haven't announced any shipping dates yet have they?/


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