EyeTV 250 Plus or something else? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 05:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm considering upgrading to an EyeTV 250+, but had a pretty unhappy experience with the Hybrid. I'm wondering if anyone who owns one of these has any feedback. And for any actual owners, I have two very specific questions: 1) the live buffer for analog TV that the 250+ creates - is it in some standard format (eg: mpg2, h.264) and is it visible/accessible? 2) EyeTV, when used with the hybrid, consumes ridiculous amounts of processor time, even on a dual-core mini. Does the hardware encoding on the 250+ alleviate that issue or is it a problem with the EyeTV software?

Alternately, does anyone have recommendations on mac-compatible products that are feature-compatible with the 250+?
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post #2 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 07:23 PM
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I have the EyeTV 250 which is the same as the 250+ except there is no digital tuner. Your questions seem to be about the analog-to-digital conversion of the 250+ so mine is the same in that respect.

If you are recording analog channels or sources then the 250+ is much superior to the Hybrid. This is because the MPEG encoding is being done by its hardware encoder rather than software encoding on the Mac. As you've seen, software MPEG 2 encoding isn't the best when it has to be done in real time.

The 250+ hardware analog-to-digital recorder encodes in MPEG 2 format with MPEG audio. There are selectable preset bit rates and you can manually set bit rates. The buffer also is in MPEG 2 format and it is not accessible. There is very little processor demand because the work is being done by the hardware encoder.

None of this matters when recording digital channels. In that case the unit is just transferring the source MPEG file to the computer.
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post #3 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HealeyGuy View Post

The 250+ hardware analog-to-digital recorder encodes in MPEG 2 format with MPEG audio. There are selectable preset bit rates and you can manually set bit rates. The buffer also is in MPEG 2 format and it is not accessible. There is very little processor demand because the work is being done by the hardware encoder.

First, thanks for the response.

When you say the buffer is not accessible, can you elaborate? Is that because of the format or because it's actively hidden somewhere by the software? Where does it actually store the file? And is it a rolling buffer of a max size or does it simply keep growing until you quit the app?

Thanks in advance.
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post #4 of 13 Old 09-20-2007, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montressor View Post

First, thanks for the response.
When you say the buffer is not accessible, can you elaborate? Is that because of the format or because it's actively hidden somewhere by the software? Where does it actually store the file? And is it a rolling buffer of a max size or does it simply keep growing until you quit the app?

Thanks in advance.

The size of the buffer can be set in Preferences. The default is 2000 MB. You have the option to have the buffer in RAM instead of on the hard drive. It is written to the hard drive in the same place selected in Preferences to store the EyeTV archive. It is a rolling buffer. I make certain to close the live viewer window to stop writing to the buffer. I believe the buffer file is automatically emptied when quitting the application but I haven't checked to know that for sure.

The buffer file can only be read by EyeTV when watching live television.
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HealeyGuy View Post

The buffer file can only be read by EyeTV when watching live television.

Alright, thanks for the info. I guess I'll start checking into the Slingbox AV then. Cheaper than a 250+ anyway. Just wish it wasn't based on a crappy codec.

Thanks again for the answers.
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 08:25 AM
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I also have a Slingbox AV. What is it you are wanting the outcome to be? You can't record shows with the Slingbox.
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post #7 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HealeyGuy View Post

I also have a Slingbox AV. What is it you are wanting the outcome to be? You can't record shows with the Slingbox.

Yeah, further research has shown this as well. My ultimate goal is to create a unified web-based viewing tool that will allow local and remote Macs and my iPhone to access any video file in my library or access the live video from my cable box. I want to be able to remotely control all aspects of the cable box, and I want to see TV/cable listings for my area. It would be nice to also be able to schedule recordings. I also want to support multiple simultaneous viewers (2 or 3 max). I do not need QAM, ATSC, or HD content.

Currently, I have a most of this accomplished. I can access any of my video files from any networked mac, local of remote, and from my iPhone over WiFi and EDGE. I have also built a set of scripts to control my cable box via an IR blaster, including on-demand shows. The one thing I cannot do is encode the AV output of my cable box to stream it out from my mini.

Slingbox uses a proprietary streaming format, as does the Hava box. Additionally, the slingbox only allows a single client at a time. The EyeTV Hybrid doesn't buffer live analog TV, and the EyeTV 250+ apparently uses an inaccessible buffer. None of the other products I've seen can do this most basic thing (although if I'm wrong, I'd love to hear of a product that can). The VLC dev team has had the stub of support for direct reading of an EyeTV mpeg2 stream for about a year, but there's been no progress there either.

As near as I can tell, I'm going to have to use a Linux box with a TV Capture card to accomplish this (seemingly straightforward) task. Obviously this isn't a tough technical issue - my old Quadra 840av could basically do this back in the day. It seems clear that none of these companies are very interested in standards compliance, but rather are focused on being proprietary. I'll get what I want, just not with any of these commercial solutions. Too bad - I really wanted to give them my money. I just don't want their limitations in return.
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post #8 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 03:31 PM
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I expect that others in the forum will have suggestions about how to accomplish this. I'll tell you a little of what I know.

Although I believe the EyeTV software license requires a different licensed copy on each Mac, you can have all those copies pointing at the same EyeTV Archive folder. So no matter which Mac launches EyeTV it will see and can play whatever has been recorded and saved in that folder prior to launching EyeTV on the remote Mac. A drawback is the remote Macs cannot access the live-TV buffer; only recordings that have been saved. This should work nicely though with the new Airport Extreme base station that shares a USB 2.0 hard drive.

There also is CyTV that is designed for streaming EyeTV to other Macs. This does let you remotely pause and rewind live TV. I don't know what happens if more than one Mac tries to control the EyeTV's live signal.

iEye Captain is another popular EyeTV add on. If you search for EyeTV at macupdate.com you'll find other items that may provide the enhancements you need.

I've downloaded Xhub and will experiment with it next week as a way to access EyeTV recordings along with other media files.

Yet another approach would be to get an ElGato Turbo.264 along with the EyeTV. Your EyeTV recordings then could be automatically converted to H.264 files in your iTunes Library (or elsewhere) for sharing. Of course this conversion will occcur after the recording is completed and takes a little more than real-time to complete the H.264 export to iTunes. Because it is a hardware H.264 encoder it doesn't demand much of the Mac's processor.

Hope this helps.
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-21-2007, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Info is always appreciated. However, I have evaluated the options you describe.

Using multiple licenses of eyetv isn't an option, since I also want access via iPhone and machines outside my network (say, working late, hotel room while travelling, etc). In any case, no reason to lock into eyetv for this - I've already got that part running well via vlc and some web scripts.

Cytv doesn't work at all with the eyetv hybrid, as it requires a physical buffer file to stream. It *does* work with the 250, which leads me to think that it may also work with the 250+. However, cytv is ultimately just a wrapper around vlc, and I think it would be possible to replicate what it does and set my own streaming options.

I own a licensce of iEye captain, and that led me to iRed, which is what I use in combination with a usb irTrans controlled via web scripts and applescript. Very solid, powerful tool.

The h.264 stick is interesting, but that's not much of a prob for me. I just fire up a conversion before i head to work and it's done in an hour or two. I'm really focusing on open standards as opposed to locking in to application formats - far more flexibility.

I'd be interested in hearing about xhub.
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-22-2007, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montressor View Post

...since I also want access via iPhone and machines outside my network (say, working late, hotel room while travelling, etc).

Just wondering, how are you planning to access video or TV from your iPhone, iTunes syncing or over the web?
If over the web:
I know my iPhone using Orb's web interface won't get video, and it's not even a Mac-based solution (Windows-only backend ATM).
I think the only Mac option I've found thus far is dot-tunes' plugin for iPhone. It streams only iTunes compatible formats, so you'd have to covert videos to MPEG4/h.264 first.
I haven't seen anything for live video/TV streaming for iPhone, and it would be nice to have. So, if you have found a usable solution, please share.

Quote:


I'd be interested in hearing about xhub.

Here is the homepage for the developer of xhub, if you want to read some about it:
http://www.snarb.tk/

xhub only works on OSX, it uses quicktime tools installed on and (I would imagine without major modifications) utilizes only local/network-accessible folders and iTunes/iPhoto libraries. That wouldn't really work for the home-to-work scenario you're wanting, since I doubt it would work with web-folders or something like .Mac.


I liked CyTV, and being an EyeTV Hybrid owner I understand its issues with CyTV (no analog live buffer). I would imagine CyTV works with the 250+, but it's fairly new and there isn't a lot of info about it yet. I would imagine for one the 250+ can't be in Game Mode for use by CyTV.


With the limited solutions available for your specific requirements (esp. regarding the iPhone), you might be better off using *nix or Windows for a backend, since those OSes have better options to stream TV and live video. There are some solutions for the Mac, but you might have to jump more hurdles to complete the task.
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post #11 of 13 Old 09-23-2007, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_A_Haas View Post

Just wondering, how are you planning to access video or TV from your iPhone, iTunes syncing or over the web?
If over the web:
I know my iPhone using Orb's web interface won't get video, and it's not even a Mac-based solution (Windows-only backend ATM).
I think the only Mac option I've found thus far is dot-tunes' plugin for iPhone. It streams only iTunes compatible formats, so you'd have to covert videos to MPEG4/h.264 first.
I haven't seen anything for live video/TV streaming for iPhone, and it would be nice to have. So, if you have found a usable solution, please share.

What I have done for my static library is re-encode all my existing h.264 files with VisualHub (which you link to below) which has handy presets for EDGE, "Tiny", and Wifi. I started with EDGE and am now using "Tiny" which works well. I then have a set of PHP scripts, one of which runs via cron to load new titles into a mysql db, another which shows a listing in an iPhone-friendly format or displays the file itself if passed a file param. Works fine and goes full-screen. Pretty reliable in comparison with Windows Media on my old Treo 700w.

I haven't yet done a live stream to the iPhone since I still haven't resolved getting a live stream in, but it shouldn't be a prob given the ability to play h.264 files - I have tested this solution for Macs using a live video feed and VLC transcoding/streaming.



Quote:
Originally Posted by D_A_Haas View Post

Here is the homepage for the developer of xhub, if you want to read some about it:
[url="http://www.techspansion.com/visualhub/k/[/URL]

Is XHub the same as VisualHub?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D_A_Haas View Post

I liked CyTV, and being an EyeTV Hybrid owner I understand its issues with CyTV (no analog live buffer). I would imagine CyTV works with the 250+, but it's fairly new and there isn't a lot of info about it yet. I would imagine for one the 250+ can't be in Game Mode for use by CyTV.

Yeah, my biggest concern is the lack of development on CyTV - the boards have been pretty inactive and there hasn't been much going on with it in the past year or so. But it seems that what CyTV does would be possible to replicate, and I'd rather have my own solution that I understand anyway, so I could deal with any mods required instead of be at a developer's mercy. I have to believe that the buffer for the 250+ is accessible to VLC in some way, whether it's via a UDP stream or via an mpeg2 transport stream on the hard drive somewhere.

Actually, if I could just find a Unix command to trim off the first n bytes of a file, I could create my own rolling buffer and have this whole thing work by simply telling EyeTV to record the incoming stream. I just don't want to constantly be deleting recording files to keep my disc from filling up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D_A_Haas View Post

With the limited solutions available for your specific requirements (esp. regarding the iPhone), you might be better off using *nix or Windows for a backend, since those OSes have better options to stream TV and live video. There are some solutions for the Mac, but you might have to jump more hurdles to complete the task.

I'm actually pretty comfy with Linux, and I have been thinking more and more in this direction. But I don't want to waste a lot of money and time experimenting with different capture cards and info on solid combinations is hard to come by, so that's what's been holding me back. Well, that and the fact that I don't want to throw yet another piece of equipment into the mix. But I may wind up going with the Hauppage card in an old Dell with OpenSUSE if I can't get reliable info on an EyeTV 250+ working.

At any rate - thanks for the discussion. It's helped to clarify my thoughts.
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post #12 of 13 Old 09-23-2007, 06:11 PM
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OT: that is odd my link sent you to Visual Hub, it should have been sending to snarb.tk... It sends me there correctly. Others here, is that happening to you?
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post #13 of 13 Old 09-24-2007, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Welp, quick initial testing makes me say W00t!! Looks like version 2.5 of EyeTV, released today, does exactly what I need. It appears to enable a live TV buffer for the Hybrid. I should now (theoretically) be able to access that buffer via VLC and stream it out. In connection with my IRTrans, iRed, and my funky-fresh PHP scripts, I should be able to do everything I do from my couch anywhere in the world. Additionally, I can rebroadcast live TV to multiple locations in my house at the same time.

Might need to upgrade my wireless network, but I've been meaning to do that anyway.

Nice little present from El Gato.
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