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Not sure this has been discussed, while I was at MacWorld on Friday, I spoke to a rep at Miglia about Apple TV. I asked if the files made from EyeTv can be sent to Apple TV and viewed on TV as the Apple TV device is doing with it's Apple iTunes files.


All he could say was that they are working on it right now with a smile! I look forward to that as I think the Apple TV device looks to be a great addition to my HT.
 

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Nelsun, there's nothing stopping you from doing this now, EyeTV already converts to iPod video formats, so whatever you are recording can already be put into iTunes. Problem is you lose video and audio quality and waste a helluva lot of time. Of course, if you don't care so much about either, then yes, the AppleTV looks like a great addition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey, thanks for the fast reply. I have tried exporting to the iPod video and played the video onto my plasma screen. It looked awful!


So I tried to rip a DVD via the built in Toast connection in EyeTV. That looked spectacular! Practically like watching HDTV. So if Miglia and EyeTV sort out the through-put to an Apple TV and it can stream a video from EyeTV to the Apple TV onto a TV, that would be ideal.
 

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I stopped by the EyeTV booth and asked that they add a "AppleTV" checkbox like the iPod that would re-encode in 720p, or at least expand their Applescript support to make more export options available.


Of course this can be extremely slow (I'm only running a dual core mini at home) but since I don't have a problem with shows showing up a day or two later (most content I get from iTS anyway) this would be fine.


I'll keep my fingers crossed.
 

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Just some food for thought about transcoding times. I have a 3.0 GHz Mac Pro and my brother needed some episodes of Lost. I decided to save some space and take the original TS's which are 720p and convert into 720p H.264. The Mac Pro was using near 400% of available CPU the whole time, that means all four cores maxed out, and it took 3.5 hours an episode. I tried an episode on my 1.66 core duo mini and it took about 13 hours to do an episode. Transcoding may be an opiton but it won't be too pretty an option if you have lots of files to convert, and these examples are not even 1080i conversions which probably would be worse.


-Jerry C.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gamper /forum/post/0


JerryNY,


How much space did you save converting the .ts files into H264? Was it worth the hours of computing time?


Thanks.

I'm not JerryNY, but I spent the afternoon playing around doing just this sort of thing, and my (personal) answer is: no, it's not worth the computing time. Not at all.


Note that I'm going to be annoying and use GiB (power of two) units to refer to formatted storage, and GB (power of ten) when talking about unformatted drive capacity and megabit (power of ten) when talking about bit rate. In this case it pays to be specific.


Here's my logic: My external HD is a 500 GB WD MyBook Pro I bought a few months ago. I did some math and storage on there costs $0.57/GiB (actual cost per gibibyte of formatted capacity). Take a 22 episode season of a sitcom (say, for example, 'The Office') and the storage costs come to almost exactly $31.50 after you cut out commercials (each episode is about 21 minutes and 2.5GiB -- this math doesn't take into account the two one-hour episodes that have aired so far this season). Now. I could buy more hard drive space at the same $0.57/GiB, and just keep adding drives as I decide to keep shows. Or I could buy the whole season on DVD when it comes out: season 2, for example, is $24.99 from A Major Online Retailer Whom I Already Pay For Prime Shipping. So: there's already an argument there for me spending less total money on the DVD set once it's out. Storing DVDs also generates less noise and consumes less electricity than operating a bunch of hard drives does (infinitely less), presuming that a drive connected to an HTPC is going to be on all the time. With a gigabit network it's possible to relocate the noise to another room, but you're still going to have to pay for the power.


There is, however, a counter-argument that I get a better picture at 1080i than I'd get from a 480p DVD set. So I could reencode the MPEG2 stream into something smaller (like, say, H.264) with no apparent loss of picture quality. So I tried this. In my testing, I never even finished encoding a single episode. It just wasn't worth the CPU time. I was using the x264 encoder, which is generally faster than the Quicktime encoder (I'm not going to try to find citations for that statement, as I don't want to get lost down the rabbit hole again, but for most uses it seems that x264 is preferable to Apple's implementation in Quicktime, which is what's used by EyeTV). On my 1.83Ghz Core Duo Mac mini, the encoding frame rate is in single digits. After about an hour and a half, a 42 minute episode was still less than 20% done and I canceled it.


I tried a 720p source instead of 1080i ('House', if you want to play along at home) to see how the computer did when it didn't have to deinterlace the video. It fared slightly better, encoding a whopping 7 frames a second. I did the math, and the multiplier is 8.5x real time: a 42 minute show would take six hours (or more) to encode just the video, not counting the time it would take to encode the audio (even with passthru) and mux the whole thing back together. This also doesn't count the time it takes to edit the commercials, or the likely frustration you'll have when the audio gets out of sync with the video in your encoded file (720p TV in the US has a framerate of 59.94, not 60 frames per second, and muxing that with audio isn't as easy as it seems to be -- I had the same problem playing with extracted TiVo video a few years ago).


Encoded at roughly 6Mbit/second, H.264 is visually equivalent (for most purposes) to an MPEG2 HD stream. The resulting file is about 40% of the original's size. Is it worth 8.5x the show's duration in CPU load, plus the hassle, to save just over half the hard drive space? You can drop the bit rate and save a little more space, but you'll start to notice the difference if you're looking at it on an HDTV. And when I consider that I have an upscaling DVD player that does a good job with high quality material, I have to suspect that the 480p DVD set will come close enough to what I'd do in H.264 that it's worth saving my time, my CPU time, and the energy, and buying the DVDs.


For short-term storage, it pays off to cut out the commercials (you can do this in EyeTV in five minutes or so), but transcoding doesn't really seem worth it to me.


Oddly enough, I quit playing around with the TiVo extraction for basically the same reason a few years ago. It was SD and not HD, but my computer was only 400Mhz at the time, and it transcoded the TiVo video stream at just under 4 FPS. It wasn't worth the hassle to get any video off of the TiVo, especially when the resulting file often got its audio and video out of sync. Now the picture quality is better and the computer's faster, but the end result is the same. If you want to keep something and you can get it cheap on DVD, buy the DVD.
 

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fed--thanks for that very thoughtful post, it got me thinking about a few things, have to say it took me much more than one afternoon, though, to reach much the same conclusion you (and JerryNY) did in terms of the value of encoding/ transcoding HD either to 1) save storage space or 2) supplant dvd purchases, attempting to get "better than dvd" quality by down-rezzing what you've already recorded in HD. Seems to me dvd sales (and eventually online downloads a la iTMS) will remain strong and appealing for many HT enthusiasts. Perhaps for a few different reasons, though.


The only thing I will continue doing? I'll keep using the automatic EyeTV export to iPod process so my wife can watch her 'Gilmore Girls' episodes during her commute in to work. It's a show I haven't had any interest in since the second season, it's something we wouldn't value enough to archive and playback later in HD anyway and it's painless enough to do infrequently. Why pay for it a second time (granted, to have it much more conveniently downloaded from iTMS ready to go) when we are getting it via cable? Much more than that in terms of editing and encoding? No, I agree with your evaluation.


However, where we prioritize and disagree somewhat has more to do with your energy calculations and storage value assessments as greater incentive to buy dvd sets rather than record and retain all those shows in glorious HD. I'll continue to record HD, especially "television" content to watch and/or archive it in that form, AND I'll continue to buy dvds, ripping and storing most of them as video_ts.


The crux of your perspective:

Quote:
I could buy more hard drive space at the same $0.57/GiB, and just keep adding drives as I decide to keep shows. Or I could buy the whole season on DVD when it comes out: season 2, for example, is $24.99 from A Major Online Retailer Whom I Already Pay For Prime Shipping. So: there's already an argument there for me spending less total money on the DVD set once it's out. Storing DVDs also generates less noise and consumes less electricity than operating a bunch of hard drives does (infinitely less), presuming that a drive connected to an HTPC is going to be on all the time. With a gigabit network it's possible to relocate the noise to another room, but you're still going to have to pay for the power.

A few counterpoints in no particular order:


The on all the time presumption might not be wise: most drives aren't on all the time, though some feel it's actually better for them to be run 24/7, rather than spinning up and down. Most Macs aren't on all the time either, though I've had one mini in a media extender role that hasn't so much as slept in two years, and it's been purring along nicely and quietly the whole time. It's a disposable appliance to me--and will eventually be swapped out this year for something better/faster/more powerful--but since it's a well-made and designed appliance it'll be passed along to someone in the family who will love and cherish it for years to come.


Plenty of hard-drive-based storage options that are quiet, that spin up and down and allow a Mac to sleep and wake, etc. Of course, 500GB is just barely dipping your toe in the water--is that really all you have? My music collection alone takes up 500GB (two quiet 250GB SATA drives, mirrored so I always have a perfect working backup copy of my iTunes library.) Now, you're smart to bring up the total cost to value perspective--to add in the electricity, the cost of the drives themselves and the enclosure, etc--to come up with some per GB storage cost calculation--but what about the TIME it took to import and assemble that collection initially, and the time it would take to re-build that collection? That's just music, it's easy to make the case to digitize 100% of your audio content, and most of us approach video differently than music--having our entire video collection on demand like that, and backed up, would be cost prohibitive for most of us--but to a certain extent, we're also doing this with some portion of video content because it can be as easy and moderately cost effective as well.


All those cd and dvd discs still take up space, exponentially more space than those files stored on 3.5" hard drives would--and you'd still have to handle them all individually into and out of your upconverting dvd player--and some of us (with busy households) still would back them up to hard drives for playback convenience, for easier access shared around the house over the network or merely to have a copy for safety's sake. (I'm thinking Criterion discs rather than "The Office" in this case.) Also, I can't speak for anyone else, but I have to tell you, boxing up cds and dvds and moving them OUT of our living space is one of the reasons we went to a Mac home theater in the first place. There are folks who proudly display their collection in a physical sense, devoting entire walls or even rooms to it--and I say more power to them--me, close-in to the city in a 1000 sq ft condo? I benefit more from having all that stored content, 4.5TB worth, taking up the equivalent of about, get this, 22 square inches (if I compacted all my drives, enclosures, swappable trays and cords into a cube.)


We're always going to be paying for something--real estate, furniture, electricity, transport, property taxes, replacement cost of damaged discs and obsolete devices, there's a pollution and environmental cost associated with every choice even if it doesn't show up in something so easily quantifiable as a monthly electrical bill. Longer term costs are hard to assess. Some of these factors (the disc itself, shipping, plastic cases, dvd packaging materials, etc) can be very difficult to assess and compare especially with respect to the environment, whereas others (the electricity, heat and noise generated by running hard drives) might seem more obvious. It can be a tough ethical and financial nut to crack...


My bare drive Maxline SATA 500s formatted give me 465GB of usuable space @ $129 that works out to an actual cost of .27 GB PLUS the enclosure or tray, but that additional cost can vary widely. And once you start getting more drives--you'll probably add storage more economically, in ways meant to leverage or handle multiple drives--rather than continuing to add the (relatively expensive) pre-fab single drive in an enclosure like the MyBook, which often only comes with a standard 1 year retail warranty. (Not sure about the "Pro" warranty, the MyBook Premium warranty is but 1 year. Most OEM drives you'd use, 5 years.) You may also have overpaid a little for your MyBook Pro from a functional perspective--rarely do we need FW800, though I feel you, it is nice having FW800--a "Premium" MyBook would probably serve a typical HT geek's needs just fine--that would drop your storage cost calculation down to 465GB @ $199. = .42/GB or less (I picked $199 as a conservative reference just because Costco will be selling these for $219. - $20 coupon soon. I know these have sold for less in recent months, and will sell for less again.)


"If you want to keep something and you can get it cheap on DVD, buy the DVD"


I agree with this as well, fed, but only up to a point, and only as long as you have a great display with a great internal scaler and/or a well-matched standalone upconverting player. It can be hard to wait for a season set and not hear or read spoilers in that time. When you can pick up the box set of say 'Firefly' for $11.99 that's a no-brainer--something you know you'll want to watch and re-watch--also, many will find added value anyway in box sets with special features, and being able to blow through them multiple episodes at a time and without having to fast-forward through commercials. Where I think I diverge a bit from you, though, is when I can easily record a show in high def--QAM, OTA--I'm still always going to watch it that way first, and if I think it bears repeated viewing a year or two down the road, I'm going to save that as is on a hard drive. What I'm finding, though, is that there are fewer and fewer shows I feel like I will want to watch again soon--and by the time I do I think the content delivery dynamic and cost to value ratio will have changed, in our favor. There's only so much time in the day, as they say.


That's a long way to reach what is, for me, ultimately the key determinant: whether the show is disposable after one viewing, or something you want to archive either short term or long term. And I think we're all going to create this sliding judgement scale for ourselves, looking at it just the way you presented it, which we'll then have to balance with our checkbooks--as you also imply. Like you, I do take a few minutes to edit out commercials for things I'll keep long term, and also like you I likely won't ever re-encode to try to save space or to squeeze something into aTV--that still seems the fool's errand. Maybe it's just me, but I'm even getting used to fast forwarding through commercials--the Apple remote makes this quite easy for EyeTV, it's practically Tivo-like now with the one R click fast forward scan, then two 7 sec L clicks jumping back. Come to think of it, I haven't even edited anything for like a month...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


The only thing I will continue doing? I'll keep using the automatic EyeTV export to iPod process so my wife can watch her 'Gilmore Girls' episodes during her commute in to work. It's a show I haven't had any interest in since the second season, it's something we wouldn't value enough to archive and playback later in HD anyway and it's painless enough to do infrequently. Why pay for it a second time (granted, to have it much more conveniently downloaded from iTMS ready to go) when we are getting it via cable? Much more than that in terms of editing and encoding? No, I agree with your evaluation.

Yeah, that's something I thought about. I don't really think of converting something to iPod size as archiving, so I didn't test it, and I have no idea if it's actually faster than what I was trying to do. I'm guessing you could cut the frame rate down quite a bit, but again that's not creating an archive of HD content. The iPod conversion can be done automatically, anyway.

Quote:
The on all the time presumption might not be wise: most drives aren't on all the time, though some feel it's actually better for them to be run 24/7, rather than spinning up and down. Most Macs aren't on all the time either, though I've had one mini in a media extender role that hasn't so much as slept in two years, and it's been purring along nicely and quietly the whole time.

I've found that for EyeTV to work most reliably, I have to keep the tuner running and the drive spinning all the time. When I didn't have the LiveTV window open all the time, sometimes the EyeTV application would crash when it was trying to turn the tuner on. The computer's going to be on all the time anyway for other purposes, so having it always recording (which is the same thing the TiVo does, and I've had noiser TiVo drives than this) isn't really an issue for me.

Quote:
Plenty of hard-drive-based storage options that are quiet, that spin up and down and allow a Mac to sleep and wake, etc. Of course, 500GB is just barely dipping your toe in the water--is that really all you have?

That's all I have plugged into the Mini under the TV. I've got another 500GB MyBook Pro and a 250GB LaCie drive connected to my other Mini, plus a few hundred gigs of various drives not plugged into anything at the moment, plus all the internal drives in various machines. I sync my home directory daily, the directories of pictures from my digital cameras (80GB or so) regularly, and I sync up my music periodically.

Quote:
My music collection alone takes up 500GB (two quiet 250GB SATA drives, mirrored so I always have a perfect working backup copy of my iTunes library.) Now, you're smart to bring up the total cost to value perspective--to add in the electricity, the cost of the drives themselves and the enclosure, etc--to come up with some per GB storage cost calculation--but what about the TIME it took to import and assemble that collection initially, and the time it would take to re-build that collection? That's just music, it's easy to make the case to digitize 100% of your audio content, and most of us approach video differently than music--having our entire video collection on demand like that, and backed up, would be cost prohibitive for most of us--but to a certain extent, we're also doing this with some portion of video content because it can be as easy and moderately cost effective as well.


Also, I can't speak for anyone else, but I have to tell you, boxing up cds and dvds and moving them OUT of our living space is one of the reasons we went to a Mac home theater in the first place. There are folks who proudly display their collection in a physical sense, devoting entire walls or even rooms to it--and I say more power to them--me, close-in to the city in a 1000 sq ft condo? I benefit more from having all that stored content, 4.5TB worth, taking up the equivalent of about, get this, 22 square inches (if I compacted all my drives, enclosures, swappable trays and cords into a cube.)

Indeed it can be convenient, and what's cost-effective varies with the cost of the media, the size of the wallet, and the value of one's time. My music store isn't that big because it was mostly done for the purpose of filling up my (non-video) iPod. Until I buy a standalone tube DAC my CDs are going to sound better coming from my tube-equipped CD player than they do coming out of my Mac, so it's not worth ripping lossless audio. And I'm not buying a standalone tube DAC until there's one that handles both high-res audio formats (you can't feed DSD from SACD to an external DAC, and since that restriction will probably never change I will probably never buy a DAC). And if we're talking about better output, my DVD player has leagues better scaling and deinterlacing than the Mac does. For recording HD content or playing streaming content from the internet, the Mac's where it's at, but for playing DVDs and listening to music I own I'm sticking with dedicated components.


And my guests already comment about sleeping in the server room. I have an 875 sq ft apartment right across the Potomac from ya. The hall is lined with bookshelves. I installed cable lighting so you could read titles.

Quote:
My bare drive Maxline SATA 500s formatted give me 465GB of usuable space @ $129 that works out to an actual cost of .27 GB PLUS the enclosure or tray, but that additional cost can vary widely. And once you start getting more drives--you'll probably add storage more economically, in ways meant to leverage or handle multiple drives--rather than continuing to add the (relatively expensive) pre-fab single drive in an enclosure like the MyBook, which often only comes with a standard 1 year retail warranty. (Not sure about the "Pro" warranty, the MyBook Premium warranty is but 1 year. Most OEM drives you'd use, 5 years.) You may also have overpaid a little for your MyBook Pro from a functional perspective--rarely do we need FW800, though I feel you, it is nice having FW800--a "Premium" MyBook would probably serve a typical HT geek's needs just fine--that would drop your storage cost calculation down to 465GB @ $199. = .42/GB or less (I picked $199 as a conservative reference just because Costco will be selling these for $219. - $20 coupon soon. I know these have sold for less in recent months, and will sell for less again.)

The Pro came with a three-year warranty, so the price difference was worth it. Also the FW800 was more about making it future-compatible than any current need. I had FW800 on the PowerBook I had at my last job, but my own Macbook Pro is FW400 only. If you have the port on your computer, a FW800 drive is a no-brainer. And I've been buying external drives as long as I've been using Macs (anybody want a SCSI SyQuest EZJet?). I buy whatever's a good price right now, and my drives are spread out wherever I happen to need them when I buy more. It's never been worthwhile to me to build or buy a whole storage solution, although I keep thinking about it. For it to be worthwhile I'd want a hardware RAID, and those don't come cheap.

Quote:
"If you want to keep something and you can get it cheap on DVD, buy the DVD"


I agree with this as well, fed, but only up to a point, and only as long as you have a great display with a great internal scaler and/or a well-matched standalone upconverting player. It can be hard to wait for a season set and not hear or read spoilers in that time.

The operative word there was "keep." I'm still recording content live OTA and storing some of it for some period of time. My answer for long-term storage still isn't a hard drive, though, and that's what I meant by "keep." I do reevaluate this pretty regularly as drives get cheaper, but as the drives get cheaper the media gets bigger and the hamster wheel doesn't stop turning.
 

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I have MacBook dual core with EyeTV Miglia HD to record HD programming. Yesterday I just bought MyBook 500G. When I tried to copy eyeTV file (recording) to MyBook it showed progress while it's copying but when it finished the file was no where to be found; it just vanished. I tried it couple times with no success. I tried copying a text file and it worked just fine.


I didn't format the ext drive. My understanding is that it's already formatted in FAT32 and should work fine with both OS X and Windows. I'm baffled. This is my first MAC; I have been Windows user for a long time.
 

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Well, it seems that FAT32 has 4GB file size limitation. I guess I'll have to reformat the drive with HFS+. My PC won't be able to read it, but oh well.
 
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