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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,


Been racking my brain and the internet the last few hours trying to figure out the simplest and easiest way to just watch TV on my iMac. I've decided to reconfigure my office and put the 20" iMac on the wall, and then wall-mount at least a 5.1 system along with it and run it through a receiver, probably an HK 245. I don't NEED to record, so I don't believe elgato's EyeTV is my solution, but I could be wrong. Here's my projected setup:


iMac G5 1.8ghz

Harman Kardon AVR245

Bose Acoustimass or Klipsch Quintet (white!) 5.1 speaker system

Comcast Motorola Digital STB (latest - HD if possible, although my iMac's HD playback is choppy)


Really, I just want to be able to watch the news and maybe a few shows in the evening while I work at night.


I can mount the iMac, run the speaker wire - that's simple. I thought I would run mini-optical out from the iMac to the AVR245 for DVD audio, and I could possibly get rid of the Motorola box altogether if I were using EyeTV. But, if I wanted to try to bypass EyeTV, and just use the Comcast box, I was hoping I could just go Firewire in, or use some type of coax-to-USB connector. If I don't use the STB, I guess I would simply rely on the mini-TOSLINK out to the HK for all of my audio, or just run a TOSLINK from the STB to the HK for my TV audio if I could keep the STB. My hangup is getting my Comcast video and audio working through the system. Am I overthinking this? It seems to me if I can just run Comcast right into my iMac, I'll be golden. If EyeTV gets thrown in the mix, I have to spend an extra $150. Maybe I just answered my own question?


I'm sorry if my post is confusing, or if I've missed the answer somewhere in this forum - it's 2:30am and any help will be appreciated!
 

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Quote:
My hangup is getting my Comcast video and audio working through the system. Am I overthinking this?

No, when you first start out it can be confusing. You make assumptions--in this case that it will be fairly easy to connect devices to one another, the iMac has a display, how hard can it be just to get my cable signal ON that display--then you find out that hey, various roadblocks are in place and that many thousands of other people have been devising ways around those roadblocks for years. And that some of the things that we think should be pretty simple or inexpensive, turn out not to be.


Apple itself hasn't really cared too much about making it easy for you to watch TV on your Mac, enabling that has fallen to third party vendors; Comcast, like most cable tv vendors, and the content providers they contract with, don't want their signal anywhere near a "computer" because if you can "just" get their signal onto a computer you can record it with no loss.

Quote:
It seems to me if I can just run Comcast right into my iMac, I'll be golden. If EyeTV gets thrown in the mix, I have to spend an extra $150.

A ton of people with Macs and with Comcast have been buying EyeTV devices, and have spent a lot more than $150, precisely because Apple and Comcast haven't cared about just running your cable signal into your Mac. There are some other ways to "watch tv" on your Mac--if you have an STB with a active firewire out you can go the FirewireSDK and VirtualDVHS route, big thread here on that, but that's hardly simple or if you're prepared to watch analog stuff there are a few other alternatives--but a cheap usb EyeTV stick is probably your best bet to start off with, especially since your needs (no recording, just watching live news and a few network shows) aren't that great. You don't have a Mac capable of watching live or playing back high def, but if you have a decent cable signal your analog stuff will look pretty good, if Comcast has gone ADS in your area it will look even better, and should you decide to keep your Motorola box and down-rez some stuff via S-video/composite out into something like the EyeTV Hybrid--you'll probably be happy with that. But it won't be high def or 5.1 (AC-3)

Quote:
I could possibly get rid of the Motorola box altogether if I were using EyeTV

well, if you did that you wouldn't be able to watch anything on the digital tier, and you wouldn't be able to explore the firewire out option, but yes you could--or you could just reposition that STB to feed another display in your house. Whether that matters to you will depend on just what you want to watch. Then there's the issue of how much time you're willing to invest in getting a handle on all of this--and it ain't insignificant. Seems like you're hoping for something easy and simple.


If that's accurate, I'd start with the EyeTV Hybrid, as a cable subscriber it'll be by far the simplest introduction to all this, just connect the Comcast coax directly to the device, skip the Motorola for the time being, and see what you can tune and how it looks. Get a handle on the interface, the software and resizing windows, watch stuff live when you're in your normal office position. Then decide if that is good enough. If it isn't, come back and we can explore some higher quality, but more involved options.


Not sure how the wall-mounting thing is gonna affect your choices, I don't have an iMac.


(Note that many people without dual G5s or core duo Macs still use an EyeTV device to record high def--recording is no problem processor-wise--then they convert that program into a smaller sized file, to a more compressed video format, and then watch that instead. It's not live, but it ends up being much higher quality, usually, since the source material was so good to begin with, than watching something analog to begin with.)
 

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Sorry, I forgot to add that it would be nice if the iMac had the capability to run as a dumb display, and accept inputs, but it doesn't. It outputs only.


I don't know what kind of work you do, but since your old iMac can be hacked to run dual display--it might not be a bad home office solution to pick up a smallish LCD HDTV now (these are pretty cheap) wall mount that, and connect both your iMac and your cable STB to it. That way you can watch your high def live in all its glory and still get work done AND for those times that you'd like an extended desktop you can span to work on two screens.


If and when you upgrade from that iMac, you could replace it with something cheaper, more portable and powerful, like a core duo or C2D Macbook, then just dock into that LCD when you're at your desk. All the Intel Macs support dual display. Just trying to think ahead a bit for you.


And although I didn't address this yet, yes, your assumptions about routing all audio through your HK are correct--be it from your STB, your Mac, with or without an EyeTV device--that's how most of us do it. That your older iMac has an optical audio minijack out is very nice. Those of us HT types who jumped on the G4 mini had to jump through some big hoops to get digital out...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
chefklc,


Thank you very, very, very, very much. I really appreciate the time and effort you've given me in response.


After thinking about it today, I may look into seeing if anyone would want to trade for my iMac, and I may wind up investing an a Mac Mini or a used G5 Powermac. If I could put two matching LCD's on the wall to just use as displays, that would obviously be fine, but the equipment I have now limits me. I'm a Sales Supervisor with Best Buy, so picking up LCD TV's would suffice, but I don't have that type of cash set aside for more monitors. Still, that might be the best way to go. I wish I could just come across another 20" iMac G5 that would just be used as a 2nd display to stay asthetically similar.


As for the hookup, wouldn't it be peachy if we could just watch live TV via firewire from the Motorola STB? That seems to me like it would solve the entire problem, but, unless I'm wrong, that's really there for recording and not so much live viewing. I'm going to continue thinking it over, but I REALLY appreciate your help. Thanks again!
 
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