Large computer displays have become so affordable in recent years that many people who enjoy watching televised programming can now get by without owning a dedicated television set. This option can be particularly beneficial for those who live in smaller apartments or dorms.
Unfortunately, not all programming is available on Hulu or Netflix. If you want to watch over-the-air HDTV broadcasts on your computer, then you will need some kind of hardware TV tuner and an HDTV antenna. If you just want to watch analog or Clear QAM cable broadcasts, you won’t need the antenna, but you’ll need cable service.
We’ve tried a few tuners that have been sent to us for review over the last few months, and the one we like the most is the elgato EyeTV Hybrid for the Mac.
The hardware is very compact. The entire unit is roughly the size of a Zippo lighter. It connects to your Mac via USB. The other end has a coax connection for your antenna or cable — nothing out of the ordinary. The bundled EyeTV software, however, is the real reason we chose this unit as our top pick. The interface is well organized and makes it very easy to view and search television listings, change channels, and record programs. It also allows you to rewind, pause, and fast forward live television (with the included infrared remote).
If you like keeping all your media files in one place, the EyeTV software will even allow you to export your recorded content directly to iTunes, so you can sync it with your iPod or iPhone.
So if you have limited space and you don’t want to deal with having a dedicated television and DVR, or if you would just like seamless integration between your DVR and your iTunes library, then you should definitely consider the elgato EyeTV Hybrid.