That’s the one we pay the cable TV (or satellite) company each month to let us watch TV shows and movies at different times than scheduled.
What’s good about the DVR? Not only is the DVR great for time shifting TV, it’s also good at compressing TV. Most DVR’s have a fast forward which means we can speed through TV commercials and watch a 30-minute TV show in 22 minutes, sans commercials. A 60-minute TV show becomes about 40 minutes, again, without commercials.
The EyeTV app works pretty much like the DVR you rent from the cable company, except it uses the Mac to record TV shows and movies.
There’s an online TV schedule for your area, and options to record specific TV shows that can be played back later. On your Mac. With the right extra cost connector you may be able to view what’s on your Mac on your TV.
Or, you can plug in a $99 Apple TV and stream what’s on your Mac to your TV.
EyeTV features live TV viewing which can be paused, Picture-in-Picture display, an onscreen menu and channels, and your entire recorded library of TV shows and movies.
One setup even creates iPad and iPhone compatible versions of recorded television so you can use your iDevices as a mobile DVR.
Not only can you record television, but shows and movies can be edited (or trimmed). Browsing programs is easy on the Mac using a CoverFlow-like interface, and files can always be exported to run on other Macs or other devices.
On the surface it would seem as if a Mac mini with an Elgato tuner and EyeTV would be the perfect DVR. At $600 it’s pricey, but connects directly to most modern TVs and can be controlled by a remote.
Add a minimum of $150 for a USB TV tuner and you have a decent DVR for about $750 and it should work well for many years. But that configuration is only somewhat competitive with, say, five years of DVR rental at a minimum of $10 per month (total of $600).
Unlike the Mac or Elgato tuner, the cable company’s DVR usually can be replaced at no charge when it goes belly up, and you simply continue to pay the monthly usage fee.
That makes Apple TV the killer device should Apple ever add DVR capability. Since Apple prefers to charge for TV shows and movies, and content producers want users to pay again to watch what was once broadcast for free, that’s not likely to happen any time soon.