So, I was just thinking that I would like to record some TV programmes and adverts and try putting my own music to these on my Mac. But although I have a video recorder, it’s awkward to have to digitise the video to get it onto the Mac. Then the postman knocked – twice as it happens – and gave me a small parcel. Inside was Miglia Technology’s latest offering, the TVMini. At first I thought this was just a compact TV tuner that could be used to show TV programmes on your computer, but it turned out to be much more than that.
The parcel contained the TVMini digital TV recorder, a USB 2.0 cable to connect this to the Mac, EyeTV software on CD-ROM, a co-axial TV adaptor, an indoor aerial, and even an infrared remote control so you can change channels from the sofa – just like a normal TV/VCR set.
Getting set up was dead easy. Simply drag the EyeTV application to the Applications folder on your hard disk, launch the software and a setup assistant starts automatically. Select your country and it detects all the stations available in your area. With this done you can start watching digital terrestrial TV in the live TV Viewer window. All the nationally broadcast channels are transmitted digitally along with another 50 or so to tempt you – as listed on www.freeview.co.uk. However, some channels only broadcast a few hours a day, and others require a ‘top-up’ payment which you can’t make using the TVMini, so you can’t actually view all 50.
The most crucial bit is having good reception. I ended up calling a TV engineer to fit an extension to my roof aerial so I could get a proper signal. With the indoor aerial I could only get Sky News and the History Channel, and these kept breaking up. With a proper aerial reception was perfect. Now I can watch TV on my Mac, pause the programme to make a cup of tea, and record any programme to my hard disk.
EyeTV also lets you make basic edits, to cut out the adverts, for example. For serious editing you’ll need to export to iMovie or FCP. EyeTV can also receive digital radio – depending on what is available in your area – and programmes can be recorded, edited and exported to iTunes, Apple Lossless or AAC. And using Toast 7 Titanium, you can burn EyeTV recordings directly to disc without even having to export the material first. If you choose ‘Burn with Toast’ from the File menu, Toast 7 launches and adds the recording to the appropriate video-disc format.
It’s time to say goodbye to the old video recorder. TVMini is not only “TV on your Mac”, it also lets you record digital TV direct to your hard drive – and it doesn’t cost the earth. Mike Collins