Produced be El Gato Systems, the eyeTV is the PVR (TiVo Alternative) solution of choice for the Mac.

Ever since the original iMacs were released, the majority of Mac systems lacked internal PCI and AGP expansion slots. For many years, this made it impossible for Mac users to utilize one of the many Video Capture/PVR kits available for PC users. El Gato saw this niche market, and capitalized on it at Macworld 2003.

The eyeTV is a full-featured PVR which behaves very much like a TiVo. Setup and configuration is amazingly simple, and almost reminiscent of that of a first-party Apple product. After connecting the device to incoming cable and to your Mac's USB port, you simply install the bundled software and it fetches program listings automatically (assuming you have an active internet connection). Third-party remote controls are also available, if you would rather not use the on-screen controls.

The package offers most standard PVR features, including instant replays and pausing live television. Both high and low quality recording options are available, with high quality using about 1 gigabyte of hard disk space per hour and low quality using about 650 megabytes. Using a computer-based unit (versus a set-top like a TiVo) has it's advantages, though. First is that you can play back recorded shows in windows, and that you can replay multiple shows at once, with only the frontmost program playing back its audio. Second is the ability to easily create VCDs and DVDs of the programs you have recorded, archiving options that are impossible with a TiVo (without modding it, but that is for another node). The recordings are encoded in MPEG-1 video format, so the files are viewable on almost any computer.

The eyeTV adds another spoke to Apple's proverbial Digital Hub, and finally Mac users are able to cross television off of their list of reasons not to be on the computer.

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