Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Hauppauge! WinTV Pro / Mac & Windows

I've been in the market for a TV Tuner for my computer - either an internal PCI card for my Dell tower, or an external USB 2 model for the Mac.

Today I picked up the Hauppauge! WinTV Pro PCI card from CompUSA -- for $19.99 after instant rebate! Doggone! I've seen nothing come even remotely close on the Mac side of the universe in terms of price. A PCI card is definitely going to be cheaper than an external box, but still, the closest Mac PCI card I've seen is a Miglia and it was priced at $129.

Over on the USB 2 side of things, the ATI box is priced within $20 - 50 depending on where you look (PC being cheaper).

Since money is an issue for me, Windows won. I simply couldn't plop down the $100+ necessary to jump into TV on the Mac. But I admit I'm piqued. There have been some reviews posted on MacSurfer recently. MacCentral also posted some PR from Miglia which generated quite a few comments on Mac v. PC in the TV realm.

Tonight I installed the WinTV Pro. It is okay. Less than what I thought it would be, to be honest. The obvious is that a TV is a lower resolution, hence a better picture. So when I run the TV in full screen, the resolution is blurry, which is to be expected. I'm unable to use it as a PVR as it needs hardware encoding to make it so. I can freeze TV, but when I unfreeze it the show picks up where it should be, skipping over the parts since the freeze.

All this has me wondering whether it is even worth it to attempt TV on the Mac. Obviously there is an industry for this. People are into TV on their computer. I'd rather spend some $$ on a 14-20" TV that only does TV. As things stand for me now, I don't have the computing power to make things as good as the TiVo (PVR'ing either my PC or Mac). While I have a 1.33GHz PowerBook, I've read numerous reviews of both ElGato and Miglia units really doing best when used with a G5, especially a dual-G5.

The PC side of things is good to go with machines considerably less than a G5, but more than what I have (an 866MHz PIII).

Where does this leave me? With an unexhausted search. I will be making my decision on the WinTV Pro over the next few days. If I had the money to test a Mac model, I'd be all over it. To be honest, while I want to be platform agnostic, and believe me, I try, it is hard to when I find the Mac (OS X) to be quite superior to XP. Of course there are exceptions, gaming, for instance, but over all the experience is not in the eXPerience, but in the OS X-perience.

I'm very interested in any of you who have had experience with both Windows TV and Mac TV (all of recent vintage). If you've been able to compare both, what is your conclusion? If you've only had one or the other, etc. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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