Damn you, Indecision!

Catching up

Hey, Kids!

Sorry about the lack of posting… Recently I finally got a hold of this Nikon prosumer camera that I’d been wanting, the Coolpix 8400, and I got wrapped up in getting out to actually use the camera. I took some pics in the city, which you can see here:

Coolpix 8400 Does Chicago

And then we upgraded the Mac mini to a 17″ iMac with a 2.0 GHz processor last Saturday, so I’ve been preoccupied with getting all of our media set up on it. It’s all set up, but the cables are everywhere, so it looks very messy. However, with the bump in processor speed, the EyeTV devices don’t have to downsample the HD feed to 480 lines or whatever (so says the hubby; I forgot about this), and the “true” HD shows like Saturday Night Live, or local news =really= look good. I mean, they looked good before, but now the detail is really great. Even the not-true-HD programming looks a bit better. The HD programming on Fox is better resolution than ABC and NBC, with a bit sharper details.

Let me back up a little bit. As I posted before, I bought another EyeTV device so we could have a dual-HD-tuner set up. Unfortunately, Elgato doesn’t sell the EyeTV 500 anymore. Their only other product that tunes OTA HD is the EyeTV Hybrid, an enlarged, USB-flash-drive-looking device. It’s nice and small, but it resorts to software encoding rather than hardware encoding like the EyeTV 500, so it was taxing the Mac mini big time, and eventually I couldn’t really use it for recording two shows at the same time because the CPU strain was too much for the mini to handle. Many a TV recording got screwed up because of the EyeTV Hybrid. 😛

I’d read on Elgato’s site that the newer MacIntels can handle the software encoding load just fine, so we had planned on getting a newer Mac mini. For a while we were toying with the idea of upgrading to a MacBook Pro in order to get a dual-monitor set up, as well as a nice laptop to take with us on trips (that would just happen to have our recorded TV shows on it…bonus!), do photo and video editing, blah, blah, blah. Then we were thinking that perhaps a MacBook would suffice. Eventually we convinced ourselves just to get a MacIntel mini, the higher-end version with the 1.83 GHz processor. When we got to the Apple Store, we were looking around and ended up thinking that for just about $300 more than the Mac mini with 1GB RAM, we could get the 17″ iMac with more hard drive space, a monitor, faster processor, and better graphics card. So that’s how we ended up with it. 🙂

We got it home, set it up with the EyeTV devices, and it works really well. I have it set up so I can display our TV shows (recorded or live) full-screen on the HDTV, while I can do other things on the iMac’s display. And the EyeTV Hybrid works just fine on the iMac. The bonus is that I have our DirecTV box connected to the EyeTV Hybrid via S-Video input, and now I can record programs from that, too! On the Mac mini, the EyeTV Hybrid forced the S-video input recordings to be VCD quality because of the slow processor, but on the iMac I can record at “DVD quality” (720×480). Sure, the standard-def DirecTV stuff doesn’t look as good on the HDTV, but it is decent, better than VCR quality, but not actually DVD quality, IMO. Most of the channels that I watch on satellite don’t have HD feeds, so I’m content with the standard-def DirecTV for now. Besides, if I upgrade to something like a Series 3 TiVo + HD DirecTV, besides being pretty expensive, I don’t have the flexibility of reencoding the recorded shows for my iPod (yes, I caved and bought a 5.5-gen iPod), or DVDs without a lot of hackery. And one key benefit for the HD content: no monthly fees. Yeah, DirecTV is still taking my money, but it’s a lot better than giving it to Comcast. 😛

The only thing I don’t like about the S-video input on the EyeTV Hybrid is that you can’t pause/rew/ff live TV. There is another Elgato device that can take satellite/cable box inputs via S-video/component, and it does hardware encoding, but I don’t know if it allows “TiVo-like” functionality on the S-video input.

I found out that the DirecTV box has an Autotune feature so you can set the box to switch to a certain channel at a certain time, so I can schedule recordings in the EyeTV software and Autotune the DirecTV box, and not need an IR blaster! Sure, it’s more fiddly, having to schedule both the EyeTV device and the DirecTV box, but it works. I want to do a more thorough write up on this functionality because there’s a bit more “magic” to it all that would be better described by screenshots and such. 🙂

I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with the Mac mini. Currently it’s still sitting on the AV rack, only accessible via VNC. We’ll probably move it upstairs to be our media machine for the bedroom eventually, but we don’t even have a TV set up there right now. I haven’t tried Parallels on the iMac, but I don’t know when/if I’ll do that. I’m trying to keep it as pristine as possible so as not to disturb our media set up with “extra-curricular” applications. After all, I still have Pigio as my Windows machine.

So, that’s what’s been preoccupying me for the last couple weeks. Also, last Sunday the hubby and I went on an off-roading park nearby, but I’m going to post about that in a separate entry. 🙂 I also had some camera gear from the recent PMA announcements that I am very interested in that I want to post about later.

How have you guys been? 🙂

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