Australian Digital TV On A Mac
Date: 20/2/2006
With the advent of free to air digital TV in most countries the average Mac user has been somewhat left behind by the mad rush of .tw companies scambling to fill the new void in the market for digital TV tuners for computers. Lots of devices are available for PC's ranging from USB2 and PCI cards starting at as little as $90 AUD.

So whats a Mac user to do? Scout around of course! The first thing you'll bump into is the EyeTV DTT device ($295 AUD). And then you'd also find that Miglia do the TvMini (~$240 inc shipping).

Both of these sound great but just cost way too much. However there is a little known 3rd option called TinyUSB2 by Digital Now ($149 AUD), which is an Australian company. It works well with the mac via 3rd party drivers, which I can confirm, as it likes my little Mac mini (1.42ghz) as well as my PC.

So it's the right price, or at least within shooting distance of the PC only equivalents and it works with a Mac but what the quality like? Well from what I've heard the TinyUSB2 is the only USB2 digital tuner based on a standard circuit tuner (i.e. from a PCI tuner) instead of the "tuner on silicon" that goes into most small tuners. Giving it an advantage in reception quality over the PC only products. I'm running mine off the unmodified analogue TV aerial on our roof and it's pretty good. Obviously if we upgraded to proper digital grade cabling it'd be better, but so far I'm impressed.

Add to the package a little aerial, a nice remote, some software for the PC and it suddenly becomes excellent value for money. Kudos to Digital Now for a excellent little product.

One thing I'm really appreciating about digital TV on computers is that recording is so painless. Using an analogue tuner takes all this effort to encode the signal to disk which chews vast amounts of CPU and also results in a less than stellar result. Whereas recording digital TV takes almost no CPU and never has quality issues, as your recording professionally encoded material at good bitrates. Sure the files are big but you can re-encode or delete watched material... or just buy a bigger disk!

I'm finally coming around to this Digital TV thing :)
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