For folks with a particular TV viewing need (more on that in a bit), Elgato's (http://www.elgato.com) HDHomeRun, a dual-tuner device that's compatible with Macs and PCs, hits a home run. With it, you can view a show on one computer, and a second show on a different one. Especially sweet: you can also record shows in 1080i HD resolution.
HDHomeRun connects to a TV antenna or digital cable (it's not designed for use with a cable/satellite receiver or other set-top box) and wirelessly streams live television in full HD to any Mac or PC in the house. If you need more tuners, additional HDHomeRun boxes can be added to your network.
HDHomeRun connects to your existing TV antenna or cable TV outlet, and to your router via Ethernet. This allows the device to remain concealed in a discreet location away from your computers. Once connected to your Wi-Fi network, users can watch live TV wirelessly on a portable computer or iPad, anywhere inside the house.
Set-up is easy. First, choose where you want to place the HDHomeRun. You'll need access to an antenna or cable outlet and to your local network. If you want to run HDHomeRun over a Wi-Fi network, a 802.11n Wi-Fi base station is required.
Connect the antenna signal to the coaxial cable of the Elgato device. Then connect the power connection of the HDHomeRun to the included power supply, and plug it in. Connect the HDHomeRun via the Ethernet connection and the included Ethernet cable to your router or switch. Finally, insert the software CD and install EyeTV.
EyeTV 3 is one of the best third-party products ever made for the Mac. With the TV software you can watch, pause, and rewind live TV on your Mac. You can even schedule programs to be recorded over a full season. You can search the Program Guide, record TV shows, and export recordings to iTunes automatically for playback on an iPhone or iPad.
Video quality depends on your available network bandwidth. Also, OTA (over the air) reception varies by location, and a rooftop antenna (not included with the HDHomeRun) may be required in areas with a weak or obstructed signal. The Elgato hardware is compatible with just about all indoor and outdoor HDTV antennas. Go to http://tvfool.com for more info.
You can use the HDHomeRun with a cable modem. Just be sure to use a high-quality bi-directional (2-way) coaxial splitter rated at 1GHz or higher. This makes part of the signal go to the cable modem, and part to the HDHomeRun (2011, Dual) unit. This allows for simultaneous Internet and TV access.
Before manipulating your cable line, you may need to contact your cable provider, although a splitter is relatively in expensive. Once you have the cable line connected to the coaxial input on the HDHomeRun (2011, Dual), start EyeTV and run through the EyeTV Setup Assistant. You will perform an Auto Tune in EyeTV and it will find the available unencrypted Digital Cable (Clear QAM) channels.
Elgato’s HDHomeRun solution paired with the EyeTV app enables streaming of live and recorded TV to an iPhone, iPod, and iPad via 3G and the US$4.99 EyeTV app for iOS devices; you can get it at the Apple App Store. However, this is only available when using a Mac and (ahem) isn't available for the PC.
Also, the HDHomeRun comes with a one-year subscription to TV Guide that's worth $19.95.
One aside: if you don't have a home Wi-Fi network for wireless television and prefer not to run Ethernet cables to computers throughout the home, Elgato suggestspowerline adapters (not included) as an alternative. Powerline adapters can be used to route your network around your house over electrical power lines, so that your computers can access the network via a nearby electrical outlet on the wall.
The HDHomeRun is a great replacement for a USB TV tuner, and a great product for those who want to watch OTA television, but don't want to pay for cable or satellite TV. If you're a cable or satellite subscriber, you might not find the Elgato product as useful. For instance, I'm a Dish TV subscriber and I can watch all their programming on my Mac or iPad via the "TV Everywhere" feature.
But I have a feeling that, as time goes by, people will be using a combination of products and technologies such as the HDHomeRun, iTunes, Netflix and the Internet more and more -- and cable and satellite TV less and less.
HDHomeRun is currently available from the Elgato Store (http://www.elgato.com/homerun), Amazon, B&H Photo and the Apple Store at a price of $179.95.
Rating: 9 out of 10
-- Dennis Sellers