I had been interested in the El Gato EyeTV Hybrid for a long time. I like that it had tuners for digital and analog. No one up to this point had a single solution for the Mac OS X platform and on top of that it comes as a relatively small USB dongle that can be used with a laptop when on the go. The El Gato EyeTV Hybrid has the ability to watch analog and digital television programming, record that programming, and later edit the video. The unit also has the ability to rewind, fast forward and pause live TV. Getting two tuners in one for about $150 to me is a bargain.
My local cable provider is Comcast and I opted to order the HDTV and DVR options in my setup. I had used a Tivo previously and was quite happy with that but I was looking for something that was capable of recording HDTV. Comcast uses the Motorola DCT6208 for its HDTV and DVR package. As with any DVR, the DCT6208 lets you pause and rewind live TV. There is a dramatic change between HDTV reception over standard digital cable as well as analog cable. The set top box has the ability to send signals in widescreen format at 480i, 480p, 720i, 720p, and 1080i. I have it connected to a Samsung HL-R4667W and have it set at 720p, which is the highest resolution the TV can accommodate. The unit has component video output as well as DVI, but I am using the HDMI connection on my TV for my Mac Mini and do not have a receiver cable of switching HDMI connections. It also has the standard S-Video and RCA outputs, but if you are looking for the best HDTV quality using the DVI or component connections are your best bets. It also has built in Ethernet, USB, and Firewire but I have yet to find any uses for those. The unit has coaxial and optical digital output for audio and I use the coaxial to connect to my Sony receiver.
Several months ago we got a ReplayTV to take care of all our DVR needs. Based upon the suggestions from several ReplayTV users it seems like a good way to go, so we picked up one of the newer 5500 series replays. Upon receiving the box, it was ordered online, there seemed to be a loose part rattling around inside. Heeding past experiences with warranty’s and so forth I made a call to ReplayTV asking them if I should immediately send it back for a replacement before I opened the factory seal. They recommended that I just open it up and try it and if something was wrong it could still be sent back for no cost and replaced. If at any point I still didn’t feel ok with it I could return anyway. That was nice to hear in an era where re-stocking fees of 15% and up are common at many stores. As it turns out everything was fine and we proceeded to set it up.