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Review: 3 TV Tuners For The Mac

Are you a Mac user who wants to create an entertainment center? Well, you have two choices. You can blow more Mac Bucks on an Apple TV, which is basically a wireless media hub that allows you to move multimedia content from your computer to your TV and stereo equipment (a.k.a., your "media center"). Or you can beef up your current Mac with a TV tuner.

TV tuners allow your computer to receive and capture TV signals, recording your favorite shows onto your hard drive. Connected to, say, a Mac Mini (which was my system of choice), you can also use the computer's 802.11b/g wireless capabilities to handle streaming video and audio from an upstairs network, its integrated Bluetooth to offer freedom of a wireless keyboard and Apple's wireless Mighty Mouse, and you can capture your favorite TV shows for later viewing.

3 TV Tuners

•  TVMax+

•  ConvertX PVR


I tested three USB tuners to see how they rated as components in a Mac-based entertainment center: Miglia's TVMax+, Plextor's ConvertX PVR PX-TV402U, and Eskape Labs MyTV.PVR.

The three tuners do have some things in common. For example, all three offer hardware compression, which can be very important, especially with a less-than-bleeding-edge processor (my Mac Mini has a 1.83-GHz processor, which only the abnormally devoted would call a powerful CPU). Rather than push the video compression to the computer, the tuner does the bulk of it onboard. It's less taxing to the system as a whole and tends to prevent annoying video/audio sync problems.

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