· technology ·

When I got my new iMac G5, I also got an EyeTV for DTT. I saw these units being demonstrated at MacExpo, and was really impressed by the quality of the recordings, and by the tiny size of the box. We're constantly having problems trying to record the Freeview-only channels on our VCR, so it seemed like a great idea.

Setting the EyeTV up is very easy as it auto-tunes itself, finding a huge number of channels. You also get a year's subscription to the website tvtv.co.uk, which allows you to view TV schedules for all the channels and click a simple record button to set up a recording on your EyeTV box. The EyeTV box can check with the website every hour for new scheduled recordings, so it means that even if you're away from home, you can set up a recording as long as it's more than an hour or so before the programme starts. There's also a preference setting to allow you to tack a configurable number of minutes on to the beginning and end of the scheduled times, so that you don't miss any of the programme if the broadcaster's timing slips a bit.

Watching recorded programmes is equally easy. You just need to select the recording in the list and double-click to play. A lot of attention to detail seems to have gone into the EyeTV software and hardware, and another of the thoughtful features is that if you stop and close a recording part of the way through, it starts automatically at that point when you open it again. Joy of joys, you can edit recordings (to strip out superfluous stuff at the beginning and end, or to snip out adverts) and save the trimmed version. There are a myriad of different export formats available (including those suitable for the new video iPod or the Sony PSP), and if you have Toast 7, you can burn video to VCD or DVD in one step.

EyeTV is a pretty amazing piece of kit. I've been really impressed by the ease of setting up recordings, viewing, editing and exporting them, and by the quality of the video, even when using the tiny provided aerial. The only slight inconvenience at the moment is that we've got to either burn a DVD to watch a recording, or watch it up in the study, which isn't the most comfortable venue in the house. When our finances have recovered, we might think about getting an EyeHome, which would turn the iMac into a media centre, streaming TV, photographs and music to the living room. In the meantime, I might get a miniDVI to component-video adapter so that we can use my PowerBook to grab the content over the network and show it on the TV.