Review - Miglia TVMini HD
by , 9:00 AM EST, November 6th, 2006
For many people, using a Mac as a TV recording system is just the ticket for their home entertainment system, but Apple doesn't include a TV tuner in any of its current products. Miglia fills in the gap with its USB-based TV tuners, and the TVMini HD does a splendid job of bringing digital cable TV to the Mac.
This palm-sized wonder comes with everything you need to get started: The receiver with built-in decoder, USB cable, carrying pouch, Elgato's eyeTV 2 software, and an external antenna. The antenna is a nice touch if you live in an area that is serviced by terrestrial HD signals, since it lets you watch local broadcast channels in HD without paying digital cable fees.
Set up is an easy affair. After you install the eyeTV 2 software, just plug the TVMini HD unit into your Mac, choose your device from eyeTV's list, and you are in business. eyeTV includes its own interface for controlling the TVMini HD, and lets you watch live television, and record programs directly to your hard drive for later viewing.
It also draws power from your Mac's USB 2.0 port, so there's no need for an external power supply. That saves you from sacrificing another plug on your power strip, and makes the unit easier to travel with.
The TVMini HD comes with its own built-in digital decoder, which is good news. That means the signal processing is handled by the unit instead of your Mac, freeing up your processor for other tasks. The decoder is specifically for HD TV, however, so you won't pick up any signal if you don't have digital cable.
There are no additional services to pay for when you use the TVMini HD. Program scheduling information comes courtesy of TitanTV. Another nice touch, since that means you don't have to pay recurring monthly subscription fees.
You can also export recorded shows to your iPod or DVD if you plan to watch them away from your Mac. Sending a show to your iPod is a one-click process. Really. The eyeTV handles the conversion process for you, and automatically adds your show to iTunes.
The included carrying pouch is a nice touch, but it's too small to carry the TVMini HD and its antenna. If you want to take both when you travel, you'll have to find something else to store the antenna and it's long cable in. Also, you can't watch encrypted digital channels with this unit. That's not a design flaw in the TVMini HD - most cable providers offer their own decoder box with a special chip inside. You'll still need that for those pesky encrypted channels.
The Bottom Line