Slow, very slow

I have mentioned before the ability of the EyeTV application to export TV recordings in a format which then allows it to be viewed via an iPod touch or an iPhone. It exports in a Quicktime H.264 format, the quality is excellent, and file sizes small, so it is quick to stream/download over an 802.11g  wireless network.

One thing which does let the whole process down is the speed of conversion. On my Intel iMac it is slow, a one hour show takes under an hour. However  on my 1.5GHz G4 Mac mini, it takes  forever.

A two hour recording I made last night which finished at 10.30pm was still been exported this morning at 9.30am! Eleven hours into the conversion process and it was about half way done!

As you might expect I have now turned of the wifi access function of EyeTV on the Mac mini.

Elgato do make a device that in theory makes things faster, the elgato turbo.264, an external USB device which according to the blurb…

Turbo.264 rapidly converts and drops videos into iTunes, ready to synch with your iPod, iPhone, Apple TV or Sony PSP. And even better, Turbo.264 does all the heavy lifting. While the hard work of video encoding is in progress, you can continue to work or play on your Mac.

Turbo.264 also accelerates the H.264 (MPEG-4) export command of popular Macintosh video applications, including EyeTV’s Wi-Fi Access feature. 

I have read mixed reviews, but it certainly does look interesting.

Interference Issues

I have started using a Mac mini under my TV in (another) experiment in using it as a media centre.

Apart from the fact it seems rather noisy (for a Mac, but a lot less noisy then the Windows Media Centers I have tried) the main problem I my having with my Mac mini is with the USB Freeview EyeTV device attached to it, and it isn’t a problem with the EyeTV software nor is it an issue with the USB device, the problem appears to be an interference issue with  the aerial which causes interference on some of the digital TV (Freeview) multiplexes.

I have moved the aerial cable which can resolve the issue, but I think I may need to replace the cable with a shielded cable. I have changed cables and not been able to see a difference which makes me think that the EyeTV USB device I have is suspectible to interference, whilst my TV or the EyeTV 410 Firewire device are not affected to the same degree. It’s not too bad if I am recording or watching a programme from the BBC multiplex, but the ITV multiplex is particularly bad.

Hopefully will get it sorted soon with a shielded cable. Next will be some kind of remote, at the moment I am using VNC and Apple Remote Desktop, which works, but is not very portable.

Upgraded the Mac mini

I have just upgraded my G4 Mac mini to Leopard. I am intending to use it as a media centre under my television.

The upgrade went fine, and EyeTV 2.5.1 seems to work just fine under Leopard.

I am running it (currently) without a keyboard or a mouse and of course being a G4 Mac mini it does not have an Apple remote.

I do have an EyeTV remote, so when watching TV, I can use that.

In the meantime, I am using VNC and screensharing to control the Mac mini and will be using either my PowerBook or an UMPC to do the controlling.

It’s connected to my Airport Extreme (802.11n) by ethernet, so the fact that it has only 802.11g won’t be too much of an issue.

I have an (old) CRT Sony television, so I am using s-video to connect the Mac mini to it, so screen resolution is quite poor, but for video and images it seems to work fine.

Mac mini

If this works out, I will probably replace it with a newer and faster Intel Mac mini. This one only had 512MB of RAM, and I would prefer at least 1GB or more.

I will write more, as we see how it works out.

EyeTV Wireless Access

One of the features of EyeTV during a recent update (version 2.5) was the ability to stream recordings wirelessly to an iPhone or an iPod touch.

As at the time I had neither I didn’t either turn it on or check it out.

Now having an iPod touch I gave it a go and was well impressed. It’s simple to turn on, just go to the relevant section in the EyeTV preferences.

EyeTV Wireless Access Preferences

Now what I didn’t realise was that basically what EyeTV does is convert the videos into a format which plays on the iPod touch, but hosts it on the Mac with the EyeTV with a webpage as a front end.

Now that webpage can be viewed on your iPod touch (or iPhone), but also can be viewed on a Mac which is using Safari 3 (the page does not work on Safari 2).

EyeTV Wireless Access on Safari 3

You can also use  Firefox ( or Camino (1.5.1), clicking on the links plays (streams) the file in Quicktime.

The file plays fine over an 802.11g network.

However it also works on a Windows PC as well, it worked fine on my Windows XP Tablet using Firefox, however it didn’t work on Internet Explorer 6 or on a Vista PC with Internet Explorer 7. Obviously you also need to have Quicktime installed on the PC. Quite a useful way of streaming video across a home network.

Changing my Network Topology

Over the last week or so, I have been messing about experimenting with my network topology.

Previously I had a relatively simple network, a sole Airport Express with a lot of wireless clients. After having quite a few connectivity issues with the Airport Express, I knew I had to replace it with my newer Airport Extreme.

Once I did this, I left it in place for a few days to iron out any wrinkles or problems. I am running it in 802.11n b/g mode so that all my wireless clients can connect to it.

Yesterday I started to rearrange things, so that I could have wired clients, a pure 802.11n network and a separate 802.11g network.

My Airport Extreme now sits under my television, connected to it is my EyeHome, this should mean it can communicate to my iMac (which I use to record television via an Elgato EyeTV device) and stream video, audio and pictures without stuttering. I also intend to hardware a Mac mini as well and this will be my media centre for the moment – longer term I will replace this either with an Apple TV or another Intel based Mac mini. This Mac mini will have an Elgato USB EyeTV device attached.

I will also connect to the Airport Extreme (the third device to the third LAN port) an older 802.11g Airport Extreme which will be running a pure 802.11g wireless network for the older wireless clients. I will very likely stop using 802.11b devices, but as these are only PDAs I am not too worried and if I do need to test them I can always use the airport Express and plug that into the AirportExtreme as and when necessary.

Both wireless networks will use WPA as this is secure compared to WEP, however I will not be closing my networks, nor will I be using MAC address access control.

I am hoping that this will improve the network and make it much faster for internal file transfers and as I replace older Macs with newer ones which support 802.11n it should also be future proof as well.

The only downside I guess is the location of the 802.11n Airport Extreme does make it difficult to test USB hard drives and printers.

802.11n EyeHome

I know some reading this may be thinking, yes, Elgato have released an 802.11n version of their (sadly discontinued) EyeHome media streamer.


Sadly no, though like others I hope one day Elgato do release a new EyeHome, though Apple have released the Apple TV, I think there is still a gap in the market for a revised EyeHome.

However onto what this blog post is about… My EyeHome with is non-wireless is connected to my wireless network via a Linksys WET54G which was connected to my 802.11g Airport Express wireless network.

Now I have been having problems with my Airport Express so streaming video has been difficult as it stutters a lot. Particularly I have been having issues with my EyeTV BBC digital (Freeview) recordings which seem to be of higher quality than other Freeview channels.

Today I connected a cat5e cable from my 802.11n Airport Extreme to the EyeHome, as my TV is one side of the room and the telephone point is on the other, I have had to get a long cable.

First tests have been very positive. My content is on my iMac which is in the office in another part of the house, this is linked wirelessly to the 802.11n Airport Extreme, but streaming video, including BBC recordings, has been nearly perfect. Compared to what was happening before this is so much better, much much better.

I am pleased, as up until now I have been forced to burn my EyeTV recordings to DVD before I could watch them on my TV.

Another reason why I am glad I upgraded my wireless network to 802.11n.

802.11n’ised WET54G

I am currently looking for a 802.11n version of the Linksys WET54G which I have been using with my EyeHome.

The Linksys WET54G is an ethernet wireless bridge, basically it enables you to connect (wired) etherent devices to a wireless network.

As you might guess from the name the WET54G is an 802.11g device which has been working okay in conjunction with my EyeHome. However the limitations of the 802.11g wireless network means that I have had some buffering issues with some video files.

I am hoping with an 802.11n network that I will solve these buffering issues and will be able to stream my EyeTV recordings (in the main BBC recordings) smoothly without stuttering.

The problem I have is that Linksys don’t (yet) make an 802.11n version of their WET54G. I am not sure which 802.11n devices do work with Apple’s implementation of 802.11n.

Another 802.11n Airport Extreme as a WDS node for me is not really a solution as WDS effectively halves the wireless bandwidth.

So if you have any suggestions leave me a comment with a recommendation.