November 20, 2005

Evolution TV Review

EvolutionTV is a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) for the Mac. It allowed the user to view and record TV, as well as pause/rewind live TV.

The unit features a USB 2.0 interface for bringing the audio/video into the Mac, which can leave some older systems out in the cold. A USB 2.0 PCI card can add this functionality to most systems that meet the speed requirements of the software (PowerMac G4/1Ghz or better), which would let most supported Macs but the iMac join the fun.

The unit is very stylish, with the brushed aluminum case providing looks as well as dissipating what little heat is produced. The one drawback was the lack of a stand for positioning the unit vertically, a nice feature for a cramped desktop. The back of the unit includes the coax input for TV, but also includes composite and s-video inputs, as well as stereo audio, so video from older sources (VCR or camcorders) can be imported easily.

The software provides several encoding options for optimizing video quality, or minimizing file size, and the built in iMovie integration allows recorded video to be edited and burned to DVD from within iMovie. Integration with TitanTV or (tvtv for European users) allows convenient scheduling of recordings, and integration with iCal provides yet another option for keeping track of your viewing schedule. And don't worry if your Mac is asleep or powered off, the software can automatically wake or boot the Mac in plenty of time to catch the next recording.

The one problem I had with the software (but not something that was claimed to be possible), was that it did not provide a complete one-stop solution for viewing/recording/scheduling, so it's no TiVo replacement just yet, but as the name implies, the software is continuing to evolve, the most recent version having gained the ability to pause/rewind live TV. So it is certainly possible that a future version may include such increased functionality.

Miglia also provides great support. When the package was first opened, a slight rattle was heard from the power adapter, apparently from a small bit of metal that had sheared off during manufacture. Though still functional, the adapter was quickly replaced. Later in my testing I downloaded a new version of the EvolutionTV software when setting this up on another system, and was not able to properly view video, a support ticket went in and it was quickly revealed that this software update was problematic with NTSC video, and a revision was quickly posted.

All in all, the Evolution TV is a fine product, and one that should continue to improve over time. The evolutionTV is available from many online retailers or direct from Miglia's online store, and has a suggested retail price of $279.

Posted by Jim at November 20, 2005 3:13 PM | TrackBack