If you've got a Mac, want to make it an entertainment center, and don't want to invest in an Apple TV, here are some TV tuners to check out.
Physically, the TVMax+ is a near perfect match for the Mac Mini. In fact, it’s designed to look like a Mini clone and shares the same 6.5-inch square footprint. Since the TVMax+ is 1.5 inches in height, when it's set on top of the Mini, the pair creates a stacked "tower" of just 3.5 inches in total.
The TVMax+'s rear panel has the usual audio and composite video AV inputs plus an SVHS video-in as well. There is no front or side panel connectivity, which (unlike its two competitors) makes the installation surprisingly painless -- and, if you’re using all of its connectivity, very clean-looking.
There were, of course, the rote matters of connecting the USB and cable TV cables. Miglia's TV software installed without a problem, and once the cable
and USB connections were made, everything worked as advertised.
That’s not to say that things were perfect. The TVMax+ had a slight ripple in the picture displayed from some channels -- not something I hadn’t seen before with other PC-based TV tuners, but still just a bit distracting at times. This is compared to the image coming directly from the TV's tuner, where there wasn’t a ripple in sight. Color, on the other hand, was spot-on, and TitanTV’s EPG worked flawlessly as well.
The TVMax+ comes with its own remote control. While you can use the Mac Mini’s mouse to click on the various features available through the EyeTV’s on-screen remote control icon, or the Mini’s keyboard for channel number entry, Miglia’s handheld remote goes a long way to eliminate the impression that you’re using a computer at all.
The only true "ouch factor" the MaxTV presented is the price. At a range of $184 to $230, Miglia’s TVMax+ is the most expensive of the three products in this roundup. In my opinion, the remote control and its styling would be the key factor in buying the TVMax+ rather than performance, where it closely parallels the other two tuners. If a consistent look is your primary goal, then this is the TV tuner for you.
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