How to Turn Your Mac Into a Digital Video Recorder For Over-The-Air TV

Martin Wilson

Aug 02, 2022

From one option in 2016 (EyeTV three from Geniatech) to four in 2017. Some new systems are now in beta testing, while others are expected to go into production shortly. Plex Media Server's Channels server component and SiliconDust's HDHomeRun networked TV tuner offer public beta versions of DVR functionality.

It's worth noting that the open-source Myth TV offers a fifth alternative, but I decided against testing it because of its difficulty.) Networked tuners from SiliconDust are the common denominator in all of these systems in the United States, with three types now available.

In addition to these variants, SiliconDust's DVR software offers compatibility for a fourth, now obsolete, DVR model. You can also get a third variant dubbed HDHomeRun Prime ($120 on Amazon), which has an extra tuner and a slot for the Cable Card, an intermittently supported US standard that allows you to use a DVR or other non-cable device with cable service, but not if it also has DRM on top.


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EyeTV is now available for purchase. We won't be able to examine the other three until they've been released as a server or service in their final form. Instead, I'll give you a rundown of the many features.

macOS EyeTV three program costs €79.95 ($85) and is beginning to show its age. It's still as hard to use as it was years ago, despite several upgrades and bug patches.

To use EyeTV, you'll need a yearly membership to TV Guide, which costs $19 in the United States. There is no show art or a list of previous programs in which the actors have appeared. However, the subscription does include information about the shows in which they have appeared. Series, genre, and the like cannot be viewed graphically.

Use the app's tutorial to record in several ways. It is possible to save a single episode of a TV show as a Smart Guide, but you can also save all episodes of a series or other continuing show as a Smart Guide.

Using Smart Guides, you may pick up Saturday Night Live on any network or only when it airs on your local NBC affiliate. Select just HDTV broadcasts, or shows with subtitles if you want, which can be added to the list of options for Smart Guides.

Schedule, record, and playback are all included in EyeTV, which can also tune live television. The app may be accessible on a local network as a server using Safari using Bonjour to display a simplified playback interface.

Unlike the other DVRs under testing, EyeTV allows you to automatically convert recordings to iTunes when the app catches a show. Presets for a range of Apple TV models, iOS devices, and HD formats are available, and you may further adjust the parameters.

However, because the software does not limit itself while burning CPU cycles, transcoding is incredibly sluggish and can slow down the entire Mac.

Plex Media Server with Media Pass option for DVR

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A multi-platform media organization and sharing service, Plex supports desktop, mobile, and other devices, such as Roku, Sony Play Station 4, and Apple TV, for organizing and sharing music and video files.

In addition to the extensive capabilities available in the free version, Plex now offers a paid membership service called Plex Pass, which includes access to a server-based DVR. On the Plex Pass page, the DVR is advertised as a current function, even though it's in beta. You may get a Plex Pass for as little as $5 per month, $40 annually, or $120 for life.

Instead of a programmed grid, Plex shows you what types of items you want to see instead of concentrating on where they are situated. A primary Discover view combines everything, divided by forthcoming shows (TV series episodes) starting soon, airing right now, and new episodes tonight. Based on the recordings you've previously made, my Upcoming Shows and Recommendations are populated by the broader Plex media ecosystem.

Replace Lower Resolution Items is one of several valuable options available when setting up or amending a recording in the advanced settings. If you scheduled Plex to replace an SD record in your collection with an HD one, it would do so even if you recorded the show in SD. A feature like this is very beneficial in the world of cinematic productions.

Although the DVR function is still under testing, it appears to be nearing completion and performs nicely. Incorporating a DVR and a programmer's guide into Plex's more extensive feature set makes it an excellent value. Parental controls are included in Plex Pass, which allows you to keep your files on the cloud with your own Dropbox, Google Drive, or personal OneDrive account.

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