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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 9:39 AM 
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We have always had a little battery-powered mini-TV in our possession, mostly used for getting weather info during the power outages we suffer several times a month where we live in Fishers. We do have a weather alert radio -- but this doesn't exactly substitute for being able to see a radar weather map, and finding out what is really happening in our area BEFORE it gets to us! Since I work from home, having a TV in a power outage is also helpful with information to help me decide if we should just wait it out, or if I need to go find myself a wi-fi spot so I can continue to work.

In any case, after the world switches to HDTV, our little mini-TV is worthless, because it does not pick up those frequencies!

I guess I'm just super out of it, because I went Googling for mini-TVs and HD, and stumbled upon equipment one can buy to attach to a Mac, which will apparently pick up HDTV signal and play it on the Mac! This seems to me to be a great solution, if usable sans electricity and with my MacBook. I came across an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid, which sells for about $125 on amazon, and $149, from the Elgato website. Customer comments on amazon would indicate that the model they sell (though I cannot distinguish it from what is shown on the Elgato website) is out of date, though functional.

Anyway -- unless there's something I'm missing about this product -- this seems a much better investment than trying to find (or waiting for) a mini-TV that picks up HDTV.

So -- my question -- does anyone here USE one of these HDTV pick-up devices, that attaches to a Mac? And is it possible to use with one's laptop, when just running on battery power? How do they work for you? And are there other, possibly better, brands to consider over Elgato?

In other words, is this all as cool and nifty and PRACTICAL as it seems??

Would such a device also work with an iPhone as well?
We don't have an iPhone, but the Elgato product info seems to "allude" to some usage with iPhone.

And that segues into my NEXT question, herewith:

We are AT&T wireless customers. I have a very very very old Nokia phone (that has no picture, and is barely useful for texting, which I never do anyway -- about the only "wireless" use is downloading new ring tones, which I don't care about either). BUT, our signal is very poor, no matter where we are. Yet when I look at coverage maps, particularly for where we live, the AT&T wireless map is definitely the best option for us. I figure my signal quality is largely due to VERY old technology. In any case, as AT&T customers, we can stay on our wonderful current and economical plan, and purchase a refurbished iPhone for $99, with all the normal warranties in place. (I bought a refurbished MacBook last year, and couldn't be happier.)

Is there any reason NOT to consider this option?
It seems like quite a good deal, and it would probably be REAL nice to be able to call my clients on a phone where they could actually hear me again. Or to have a GPS with us in the car ... or grab the occasional picture with my phone (though I understand that iPhone isn't that great on the camera quality, but that's a minor thing to me on a phone).

Yep, finally signing off ...

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Suzanne
Fishers, IN


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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 8:04 AM 
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Suzanne,

I'm out of town right now and using the iPhone to reply to you so I'll keep this brief. I haven't personally used the elgato products but, as I recall, most of the complaints relate to the software if you wanted to use your Mac like a TiVO and record shows. I'm sure that Elgato has a version that's up to date with the current HDTV standards. I'd look at their website to find the latest product info.

As far as a refurbished iPhone goes, that's a great deal. I'm suspicious of you being able to keep your current plan. As of now, you MUST subscribe to a data plan in order to get any iPhone. There are rumors that AT&T will offer better data plans to match a new, cheaper iPhone but those are only rumors now. You might want to wait until after WWDC in three weeks to see if Apple has any new iPhone announcements that affect you.

Bob C


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 Post subject: TV Signals
PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 2:37 PM 
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Perhaps a few clarifications. After June 12 you should still be able to use your mini-TV if you have a converter box. All Over the Air (OTA) broadcasts will be digital, or DTV; some will be HDTV. To be of any value, your set would also need to be able to display HDTV if you chose to go that route. I suspect your mini TV won't do HD, but with a converter box and antenna you could still receive DTV. Now the question is whether you could find a converter box that works on batteries? If you found one that used a power brick, then you could probably substitute a battery pack. These devices usually use 10 watts or so, so a battery option could work.

If you have such frequent power outages, do you have or have you considered a gas powered generator? Not the cheapest things in the world, but it would solve a lot more than just seeing weather forecasts.


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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 11:39 PM 
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Hi Bob,

You wrote:
Quote:
To be of any value, your set would also need to be able to display HDTV if you chose to go that route. I suspect your mini TV won't do HD, but with a converter box and antenna you could still receive DTV. Now the question is whether you could find a converter box that works on batteries? If you found one that used a power brick, then you could probably substitute a battery pack. These devices usually use 10 watts or so, so a battery option could work.

Well, you are right, of course -- our mini-TV does not get HD, which is why I'm looking for something that will work after June 12. Also, the one we have doesn't seem to have a normal input for an antenna. So, appreciate the idea, but it probably isn't going to work.

Quote:
If you have such frequent power outages, do you have or have you considered a gas powered generator? Not the cheapest things in the world, but it would solve a lot more than just seeing weather forecasts.

Wish I could say this is a possibility, but they are way out of our price range. Also, I'm the one who would have to set it up and run it, as hubby has only one useful hand. And am not sure I'd be able to manage it. Boy, it'd be great, though -- because it always seems that I'm up against a work deadline when our power goes out. Duke Energy and our household are not on good terms ... :cry:

Thanks for taking time to come up with a few ideas, though!

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Suzanne
Fishers, IN


Last edited by Suzanne Rampton on Mon May 25, 2009 11:57 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 11:56 PM 
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Hi to Bob C!

Quote:
I haven't personally used the elgato products but, as I recall, most of the complaints relate to the software if you wanted to use your Mac like a TiVO and record shows. I'm sure that Elgato has a version that's up to date with the current HDTV standards. I'd look at their website to find the latest product info.

Have been to the website, but it's a little difficult to understand which products do what. They're quite verbose about product descriptions, but I ultimately don't understand which thing does what! :shock: I'll see if Rex can make any sense of it from the website.

Quote:
As far as a refurbished iPhone goes, that's a great deal. I'm suspicious of you being able to keep your current plan. As of now, you MUST subscribe to a data plan in order to get any iPhone.

And you are naturally a zillion percent correct on this point. The way they had it set up on our account made it look like we'd just be able to keep our old plan. Partially true, I guess. One must actually put the whole order through (short of OK'ing it) to see that -- yep, we sure can keep our old plan. But (big surprise) what they don't tell you until that point is that we must overlay our existing with a data plan. Too good to be true ...

Quote:
There are rumors that AT&T will offer better data plans to match a new, cheaper iPhone but those are only rumors now. You might want to wait until after WWDC in three weeks to see if Apple has any new iPhone announcements that affect you.

And on this sage advice, we will indeed wait to see what is next before making any moves.

Just one more question -- do you like your iPhone? Or is that just a silly question? I do marketing research for a competitor, and mostly what we hear is that people just want iPhones -- even when features seem comparable.

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Suzanne
Fishers, IN


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 12:40 PM 
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Suzanne,

It looks like any of the current Elgato TV tuners will do what you want. However, based on the price, it might be cheaper to simply wait for the inevitable mini-TVs that will come out that support the new standard. I'm sure they'll come out since I'm sure you aren't the only person to want one.

As far as the iPhone goes, I think it's great. As a Mac user yourself, you know it's misleading to look at "comparable features". A Windows PC has "comparable features" to a Mac, but I know which computer I'd rather use. :P I think the interface is great compared to any other phone I've had. The real advantage is all of the applications you can get for it. Some are free and others just cost a buck or two. I have a shopping list application on my phone that I use constantly. I also have a few games on it that I used when I was stuck on a 5-hour airplane trip last week.

The data plan is unfortunate if you don't plan to use it to get on the Internet or connect your E-mail to it. However, every other "smartphone" has a similar data plan attached to it so I wasn't surprised.


Bob C


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