Mac + Sky + Xbox = gadget heaven

Just days after Apple announced its new Intel-based computers would be able to run Windows natively, Elgato has added some more useful functionality i

Just days after Apple announced its new Intel-based computers would be able to run Windows natively, Elgato has added some more useful functionality in the unprepossessing shape of an analogue TV tuner.

   

The EyeTV 250 is about the size of a pack of 20 cigarettes, and plugs into a USB 2.0 port to bring analogue terrestrial signals to your computer with MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 compression.

So far, so last year – with much of Europe on the brink of analogue switch-off, the 250 seems like a poor brother to the digital EyeTV plug-in.

But wait…  the 250 has some pretty natty features that make it worth a look. As well as analogue TV recording, it has an S-Video connection, which means you can hook up a digital tuner or Sky box – or use it to digitise your old VHS tapes into pristine DVDs. The EyeTV software will even spit out the recordings in the right formats for the iPod video and PSP.

The best feature, though, is the ‘game mode’, which disables the on-board compression and sends the video signal direct to your Mac’s monitor with no lag. That means you can connect a games console without suffering the deadly latency that afflicts most rival devices – i.e. when you press fire, it’ll actually fire, rather than waiting two seconds before firing.

It’s been a good week for gaming Mac users. Seven days ago they had the paltry choice of a few dozen Mac-specific games. Now they can also play the thousands of Windows titles,  plus PS2/Xbox software (if they have a console).

Which means a 20in iMac is now the ideal media centre, bringing music, movies, TV, gaming and cross-platform gaming to anyone with, oooh, £1650 to spare (that’s £1230 for the iMac 20in, £180 for Windows XP, £140 for EyeTV 250 and £100 for a PS2).

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