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Plex vs. EyeTV: Which Mac DVR App Is Best?

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Plex vs. EyeTV: Which Mac DVR App Is Best?

We put two of the highest answers for recording TV to your Mac face to face to peer which one works absolute best.

There may be by no means been a greater time to industry your cable corporate's rented DVR on your personal Mac-based resolution. A once-sparse marketplace for Mac DVR apps now overflows with an increasing number of tough and user-friendly possible choices for recording your favourite TV displays, by means of antenna or cable. We have now sifted in the course of the rising pile of Mac DVR answers to check the 2 peak contenders: veteran EyeTV and relative newcomer Plex. EyeTV has energy and finesse. Plex has pace and magnificence. However solely considered one of them is your absolute best wager for squirreling away hours of The Strolling Lifeless.

A snappy phrase concerning the also-rans

The opposite avid gamers within the Mac DVR enviornment have their deserves, however all of them fall brief in key techniques. It's a must to notice that no Mac DVR apps, together with EyeTV, Plex, or any of the next opponents, can lately show or list encrypted top rate cable channels equivalent to HBO, Showtime, or Starz, although you are a subscriber. The cable business calls for hefty charges for the keys to release the ones codes, and none of the present Mac apps has but been keen or in a position to shell out that a lot money.

Channels DVR information video to your Mac, however will solely circulation it to an AppleTV or (ultimately) iOS units. At $8 a month, it is some of the dear long-term choices for Mac DVR carrier.

SiliconDust, makers of the preferred HDHomeRun TV tuners, have constructed DVR service into their same old TV app. At $35 a yr, HDHomeRun provides one of the crucial least expensive Mac DVR choices, and in contrast to Plex, it may well play and pause reside TV out of your Mac. SiliconDust says it additionally hopes to permit top rate channels like HBO. However HDHomeRun's interface is simply so-so, and it lacks Plex's different media-aggregating talents and EyeTV's fine-tuned recording talents.

In case you are specifically tech-savvy — or simply have a top threshhold for aggravation — you'll be able to flip to MythTV, a Linux-spawned unfastened DVR app. TV listings value $25 a yr via SchedulesDirect. I persisted MythTV's long, byzantine, irritating set up procedure solely to seek out its interface subpar at absolute best, and I would not counsel it.

Meet the contenders

EyeTV's been round for greater than a decade, first from Elgato and now from Geniatech. It was once the primary Mac DVR resolution, and for a very long time, the one one. It really works with Geniatech's personal , which is designed for Ecu markets, in addition to third-party tuners from SiliconDust, Hauppage, Pinnacle, and extra. EyeTV additionally boasts integrated AppleScript reinforce, which Plex lacks.

Whilst Plex has presented Mac media server device for years, it is only just lately added reside TV and DVR purposes. In conjunction with TV displays, Plex will combination your footage and DRM-free films and track (which excludes the rest you have bought from the iTunes Retailer, alas), pulling in paintings, episode descriptions, and different cool data mechanically. For U.S. audience, Plex additionally provides apps that may serve up any unfastened episodes streaming on-line from ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, the CW, and extra. At the present, Plex's DVR and TV options solely paintings with SiliconDust's HDHomeRun CONNECT, EXTEND, and PRIME tuners. I used an HDHomeRun PRIME to check each apps.


EyeTV 3 device prices round $90. After the primary yr, every yr of TV Information channel listings will run you round $20. To circulation reside TV or recordings to iOS, you'll be able to want the $4.99 EyeTV app from the App Retailer.

Plex's device is unfastened, however reside TV and DVR require a Plex Cross subscription, which prices $5 a month, $40 a yr, or $120 for lifetime get admission to (for a restricted time; often $150). Plex Cross subscribers additionally get reductions on helpful cord-cutting apparatus from more than a few producers; on the time of this writing, the ones offers integrated a limited-time coupon for 30% off a brand new HDHomeRun tuner. Relying on which fashion you purchase, that would just about prevent the price of a whole yr's Plex Cross subscription.

Assuming you buy the $40 annual Plex Cross, here is how Plex and EyeTV's prices stack up through the years:

Years of possession EyeTV Plex
Yr 1 $110 $40
Yr 2 $130 $80
Yr 3 $150 $120
Yr 4 $170 $160
Yr 5 $190 $200
Yr 6 $210 $240

Plex is less expensive for the primary 4 years, however provides up briefly after that — so in case you are making plans to stay with Plex for the lengthy haul, believe a life-time move, which quantities to unfastened carrier after the primary 3 years. Plex may even prorate the price in accordance with any final credit score out of your present per month or annual subscription.


For those who like the usage of Plex, a life-time move anytime inside the first 4 years will value you much less general than EyeTV. The up-front value to check out out Plex is some distance decrease as smartly, and the additional reductions do not harm.

DVR Setup

While you set up the EyeTV device, a pleasant information will stroll you via setup. In case you are the usage of EyeTV and an HDHomeRun PRIME, consider that as a result of EyeTV solely formally works with HDHomeRun's different two-tuner fashions, it's going to solely acknowledge two of the PRIME's 3 tuners. Despite the fact that it is not formally supported, I have by no means had an issue the usage of the PRIME with EyeTV, and I have hardly ever if ever had to list greater than two displays without delay. However when you do, this can be a dealbreaker.

As soon as it unearths your tuner, EyeTV will scan your channel lineup — very, very sloooooooooowly. It took more or less 24 mins to spot all my channels.

You'll be able to join a unfastened EyeTV account, which this system makes use of to serve your channel listings and come up with get admission to to far flung streaming. In the end, you'll be able to input your zip code, pick out an area TV supplier, and — you guessed it! — wait a couple of extra mins for EyeTV to obtain an entire program information.

By contrast, putting in Plex took only some mins. First, join a unfastened Plex account at After that, improve to a Plex Cross below My Account > Settings > Subscriptions. Then obtain the Plex Media Server, which runs within the background to your Mac to list and circulation displays. Log in to the server together with your Plex account, inform Plex which folder on which power must retailer your TV displays, and you are up and operating.

Underneath Settings > DVR, Plex can mechanically come across your tuner and be offering to set it up as a DVR. Plex downloaded my channel lineup in seconds, and let me pre-select the channels I sought after from that record. After that, downloading information listings took a short lived 3 mins.

From there, you'll be able to browse or watch recorded video in the course of the Plex server's internet interface, or obtain the Plex Media Participant for Mac for necessarily the similar revel in.

Each the Server and the Participant downloaded and put in briefly. On the other hand, I did must reinstall the Server after knowing I might unintentionally downloaded an older, non-Plex Cross version that did not reinforce Are living TV, and could not mechanically update it.

You probably have older recordings you need to incorporate in Plex, they would possibly not display up for your library until you employ the best folder construction and naming conventions. I needed to rename and reorganize a couple of exported displays I sought after to save lots of, which took time however wasn't specifically painful. Here is an instance of learn how to arrange any given episode record:

[Your TV Shows Folder Name] > The X-Recordsdata > Season 03 > The X-Recordsdata - s03e04 - Clyde Bruckman's Ultimate Repose.mp4

In the end, if only one tuner is not sufficient for you, EyeTV and Plex can each paintings with more than one tuners to list much more displays concurrently. On EyeTV, this option's experimental and now not formally supported, and EyeTV warns it won't continuously paintings. Plex has no bother with more than one tuners so long as they are the entire identical variety — antenna or cable, however now not each.


Despite the fact that each methods made setup reasonably painless, Plex discovered my tuner and loaded my channels light-years quicker than EyeTV.

Appear and feel

You'll inform with one look that EyeTV's been round since 2002. It is not unsightly, and it conforms smartly to the Mac design requirements of yesterdecade, however it wasn't constructed to seem excellent on a big-screen TV.

Plex's interface is not specifically Maclike, however it is swish, interesting, and clean to navigate. My solely criticism: In fullscreen mode, the interface glitched badly on a display with a decision upper than an ordinary HD TV.


EyeTV's caught previously. Plex feels contemporary from the long run.

Observing reside TV

EyeTV makes gazing reside TV relatively easy. Click on on a channel identify in its Program Information, and — if this system does not endure considered one of its sporadic hiccups and declare it cannot in finding the channel, forcing you to check out once more — beginning gazing. EyeTV maintains a buffer to pause or rewind reside TV.

Plex does not but reinforce reside TV viewing by means of Mac app. You'll watch, pause, or rewind reside TV via a Internet browser or iOS units with a Plex Cross. In my checks with Plex's internet interface, reside TV required about 10-15 seconds of stop-start playback prior to it all started easily streaming the channel I used to be gazing. And because you'll be able to't simply transfer channels on Plex with out preventing one program and settling on some other, you'll be able to be expecting that little little bit of lag each and every time you convert to another reside program.


However keep watch over Plex to peer how briefly it catches up.

Surfing TV listings

EyeTV presentations a vintage grid of methods to your channels. You'll leap ahead as much as 14 days to peer upcoming schedules, although I frequently discovered incomplete or nonexistent listings after 12 days or so. Kind a identify within the seek bar to 0 in on a particular display and notice an inventory of upcoming episodes.

Plex, a minimum of at the Mac, specializes in displays and ignores channels. Its Program Information display displays you what is on at the moment and what is arising subsequent, in conjunction with upcoming films, information displays, and sports activities programming to your to be had channels. You'll in finding any upcoming displays or episodes inside Plex's 14-day checklist window by way of in search of their titles in Plex's seek box. Like EyeTV, I frequently needed to wait a couple of days for methods on the some distance finally end up the checklist window to if truth be told display up amongst my scheduled recordings.


Which manner you favor most likely is dependent upon your individual tastes. I preferred how Plex breaks out particular person displays, however I neglected the readability of a programming grid, and I discovered Plex's virtually whole loss of channel data atypical.

Recording and gazing displays

EyeTV makes use of Guides to seek out displays to list, and Playlists to type current recordings. To list a chain or episode on EyeTV, click on on its field within the Program Information and hit "Upload Time table" for one episode or "File All" to create a Good Information, which seems to be for each and every episode of a chain you have not already recorded. (For those who delete an episode after gazing it, EyeTV would possibly re-record any next reruns.)

Good Guides give you the option to deposit their displays in an identical Playlist. You'll additionally create customized guides and Playlists with an extended record of Boolean standards, the similar method you'll filter out messages in an e-mail shopper. As an example, you'll be able to list each and every new HD episode of "Grizzly Endure Space Flippers" that airs on Thursdays, or make a playlist for each and every episode from season 2 of "Rotund Comic Loves Very Skinny Spouse." This turns out to be useful when, for instance, you need EyeTV to look ahead to particular episodes of a chain so as to add on your assortment, and snag them each time they air.

EyeTV information unaltered video immediately out of your cable circulation — most likely MPEG-2 video, in all probability MPEG-4 — and saves it as a proprietary .eyetv record that different methods cannot play.

Recording in Plex is more uncomplicated and more effective, however relatively much less tough. Click on a display within the Program Information, or from a seek outcome, then hit the File button and specify whether or not you need simply the only episode or each and every episode. Complex settings can help you specify whether or not you solely need HD, exchange SD episodes when HD variations air, and prohibit the ones recordings to a selected channel or airtime.

Each and every sequence is looked after mechanically into its personal playlist below your TV Displays library, with particular person seasons damaged out inside that. You'll additionally mix 'n match episodes by way of developing customized playlists. Sports activities lovers will admire Plex's skill to list all to be had occasions involving a given game or a given crew.

Plex captures unaltered MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 video streams as a .ts shipping circulation record, which the unfastened app VLC can play, and the also-free app Handbrake can convert to different, extra available codecs. Plex additionally accepts common H.264 MPEG-4 information, MPEG-2 information, .avis, .movs, and a bunch of others.

Simplest EyeTV permits you to watch a recording whilst it is in growth; on Plex, a minimum of for now, you will have to wait till it is over to peer any of it. Each EyeTV and Plex can help you watch one up to now recorded display whilst recording one (or extra) others. And each be offering parental controls to limit sure content material from keen younger audience, in accordance with its ranking: Plex by way of supporting more than one customers with other permissions, and EyeTV by means of a passcode you'll be able to permit for displays above a undeniable ranking in its Personal tastes.

In years of the usage of EyeTV, I every so often persisted spotty recordings. From time to time this system information simply did not update, so new episodes by no means confirmed as much as get recorded. From time to time EyeTV spontaneously forgot the exterior power the place I might saved its recordings and scheduling knowledge. EyeTV claimed it would flip my Mac off and on to list displays, saving power and put on and tear at the laborious power. However that characteristic by no means labored proper till I dug up and put in a couple of user-created AppleScripts, together with one I had to make use of each and every time I close down my Mac, whether or not EyeTV was once open or now not. From time to time, even finally that, displays nonetheless did not list, for no obvious reason why.

Plex, against this, calls for an always-on laptop, which makes use of a bit of extra energy however in large part avoids such complications.

WINNER: EYETV (by way of a nostril)

The larger energy and versatility of EyeTV's recording engine outweigh its additional annoyances and unreliability in comparison to Plex.

Business skipping and modifying

Neither EyeTV nor Plex be offering integrated advertisement skipping. You'll obtain the unfastened and relatively easy-to-install ETV-comskip plugin to mechanically skip advertisements with EyeTV, however until you are ready to experiment and fine-tune its textual content record filled with settings, its commercial-finding guesswork varies wildly from "just about easiest" to "pass house, Comskip, you are inebriated." Comskip takes a couple of mins to paintings its mojo, however you'll be able to watch the unaltered recording if you are looking forward to it so as to add advertisement markers.

EyeTV does come with integrated modifying equipment to can help you fine-tune the ones markers body by way of body, upload new ones if wanted, and (with the entire lightning pace of a tranquilized Galapagos tortoise) create a brand new compacted record with out the marked sections, saving area to your laborious power. Whether or not you have compacted a record or now not, marked sections get excluded while you export EyeTV information to some other layout.

Enterprising coders have cooked up a similar solution for Plex, however it calls for some command-line tinkering and script tweaking. After a few hours of trial and mistake, I were given it operating on my Mac, with decent effects. With more or less 15 mins of behind-the-scenes processing for an hourlong 1080i recording, I discovered maximum if now not all advertisements obliterated, and just a handful of seconds every so often, however now not continuously, trimmed from the top of a advertisement smash. On one instance, the script did chop off the final three-minute act of 1 episode, however that was once the exception, now not the guideline. Episodes would possibly not display up in Plex till they are executed processing, so if you need commercial-free goodness the moment a display's executed recording, you are in for unhappiness.

For those who shouldn't have the time to muck round in Terminal, and even my extraordinarily restricted convenience with doing so, you will have to wait and hope for a integrated resolution.


It is a lot more uncomplicated and quicker to put in ETV-comskip for EyeTV, although the model for Plex turns out to get somewhat higher effects. And solely EyeTV permits you to edit advertisement breaks after the truth; as soon as they are long gone in Plex, they are long gone for excellent.

Exporting movies

EyeTV has integrated reinforce to export your recordings in quite a lot of sizes and codecs, together with presets for iPhones, iPads, and H.264 in 720p or 1080p. This procedure is, over again, slower than molasses. On a 2012 Mac mini, exporting a 20-minute 720p MPEG-2 record to H.264 took a hefty 17 mins in EyeTV — some distance slower than the 10 mins overall it took to export the record in its unique MPEG-2 shape, then convert it with QuickTime Participant. Your absolute best absolute best: Export information as MPEG Program Streams, which require no transcoding, then use QuickTime or Handbrake to additional compress them.

Plex has an experimental characteristic that supposedly permits you to compress information as you list them — however a contemporary alternate to how this system recorded information turns out to have rendered that characteristic inactive as of this writing. Nevertheless, you'll be able to in finding the displays Plex information sitting in no matter TV Displays folder you have designated, able to be popped into Handbrake for additional compression or conversion. Plex too can manually optimize particular person episodes to paintings higher with streaming or have compatibility higher on iPhones or iPads, the usage of presets or a customized atmosphere. Simply click on at the "..." within the decrease proper nook of any episode, then choose "Optimize" from the menu that looks. Making a slimmed-down model of a given display took only some mins of background processing.


Relating to exporting, the rest EyeTV can do, Plex can do higher (and quicker).

Faraway streaming

Each EyeTV and Plex can help you circulation recorded content material and reside TV to iOS apps over your native community or by means of a safe Web connection, so long as your Mac and this system are operating.

EyeTV fees $4.99 for its app, which goes on each iPhones and iPads. To look at a recorded display remotely, you'll be able to wish to inform EyeTV to optimize it, then wait whilst this system grinds via that minutes-long procedure. The app's interface seems to be nice, and labored superb on my house community, however streaming clear of house belly-flopped, huge time. On a Wi-Fi connection robust sufficient for high quality Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video streaming, EyeTV sputtered, buffered, and simply wasn't watchable, whether or not I selected reside TV or a supposedly optimized recording. Frankly, I sought after my 5 greenbacks again.

Plex's iPhone and iPad app is unfastened, and with a Plex Cross subscription, so is native and far flung streaming. At the identical community the place EyeTV crashed and burned, Plex carried out like a champ, sending clean streams with minimum up-front buffering. Are living TV persisted only some transient hiccups in some circumstances, however got here via superb general. Plex additionally makes it clean to ask pals to view some or all the content material to your server, although they are now not to your community. I skilled occasional, however now not constant, problems with audio and video now not synching up when remotely streaming unoptimized 1080-resolution video information on Plex, however last and restarting both the display itself or the app perceived to repair it.


There may be simply no comparability.

General DVR winner: Plex

EyeTV boasts many awesome particular person options, like reside TV and extra exact scheduling. If you wish to fine-tune your recording schedules, or extra simply automate your recordings with AppleScript, you could wish to pass with EyeTV regardless of its idiosyncrasies and its hefty up-front value.

However for many customers, EyeTV's robust fits don't seem to be robust sufficient to outweigh Plex's excellent seems to be and bold ease of use. EyeTV hasn't observed a significant update in years — and most likely would possibly not, because it was once just lately offered to new proprietor Geniatech, which turns out bored to death in making an investment too closely in its construction. In the meantime, Plex is already operating on bringing reside TV (and expectantly advertisement skipping) to its Mac app in long run variations. Its skill to include track and films, and particularly to circulation your content material any place you pass, leaves EyeTV consuming its mud.


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