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Miglia TVMini Express

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TVMini Express provides a quick and simple solution to get digital TV straight on your Mac.

TVMini Express (£34) is another great product from Miglia. It is certainly the current “thing” to be able to view, record, and edit TV on your Mac and this is a very simple, cheap and effective way of getting digital terrestrial TV onto your Mac.

Fundamentally you either have a need for something that does this or you don’t. Personally I have a genuine need based on the fact that the communal TV antenna for the apartment block is particularly poor so we don’t get a good Spanish TV signal at all. We watch all our TV through the UK based Sky satellite, so to connect the TVMini Express up to the Mac mini, which is connected to the TV in the lounge, has provided an effective and useful means of viewing the local terrestrial TV stations.

I can also see it being very useful on the (rare) occasions that I travel abroad as to hook it up with the Mac Book and pick up the local TV will be very useful indeed.

I imagine a inherent ‘issue’ for any company that provides accessories and products for the Mac is how to ‘keep up’ with the branding, packaging and that general ‘wow’ factor that the unpacking of virtually every Apple product delivers. The TVMini Express does an OK job. There isn’t much in the box, and what there is is presented OK, nothing special, but not cheap looking either. The actual device is very slick. Possibly a little ‘clunky’ for the Mac Book but great for the Mac mini, iMac and Mac Pro. At the end of the day it is a USB stick, but a clean, white one at that!

I am not a huge watcher of TV etc on the iPod, but transferring recorded content over was really easy – press one button to record, or a really neat feature if you decide to go out part way through a program is Dèjá Vu which will wind back what you have watched already and record it from the beginning.

The integration continued to impress with the ability to export into iMovie and do some advanced editing, and yes it worked fine for me with iLife 08.

So conclusions – nice, simple, effective, affordable, with some neat features a valuable addition to the kit bag for the road warrior, student, geek etc.

Getting Started

Reviewing a ‘plug and play’ device is tough. They only do two things – plug and play!

Plugging in the TVMini Express is simple, just slot into a USB port. Next, install TheTube software that comes with it.

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It takes a while to install but don’t worry if it tells you it will take 19 minutes. It sat at this level for a while then completed in 2 minutes.

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Actually at this point it becomes slightly more interesting as the Quick Start instructions just say that you will need to activate the software, which is a slight over simplification of the process.

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You actually need to register with equinox software first.

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Once this is done and you have seen the confirmation screen you then get to activate the software.

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Once activated I got this screen:

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For all of 2 minutes as there was already a software update ready which gives an enhanced set of options.

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At this stage we get back to the playing bit. Auto tune does what you would expect, so long as the signal strength is strong enough for the small antenna that ships with the TVMini Express. If it isn’t they sell a bigger one on their site, or I am sure any half decent electrical store will sort you out. The TVMini Express comes with the necessary converter ‘gizmo’ to attach to any antenna cable so in theory you could hook this up to a big internal antenna if necessary.

Overview

TVMini Express on The Tube

TVMini Express provides a quick and simple solution to get digital TV straight on your Mac.

Watch, record TV, all in brilliant digital picture quality.

Surfing between channels takes on a new dimension thanks to the real-time display of what’s playing on each TV station.

The award-winning TVMini hardware comes with The Tube software, its simple interface eliminates the window clutter on your monitor usually associated with other TV solutions.

All of this at a great price! So grab TVMini Express from its box, plug it in and you’re off.

Key Features

  • Watch and record all your favourite shows in superb digital quality
  • Great performance, crystal clear picture and perfect sound
  • Includes The Tube TV software
  • Real-time information of what is playing on each TV channel
  • Export TV shows to your iPod
  • Two year warranty offers total peace of mind

Putting the digital life into your Mac

This is what it’s all about, award-winning Miglia TV technology in a tiny USB stick.

Watch digital terrestrial TV on your Mac, record it to your hard drive to watch later or save it to your iPod to get that TV-on-the-go experience.
TVMini Express’s integrated digital TV tuner lets you enjoy a wide range of TV channels so there is something for everyone.

As its digital TV, images are sharper and cleaner making your TV viewing all the more pleasurable. This is about fresh ideas, having fun and rediscovering TV on your Mac or iPod.

Created for you and your Mac

Created for your Mac, TVMini Express blends in with your favourite computer, not only in style but also in performance.

Its elegant design allows perfect integration within your home or office environment.

Of course, TVMini Express is backed by ourexclusive two-year warranty for total peace of mind.

Software Details

The Tube & Miglia

When teamed up with compatible Miglia TV products you can watch, record and share live television through your Mac.

Simple interface

When Apple launched OS X they had a vision of simplicity paired with usability, so why not have the same with your TV software? The Tube has all the features you need at your fingertips with the channel overview right there if you wish showing each channels current program (which is grabbed straight from the digital TV (like a set-top box does). So now you are free to watch and browse together, no more channel hopping to just see what is on.

Make TV part of your desktop

Check the news while you work, get the latest sports results while typing your e-mails, ‘The Tube’ will adapt your TV window according to your workflow. Select the ‘Always in Front’ option to have the TV window always in the foreground, regardless of what other application you are currently using. Combined with the smart resize option that automatically adapts window resizing to it’s position on the screen, you can now have TV part of your everyday Mac use.

Déjà Vu

‘The Tube’ features the unique Timeshift recording feature ‘Déjà Vu’. Just imagine you start watching a TV show and after a few minutes you realise that you would have liked to record it to your hard drive. Well, Déjà Vu makes this possible!

Simply rewind to the beginning of the show you were watching and press the record button. Never again will you say ‘I wish I’d recorded that’

Timeshift

Pause Live TV at any moment. Just imagine the phone rings while you watch the news on TV. Simply press the pause button and answer the call; take your time as the Timeshift buffer can hold up to several hours of TV! Once you are finished, simply press the resume button and continue watching.

Stop surfing, simply select and enjoy

View in a single window your TV show and whats currently showing at the same time on other channels. Gone are the days of cluttered desktops with multiple windows, you can immediately view all your programme information at the blink of an eye. It avoids you having to flick between channels unnecessarily as you can immediately see whats on.

Get an iLife

For those of you who want to perform advanced video editing on TV recordings or burn videos to DVD, the iMovie® export function lets you integrate your favorite shows in the iLife® cycle. Simply export the recording to iMovie® and open the file in your favorite video editing application.

Smart Zoom

Let ‘The Tube’ take care of resizing your TV window according to its position on your screen. If your TV window is in a corner of the screen and you increase its size using one of the handy keyboard shortcuts, the window will keep its position in the corner of your screen.

Record your shows for another day

Not everyone is able to catch all the programming they want in a day, so just save it for later. Simply press the record button and its done.

Or even worse, you have to go out during the middle of your show, simply wind back to the start and hit record – Déjà Vu lets you jump back in time (as long as you’ve been watching it previously).

TV in your pocket, the flexible way

Any show you have recorded can be exported to your iTunes® library to be synchronised with your iPod®, iPhone™ or AppleTV™. You have control over the balance between file size and picture quality by selecting one of the three presets. Generating content for your favorite video device has just become a lot easier!

Integrated Auto-Update

Check the news while you work, get the latest sports results while typing your e-mails, ‘The Tube’ will adapt your TV window according to your workflow. Select the ‘Always in Front’ option to have the TV window always in the foreground, regardless of what other application you are currently using. Combined with the smart resize option that automatically adapts window resizing to it’s position on the screen, you can now have TV part of your everyday Mac use.

Specifications

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Compatability

  • Mac with built in USB 2.0 connectivity
  • G4/1.25 Ghz or higher, Intel processor
  • Mac OSX 10.4 or higher
  • Requires internet connection for The Tube software activation

Enjoy Online Sjopping

It’s amazing the kind of great electronics that are available today! You can do almost anything with modern televisions and computers alike, and all at affordable prices. Whether you are looking into LCD tvs or some newer environmentally friendly electronics make sure you do your research before making a purchase!

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18 Comments

  1. Looks interesting. Out of interest, how much of a pain did you find activating to be? Im looking to go down a similar route with my software.

  2. It really wasn’t a pain at all, in that it was just one template/form that needed filling in.

    The ‘pain’ was that my expectation from the documentation was that I would just have to enter the activation code, not a registration form, so my advice to anyone would be simply to make it very clear up front what the activation process is.

    If you want a form filling in just say so …….. “To activate the software you will first have to register with a few basic details, then you will be invited to enter your activation code”.

  3. Wow, so it comes with a full license of MediaCentral? Or just the TV part? I think I’ve tried MediaCentral before, but the demo only lasts like 5 minutes or something like that. Looked pretty cool, though.

  4. @Wayne – I need to check on that for you, as not au fait with MediaCentral.

    @Phil – assume that is eyeTV 🙂 Again, let me check to be 100%

    Sorry to be vague but the application is on the Mac mini, which I have unplugged to move some stuff around, and I am out for most of the day.

    Will get back with answers ASAP.

  5. @Phil: At the moment there is no burn to DVD option in The Tube. Miglia TV has a built in DVD burning plug-in which works great. If you don’t want that or don’t have that just export the file to iMovie and then drop the file into iDVD.

    @Wayne: It is just a demo version of MC that is included at the moment, although there us a view that The Tube has taken over from MC in terms of features.

  6. Following on from our earlier discussion of a Mac mini as a PVR and all round general digital hub, this looks like it has the input stage nailed. Now, all I’d need is some device which outputs the video signal from the Mac to one of the SCART inputs on my 28″, non-HD, regular Sony television, instead of a regular computer monitor. Oh, and a new Mac mini too… 🙂

  7. I’m imagining a cable or similar. Since it would sit in the cabinet underneath the TV in the place of my VHS, there would be no need for any wireless shenanigans.
    Furthermore, I expect a wireless connection would result in a signal deterioration and I’m trying to get the best signal here. If there’s going to be any deterioration, then the whole game’s off and I’ll eventually buy a dedicated PVR such as one of the Topfield range.

  8. Well that shouldn’t be too hard ……….

    I have a connector like this which works well with s-video or composite and you could then get a Scart adapter that allowed you to plug the composite in.

    S-video works fine for me on older TV’s to watch a movie, but is crap for acting as a TV screen.

    Wireless really isn’t an option in my opinion 🙂

  9. Thanks for that. But… Unfortunately, if it’s outputting S-Video to begin with, then it’s of a lower quality than you can get through a “true” SCART output. Converting to SCART after the fact isn’t going to improve the potential quality. I’ll try to remember to ask the folks in the new Glasgow Apple Store the next time I’m in if they have, or know of, a direct SCART solution.

  10. So what connection are you going to take out of the Mac? I assume it will be DVI, or mini DVI?

    I think you will struggle to find a cable that does DVI to Scart. I looked for ages http://www.chrismarshall.ws/?p=227 and the only solution that I could fine included a converter of one type or another.

    If you find one let me know please!!!!

  11. If nobody does a Firewire or USB 2 converter/adaptor box then, yes, it would need to be a box which converts the mini’s DVI video out signal.

    This is not something which I’m actively researching just now, but I will be keeping my eyes open…

  12. Thanks for the info, I’ve since had some ‘hands on’ experience which has made up my mind. I’d say this has some way to go before it catches up with eye TV…. but then the elgato solution is that more expensive of course.

    If only somebody made something vaguely similar for the PC, that Hauppauge software is just dreadful by comparison!

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