Articles: EyeTV, iPhone Home
Elgato released its latest version of EyeTV software with a special feature just for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Version 2.5 now supports a special web server that will broadcast your recorded programs over a home network, or the internet. No longer do you have to come home first or connect to your computer before you have access to your newly recorded TV programs. Although this may seem like a minor addition to the slew of TV encoding options available with the EyeTV family of products, it marks yet another TV venue that Elgato is attempting to take the lead in. Watch out Slingbox™, Elgato has you by the tail.
Since 2004 Sling Media has been selling the Slingbox™, a very capable set-top TV encoding box. Unlike the EyeTV or TiVo™, the Slingbox does not record television for you to watch later at home. Instead, it encodes your video so that you can watch your home's TV from anywhere in the world. This is a great option for people traveling abroad but who still wanting to keep up on local shows and news. It also serves the vast majority of busy people who are not home enough to watch their TV, live or recorded. The Slingbox™ is like a wireless television screen that you can take anywhere your computer or phone can go.
Although the Slingbox™ is a great product, it relies on you using it with your home entertainment system. You can control a DVR or cable box with it but the assumption is that you are having an on-the-couch experience, but just away from home. If you are an EyeTV user or do not already own a PVR/DVR, then the Slingbox™ is only half of what you need. That is where the new EyeTV 2.5 update takes the lead. Not only do you have an evolved PVR system that records HD and standard definition television, now you can get your TV anywhere you have an internet connection. Provided that you own an iPhone or iPod touch.
As always, EyeTV software will record your shows on reoccurring schedules or a per-program schedule. It will also output to an Apple TV or iPod Video format automatically, if desired. These features are unchanged and unrelated to the new web-server feature available in 2.5. In the preferences there is a new "Wi-Fi Access" tab that has a simple Start Stop button. This starts a little web server running on your computer. Elgato chose to use a non-standard port for the web browser to connect to. Most likely this was chosen to avoid conflict with other web servers that could be hosted by your computer. The server is hosted on TCP port 2170 instead of the standard port 80. After you start the server, it is necessary to wait until the next program is recorded. This feature is an automatic process that is linked to the Recordings list of shows. When you delete a recorded program, even if you saved it to iTunes, the Wi-Fi version of the show would be lost when you hit the delete key. This is a much more seamless way of interacting with EyeTV video. I have often disliked the separation that exists between the EyeTV program and iTunes video management. Users have to manage both EyeTV and iTunes video files independently, and the result is multiple copies of the same program. This is not Elgato's fault, iTunes is not an overly open program, but it is nice to see that this new video feature is so well integrated into the EyeTV video library.
By its name, the "Wi-Fi Access" feature indicates that it is intended only for access around your house. However, with a little router reconfiguration, you can have the shows available to you around the world. This can get a little complicated for the non-Airport Base Station crowd. On those routers you should look for "Port Forwarding" options, and you will have to set a fixed IP address for your computer that you have the EyeTV installed on.
For the Airport Extreme or Express these things are done in the AirPort Utility, which is found in your Utilities folder. Select your base station from the list of accessible Airport Base Stations and click on the Manual Setup button. First you will have to create a fixed IP address (one that does not change) for your computer. To do this click on the Internet icon in the toolbar and then click on the DHCP tab. At the bottom of the window is the DHCP Reservations section. To add your computer, just click on the "+" button. Enter a description of your computer and select MAC Address as the way you want to reserve the IP address. Click on Continue and Enter your Mac address, you can find your MAC address in the Network section of System Preferences. Double click on the network port with a green light next to it. Most often it is the Built-in Ethernet or Airport. If it is an Ethernet connection then it will be under the Ethernet tab listed after "Ethernet ID." If it is an Airport connection, then it will be found under the Airport tab after "AirPort ID." You can copy and paste that 12 character, colon separated ID from the Network section to the Airport Utility. Then you will want to set a fixed IP address. You will be given a default option, which is fine, but you can choose any number that is in your network's IP range. Click the Done button to save this setting.
Now with a fixed IP address for your computer we can start directing iPhone / iPod touch traffic to your computer. From the Airport Utility, select the advanced icon in the toolbar. Now click on the Port Mapping tab and click on the "+" button to add the EyeTV port. There are only three things you have to enter here. The Public TCP Port(s) address is going to be 2170. The Private IP Address is going to be your fixed IP address. Finally, the Private TCP Port(s) should be set to 2170. Click on the Continue button, enter a direction, and then click on the Done button. Now you just have to click on the Update button to write these changes to the Airport Base stations memory. After the base station restarts, you will next want to restart your computer, to make sure you have the fixed IP address and that the EyeTV web server has started.
After this little bit of configuring you are ready to use your iPhone or iPod touch from outside the home. To access the site, you will need to know your public IP address. You can get that info by opening a web browser from home and going to http://whatismyipaddress.com/ and you will be shown your external IP address. Enter that number into your iPhone / iPod touch's browser with ":2170/eyetv/" at the end. The mobile Safari will now load the listings of your videos anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. This will not work over the AT&T EDGE network so you can't watch this from the road. Also, your ISP may interfere with your outgoing web traffic, so your mileage may vary.
Elgato has been revamping its hardware to meet the changing needs in the Mac PVR user by including HD support on all of its US products. The dual High Definition and Standard definition tuners in EyeTV hardware make it compatible with a wide variety of signal sources. Now with this upgrade to the software, EyeTV users have the most options in how they view their recorded TV, much more than any one solution. If you were waiting for a good reason to get an EyeTV PVR, this would be a compelling time to buy an EyeTV and an iPod touch. When you have both, your TV viewing options are practically limitless, and any idle time can be TV time.