If you still enjoy watching live, over-the-air television, then a TV tuner is what you need to be able to do so on your Mac. Unfortunately, there are only a few choices out there, but this is still a great way to get free programming right at your fingertips.
Hi, my name is Eric. Being educated as an Electrical Engineer, I love working with tech devices, especially ones that interface with computers. There are so many different products and devices out there and I enjoy getting to evaluate some of them and provide feedback to you.
While streaming is quickly becoming the most popular way to watch movies and television programs, over-the-air TV is still something that many of us rely on. If you want to be able to do this with your Mac, there are some quality products out there to help you do this.
In this article, I’m going to show you a list of what I feel are the best tuners available for your Mac computer.
Keep reading to find out more!
Top TV Tuners for Macs
With a quality TV tuner, you will be able to get multiple over-the-air channels that you can watch on your computer for free. A couple of these have USB interfaces that you plug directly into your computer, others connect to your home network and let you connect wirelessly.
1. Geniatech EyeTV USB
This is one of the most popular TV tuners available for Macs. Previously sold by Elgato, this was easily one of the best tuners around. The new models by Geniatech provide the same great performance and the same EyeTV software developed by Elgato. It’s loaded with features.
2. Slingbox 500
This is another solid USB TV tuner that is also compatible with Mac computers. It’s more expensive than other options listed here but for a good reason, because it provides some very nice features. It is also compatible with other operating systems such as Windows and Android.
3. SiliconDust HDHomeRun Flex Duo
This is a stand-alone TV tuner that will pick up over-the-air television and stream it on your home network either through your ethernet cable or wirelessly. The nice thing about this one is that it will not only allow you to watch TV on your Mac but on all the other devices in your home.
4. Tablo Quad
The Tablo is similar to SiliconDust in that it is a stand-alone device that connects to your wifi network. Once set up you can easily stream over-the-air TV to your Mac or any other device within range of your network or even outside of your network if you’re on the go.
Keep in mind that most all of these tuners do not include an antenna. So that is another thing you may need to invest in. The type, size, and quality will depend on what kind of reception you get in your area.
If you select a device that can record and replay programs, you may need to purchase an external USB hard drive to store the recordings on.
Most of these devices, especially the USB type do not provide any type of cable to connect to your antenna. If your antenna does not come with one or needs some type of converter you may need to purchase one separately to ensure you can connect your antenna to the tuner.
Some but not all of these devices may have subscriptions that you can sign up for to get extra features such as commercial skip, advanced menus, etc. With all the devices you can get the over-the-air programming for free, but they still offer other features for a monthly or lifetime rate.
Other Things to Consider
As you research and look at TV tuners of different types, there are some important things that you will want to consider. Let’s take a brief look at some of them.
Before you jump in and purchase your device and the other equipment that may be needed, you will want to check to see what stations are available in your area so you will know what to expect. You can search on the internet to find out from sites like the ones below.
- USA – AntennaWeb
- Canada – TV Fool
- The UK – Freeview
There are many others available for various countries so you can search for them as needed. This will help give you an idea of what type of antenna you may need and what channels you can possibly receive.
Make sure the device you are getting supports the region or country you are going to use it in. Different countries and regions use different protocols and each device is designed to use specific protocols. You want to make sure it is compatible with the signals in your area.
Check out this map for more information.
HD or Analog
Check to see if the product receives an analog or HD signal. For most, you will probably want HD since analog is being phased out and rarely available anymore. Just be aware that there are still some old analog devices out there and make sure you pick the correct one for your needs.
Almost all of the newer USB tuners need at least USB 2.0 or greater. You will need to make sure that your Mac’s USB ports are at least 2.0.
You’ll want to consider the age of your Mac. Recording and playing video can use an enormous amount of processing power. If you have an old 2008 Macbook Pro, as I do, it may not work on that one. It would be more suitable for this year which is faster and has more resources.
Be sure to take a look at the system requirements for each tuner to ensure that you have enough computing power for the specific model you are looking at.
Devices for PC
One thing to note is that you will see a number of these devices that are designed for PCs. Unfortunately, many of these are only compatible with Windows. There are ways to get them to work with your Mac but it will be difficult and time-consuming.
So for the most part these will not be worth your time to look at. Stick to the ones that say they are compatible with Mac operating systems.
As you can see there are a limited number of devices out there that are made to specifically pick up live over-the-air television. The few that are left on the market are quality devices that should satisfy your needs.
We hope this article has given you some insight into these TV tuners. Feel free to let us know of any other good ones that you have used. We would love to hear from you.