Earlier this week, my El Gato EyeHome arrived. It doesn’t come with any AV cables. So I had to march down to Wallyworld to pick up some cables. Then the fun began.
I had a few choices when it came to cables. There’s composite, S-video, and component video outputs. For audio, there’s component and optical. Now, if I had the right equipment, the right connections would be the component video and the optical audio. Optical audio: isn’t that an oxymoron? I don’t and I need the most flexibility, so I went with the component video and audio. Note that there is no RF coaxial output, so if that’s all your TV has, you may have to route it through a special adapter box or through your VCR.
After all the reviews I read, I expected the most pain-free install ever. It was close, but not quite there. However, I’m not sure I can fault the EyeHome. I’m connecting it through a wireless to ethernet adapter and switch. Upon turning on the EyeHome, it didn’t recognize that my Powermac upstairs had the software installed. Manually putting in its IP didn’t work either. Then I noticed that it had a self-assigned IP address (one starting with 169). Shutting down all the network equipment and starting it again fixed the issue and it’s worked ever since, so I don’t know what the issue really was, but it appears to have been transient.
Once I had that worked out, the Powermac appeared and I started playing. My EyeTV recordings showed up and played perfectly. However, the times listed didn’t seem right. The unit wasn’t setting its own time and date correctly and there is no way to set it manually (that can be counted as a flaw because I can imagine that sometimes the network the EyeHome is on won’t have an NTP server, but I digress).
I tried the rest of the features, save the movie one because I had no movies saved to my hard drive. They all performed as I would hope (except being unable to play iTunes Music Store files, but that’s not their fault). The movie playing function is much more important to me anyway. As a test, I used Handbrake to encode a movie. The first time I used an MPEG4 container with H.264 video and AAC video. It looked and sounded great. However, they didn’t sync up. I’m not sure what the problem was. I re-encoded into an AVI container with MPEG 4 video and MP3 sound. That synced up great. Perhaps the added complexity of AAC caused the sound delay. I’m not sure.
I did run into a problem with certain scenes though. In particular, White Noise has a lot of scenes that are almost all static. Those… scenes… would… skip… a… lot. Fortunately, those scenes were few and far between. All other video was fine as far as I could tell.
Despite some little issues, I feel like the $129 I spent on my EyeHome (refurbished price, brand new currently on sale for $150) was well worth it. At the $200 normal price, I’m a little more hesitant, but that’s just more reason to get one now.
Pros: Handles all kinds of media. Easy setup. Regular firmware updates. Works with EyeTV. Only $150.
Cons: Some initial setup problems. Doesn’t work with iTunes Music Store files. Issues with some intense movie sections. No manual time setting capability.