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Like many other people, when I first saw the Mac mini, one of my immediate thoughts was, "I bet that would make a great media center system."
However, while the Mac had great hardware for a media center, the software was pretty much lacking, especially when compared to the more robust media center and PVR software applications available for Windows and Linux systems.
But with the release of SageTV Media Center 6 for the Mac, things are finally looking up for the Mac when it comes to watching and recording TV.
For the last few weeks I've been testing out this release of SageTV and for the most part I like what I see. SageTV, which works on Mac OSX Tiger or later, is an excellent system for watching and recording television programs and dealing with video and digital media in general.
However, getting SageTV Media Center up and running on my Mac was not the easiest task. Currently on the Mac, SageTV only supports two external TV tuner hardware systems, the Hauppauge EskapeLabs myTV.PVR and the Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2, which is what I used for my testing.
Getting the WinTV PVR to work on my Mac required using the myTV.PVR drivers. After multiple tries without any luck my contacts at SageTV informed me that I needed to use older versions of the myTV.PVR drivers. Once I had this set, the hardware was recognized by SageTV Media Center.
However, since this is a computer-based system, it provides some benefits over standard hardware DVRs, such as the ability to easily port video to other systems, or if your Mac is a laptop, take your shows on the road.
Also, with the option SageTV Placeshifter, I could turn my Mac into a video server and remotely watch my recorded programs over the Internet on any Mac, Windows or Linux system, working similarly to the popular Slingbox system.
Pricing for SageTV Media Center for the Mac starts at $79.95 and when combined with Placeshifter is priced at $99.95.