Problems, problems, problems.
Just got hold of my equinux tubestick USB DVB Tuner for the Mac. A bargain at 39.95 euro + another 12 shipping and handling. Alas, it’s dog-slow on my 1.5GHz G4 Mac Mini (1G RAM, external fast FW400 drive). They have a horrible licensing scheme that ties the Tubestick software to a particular Mac (though you have 4 more installs.) It crashed twice when I went to activate the software. It crashes quite frequently. They have a built-in ILCrashReporter framework, which has been getting heavy use. I disabled FinderPop in case of conflicts, to no avail.
The picture and audio break up all the time, the Mini’s fan is blowing fulltime,
top shows the ‘TheTube’ app hovering around the 80% mark showing pixellated quarter-size and the software loses contact with the USB device regularly.
TheTube app found 21 channels which is a bit odd since the bundled MediaCentral
application found 31 with the same hardware and aerial position. Their snazzy website quotes:
Multi-tasking is no problem for TubeStick
where by “no problem” they mean “you can’t.” At least on a G4 Mac Mini.
Time to fire up the disassembler to see what they’re doing…
In short, not recommended, at least not with my setup. Maybe I need more VRAM or reduce screensize, will play around and will update with my findings. For now though, mucho disappointment
EDIT: The bundled MediaCentral app does a much better job of displaying television, though it’s still unacceptable. Maybe there’s hope for the thing yet. The Tubestick is based on the Afatech AF9015 chipset, so maybe there’s a driver for the open source iTele application?
EDIT2: Changing my screen resolutions all the way down to 800×600 made no difference. It still sucks
EDIT3: Equinux got back to me thusly (20-May-2007):
We are sorry that you have problems using the latest version of The Tube on your Mac. The new features and additions in version 1.1 require more resources than previous versions. Our developers are currently working to improve performance, in particular on PowerPC-based Macs.
You might be able to improve the performance by turning off deinterlacing under “Display > Deinterlace Picture” and in the preferences. If this does not help, I suggest returning to version 1.0.3 for now. You can download that version here.
The ‘boilerplate’ nature of that reply convinces me that I am not alone in complaining. Disabling deinterlacing made no difference. Will try 1.0.3 when I get home tonight (the CD that shipped with the tubestick had version 1.1 of TheTube.)
EDIT4: TheTube 1.0.3 works much better. Though you still get the odd bit of pixellation, and you can still hear the CPU fan if you turn on deinterlacing. I look forward to TheTube version 1.2. However, I still can’t believe that they didn’t notice this rather obvious problem. More likely, they did notice, but either didn’t give a damn, or just said “screw PPC Macs.” Tech Support claimed that they raised the minimum requirements of TheTube 1.1. Sounds like a cop-out to me! None of those options bodes well for equinux. Nowhere on their website does it say
Note: Due to incompetence, TheTube 1.1 is 200-500% slower than 1.0.3 at displaying TV images. You know, what you bought it for.
EDIT5: Good news! Equinux have released TheTube 1.1.1 which claims to have “boosted performance and stability“.
Our developers pushed the right buttons and boosted performance, especially when watching TV in full screen or using a G4 or G5 computer.
The astute amongst you will have noticed the word ‘claims’ above. Performance still was very poor indeed on certain channels, but that may well have been signal strength. On the remaining channels it seemed OK some of the time, and then at apparently random intervals major pixellation and audio dropouts again occurred. Once this happened, the channel became unwatchable until you switched to another channel and back again.
top still has TheTube.app hovering around the 80% mark and the Mini’s fan remains on fulltime. Unfortunately I then made the mistake of trying to tune the channels again with TheTube 1.1.1, which crashed halfway through, leaving me high and dry because there was no way to watch anything.
TheTube An uncaught exception was raised
TheTube *** -[NSCFDictionary setObject:forKey:]: attempt to insert nil value
TheTube *** Uncaught exception: *** -[NSCFDictionary setObject:forKey:]: attempt to insert nil value