Here's an easy way to record HD premium channels from your cable or satellite TV box onto a Mac. This $200 EyeTV HD can snag video via component outputs, letting you bypass copy protection. Then you can watch, fast forward, rewind, and save videos from your premium channels live on your Mac, just like a TiVo. Not that we'd recommend such a thing, because, you know, that would be illegal. Update: I know, I know, it's illegal only if you share those files, but this box gives those files to you in an easily shared form.
The thing can also do a really neat trick, grabbing video into two formats at once. That means in one swoop you can create two clips at once, with one formatted for the iPad and the other for the iPhone. Or, with the optional EyeTV app, you can also stream live and recorded TV directly to an iPhone or iPad.
The EyeTV records in the H.264 format, which in our experience looks pretty damn good, but keep in mind that with the EyeTV HD, you're dealing with component video, transcoded from digital to analog and then back to digital again, so the quality is not going to be completely pristine. And there's no 5.1 surround sound, either.
Still, for those of us innocent people who want to use our paid-for shows wherever and whenever we want, this could work. And yes, pirates will like that ability to record content from premium cable channels, quickly conforming it to a variety of digital formats. EyeTV HD doesn't pirate movies, pirates do. Whether it's for licit or illicit purposes, this little box might prove itself to be a godsend.