Ten... Freesat TV receivers
Orbital options for the digital switchover
Product round-up Whether you’ve cut the cord and churned away from Sky, or need to survive the digital switch-over without recourse to Pay-TV or aerial, it’s worth considering Freesat. The gratis satellite TV service matches Freeview for SD channels, and offers a smattering of high-def plus the BBC iPlayer, hardware permitting. It’s a good bet for both the cash-strapped and the locationally challenged.
Curiously, Freesat is also the tech that time forgot. While other home entertainment products get replaced at a dizzying rate, it seems the same old Freesat boxes have been in orbit for years. This is largely because manufacturers are still waiting for the service’s long delayed G2 specification to be rubber-stamped, before producing new kit. So what can you expect to find if you go looking for a Freesat box today?
Typically priced at around £100, the Bush BFSAT01HD is one of the cheaper Freesat HD receiver available. Sans hard drive, the box is very compact; the power supply is an external bolt-on. This is a bare bones free-ceiver, with a specification to match: there’s a single LNB input, HDMI and digital optical audio output, plus two Scarts and Ethernet. On the plus side, it’s easy to install; once you’ve been through the standard rigmarole of inputting your postcode, so that the box knows which regional channel variation to serve up, you’ll be able to start exploring the TV listings. Image quality from HD channels is excellent. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no fuss STB, then it’ll do the job.
Reg Rating 65%
More info Bush
In the cookie-cutter universe of Freesat, the Echostar HDS-600RS stands out like a sore LNB. Not due to its audacious design – although those sloping sides, stylised indentations and glowing soft-touch controls will prove divisive – but because it incorporates a Slingbox place-shifter. We’ve seen standalone Slingbox TX/RX devices before, but this is the first to be integrated into a DVR. As a consequence, you can watch live TV via the receiver as well as what’s recorded on your box, on a PC, laptop or iOS/smartphone device with a paid app. Being able to catch timeshifted shows when you’re out and about using a Wi-Fi hotspot is undoubtedly cool – just don’t expect too much of picture quality. While the Sling system adjusts its video coder based on the speed of the net connection, but it always seems to err on the side of fuzzy.
Aside from being Slingloaded, the HDS-600RS performs much like any other STB with a 500GB hard drive. It offers standard connectivity – dual LNB inputs, twin SCARTs, HDMI and Ethernet – and sports two USB ports, although neither support media playback. In operation, it impresses: recorded image quality is excellent and the BBC iPlayer is on channel 901 or accessed from the Red button.
Reg Rating 80%
More info Echostar
Next page: Grundig GUFSAT01HD
FoxSat can have ADDED functionality!
Re the FOXSAT DVR.
One advantage you neglected to mention is the firmware is Linux and has been used to implement a vast range of extremely useful addons:-
""A fully functioning web interface for the Foxsat HDR.
A package management system with web based repository for the downloading and updating of applications.
This can be accessed both from the web interface and from the command line.
A service management system to display status of custom applications, start or stop them, and disable/enable boot-time autostart.
Again, this is accessible from the web interface and the command line. ""
Applications allow use of various streaming media servers to allow playing recordings on other media devices, uploading recordings from the Foxsat to your PC, downloading media files to play on your Foxsat, editing and setting recording times from anywhere in the world on a PC and more!!
These added abilities makes the Foxsat stand out head and shoulders above all other FreeSat devices!
not just for cash strapped.
Some of us don't want to subscribe to the Murdock Monopoly. We have freeSat in thePanasonic TV and a Humax HD recorder. Very pleased with both and also not giving £££'s to the evil empire.
Humax Foxsat HDR remote response / Deleting lots
As well as making sure you have removed both films from the front panel (there is a second one behind the flap) look to see if you have one of the models which has the coating all the way across with no clear hole left where the sensor is. If so you can scrape the coating off in front of the sensor to significantly improve the remote response.
To delete lots and lots and leave it to chug away move all recordings to be deleted to one folder (or to the top level) then Select All in that folder then Delete. Time for lunch.
I have a Foxsat HDR
It's a good device and stable but it does have some annoyances. The remote control is fine but the IR beam or the receive on the box is incredibly weedy. Unless you are standing directly in front of the device it will often ignore you completely.
The device also allows series link but it is a very bare bones feature. You can record shows but you cannot say (for example) that members of that series should be deleted after being watched or some period of time. It means if you record something long running like Coronation Street that show after show after show will build up and the box has no auto setting to clean them out. Which brings me to...
Deleting stuff on the box is a huge pain in the arse. Everything is nested hiearchically so if you have 4 or 5 series links then you have to manually navigate into each folder and tediously check off each item and then wait 5 minutes for the box to delete them all before moving onto the next folder. The box blocks while it is deleting so you can't queue up a bunch of stuff to delete until the last delete action is complete. This stuff should be a queue.
So the box would be improved immeasurably with some fairly modest but useful changes to the delete behaviour.
That aside it's a pretty good box. HD output great, the software is reliable and it has a usable UI though no Freesat box is a patch on Sky for usability.
Couple of bedroom TV boxes along with a few proper boxes.
TBH with Freesat I cannot see a reason in buying a non HD box, nor one missing the vital HDD.
Happy Humax HDR owner