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Icecrypt stc6000hd pvr may 2011
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n www.icecrypt.com n 01795 429666 n £400 (with 320GB HDD)
Icecrypt stc6000hd pvr The Opposition Dreambox DM8000 HD se n More expensive, with one tuner, one CAM, one CI and without blind search or YouTube but with the legendary Dreambox plug-in expandability
AZBox Ultra HD n Single (satellite) tuner, PVR-ready (no HDD) box for £150 less. Poorer navigation, EPG and PVR but better YouTube access and easy LAN file sharing
This impressive PVR comes with a choice of HD sat, DTT or cable tuners, networking, online features and Linux flexibility Simply receiving everything broadcast, decoding, recording and storing programmes, and accessing other stored media is no longer enough. It seems receivers these days must show clear signs of complete media domination in the home – and be ‘connected’. Enter the Icecrypt STC6000HD PVR. Depending on your choice of tuners it can receive SD and HD sat/DTT, offers media file playback, easily expandable PVR storage (Icecrypt maker Turbosat sells it with drives of up to 2TB installed), embedded card readers and CI slots. It connects to the internet for YouTube and other media and, as a Linux machine, can use ‘plug-ins’ for almost any media task.
Build and connectivity It has a slightly old-fashioned look about it, with a
There are copious ways to sort channels and you can view selected live channels while you browse. You can have up to 32 favourites lists
framed front panel. However, it is by no means unattractive; it’s well made and suitably discreet beneath the TV screen. The metal cover is removed to access the internal 2.5in HDD but you can increase storage with an external drive plugged into the eSATA connector or one of the three USB ports. The front panel includes tiny control buttons and an excellent large fluorescent dot-matrix display for the name of the channel or menu. The right-hand flap conceals two common interface slots for plug-in CAMs, two card reader slots for the embedded CAM (for less official pay-TV viewing) and one of the USB sockets for temporary storage. The remote control is a large piano-black affair of the ilk favoured by big TV manufacturers. It has an unusual button layout (numbers at the bottom and PVR controls
The EPG lets you see what’s on one channel or six at a time as a grid. Support for OpenTV data (as used by Sky) is a brilliant bonus
The programme information bar looks classy, displaying comprehensive transmission data including synopses and a progress bar
Test satellite/dtt ‘It’s unusual for a box so appealing for its signal reception, decryption and upgradability to be so easy to use’
towards the top) but it is well designed and easy to use. The back panel is densely populated. The input and loopthrough for the two tuners are on the left and the tuner modules can be (relatively) easily plugged in so the machine can be configured with a combination of any two tuners – SD and HD satellite or terrestrial, or cable. This test used one satellite (DVB-S2) and one terrestrial tuner (DVB-T2). The main outputs are HDMI (up to 1080p) and YPbPr component video, with separate digital audio from an optical S/PDIF connector. There is also SD output from a TV Scart socket (with composite S-video and RGB) and recorder Scart, plus separate composite video and analogue audio outputs, but you can have both SD and HD at once. It’s a sign of the times that there are almost as many digital data sockets on this machine as there are AV connectors. As well as two more USB sockets and the eSATA HDD connector, the rear panel features a (largely redundant) RS232 serial socket and an RJ45 LAN socket for networking and internet functionality.
Setup The STC6000HD PVR is straightforward to set up, but it takes a while because there’s so much to do. For the terrestrial channels you simply perform an auto-tune, or search any particular frequency on its own. Setting up satellite channels is more involved. First, the different LNBs for different satellites are defined, with their power, type, LO frequency, and DiSEqC switch setting (both DiSEqC 1.0 and DiSEqC 1.1 are supported). You can also select a transponder frequency for the LNB loopthrough
onscreen signal meter and, if a motorised dish is used, configure DiSEqC 1.2 or USALS settings. If you have two tuners of the same type you can select tuner loopthrough and connect them to one LNB. Satellites can be scanned for active channels in different ways and you can elect to ignore radio or encrypted channels. A standard scan will use the database of transponder details to search for channels. The STC6000HD PVR is reasonably fast and takes only slightly longer to scan Hot Bird than Astra. Individual transponders can be scanned from the satellite’s database or with parameters entered manually. You can also specify whether DVB-S or DVB-S2 transmissions are detected (for SD or HD channels) and enter PIDs. The STC6000HD PVR has an effective blind search that will step through all the frequencies and symbol rates. This, of course, takes longer but you can speed up things by limiting the scan to one polarity or to a specified frequency range, though you can’t change the frequency step size. First, the active transponders are found and then they are scanned like a normal search for the channels. The STC6000HD PVR took just 10.5 minutes to search the whole frequency range on both polarities of Astra 28.2°E – a pretty good time for a blind search. The transponders found are inserted in the satellite’s database (after it has been wiped) so the blind search is a good way of keeping the receiver up to date with broadcast changes. You can also delete, add and alter the transponder database and channel lists manually found by any search can also be manually edited.
Basic use The STC6000HD PVR provides two onscreen channel lists – one a simple list produced when an arrow key is pressed, and the other a full-blown channel menu. The second includes an inset image of the channel currently selected and a very powerful system to sort the channels and get to the one you want quickly and easily. The channels are listed on the left side of the screen with the inset picture and tuning details of the currently selected channel on the right. In the middle is a list of the category headings relevant to the current order of the list. The list can be sorted according to name, frequency, group (including satellites, HD channels, and favourites), tuner, encryption, and provider.
2x USB ports
RS232 data input
eSATA external HDD connection
Tech Data FTA scan, Astra 19.2°E: 4m 47s 0
FTA Scan, Hot Bird: 4m 58s 0
Full Scan, Astra 19.2°E: 4m 51s 0
Full Scan, Hot Bird: 5m 5s 0
Full Scan, Terrestrial: 2m 21s 0
Blind Search, Astra 28.2°E: 10m 31s 0
Power consumption: 60W max (1W standby)
Features No LNB inputs: 1 LNB loopthrough: Yes No aerial inputs: 1 Aerial loopthrough: Yes DiSEqC: 1.0/1.1/1.2/USALS No. channels: 10,000 Selectable FEC: No Symbol rate range: 1000-45000 Blind search: Yes Linux: Yes CAM: 2x embedded card readers Common interface: 2 Teletext: DVB decoded EPG support: DVB now/next, 7-day Timer: Unlimited time, unlimited events Hard drive: 320GB internal and via USB. (500GB: +£50, 1TB: +£90, 2TB: +£170) UHF modulator tuning: N/A Software upgrade: Internet or USB download Data ports: RS232, 3x USB, Ethernet, eSATA AV outputs: SD out: TV Scart (composite, S-video, RGB), VCR Scart (composite video), composite video HD out: HDMI, YPbPr Audio out: Stereo analogue audio, optical S/PDIF
Two card reader slots are included for the programmable CAM
n Flexible and comprehensive
and upgradable n Excellent navigation and OpenTV EPG n Internet connectivity
n Less than 100 per cent solid software n No simultaneous SD and HD n Expensive
Build hhhhhhhhhh Setup hhhhhhhhhh Searching hhhhhhhhhh Navigation hhhhhhhhhh Performance hhhhhhhhhh Features hhhhhhhhhhh Value hhhhhhhhhh
PVR and multimedia The STC6000HD PVR provides pretty comprehensive PVR facilities. You can record and watch up to three channels at once – one from each tuner and another from one of the same multiplex/transponder – and you can watch a previously recorded programme at the same time. The possibilities are increased by a picture-in-picture (or side-by-side) function. You can start to watch a recording before it is finished, and playback has all the usual motor controls plus a (programmable) jump forwards and backwards, bookmarks, a draggable progress bar, and a choice of
Performance Image quality is excellent. Pictures via HDMI are clear, sharp, brightly coloured and noise-free. SD broadcasts are upscaled effectively and even 360p YouTube videos display well. Audio is also great – even the analogue outputs produce good sound. What takes the shine off the STC6000HDPVR is the software, which freezes or crashes a little more often than it should. However, ongoing software updates are improving this n Geoff Bains
Verdict The STC6000HD PVR does lack a few features (editing for PVR recordings and better web browsing would be great), but there’s not a lot that this receiver can’t do. And software upgrades and plug-ins theoretically open the door to plenty of enhancements and additional functionality. It’s unusual for a box so appealing to enthusiasts for its signal reception, decryption and upgradability as the STC6000HD PVR, to be as easy to use and comprehensive in its everyday navigation and PVR functionality. OpenTV EPG support and YouTube access is simply wonderful. A bit expensive, maybe, but a delight to use.
What’s more, you can alter the way in which the list operates – displayed with the stored channel numbers or numbered within that group, previewing a channel before it is selected or not, displaying only the channels in a sorted category or all the categories, and more. There are 32 favourite channels lists – pre-named but they can be renamed. You can also search for a channel by name, select it from a ‘mosaic’ image of 13 thumbnail channels, and from the 19-deep recall list of last-visited channels. It’s a very flexible and comprehensive system. The EPG displays programmes in a schedule for one channel or a two-hour, six-channel grid of the programmes, with the selected channel’s current broadcast details. You can search for a programme name and set for viewing or recording (with user-set end buffers). Best of all, you can also download the ‘Open TV’ (Sky) schedule – only a section at a time but nevertheless this means you can have a seven-day EPG for UK channels on both satellite and terrestrial.
using the number buttons to enter the number of minutes to jump forward or the percentage through the recording to jump to. It’s complex, but they’re the most comprehensive playback controls we’ve seen. You can also pause live broadcasts and the receiver can be configured to always buffer the reception, never buffer it or buffer only when you press Pause. What’s more, you can set it to record channels on one storage device and buffer reception on another. The STC6000HD PVR will display images and play MP3 music files or video in a number of formats (including MKV) from a USB or network storage device. Pictures and MP3 music playback are very basic, although videos are played with the same controls as PVR recordings. Furthermore, when connected to the internet , this receiver can also access YouTube and browse the web. The YouTube utility is not very sophisticated (there’s no playback controls short of Pause and Stop), however. Internet browsing uses the WebZeal software plug-in supplied. While effective, this isn’t easy to use because there is no keyboard for text entry. The STC6000HDPVR can use plug-ins written for the Icecrypt S4000 and even take a new boot loader that will run an Enigma2 image from USB storage, to access near-countless plug-ins.
Recording functionality and playback options are commendably extensive. You can record to USB or eSATA/SATA-connected drives 90 What Satellite & Digital TV May 2011
Video located on connected storage including recordings can be playlisted with files previewable in an inset window
Skip through video files by fast-forwarding or rewinding using a draggable progress bar or by entering the percentage you want to jump to