HDTV Satellite Arion AF9400 PV2R In last edition TELE-satellite International we published a test report on ARION latest model,the ARION AF 9400 PV2R. Shortly after going to press, an improved version of this box appeared and arrived at our test labs for examination. This box not only has a built-in HDD and two tuners but a separate and independent output for a second TV set! Quite an amazing feature: thanks to the two tuners, two monitors can be fed independently with two different signals.
Several surprises are waiting for you as you open the parcel. First of all, the receiver itself of course, which is a full sized silver coloured box (37 x 27 x 6 cm) and three remote controls, two identical looking and a smaller unit with basic functions including the commands of the PVR.
The list goes on with a complete set of connecting cable (Scart, RCA-AV, a loop-through for the second tuner, USB) and a fancy looking little device with a small whip antenna reminding us of „Sputnik“. Arion Sputnik is not meant to fly around but acts as a RF receiver for the second full sized remote control that operates on radio frequency signals, since it is designed to be used in a different room, out of sight of the hdtv receiver.
The ARION AF9400 PV2R has a very pleasant front panel, aesthetically separated into two parts by a horizontal silver coloured band. The upper half hides the vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) that comes alive when the receiver is powered on and displays, depending on the activated mode, the actual time in standby, the hdtv channels name in full text while watching, or the menu item while in programming mode.
The entire lower half of the front PV2R panel is a flap that, when opened, reveals the double CI slot, a set of seven buttons on the right for channel up/down and menu operations, and a lonely larger sized standby/on button. The separating band in the middle of the front panel contains two quite clever LEDs at each end. In standby, both are red. When you power on the receiver, they change to green during normal operation. Each time a command is send from the remote control, they give feed-back by lighting up in orange.
The back panel of the ARION 9400 PV2R is satellite tv packages with various connectors present on most modern receivers. On top of this, you will see another set of three A/V RCA‘s to be linked to a second HDTV Television set in a separate room either by a relatively long cable or perhaps, by using an A/V transmitter. A small earphones jack serves to connect the Sputnik. There is even a mains power switch.
The two large remote controls look identical except for a small marking at the bottom: 1 or 2. Number 1 is the remote to be used in the room where the hd receiver is located, while number 2 is a radio frequency remote to be placed in your second TV room. Its signals are picked up by „Sputnik“ and command the receiver just in the same way as number 1 – or almost the same way since the user has the ability to restrict certain functions of number 2 in the related menu page.
These remote controls have a very trendy design; long body, shiny black face, and chrome coloured buttons. We regret that these buttons, most of them having a second (shift) function, are tiny and it is difficult to distinguish immediately all of their numerous special functions.
The ARION AF 9400 PV2R can be used with a wide variety of antenna set ups, and could vary from one single LNB (with a loop to the second tuner), or a motor-ized dish (DiSEqC 1.2 or USALS), up to the configuration offering the most simultaneous recording/watching options using two separate LNB‘s. This of course requires two cables running into your TV room. Once you have decided which antenna option you will use for this receiver, you can move on to the initial setup menu. For our tests, we opted for the two-LNB alternative.
Channel scan time is extremely fast and the list soon fills up with plenty of channels. The list of transponders and satellites is still not completely up to date, but it is easily possible to add new satellites.
The two tuners and HDD combination make the ARION AF 9400 PV2R special, since in the antenna setup we chose for our tests, we were able to record up to 4 channels on 2 different transponders. What is unique, is the ability to watch any of the available channels on two different TV sets in two different rooms! On top of this, each of the viewers can change channels, program a recording or watch a pre-recorded broadcast.
Did we mention that this also works for scrambled channels? Yes, one CAM can deliver two different channels to our two rooms, provided they transmit on same transponder, and that the CAM supports this function. It just needs to select CAM #1 or #2 accordingly.
Actually, the AF-9400PV2R gives us the option that both our viewing rooms act independently (this option is called master-master), or that the second room has limited rights (this option is called master-slave)
The latter feature could be very useful if this second TV were in the kid‘s room. The main user (=master) can then block certain channels from being accessed by the second TV set (=slave).
You can even have a look at what the other user is presently watching. A small pictogram of a TV set with the number 1 or 2 informs about which screen‘s broadcast you are actually watching. The user can easily switch back an forth on his monitor from room 1 to room 2. Let us assume that you are in parent‘s room (R1); when your children come into this room you could switch over to the cartoon or any of their favourite programmes and watch them together instead of your initial transmission like football etc.
The EPG is very well organized. A PIP (picture-in-picture) function comis available as well and thus you can follow another programme and call it up to the main screen should it become interesting. Further more, this receiver is able to decode the more advanced Media highway EPG system used by certain Pay satellite Television providers.
The manufacturer informed us that from now on all models will be fitted with Samsung harddisks. Our test hd receiver was equipped with a 160 GB HD. It offers plenty of space for recording and is very quiet. The HD can be switched off completely if the user disables the „time-shift“ function of the PVR.
The receiver gives you the option to edit recorded content, that is, certain segments, such as commercials, can be deleted. Thanks to the USB interface, you can upload your favourite MP3 songs and have them ready to be played back through the audio system connected to the receiver. A list of all songs will appear on the TV screen where you can again pick out the ones you like best and perhaps let them play in a loop.
The user manual is of an out-standing quality. It explains in detail, along with numerous photos and screen shots all the features of this receiver on 78 (!) pages just for the English version.
The overall workmanship of the unit leaves a good impression of solidity. A calendar and a calculator plus three games round up the whole picture of this box.