Satellite Receiver Imperial SatBOX HD, Thanks to the emergence of HDTV, or high definition satellite receivers are going through a substantial redesign. Instead of 576 lines, this new technology brings with it nearly twice that amount, 1080 lines, and offers therefore a marked improvement in picture quality. The Imperial SatBOX HD receiver that we tested lets you receive not only DBS-S2 signals in MPEG2 (H.262) but also signals in the newer MPEG4 compression (H.264). At the same time, the video signals are now carried to the Television digitally with the new HDMI connection.
When I turned on the Imperial SatBOX HD for the first time, I sat there mesmerized by the high resolution transmissions for almost an hour. I surfed from ASTRA19 to HOTBIRD13 and from ASTRA 28.2 to ASTRA 23.5. Through it all I enjoyed the spectacular landscapes and the animal portraits that could be seen on the Demo channels.
It’s a nice feeling knowing that you are witnessing the birth of a new technology even if for the most part it’s still in the starting gates in Europe.
I like the Imperial SatBOX HD. It weighs only about 2.2 Kg (4.8 LBS), measures 340x248x65 mm and therefore fits nicely in almost any entertainment center. Its power consumption is relatively low, in standby mode it uses only 12W and when fully operational 17W (with antenna motor it’s more like 18W).
The sensitivity of the tuner is above average and its operating system is fast and comes with a number of convenient functions.
In addition to the Standby button on the front panel, there are seven more buttons that let you work through the menu system without the need of the remote control. The dominant feature on the front panel would have to be the 13-character alphanumeric display. It shows not only the channel name but also provides information on a number of the menu functions. The two CI slots plus the Conax card slot lets the box receive up to three different encryption systems at the same time. This is especially critical since HDTV is mostly available with encrypted Pay Satellite TV packages.
Aside from the LNB In/Out and the two Scart jacks on the rear panel, there’s also an HDMI output. The latter provides a digital output of up to 1080i lines of resolution whereby this line structure is also possible with the 576 lines of a normal DVB-S broadcaster thanks to up scaling.
The annoying line structure disappears with a compatible TV; this makes for enjoy-able viewing even on larger flat screen TV’s. Top quality stereo systems can be connected optically to the S/PDIF output or via the RCA jack.
Software upgrades can be uploaded through the RS-232 interface using a null-modem cable. The USB jack and the Ethernet connection are currently not active and are planned for a later version. The main power switch is a useful way to help save energy but it also makes the soft-ware upgrade process a little easier.
The receiver has an above average capacity of 7000 channels. This means there is a large memory reserve since the available FTA channels in Europe number at most 2500 leaving plenty of room for encrypted channels.
Memory management en compasses every satellite tv and 32 Favorites lists divided into Freesat TV and radio channels. They can be completely edited; entries can be locked, deleted, renamed or moved. Transponders can easily be added although no more than 16 satellites can be stored.
If you access the channel list with the OK button, you can scroll within the channel list without actually switching to another channel – a second push of the OK button is needed for that to happen. For every channel the associated frequency and polarization is shown.
With the left cursor button an additional menu can be called up with which you can access a Favorites list and the channel list. The remote control really doesn’t need a Satellite button anymore.
With multiple satellites, channel management becomes a little more awkward. Moving and deleting channels can only be done with the entire channel list displayed; it might get a little confusing to keep track of what channel goes with what satellite.
This problem is somewhat solved by the fact that each channel keeps the same channel number regardless of what list you happen to be looking in at that moment.
With every channel change an Info bar appears at the bottom of the screen for 3 to 30 seconds (user-settable) that provides:
– the name and number of the channel
– the name of the current program
– the name of the next program
– the date, time, audio and language Channel $ display
– availability of EPG, teletext and subtitles
– name of the satellite, transponder and frequency
– signal quality bar graph
This Info bar can also be called up with the Info button.
A second push of the Info button displays a description of the currently running program. This data can also be viewed along with a thumbnail image of the current video by pressing the EPG button.
The EPG can show program information for five channels at the same time for a week in advance, as long as this data is available in the first place. A10-event timer is integrated into the EPG to make it easy to pre-program up to ten different programs.
The teletext function is quite sophisticated: every page is automatically downloaded by pressing the yellow Teletext button. Every page can there-fore be accessed instantly when needed. The cursor buttons let you switch pages one at a time or by the hundreds just as fast.
Not all of the DiSEqC protocols are available. DiSEqC 1.0 lets you connect up to four fixed antennas and there’s a helpful tool included to calculate azimuth and elevation for every satellite that can be seen from your location.
Satellite Receiver Imperial SatBOX HD For motorized antennas up to 16 satellite TV positions can be set up manually with DiSEqC 1.2 or automatically with USALS.
The channel scan can be set to search by satellite, transponder, DVB-S or DVB-S2, FTA and/or encrypted channels. The scan itself is quite fast: HOTBIRD was completely scanned in roughly four minutes.