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TEST REPORT HDTV Satellite Receiver

AB IPBox 900HD
Promising feature-loaded
multisystem Linux-based
HDTV PVR receiver
ABCom has already positively surprised us with several brilliant
IPBoxes recently. Such Linux-based receivers are especially
valued by the satellite enthusiasts, who love to experiment. Man
g re
c ord
At the same time, ABCom designed its own firmware in a way, ing

that it would be understandable to all family members.

Hardcore DXers always had a rich variety of alternative
firmware variants to choose from.

Perfect HD receiver both for a family as
for the satellite enthusiast

But time doesn’t stand still,

more and more attention is
attracted by HDTV nowadays.

Number of living rooms, where
the prime position is taken by a
plasma or LCD TV-set, is grow-

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Pl a
P 3s
f ro
B don
gl e

i n g
cally. Of course,
HDTV receivers also started
to appear, but most of the early The
ones left the satellite enthusi- “ yo un g e r ”
asts unsatisfied. It took quite brother, as we
a while, before really power- first thought, would be less
ful HDTV boxes could hit the impressive, then 9000HD. This
market. started to prove wrong already
from the moment we opened
However, ABCom, which has the box, delivered to our test
a major experience in manufac- lab. It looks much more com-
turing Linux-based receivers, pact, then 9000HD, but is also
succeeded to go even further. stylishly designed, and features
What about a box, that could an easy-to-read matrix VFD dis-

TELE-satellite World

Download this report in other languages from the Internet:
handle it all? Both HDTV and
SDTV, in DVB-S and DVB-S2.
play in the middle of the front
panel. With a help of seven but-
Arabic ‫ﺍﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬ With a possibility to quickly tons, located right under it, you
Indonesian Indonesia replace the satellite tuner and access the menu, change chan-
Bulgarian Български
Czech Česky make it receive cable and ter- nels, confirm selections, adjust
German Deutsch restrial transmissions. With the volume, all basic functions
English English
Spanish Español a user-friendly PVR, network are perfectly covered, should
Farsi ‫ﻓﺎﺭﺳﻲ‬ connection and all other good- something go wrong with the
French Français
Greek Ελληνικά ies that the penguin used remote control.
Croatian Hrvatski to bring to the Linux-based
Italian Italiano
Hungarian Magyar receiver owners? This was the The bottom left corner con-
Mandarin 中文
Dutch Nederlands
idea behind the two “broth- tains the standby button, while
Polish Polski ers” - IPBox 9000HD, that we the right one - a magnet-held
Portuguese Português
Romanian Românesc presented in one of the previ- flap, which covers two CI slots,
Russian Русский ous issues of TELE-satellite, providing access to encrypted
Swedish Svenska
Turkish Türkçe and 900HD, which gets a closer transmissions. The rear panel
Available online starting from 28 November 2008 look in this article. is simply loaded with connec- — 12-01/2009 — TELE-satellite & Broadband 51

part, we got here an E-SATA port, screen menu, audio, subtitles and
and even a 5V output to supply teletext. There is a lot to choose
your external HDD with power. Now from - English, Russian, French,
that’s what we call “caring about Italian, Dutch, German, Danish,
the user” ! Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, Norwe-
gian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish,
We had contradicting impressions Swedish, Greek, Turkish, Korean,
about the remote control at first. Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian.
Yes, it’s also packed with buttons,
Firmware update over the Internet
but some of them are located in Second step lets you set up the
places, where you wouldn’t expect current date and time, and choose
them to be at first. But once actual whether you’d like to have it auto-
tests started, we could get used to matically set in the future. Third
it amazingly fast. Actually, it was screen finally gets you closer to
so logic to locate the “Menu” and channel reception, in case of a sat-
“Next” buttons to the left and right ellite tuner, this is the place where
side of the cursor keys respec- you have to enter the parameters
tively! Already after initial setup, of your system and program the
your finger would intuitively search satellites you plan to receive.
for them there, raising a question, Even an advanced system should
why hardly anybody ever thought be no problem, since all DiSEqC
to organize the buttons so logically versions, 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3
before. Each part of the remote (USALS) are supported. LOF can be
control has buttons grouped for a freely changed for every satellite,
special purpose - either for the PVR so even an exotic LNB would work
Main Menu
controlling, for the channel list orga- perfectly.
nizing, for accessing the multimedia
features etc. But the good part from Once all the basic satellite data
the previous ABBoxes’ remote con- is stored, press the yellow button
trol remained - you can easily pro- to proceed to the Channel Search
gram it to control also your TV-set. menu. Here you have the two
Quite a large list with various TV expected options - Manual or Auto-
models can be found on the last 11 matic search. The latter just asks
pages of the user manual. you, whether you’d like to have
only FTA, only Crypt channels, or
Which, in its turn, also deserves both, and if a network search would
some good words. Every single make you more happy, by filling the
menu item of the official firm- list with as many channels as pos-
ware is explained in details. With sible. That’s all it takes here, just
a step-by-step installation guide, click “Search” and have a cup of
you won’t get lost, even if it’s the coffee. Or not? Since ASTRA 19.2E
Satellite Configuration first receiver you’re ever installing. position was fully scanned in 5
Several connection variants are minutes, resulting in 1092 TV and
also clearly explained, and, in case 217 Radio channels. So if you just
you ordered a terrestrial or a cable can’t wait to get that picture on the
tuner as well, full channel versus screen, you’d better stick around!
frequency charts are included, so
you won’t have to google around In case of the manual search,
for this information. you’ve got all the options you need
for locking to DVB-S and DVB-S2
Initial Setup transponders, with modulation
(QPSK or 8PSK) and special FEC
Once the mains plug of IPBox
variants for the latter. Entering
900HD gets into the electricity
PID codes is possible in a special
socket in your home for the very
menu, and IPBox 900HD has no
first time, you’ll land in an instal-
problem with SCPC reception, Cal-
lation wizard, which will first try to
abria Channel from HELLAS SAT 2
clear the language issue, offering
DVB-S2 Manual Channel Search at 39.0E with SR of just 1425, was
you to select preferred
locked in a flash!
languages for
tors. Let’s start with the main power the on-
The on-screen menu is logi-
switch. Since the box we got for test-
cally organized, you can find
ing was equipped with DVB-S/S2
any needed option in a
tuner, there is an IF input and the
couple of sec-
loop-through output, USB, RS-232 and
Ethernet ports, one Scart-connector,
three RCA jacks for video and audio
output, another three - for YUV video
output. Since we are talking about a
HDTV receiver, HDMI socket couldn’t
have been left out. S/PDIF output is
also useful, if you pay extra attention
to the audio quality. As for the PVR

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onds. For example, the AV settings Everyday Use
screen, where you can select the
Once the channel search is com-
aspect ratio, TV system (SD-PAL,
pleted, IPBox 900HD attempts to
SD-NTSC, 720p-50 Hz, 720p-60 get the picture from the last chan-
Hz, 1080i-50 Hz or 1080i-60 Hz), as nel it succeeded to store. Should it
well as the parameters of the Dolby be unavailable for whatever reason,
Digital audio. just press “OK” button to access a
perfectly thought through channel
Installation of the AB Boxes that list. It might seem a bit minimalistic
we know wouldn’t be complete with- at first, but try clicking around, and
out connecting it to your home net- you’ll discover that it’s quite fea-
work, or directly to Internet. In case ture-loaded. Pressing the red button
you have a router, just connect the once or several times lets you sort
IPBox 900HD to it with an Ethernet the channel list in different ways -
cable, and you’re set. DHCP should by alphabet, by package, by satel-
Automatic Search
take care about all the IP address lite, by provider, FTA/encrypted.
setting hassle etc, but if for what- FAV button toggles between the
ever reason it doesn’t work, all the main list and favorite list display,
parameters can be set up manu- by default there are five - Sports,
ally. If you’re connecting directly to Drama, News, Movie and Music, but
the Internet, ADSL user information you can create as many new ones as
take just seconds to be entered. At you wish. However, to add channels
the moment it can mainly be used to them, a special menu should be
for the convenient software upgrade called, where the main list and the
from IPBox favorite group appear at the same
900HD automatically logs in to the time, so it’s not enough just to mark
FTP server, offering you several the needed channels in the main list.
firmware versions to choose from. Returning to the channel list itself,
pressing an “i” button allows you to
You can forget about all the trou- delete, hide, lock, rename or move
HDD Setup ble getting the latest software to the selected channel, and, what we
your receiver via RS-232 or USB especially liked, adjust it’s default
port, the needed files downloaded audio volume. It can be so annoy-
and installed earlier then you can ing, when zapping around you end-
realise it. And this makes sense, for lessly have to adjust the volume on
example, in the latest firmware ver- your TV-set or the receiver, because
sion, ABCom added the support of the providers didn’t care to make it
FAT32 file system for the MP3 files perfectly equal. With IPBox 900HD
and images you have on your USB it’s a one-time work to program it,
dongle, so an endless search for and you would never have to worry
nfs/ext formatting and access utili- about it again.
ties for your Windows-based PC is a
nightmare to forget. The hard disk Talking about zapping, it might
for recording transmissions still has not be surprisingly fast, but still,
to be formatted in ext, but this is channel changing time will not get
something IPBox 900HD can per- disturbing. It ranges from 0.5 up to
Information screen with recording in progress fectly take care of. 1.5 seconds, depending the chan-

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nel pair considered. It’s longer in the football match you’ve been
to go from one HDTV channel to watching. Just “pause” it, and once
another, located on a different tran- you’ve done talking, your favorite
sponder, and almost hardly notice- football players wait for you right
able between SDTV ones within the where you left them. As for the
same transponder. Once the chan- other recordings, you can quickly
nel is chosen and IPBox 900HD access them, by just pressing the
locks to it, you can enjoy the per- “Envelope” button on the remote
fect picture and sound, provided by control
this receiver. But when the broad-
caster goes for a commercial break, EPG is available in two variants
you can play around a bit. Pay some - the simplified “list” mode, and
attention to the buttons in the in the full “program guide” mode.
third top row of the remote con- Click “EPG” once or twice for each of
trol. Pressing the right one allows them respectively. Make sure you’ve
EPG in List mode you to select another channel from set the correct time in the Local
the same transponder, and its live Time Settings menu, and you can
picture appears in a small window easily check what’s on tonight, or
in the bottom right part of the what your favorite movie channel is
screen. Two pictures can be made going to show on Saturday evening.
equally big by the leftmost button, The “list” mode actually lists the
the second left button can move the upcoming events for the selected
smaller picture around the screen, channel, with a possibility to get
and with a second right button you extended information about each
can switch channels - the “sub- of them, by pressing the “i” button.
channel” becomes the main one, The “program guide” mode shows
one more click - and it goes vise- neighbouring channels as well, you
versa. To exit the PiP mode, press can easily navigate between the
the leftmost button again. It’s worth programs, channels and days of
noticing, that besides watching two the week, and even search for the
channels from one transponder in program you’re interested in, by
EPG - program details such a way, the third one can simul- actually typing in its name. Pretty
taneously be recorded. convinient, isn’t it? But, although,
cyrillic and other special characters
PVR would also hardly disap- are perfectly displayed, the search
point you. You think there is just function is restricted to latin only,
one “Record” button and that’s it? which is somehow understandable.
No way. Besides the most obvious
path, you can select the programs As for the multimedia features
to be recorded in the EPG, by man- that we’ve already mentioned,
ually entering the start/stop time, there are two special buttons on
or you can pre-set the time shift the remote control, clearly read-
buffer, first watch the show, and ing “Music” and “Photo”. They pro-
then decide, if you want its record- vide quick and direct access to your
ing stored. Timeshifting can also be media files, stored on a USB dongle,
helpful if, for example, you receive hard disk or at a
an important phone call, but don’t specified net-
EPG in Program Guide mode want to miss some exciting moments work loca- — 12-01/2009 — TELE-satellite & Broadband 55

tion. MP3 player might look shows, that ABCom is busy
simple, but it perfectly does working on improving it. But,
its job. And, as also already the beauty of the whole thing is
mentioned, the latest version that it’s a Linux-based receiver!
of firmware supports FAT32 Alternative firmware is already
for the USB sticks, so you no starting to appear including
longer have to worry about for- even the legendary Enigma. A
matting it in a less popular file video of a first Enigma HD test
Expert Opinion system.
Upgrading the firmware to the
version can be seen at their
+ most actual version also helped So although it’s more a family
Promising feature-loaded Linux-based receiver curing some hangs that we’ve receiver at the moment, we can
for HDTV and SDTV, supporting satellite, cable experienced during the early already expect its full potential
and terrestrial reception, depending on the stages of our tests. It clearly to be uncovered soon.
installed tuner.
Satellite tuner that we’ve tested is quite sensi-
tive. Ovsyadovskiy
No family member should have problems with TELE-satellite
Test Center
operating it. Hungary
Logically designed remote control.
Support of FAT32 for the USB dongles.
Built-in power supply for external hard disks.
Adjusting an average channel audio volume in the channel list.
Extended searching possibilities in the EPG.
User-friendly PVR with timeshift.

900HD, compared with its “older brother”, 9000HD, can have
only one tuner at a time installed, but for a regular home usage
this shouldn’t be a big problem. However, it still would have been
nice to leave a possibility to install the HDD “internally”, so users
upgrading from IPBox 250S or 350S could just move their HDD
with recordings into the new 900HD, and get immediate access Adjusting the channels’ volume in the list
to them.
Minor issue, which can hopefully be fixed in one of the coming
versions - 900HD doesn’t detect the DRE-crypt CI module, which
is widely used in some East European countries.

ManufacturerABCom s.r.o., Gogolova 1, 95501 Topolcany, Slovakia
Tel +421-38-5362-611

ModelIPBox 900HD
FunctionDigital Linux-based HDTV PVR receiver for
DVB-S, DVB-S2, DVB-C and DVB-T reception
Channel memory 10000
Symbol rate1~45 Ms/sec. SCPC reception with SR of just 1425
DiSEqC1.0 / 1.1 / 1.2 / 1.3

A/V output3 x RCA

YUV output3 x RCA Apparent Power

UHF outputno
S-Video outputno
Active Power
0/12 Volt connectionno
Dig. Audio connectionyes Mode Apparent Active Factor
StandBy 23 W 14 W 0.61
Ethernet portyes
Reception 31 W 19 W 0.61
USB 2.0 portyes PVR 33 W 21 W 0.63

RS232 interfaceyes
C/Ku band compatibleyes

Power supply110-245 VAC, 50/60 Hz Starting with a switch-on peak the box stays 15 min in StandBy, then regular
receptions starts for another 15 min. Then an external HDD with its own power
Dimension300x60x240mm supply is connected to the USB and PVR is started.

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