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Echostar HDS-600RS - feedback

Discussion in 'Freesat Forum' started by Mick_OC, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    Well, I took the plunge and binned Sky after over 15 years of using their service (Sky, Sky+ and Sky HD). Why bin them now you may ask? Well the £52 per month seemed less and less value for money to me due to the fact that I didn't have the sports package (no I'm not interested in the sports channels), and the premier movies were mostly repeats so we niether watched or recorded that many.

    So after many hours investigating, I went for the Echostar and have to say I am very impressed, yes it takes getting used to after Sky, but after a day or so it becomes very familiar, the family can now use it without any issues.

    The box has taken a lot of flack because of its looks, OK its a subjective thing but I was pleasantly suprised when I unpacked it, it looks a lot better than the photo's and is smaller than I thought - and very light, it looks pretty damned good in fact!!

    It worked straight out of the box, 10 mins or so to install which included automatic image update over the sat - all very easy. The remote control takes getting used to if you're a sky user, but it's well laid out and a lot lighter in the hand. I thought the 'learning feature' was very neat and worked off the bat. Also very quick and responsive.

    The box peforms very well, it's virtually silent - unlike my sky amstrad box (you'd have to stick your ear against this to hear the disc). I've recorded numerous programmes without a single failure or missed minutes.

    When you hit a button on the remote, it responds immediately, the fast forward is excellent as is pause etc.

    Also set up the sling feature to test and it worked immediately, without any issues (use power adapters as router is in different room) - very impressed with this feature, although it wasn't the reason for buying.

    One final point is the support, I have asked a few questions pre and post sales and echostar are very responsive.

    So far, very happy customer :)
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  2. bighfishing

    bighfishing Member

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    ive got to agree with you i think mines great, the good thing is its going to get even better, echostar see this box as a project and this is just the beginning. they have guaranteed me there are some very exciting new features coming, but couldn't tell me what for obvious reasons. as you say they are very helpful whether it be by email or telephone i have always had very good support from them. you just don't get this type of support from some of the larger companies like samsung and panasonic.
  3. laughingmike

    laughingmike Member

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    Great, I had all but decided on the Samsung before I saw this thread, LOL. I don't have a laptop or smartphone so the slingshot isn't of much concern, but I'm swayed by the 2 positive reviews and the mention of updates!!! Samsung £200 against Echostar £280.......mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm:rolleyes:
  4. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    Can't comment on the samsung as never looked into it, all I can say is that I've used this box a lot and recorded quite a lot of stuff without a single glitch. It does take some getting used to for Sky users but if you have half a brain cell it's pretty easy to adjust. The iPlayer service is pretty good, not watched a movie on it yet, the picture obviously isn't as good as HD but it's near as damn it SD quality, a tad slow to respond but I guess that's because it's on demand. I could have bought it elsewhere for £280 but decided to pay the £20 extra for the 2 year guarantee from John Lewis.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  5. bighfishing

    bighfishing Member

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    someone called The Fat Monk put this review on amazon today. it is a very thorough and informative review better than most professional reviews so i have copied it and pasted it on here, even the bad bit about quality control, which is funny because the first one i had rattled a bit, but my second unit was perfect.

    i wonder if the author posts on here as well, anyway here it is its quite long-

    i thought it better to copy and paste rather than just show a link as its very good information, logi if this is a problem just delete.



    First of all, this is a great piece of kit. Feature-wise it is absolutely superb, I've yet to find it lacking in any feature I would want - and that's after about a month of using it.

    It's not without it's faults, though - hence the four stars. I'll get to the faults later as there are many positives to mention first.

    THE BASICS

    This is a FreeSat HD receiver and PVR. That is, it receives free to air satellite services (no subscription required) on the Freesat system in the UK including HD services and allows you to record them directly on the box (no external recorder like a VCR required. This means that it is the Freesat equivalent of Sky+, or Sky+HD to be more accurate.

    In addition to this receiver / PVR functionality, this box also has the SlingMedia / SlingBox system built in. This system allows you to 'watch your own TV' anywhere you have internet access. This is different to Sky's "Sky Go" system which a allows you to watch over the internet some of the same services you have subscribed. The Sky system, I believe, streams the programmes from Sky to your browser, whereas the Sling system actually streams the programmes from your own Sling box - in this case the Echostar HDS-600RS.

    This Sling functionality means that not only can you watch all of the TV channels that you can watch on the box at home over the internet, but you can also watch your recording over the internet. What's more, you actually get the full EPG and system menus etc. in your browser window - it really is as though you were sat in front of your TV at home. Well, almost. The quality of the picture you get on your PC - including the on-screen menus and EPG - depend very much on the 'uplink' speed of your home internet connection (remember most ISP give you a reasonable download speed, but a tiny fraction of that speed for uploading!). Therefore on-screen text can be pretty difficult to read, but it is still usable, and in most cases it's not the text/menus you are watching - still it will be something to consider for some people.

    You'll gather from the above that in order to use the SlingBox functionality in the HDS-600RS you are going to need a broadband connection - that will be obvious to some, but maybe not to everyone looking for a FreeSat receiver so I figured it's better to mention it.

    In the pictures the box looks pretty ugly - that's Sling styling for you, all sling boxes are that funny wedge shape. I guess it's branding, but it's not particularly nice, and coupled with the shiny in places plastic case I thought this box was going to look awful. When I opened the box it didn't look great, and the red flash down the sides just looks cheap. However, when hidden away under the telly it actually doesn't look awful - the red lights on the front buttons are a bit on the bright side though, especially in a darkened room.

    AS A FREESAT RECEIVER

    This box scores very highly as a Freesat HD receiver. It has twin-tuners so you can record one programme and watch another at the same time, or even record two programmes at the same time so long as you are not trying to watch a third).

    Picture quality is excellent in both SD and HD, and surround sound is supported on both the S/PDIF optical digital audio output and the HDMI connection.

    The programme guide is nice and clean, and nice and fast - this is quite often the let down in any set top box, but Echostar have done well here. O pressing the 'Guide' button you are presented with a list of categories of channel. You can, of course, just select all channels to view the lot, but the groupings are pretty sensible so can speed up finding the channel you want. There is also an option for 'On demand' services which include the BBC's iPlayer and other 'catch-up' services to launch soon.

    One feature that I really like is the fact that the SCART output remains live when an HD output is set on the HDMI output. This is useful when, for example, you have an HD capable projector with HDMI connectivity and a CRT TV without. Many set-top-boxes and BluRay players, for example, disable the SCART output whenever an HD output is selected on any output due to the fact that they don't have down-conversion capability. This is a very welcome feature in this box as it allows the box to feed a CRT TV (or 'second TV') in SD for regular viewing, and the big telly in HD via the HDMI connection for big viewing.

    The choice of channels available is down to FreeSat, not this box, so I won't go into that here. If you want to know what is available head over to www.FreeSat.co.uk for the latest channel line-up.

    As a PVR

    Recording a future programme is simply a case of pressing the record button on the remote while that programme is selected in the guide. Pretty standard stuff, so good to see it hasn't been messed with. Series linking is also supported, with the option of recording a single programme or a whole series popping up when appropriate when you press that record button. Of course manual recording times can also be set.

    A library is kept of your recordings which can be accessed by hitting the 'lib' button on the remote. Oddly the manual record function is not available this way, to get to that you have to choose the 'library' option on the main menu (accessed by hitting the sling logo button in the middle of the remote.

    Recording seems pretty robust with both individual recording and series linked recording working reliably. You may want to tweak the over-time record settings though as the default has cut off credits on a couple of my recordings... a few more minutes would be safer.

    SLINGING

    The Sling functionality works well. I didn't have any problems setting this up, just head to watch.slingbox.com with your favourite web-browser and follow the prompts. You should do this from your home network first to make sure everything's working, then when you want to connect from a remote network for the first time make sure you have your slingbox id (found in the main menus under the slingbox settings) handy as you'll probably need that in order for the sling systems to find your box.

    As previously mentioned you control the box exactly the same way you would sat in front of the TV (even with an exact replica virtual remote on screen). The quality will more than likely depend on your uplink speed from home to the internet, unless you are using a mobile / netbook / iPad / whatever to view over a 3G network or something slower / flakier (yes, there are mobile applications for apple, android and WM6.5 and 7 for viewing your Slingbox!!!). One other thing to note is that services such as iPlayer are not available through the slinging - this is probably a rights issue as it would potentially circumvent the BBC's iPlayer restrictions on only being able to view iPlayer content in the UK (actually a content owners restriction placed on the BBC rather than the BBC themselves).

    INSTALLATION

    If you have an existing Sky installation with a spare LNB output (that's the plugs on the bottom of the bit sticking out of the dish) - or preferably two spare - then setting up this box is simply a case of plugging this box into the LNB output(s), into your network (homeplug network interfaces are a good option, and you don't need to go to the expense of buying the Sling branded ones), plugging in the mains, switching on and following the on-screen prompts. If you only have one spare LNB output the box will still work, though you'll only be able to record/watch one channel - you need two LNB connections to record one while watching another (or record two channels simultaneously).

    Network-wise the box will look for a DHCP server by default, and this works seamlessly so you'll probably just leave that alone unless you have specific network requirements in which case there's a menu for setting your network parameters. Pretty basic, but it should be enough.

    One thing to note is that you don't seem to be able to do anything at all with the box without an LNB connection. Everything here is presented as a satellite service even the BBC iPlayer so you can't just hook up the box to the network and fiddle with that. Not that you are likely to want to, but I was still setting my dish up and wanted to have a look at the menus - not possible until you've got some services/channels loaded into the box's database.

    BEYOND FREESAT

    When you first power on the box it will look for the default FreeSat transponder. I couldn't find a way of getting to any setup menus at this point as I've mentioned, but once the box is tuned and up and running a quick dig around in the setup menus reveals an option to switch the box out of FreeSat mode. This means that this box can actually be used as a free-to-air satellite receiver for any DVB satellite network. If anyone knows how to access this menu before having tuned into FreeSat services, feel free to post a comment to ths review as it may help someone out.

    CAPACITY

    The box comes with a 500GB hard drive which the manufacturers claim is good for around 300hrs of SD recording and 100hrs of Full HD recording - the use of 'Full HD' being a little misleading here as there are currently no 'Full HD' (ie 1080p) broadcasts in the UK. That said, 500GB should get you around the 100hrs of HD recording as broadcast here in the UK at present.

    Should that not be enough for you, however, it looks like upgrading the box's storage may be quite a simple affair. The HDD in the unit is a standard Hitachi 500GB SATA model which should be easily swappable by anyone with a bit of home PC maintenance experience. The box's firmware may not recognise any expanded storage, and you may need to do a raw disk clone if Echostar have done anything fancy to the disk and I haven't actually tried this, but in theory at least it's physically very straight-forward.

    THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

    Well we've had the good but ugly, so what's the bad?

    When I opened the packaging, this receiver rattled - never a good sign. On closer inspection I spotted a loose screw rattling around inside the unit - it was visible through the fan vent at the back. Alas it wasn't possible to shake the screw free as the unit is pretty well sealed. Even loosening a few of the case screws wouldn't free it due to the loose screw being inside the shielding case inside - ie rattling around with the components, circuit board and mains!

    So, off came the warranty sticker and I delved right in. It turned out that the screw was one of the Hard Drive mounting screws that had come completely out - but that wasn't all that was wrong. (I've taken photos and uploaded them as user images shown with the Amazon product photos - take a look). Another HDD mounting screw was very loose and almost out, the SATA power cable was disconnected (how did it pass QC with this connected?!), and one of the fascia mounting pins had been fitted incorrectly.

    Putting these things right was a simple job - though my warranty is now defunct! - but the fact that a unit in this state could pass Echostar's quality control is rather worrying.

    Build quality concerns aside, there is another worrying little problem that I have seen reported here by another user as well. Remote control of the box dies every so often. This is not a problem with the remote, it is a problem with the box - a hard reset of the Echostar box itself fixes it every time. Ths hard reset loses all of your saved settings and any scheduled recordings (though not any previous recordings, they stay in your library). I haven't been able to track this problem down to a definite cause, but I have a couple of prime suspects at the moment. It could be down to HDMI 'hot-plugging' (or more accurately the switching off and on of display devices connected to the Echostar's HDMI port - my amp for example has an HDMI switch built in which effectively disconnects from the Echostar when I switch to another source) or it could be down to using other non-related remotes in the vicinity of the box. Either way, I just hope Echostar track the problem down and fix it with a firmware update as hard resetting is a bit of a pain.

    IN SUMMARY

    All in all this is a very good box. If it weren't for the build quality issues I had and the dying remote then this box would get a resounding 5 stars. It wouldn't be right for me to ignore these problems, however, so only four stars I'm afraid - and that is a really great shame for a box with so very many good points.

    [As well as the review, I've uploaded the photos of the faults with my box and a general view of the box's innards for anyone that might be interested - they are up the top of the Amazon listing as user images along with the official pictures]
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    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  6. Nic_Forsyth

    Nic_Forsyth Member

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    Hi,

    So far, its a great box but I have a few questions for other owners...

    Is your box silent? I can hear a slight whirring when the sound is low.

    Does the aspect ratio expand slightly during some adverts even though it shouldn't?

    Is itv hd sound slightly out of sync?

    Are the menus and epg soft when in 1080i but Sharp in 720p?

    Is the epg very slow to move left and right?

    I've also noticed the aspect ratio for all channels are slightly squished horizontally making everyone look slightly thinner? I compared this with the same broadcast on freeview.

    Any feedback would be gratefully received.

    Cheers,

    Nic.
  7. bighfishing

    bighfishing Member

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    hi Nic,

    no box that has a hard drive and a fan is totally silent i am afraid. i compared the echostar with both the humax hdr and a panasonic dmr-xs380 freesat recorders when i owned them, and they are both very often reviewed as being silent, and i would say all three make about the same amount of noise which is just a slight whirring you should only really be able to here late at night with low volumes. i am afraid this is normal and the best you can expect, but it shouldn't ruin your viewing experience.

    i have no problem with aspect ratios, what do you have the box set to and what tv have you got?

    i find the echostar the best box i have ever owned in terms of lip sync problems, i hardly ever get any at all its one of the main things i like about it, but with other boxes i have owned i did used to get some and must admit it was often on the itv hd channel, i have heard other people complain about itv hd as well so it is probably the broadcast rather than the box. next time you are watching something with lip sync problems post it on here and i will check mine, i am on line almost all evenings.

    i always find the menus very sharp, even on 576p.

    when moving the epg left or right is always instant. you do have two lnb's connected don't you?

    i would check all your settings and connections, you really should have sharp and fast menus and no aspect ratio problems, let us know what tv you have and what ratio you have the box set to.
  8. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    My box is virtually silent, you can hear the disk sometimes but it's that low it's not enough to bother me, it's is a LOT quieter than my Sky HD box (that was constant wirring which was very annoying).

    I set my HD to 1080i in the picture settings (not auto), for me the pictures are always spot on - HD is superb, and SD is excellent (assume it up-scales?).

    I've had one ITV HD recording (Harry Potter) that was out of sync through TV but fine when played through the amp. Not had any other out of sync issues since then and have recorded quite a few ITV stuff... suspect it is the channel signal rather than the box. You can try playing with the sound delay in audio settings, not sure if this will help (mine is left as default)

    I have also noticed that volume is lower on HD channels, but assume this is something to do with the broadcast.

    No probs with aspect ratio or EPG speed - very quick.

    I have had a couple of lock-ups, usually when trying to get out of BBC iPlayer - anyone else had that? Powering the box down and back up sorts it.
  9. Nic_Forsyth

    Nic_Forsyth Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks alot for the replies.

    I agree with your comments about the harddrive noise and you're right, it doesnt spoil my enjoyment. Its good to confirm I am experiencing the same as you. I agree its quieter than sky as mmy old Sky box was more clicky and far more noticable.

    I have solved my aspect ratio problem. i have a Panasonic P42G20 and had aspect ratio set to Auto. Once set to fixed 16:9 sorted this problem. I should have done this first!

    The epg left and right movement problem still exists.There is a about 1 sec delay from pressing the button to responding. I have 2 connections, both have good signal strength. I have had no problems recording and view another channel.

    What's weird about the lip sync problem is that anything I have recorded from ITV HD has been fine. I only seem to have a problem when viewing live broadcasts. Weird. Although I really need to conduct some more tests. Was I lucky with the actual broadcast being in sync? Was the box in standby before recording? So I'll keep an eye on this over the next week.

    The menus are only slightly softer in 1080i, my wife does not notice, but I do. Again, its just a minor niggle, call me picky! Maybe its my TV's picture in 1080i that's causing it? I should say though, that HD pic quality is great and do not notice a difference in the picture, just the menus and epg. I tried noticing the difference between 720p and 1080i on HD broadcasts and was struggling..... but something in me doesnt want to set to 720p as I feel I may be missing out on something, stupid I know!

    Mick_OC, my iplayer has locked up may times, in fact I dont think I have been able to exit properly. The implementation of iiplayer is awful on my box. Really really slow, I'd say unusable. I have compared with with my G20 and this is much better in terms of responsiveness. I think there is plenty of room for improvement for this feature.
  10. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    I find the iplayer functionality a bit clunky and slow, but once I'm in there and watching something it's fine.

    Are you running the latest firmware?
  11. bighfishing

    bighfishing Member

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    if i were you i would send an email to echostar with your experiences of bbc iplayer any thing else you think they should know about, they really do respond to feedback and try and help and they always get back to you.

    you are running on 119r aren't you? (mick beat me to it)
  12. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    bigfishing, do you know if there's a way of skipping adverts when watching a recording?
  13. Nic_Forsyth

    Nic_Forsyth Member

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    I'm running 19r, which I think is the latest version. True, iplayer runs well once it's there but getting there is a bit of a struggle. Shame there is no HD on iplayer yet.

    All things said, its a good piece of kit and would recommend to anyone.
  14. bighfishing

    bighfishing Member

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    just by using the skip forward and skip backward buttons, you can programme them in the settings menu for how many seconds you want them to skip. you can choose from 5, 10, 20 or 40 seconds.

    i find it works very well.
  15. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    Ah thanks, will give that a go
  16. bighfishing

    bighfishing Member

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    i find it works best 40 seconds for forwards and 10 seconds for backwards just incase you go a bit too far.
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  17. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    Does anyone know how to add non freesat channels such as Sky news?

    I've gone into the tuning menu and done a manual scan for 12207 Freq and 27500 Symbol but it doesn't work.
  18. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    Ignore above - sorted by selecting vertical, now working! :)
  19. richgoga

    richgoga Member

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    Can anyone confirm if the red lights on the front panel can be turned off, or dim automatically, etc?

    I've read that the Sling lights can be disabled, but I can imagine the others would be distracting at night.
  20. 375 driver

    375 driver Member

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    Hi.
    The red lights are quite dim when the Echostar is in use. They only glow bright when you press them.
    When the Echostar is in standby mode only the power button glows along with the clock.
    Stu.
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  21. bighfishing

    bighfishing Member

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    i will second that the lights are quite dim as is the display. i read an online review once saying the lights were very bright, i couldn't believe what i was reading. i am one of those people that are easily annoyed by bright lights and the echostar has never bothered me once and it is right in front of me on the top of my tv stand.
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  22. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    Same with mine, I also saw that review and was suprised. My lights are dim and do not bother me or any family member, even if we decide to watch a film sat in the dark :)
  23. candg

    candg Member

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    Has anyone tried DNLA file sharing on this model yet ? I assume it will handle this. If so what is the streaming video quality like ? Also am I right in thinking it has ITV on demand too ? Are there any plans to make this smart app enabled ?

    Cheers

    Graham
  24. Jack_is_Back

    Jack_is_Back Member

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    Can anybody confirm if this (or any Freesat+ HD box) can record two channels whilst you are watching another?

    It's something I do quite often with my current Sky box and would want to maintain this functionality.
  25. grahamlthompson

    grahamlthompson Well-Known Member

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    afaik no Sky box has the capability to watch a third live channel while recording two. Any twin tuner pvr will let you watch an existing recording while recording two. If you mean you can use your TV tuner to watch a third that's nothing to do with the Sky box.

    The Foxsat-hdr has the capability to offer some third channel viewing while recording two depending on the channels being recorded.

    If both channels being recorded are from the same transponder then any third channel is viewable (and time shiftable)

    If both channels being recorded are from different transponders then any channel sharing a transponder with either recording can be viewed.

    The same pvr can also record two and watch a third using only a single lnb connection (This restricts 2nd channel recording to around 45% of the total channels available for most 1st tuner recording choices)
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  26. Jack_is_Back

    Jack_is_Back Member

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    Sorry, yes, I meant record two whilst watching another recording.
  27. grahamlthompson

    grahamlthompson Well-Known Member

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    In that case they all do this. Replaying an existing recording does not need a tuner.
  28. Jack_is_Back

    Jack_is_Back Member

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    Cheers Graham.

    Most manufacturer websites just state "watch one channel while recording another" so I was a bit unsure.
  29. Mick_OC

    Mick_OC Member

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    Just like Sky, the box allows you to record two channels, but you have to watch one of the channels being recorded or leave it on one of the channels being recorded whilst you watch a pre-recorded programme from the library. It has a dual tuner.

    You can of course record two channels and watch a 3rd by switching to a digital channel using AV (assuming you also have an aerial) on your TV - again something I used to do when I had sky albeit pretty rarely.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  30. whiteswan

    whiteswan Member

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    Ratings:
    +24
    Hi

    Had box for a couple weeks now and remote stopped working.

    Rang Echostar (w yorks - normal telephone no - not 0845 etc) - they gave me email address to contact echostar in Netherlands - which I did.

    They responded in the hour that they would despatch another remote to me - in the meantime they suggested some key presses to connect remote to box again - and it worked !!

    Brilliant support from echostar when Amazon whom I purchased the box from just told me to return it.

    Pic is brilliant whilst viewing directly from the box and remotely - doesn't work with my slingcatcher unfortunately but thats the only negative - off to states in January so that will be the real test.

    Dave

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