Customer Review

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Satellite Recorder which works well in Standard definition., 8 May 2012
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This review is from: EchoStar HDS-600RS SlingLoaded TV Anywhere Freesat+ HD digital TV recorder (Electronics)
Finding it hard to persuade my wife to get an HD Television, I decided to add to our existing Talk Talk IPTV/Freeview PVR with an HD capable model and hopefully convince her later to add an HD TV to watch the HD channels that Freesat provides. Consequently, this review will cover how well the HDS-600RS works with an SD TV. I will add to this review as and when my wife is persuaded to go HD!

The unit arrived well-packaged from Amazon with all the leads required for HD, as was to be expected, but no SCART lead for SD connection. Having leads of all types in a box under the bed this was no problem, but bear this in mind if you are buying to connect to an SD TV.

Once all the leads were connected I plugged the unit in and it ran through the connection wizard. Including a satellite download of the latest firmware (121R), this took about 15 minutes. All channels having been found, the picture proved to be excellent, as I was getting a good signal from the satellite feeds. On screen text in the programme guide and the information bar can be difficult to read as it is designed for HD, but there is some adjustment that can be made to text size if required.

Recordings are indistinguishable from the broadcast pictures and you can still watch and record HD channels with an SD television. Presumably, there is some sort of downscaling going on, as the picture is not cropped in any way. Nothing is mentioned in the manual regarding this. I am going to record films in HD so they can be viewed in their full HD glory at a later date.

The auto recording setting seemed to work quite well in my test recordings, with only a late-night programme having the beginning missed. To be safe, as I hate to miss part of programmes, I have used a timed recording to add minutes to the beginning and end of scheduled recordings. This seems to work intelligently even when recording 2 programmes on 2 channels back-to-back. Each programme was complete with no overlap, so the unit presumably took the broadcast end 'signal' of the first programme to tell it where to put the break, ignoring my minutes added in that situation. This worked okay even on BBC1 with no large gap between programmes for adverts.

According to forums I have read, there was a manual recording function that has been removed from the latest firmware - I won't really miss it, but you might. As Freesat+ is supposed to work with an EPG and provide series linking, this probably won't be a problem for most users. When recording some programmes the Echostar also advised of similar programmes that I might like to watch! Where this is a programme you were going to record anyway, it is a time-saver. If the programme doesnt appeal to you, then you can just ignore the suggestion.

Non-Freesat mode is present and works, but it is awkward to set-up and use. I expect most people wouldn't even bother. You have to add each frequency separately and any channels that have a presence on Freesat aren't added, so you can't just keep the box in Non-Freesat mode and access all Free to Air channels. You need to change modes via the menu system. I suspect this is a requirement of the Freesat specifications - you don't want to charge channels for inclusion on the EPG and then find the box treats all channels equally.

The sling function also works well, especially inside your house, directly accessing your home network. It willwork via Wi-fi and 3G, but obviously you are then restricted by the speed of the upload provided by your internet provider. Using the browser or the Android app (I couldn't test the iphone app) you basically have access to all the functionality you would have sat in front of the TV with the remote control. In a browser, the website installs a small extension that gives you a full remote control overlay. This make it simple to use. This works well in Google Chrome, giving you access to everything. I would imagine it works the same way in other browsers. You can access the EPG, play or delete recordings or even schedule programmes to record - useful if you remember something you want to record and are out and about. In the Android app, the functions are accessed via several menus giving screen overlays. This is slightly more complicated, but necessary for a smaller screen. All this completely takes over the box so nobody in the house can use it. Not a problem for me, as I work nights and can access the box when my wife is asleep!

Lastly, a quick mention of Echostar Customer Support, who have been excellent. I had two minor problems when I set up the unit. Firstly, when I put the unit into standby, the broadcast continued for several seconds and then the picture froze. Not a problem if turning off the TV, but odd nonetheless. Secondly, the LIB button which gives access to your recordings library, also increased the Treble on my TV, so I would have to reset it. You can access the Library via the menus, but the single button is obviously quicker. I emailed Echostar after 8pm and the fixes for both problems were in my inbox the next morning. A factory reset - required because of the firmware update - resolved the standby issue (it now stops all output to the TV as expected) and I was given a procedure to change the 'address' of the remote so it no longer clashed with the TV remote's settings. Excellent customer service and a much faster response than I have ever got from any electronics company. Well done Echostar!

In conclusion, I would say that the Echostar is an excellent Freesat PVR and I look forward to trying out the HD functionality in due course. I will update this review when that happens.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 May 2012 18:54:19 BDT
D. Dresser says:
Excellent and very thorough review. Please keep us updated with any firmware updates.
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