Digital tuners that combine terrestrial and satellite receivers. What are your experiences of them and do you have any hints how to get the best out of them?
 
Freeview and Freesat, all in one box!
The combination of terrestrial and satellite tuners in one unit is great for keeping cables to a minimum and seems an obvious starting point for a versatile PVR. But what's available and are there any disadvantages?

 2005/09/15
The Fortec Star Lifetime Diamond was (one of) the first to offer the comination of DVB-S and DVB-T. It was let down by its picture and sound quality.

Others followed, including the Digenius TVBox ST6CI and Technomate TM-4200, both offering superior video and audio quality. More will probably follow with the introduction of Freesat.

The Finepass FST-3200 DR Combo PVR seems to have vanished, but I believe Echostar have one on the way.
Astra 1 at 19.2°E Full transponder list of tv and radio available on Astra 1, with links to broadcasters' websites. Comprehensive satellite list of both digital and analogue transponders. The best quality (mostly German) free-to-air TV.
Astra 2 & Eurobird 1 at 28.2°E/28.5°E Free-to-air Sky channels (Freesat) - lots of sex, shopping, religion and quizzes!!!
Eurobird 9A, Eutelsat W3A/W2A... Other satellites serving Europe, Africa & Middle East.
FlySat Transponder information for Analog and digital satellites.
Freeview Digital TV News Update News on new channels joining the Freeview lineup. We also post news of any other major Freeview and Top Up TV developments here.
Hot Bird at 13.0°E Lots of TV and radio, mostly Italian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, African & Asian. See more shopping, sex and religious channels than ever before, some compressed right down to just a few pixels!
Linowsat Frequency, PID, Resolution and Bitrate data for satellites 28.5°E - 1.0°W.
List of channels free-to-air at 28E This is a list of all of the free-to-air channels that are currently available via satellite from SES Astra satellites located at 28.2 °E (Astra 2A/2B/2D) and Eutelsat's Eurobird 1 satellite at 28.5°E.
List of channels on Freesat A List of the TV and Radio channels available on the Freesat satellite television service EPG, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
List of channels on Sky Digital Not all free, but a more up-to-date list which includes Sky EPG numbers and those channels testing off the EPG before launch.
List of channels on UK Freeview This is a list of the current channels available on the Freeview television service, those coming in the future and those that have left.
 
A Lifetime Diamond or a Digital Partner for Life?
A user's comparison of the Fortec Star Lifetime Diamond & the Technomate TM-4200 Combo, with general hints on how to get round some the problems common to both these receivers.

 2007/10/02
As often noted in reviews the Lifetime Diamond suffers from relatively poor picture and sound quality, which can be optimized by keeping its volume level at maximum and outputting the picture in highest resolution, and the latest software doesn't pillarbox 4:3 fullscreen broadcasts for 16:9 widescreen televisions, so you have to do any format adjustments yourself. The TM-4200 Combo, on the other hand, does not suffer from any noticeable background noise, and offers not only clearer composite video, but also RGB and S-video outputs, though you will need to reset the S-video option each time you switch on the receiver.

Both suffer from some intermittent tuner interference. This is not too much of a problem with the TM-4200 with only some analogue TV stations being affected, so taking the aerial signal through any VCR or other tuner BEFORE the receiver means a clean analogue signal is still available, for recording or using teletext/videotext. I have also found a TV signal booster on the UHF input of the receiver will elimate the interference, so it may only be an issue in weak signal areas, or as in my case, with loft-mounted aerials.
With the Lifetime Diamond the interference seems to be due to some interaction between the terrestrial and satellite tuners, with it being possible to lessen the effect by tuning satellite to a transponder with a different symbol rate when watching a terrestrial channel, or by tuning terrestrial to a different multiplex when watching a satellite channel. Alternatively, reduce contrast and brightness on your TV set to whatever degree is needed to make viewing acceptable!

Both have a remarkably similar system for tuning and sorting channels - in fact the operating manuals are virtually identical. There are some advantages to each, with the Technomate giving better integration in it's channel list sorting, while the Fortec Star's option of skipping data channels is an advantage with multi-satellite systems. They both suffer from the same problem with the reading or storing of audio PID information in certain circumstances. See separate posting for more on this!
Combo Channel List 240 Freeview and FTA satellite channels from Astra 1, Hotbird and Sky Freesat (Aug 2009).
Direct Electronics Home Electronic Specialists.
DVBSHOP Network and Television GmbH Great Prices on LNBs and other digital satellite equipment, sent from Germany.
Fortec Star Welcome to the official FORTEC STAR® Web site.
Freeview Combo Channels 120 Freeview and FTA satellite channels from Astra 1, Hotbird and Sky Freesat (Aug 2009).
Short Transponder Lists Best of the FTA satellite transponders from Astra 1, Hotbird and Astra 2 (Aug 2009).
Technomate Welcome to Technomate UK.
 
TV Channels losing Audio on your satellite receiver?
Both the Fortec and Technomate Combo recievers compared on these pages, suffer from the same problem with the reading or storing of audio PID information, after use of the channel delete function. What ways are there round this?

 2006/02/16
I found that the language channel chosen on multi-audio TV channels, though usually stored and saved consistently, sometimes changed to another audio channel, most often reverting to the default 'language1'. This might be one of the other available audio PIDs, or in some cases an 'extra' unrecognized audio PID.

In the case of multi-audio channels this was not a big problem, as it just meant resetting the audio channel as required. However when it happened with single-audio channels, this option was not available. If it were it would save a lot of hassle retuning channels!
It does seem that a small change in the way audio PID information is stored and retrieved, particularly after using the delete channel function, could solve this problem. Maybe by comparing the actual and default audio PIDs and offering the lanuage change option if it differed, or by incorporating a 'reset channel' option. The channel information shown in the channel list (Technomate only) is unchanged, and a new scan will not overwrite existing identical information. So what other options are there?

I found that sometimes a reboot of the receiver would restore the audio, but more often than not I had to delete and retune the corrupted channel. The problem here was that the delete function seemed to move the problem to another channel, often on the same transponder, with the reboot solution sometimes (but not always) working on the newly corrupted channel.
An alternative, which avoids the use of the delete channel function, is to enter the channel PID info in the advanced (manual) search, and then skipping rather then deleting the corrupt channel. Though there is the extra hassle of having to name the new channel yourself, it does not seem to affect other multi-language channels. I notice that channels found in this manner will not have teletext or EPG.
With this in mind, I would be very wary of using the delete function at all, unless absolutely necessary - skip unwanted/defunct channels instead. Once I'd cleaned up any corrupt channels without deleting anything, I've had no problems with audio PIDs!
 
User hints for the Technomate TM-4200 combo receiver
Various user's operating observations for the Technomate TM-4200 Combo receiver. These relate to the Teletext and Subtitle function, aspect ratio and TV channel list editing.

 2006/02/19
Teletext: while not the most powerful teletext function, I have found it useful on some channels (eg CNN and CNBC) which cause problems for the television teletext decoder. However I used to find it rarely available and a reboot of the receiver will stop it working.
I have found that a scan of certain transponders on certain satellites will restore the teletext function. Astra 2 seems to give the most consistent results, though it does depend which transponder you scan, with Astra 1 the least likely to. Hotbird tends to give varying language options for the subtitle function, though I've not found the subtitles to function to any useful degree anyhow!

Aspect Ratio: when switching to radio the letterboxing or pillarboxing of pictures in the non-selected aspect ratio is turned off.
This can be useful as a quick aspect ratio change for non-anamorphic widescreen broadcasts or those Sky channels which don't seem to know what aspect ratio they are!
You can revert to normal aspect ratio by accessing and then exiting the channel list or EPG.

Channel List: if you like to sort this by hand, the lack of an option to skip data channels means you can end up with hundreds of unwanted channels. To shorten your channel list, reset the receiver and edit the transponder lists to only include those with channels you want, adding any new ones that are not in the default list. If you only want one channel and can do without teletext or EPG, skip the transponder and do an advanced scan to find/name the individual channel.
When scanning make sure to exit the scan before it starts to scan all the other networked transponders it has found!
 
Vantage 2nd generation, 1st impressions
The Technomate started losing channels and finally completely died, so after about five years, it was time to look for a replacement. I eventually settled on the Vantage X221 TS CI USB, buying it from HM-Sat-Shop though the amazon.de marketplace.

 2010/05/28
When it arrived, the model sent was of a different finish and specification. In order to avoid an expensive return, I decided to at least try it out. The second time I switched it on it was dead - not a good first impression!

I contacted HM-Sat-Shop, who asked me to return it, stating that under their guarantee (as published on amazon.de), they would cover the postage costs. Rather than replacing it, they repaired the receiver (faulty power supply) and sent it back to me. No sign of any refund, no help from amazon, I eventually got the £30.49 shipping cost refunded by my credit company.

As for the receiver, it is clearly a generation on from the Technomate, with more powerful processor, and I am mostly happy with it. The pros are:
Ability to handle dynamic PIDs,
Flexibility of channel list editing,
Good picture/sound quality,
Useful range of media/time settings,
Auto clock update (not in standby).

However, apart from my problems with the purchase of the receiver, the cons are:
No loop-through of UHF for TV reception (analogue or digital),
Poor attention to detail of layout on epg display,
Clock (in standby) loses about a minute a day,
Auto aspect ratio setting no different from 4:3,
- and last, but by no means least -
Reception of frequencies 11645 at 13E and 11642 at 28E (It was taking up to 10 minutes to find a signal, with some LNBs better than others - no problem with the same setup on an old Fortec makes me suspect an issue with the Vantage. Strangely once I'd got the refund, I was able to receive the Hotbird transponder, and usually getting the Sky Freesat on within 10 seconds ... all in the mind?)
GROBI TV Box ST7CIHDGB Digitaler SAT- & DVB-T Empfänger mit 320 GB Festplatte.
Satellite & Digital Services Limited (SDS) Satellite Receivers including the FTe Maximal PVR ST190 CI HDMI Combo Receiver.
Technisat MultyMedia TS 1 Der MultyMedia TS 1 ist ein digitaler Kombi-Receiver für die Empfangsbereiche SAT und DVB-T.
Vantage Digital Vantage website for user forum and latest software.
 
Vantage Channel List downloads
One advantage of the Vantage satellite/combo receivers is that channel lists can be backed up to a PC and easily edited. These can then be uploaded via USB stick or serial cable.

 2010/12/03



The 9 favourites channel lists can be ordered independently of the full channel list, giving good flexibility, and the ability to edit channel lists on a computer makes this quicker and easier.
The 2 pieces of software available from Vantage do not seem to be totally compatible with one another however, and I have found the vantageeditor_v0.6 to be the more powerful. It allows one to redefine channels as TV or Radio as well as to add new ones manually, though I found it more reliable to copy in channels and edit parameters. I only use the ChEditor2.3 for downloading raw scans from the receiver. Once edited in the vantageeditor_v0.6, the ChEditor2.3 has problems reading favourites lists, but can probably be still be used to upload the list to the receiver. The USB facility is a more convenient option.

Any Channel list is out of date almost as soon as it is published, so these lists are never completely up-to-date or accurate. These lists include most FTA channels and the latest versions have the main 100 or so channels either sorted or copied into the start of the channel lists. I hope they are of some use as reference or for a quick channel setup.
Main Combo Channel List 312 channel favourites list, from satellites at 19E, 28E, 13E, 9E, 7E and UK terrestrial DVB.
Main Satellite Channel List 260 channel favourites list, from satellites at 19E, 28E, 13E, 9E, 7E.
UK Free Combo Channel List 260 channel favourites list, from Sky Freesat satellite at 28E and UK terrestrial DVB.
Vantage Compact Channel List Download 780 FTA TV + 390 radio stations, from 19E, 13E, 28E, 9E, 7E and UK terrestrial DVB, updated 19 Mar 2011.
Vantage UK Free Channel List Download Compact Channel list with all UK free TV channels, updated 19 Mar 2011.
 
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