AZBox - a history of the new contender. (1 Viewer)

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zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
New Linux based STB AZBox is raising in popularity in NA. N3 implementation left many FTA fans without new toys, as local demand and supply of quality new STBs dropped drastically. Becoming a sat fan requires in-depth knowledge, skills and plenty of time, hence retirees are often on a forefront of this demanding hobby. Sadly, many of these good people are not adept in HTPC building complexities and other PC based solutions, requiring PCI or USB Sat. TV tuners to watch FTA. Hence interest to a Linux based STB, which combines traditional look and feel with a lot more challenging feature set. On top, its perceived to be a European made brand, developed for NA market and imported from Europe to NA. Some former sat pirates coming to FTA camp and getting gradually involved with the hobby, and Sat. TV enthusiasts and feed catchers also seems to show interest in AZBox. Other FTA fans, mostly interested in ethnic or religious programming, may be less inclined to select and learn this more complex and expensive STB, delivering features they won't use anyway.

Among others, I get curious enough about the phenomenon and the 1st popular Linux STB behind it to ask a question: Who's behind AZBox, who developed the STB, who makes it, improves its firmware, delivers it to us? As always, the "delivery boy" tries to hide his product sources, so the excurse below is expected to be incomplete, and needs your factual input and commentary. :)

IPTV and networked Media Players become very popular and in huge demand in recent years. South Korean company Celrun quickly became the leader in fast growing IPTV Media Player field due to super fast internet access in SK, delivering Telco grade equipment and solutions. Celrun offers a series of very sophisticated and highly popular IPTV STBs to end users. One of the most bright among them was Linux based TD9000 now superseded by TD920H. Celrun developed attractive and convenient GUI (Graphical User Interface), making the Linux based STB user friendly and feature reach.

"With this leading technology, Celrun delivered its end-to-end solution for SK Broad&TV (formerly hanaTV) which is the first commercially deployed IPTV/VOD service by SK Broadband (formerly hanaro telecom), the 2nd largest telecom operator in Korea. SK Broadband has been delivering high quality content to huge number of IPTV/VOD subscribers within the very short time which is regarded as new outstanding record in IPTV history all over the world. This record-breaking success is based on CelrunTV solution, the robust end-to-end IPTV solution powered by Celrun."

Another SK company DGStation decided to partner and capitalize on Celrun's success by adding Sat TV and OTA reception capabilities to Celrun's TD9000. They partially redesigned TD9000 for hardware expandability, like adding new tuners as they become available, or a SATA hard drive for high bitrate recording. Initially it was planned to bring the new model series under Relook 5000+ and Relook 500 labels, exported by DGStation to Europe via a Luxemburg based GT-Sat company, known for its excellent LNBF models (see GT-Sat's Relook Specs attached). However, a newly created Portugal company OpenSat offered DGStation a better deal, and started importing two OEM Relook models from DGStation under AZBox Premium and Elite labels to Europe and Latin America. The deal with GT-Sat was scrapped, Relook label buried, and DGStation offered the same model under their own label Cube Revo with a modified faceplate. They keep developing new tuner models and hardware upgrades for both brands. Celrun continues to enrich its Linux GUI functionality, resulting in frequent firmware updates for AZBox line.

Exyusat Forum citation:
"TD9000 is discontinued product and is the base of Azbox, however they are very different HW. But some part of our software is protected under NDA agreement and we cannot open source, however we will try to prepare a pack of drivers that allow people to make their own sw and interface.

Best regards,

Hugo Condessa
OpenSAT, Lda. – C.E.O.

T: +351.251.656.134
F: +351.251.652.966
E: hugo@opensat.eu
A: Edifício Opensat, Lagoa, 4950-283 Mazedo MNÇ, PORTUGAL"

Satclones site posted an interesting review of AZBox Premium HD capabilities, which can be translated to English with Google Translate, and confirms AZBox is the CelrunTV's model derivative. At present AZBox DVB-S2 tuner is based on Connexant CX24116 Demodulator, which doesn't have a blindscan circuitry, hence there will be no hardware supported blindscan, until a newer DVB-S2 NIM tuner model is ever offered and driver support developed for its blindscan features, if any. Software routing based blindscan would be very slow with Sigma proc. to make sense implementing. Blindscan feature is not of high priority in Europe, and AZBox doesn't comply with NA certification requirements anyway, plus NA true FTA market capacity is quite limited, so its the lowest priority task on their agenda. AZBox employs SIGMA Processor SMP 8634, controlled by Linux Kernel 2.6.15 (Sigma-Arch) via CelrunTV developed GUI, accessible by a user with Remote Control.

Despite becoming a sole AZBox distributor, newly created OpenSat didn't have money to bring to Europe enough STBs due to fast growing model popularity, and even less funds to implement locally required firmware upgrades or US market required hardware changes, such as adding an OTA Tuner or blindscan circuitry. They partnered with UAI Inc. - the Dubai company with solid financial backing and branches in USA and Lebanon, the owner of SonySat STB brand based on IBM PowerPC STB chip series - to co-develop and jointly market their STBs in NA and LA. As part of the deal, AZBox STB will be sold through SonySat distributors in NA, once its models design complies with NA legal requirements. It can also be sold in NA under SonySat label with a different faceplate in parallel.

Ecoustics Forum:
"Sonysat & Opensat "Azbox" are working together to release the best HD STB on market.

Sonysat & Azbox will be Celebrating the launch for :

Sonysat DCR5500 Conexant CPU 216MHZ
Sonysat DGR3000 Gouxin 6102 212MHZ
Sonysat DSR6200 IBMPPC palas 450 HDMI

Azbox HD Premium Sigma Design CPU
Azbox HD Elite Sigma Design CPU

Visit us at 2009 International CES, Booth: South 2 26516".

Due to fast growing demand for AZBox and bigger STB shipments required, production has been moved from an OEM partner facility in SK to China, and currently carried by Shenzhen Dongsi Technology Co. AZBox brand owner small Portugal company OpenSat continues to be primarily a master distributor of this DGStation's STB, but is also getting involved in driver development for new AZBox Tuner models, Linux GUI add-ons, faceplate re-design for new models, and some AZBox hardware changes to accommodate locally required upgrades and bug fixes.

That's about it for now, when it comes to AZBox. Do you know more about the company behind this label, or want to correct anything you perceived as inaccurate? You're welcome to offer your own version of facts about AZBox origin in this thread. Don't forget to add solid weblinks as your reference sources to avoid looking misinformed. :) :up
 

Attachments

  • Connexant CX24116 Demodulator.pdf
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  • Relook 5000+ Twin Tuner.pdf
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  • Relook HD500.pdf
    1.1 MB · Views: 509
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gmd63

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Sep 3, 2007
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"Becoming a sat fan requires in-depth knowledge, skills and plenty of time, hence retirees are often on a forefront of this demanding hobby."


I don't fully go along with this statement. There is a lot of retirees doing this, but I find the biggest target base are the kids/teens of the early and mid 80's (and early 90's) who grew up in family with satellite dish and always kept the love for it.

I just bought the AZBOX Elite, can't wait to get started with it. Seems like a lot of people don't really agree on which firmware to use with it though. I would like to use the new one but many like the older better?
 
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Babadem

SatelliteGuys Pro
May 21, 2007
2,294
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MA
The AZBox Arrived like a storm. Everyone is feeling it's presence (in a good way) .......Nice write-up though!:up
 
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Mr Tony

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Nov 17, 2003
295
43
Mankato, MN
N3 implementation left many of FTA fans without new toys

N3 had NOTHING to do with the azbox. Before the azbox, the only receiver on the market that could do 4:2:2 feeds was the Quali-TV. The issues with the Q were that it was old, very limited options and had issues just totally blowing up (due to old age)

The azbox took care of one of the biggest issues the hobbyist wanted. What receiver could do 4:2:2, HD, MPEG4 and DVB-S2? Before it, there was none. You got a HD box like a Coolsat 8000 to do all but 4:2:2 and got a Q for 4:2:2

The azbox does it all (but blind scan)
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
N3 had NOTHING to do with the azbox. Before the azbox, the only receiver on the market that could do 4:2:2 feeds was the Quali-TV.
We may disagree on that, but I wouldn't say anything in absolute terms. :rolleyes: Once you install an appropriate codec, decoding 4:2:2 on a PC with an average proc. power and supporting MPEG decoding in hardware low cost graphics card is not a problem using a decent Sat PC Card, ensuring stable signal reception. AZBox pandemic has everything to do with true FTA fans desire to experiment with new challenging toys. From that point some people, not really involved with the hobby, just follow massive response from FTA fans on forums like this. However, AZBox sales will hardly reach the scale here, other known receivers did for better or worse. That's unfortunate, since the box is really up to the task at the moment. But other Korean Linux boxes are coming soon to NA with similar or improved functionality, its a common trend nowadays. It started from small pioneer STB design firms, and now has gone to mass volume production with major player. :)
 
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Mr Tony

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Nov 17, 2003
295
43
Mankato, MN
I'm not talking PC cards.....I said receivers. Before the azbox the only set top receiver that could do 4:2:2 was the Quali-TV. In most cases folks who steal Dish/Bell at that time could care less about 4:2:2 and probably had no clue what it was. They wanted their crappy Dish & Bell compressed HD.

So saying the reason the azbox showed up here was because of N3 is incorrect.
 

zamar23

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 5, 2009
1,204
1
Mid West
Local demand and supply of quality new STBs dropped drastically...AZBox pandemic has everything to do with true FTA fans desire to experiment with new challenging toys.
Ice, thanks for noting that. Though drop in FTA equipment demand affected every legit. STB importer in NA, thus delaying new STB introduction with advanced features like 4:2:2, etc. Similar concerns were voiced many times on this forum. I'm surprised, this is the only thing, you managed to notice about the report. :(

Btw, based on European forum reports, OpenSat is not a stranger to supporting "3-d party" coders, and digging into non-standard modulations, so I wouldn't be that idealistic about this brand. ;)

For those who still wonder what 4:2:2 Chroma Subsampling is, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4:2:2"][I][U]this[/U][/ Wiki article will certainly help.

"Because of storage and transmission limitations, there is always a desire to reduce (or compress) the signal. Since the human visual system is much more sensitive to variations in brightness than color, a video system can be optimized by devoting more bandwidth to the luma component (usually denoted Y'), than to the color difference components Cb and Cr. The 4:2:2 Y'CbCr scheme for example requires two-thirds the bandwidth of (4:4:4) R'G'B'. This reduction results in almost no visual difference as perceived by the viewer.

Currently variants of 4:2:0 chroma configuration are found in all versions of MPEG, including MPEG-2 implementations such as DVD (although some profiles of MPEG-4 allow higher-quality sampling schemes such as 4:4:4)."
 
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ikki

SatelliteGuys Pro
Lifetime Supporter
Jan 22, 2009
922
12
Minnesota
Seems like a really neat receiver. Once they get an ATSC tuner, hopefully as hot as the Pansat 9200 HD's tuner, I to will be jumping on the band wagon and making a purchase.

Has any one gotten inside the linux shell of this STB? What other services could we run on there?
 

guapoharry

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 19, 2006
1,423
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32ºN 111ºW
...I just bought the AZBOX Elite, can't wait to get started with it. Seems like a lot of people don't really agree on which firmware to use with it though. I would like to use the new one but many like the older better?

I always go with the latest stable firmware. (especially with a device like this where it is easy to go back)

If there's an issue in the base firmware that is driving me crazy, or a feature I'm dying to use in beta firmware, I try the beta version.

Why do people stick with older versions? What I have read is they see the firmware version changelog and think the newer verions don't help them. Also, if it ain't broke(n) don't fix it. Other than that, change is a scary thing...
 
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