Conaxsat Trio Initial Review

SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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May 22, 2004
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Since this box does FTA, divx video and PVR, I am going to do a general review of the unit, then the FTA portion, then PVR capabilities, then Divx portion.

Mods: I didn't post this in the review section cause I am not sure of the rules for that forums. Feel free to move if it is ok there.

The Look and Feel:
In the box, I got a receiver, remote, batteries, A/V cables (RCA), manual, 64meg flash drive.

The Trio is a pretty slick looking unit out of the box. It feels very solid and well put
together. It's bright blue light on the front is kind of annoying in a dim or dark room, but other than that, it looks very modern. The unit I have is black, I don't know if they make a silver version. The two front USB ports are hidden behind a door (1 for USB files and 1 for divx files, they are independent and labeled with their function)

The remote is a bit different than I am used to with FTA boxes, but then again, this is a PVR receiver. Overall, it feels comfortable and doesn't require any crazy finger movements to get things done. While navigating in the menus I found the remote is fairly decent. It's not the best, but the unit responds well to it

Hookup was pretty straight forward. I just zero'd my motorized setup, unplugged everything and disconnected my receiver and hooked up the Trio and plugged stuff in and powered it up.

A nice feature, but not a big deal, is so far, this unit appears to have an actual Real Time Clock

OSD, Menus and PQ:

Nothing ground breaking here. Graphics are nice, I believe they are 16bit color. Main menus are basic blue/black/grays with some splashes of color corresponding to the fuction keys on the remote.

Picture quality is very nice. I used the component jacks to hook to my TV and I feel the PQ is better than my pansat 3500.

On to the FTA portion of the receiver.


Unit boasts all the stuff we expect from most FTA boxes so I won't go into it as it is all on the website.

Biggest function for me FTA wise is motor control and blind scan, so I will discuss those first.

I setup my receiver to use USALS. Inputting the info was a bit cumbersome and the on-screen info was not explained well, but a bit of trial and error and I had it all setup.

I usually BS AMC-3 first when I play with stuff. It's close to my TS and I know what is up there by heart pretty much so I know what to expect immediately.
Scanning AMC-3 was interesting. Blind scan function is like you are doing a sat setup all over again. It's like the box forgot what settings I put in for AMC-3 earlier in the sat setup. So again, I have to put in what diseqc port and what type of LNB I am using. There is no polarity selection that I can find either.
The BS results were weird to me. The unit finds TP's and channels in 1 step and lists them in the resutls TV/Radio boxes. What was odd is the unit found all the TV channels just fine, but also found over 50 radio channels which were actually just 9 channels repeated over and over.

Blind scan time for this bird was very slow as the unit goes in 6mhz increments and does the channel discovery at the same time. So I guess overall the time is only slightly longer than my pansat 3500 which does the TP discovery, then goes on to a second part to get the channels.

I went on to scan other birds and found out that the blind scan portion is almost like a secondary setup for each sat. It seems that the original setup screen is only part of each sats setup. I also found that the unit seems to identify Data channels as such in the radio section when doing BS. Also, the radio station repeating bug seems to happen on any sat with a radio station or data channel. Another example being on G10r, the unit found over 1000 radio channels, in bunches of 252 in each repeat. When it finds these things, it seems to bog down the scan for a few seconds. Maybe there is a way to turn off the radio scan portion of the BS, but I have not found it yet.

I'm sure questions will come up from BS and I'll try to address them as you ask them, but for now, I will just say other than a few bugs, it does work as well.

Now on to motor control. I can sum it up pretty easily. IT WORKS! At least the USALs does. Diseqc controls work, but intermixing diseqc settings with usal settings seems to confuse the receiver and it got lost and I had to reset it. Keeping all Sats USALs was dead on no matter what I did to this thing. I even turned it off while moving from G10 to SBS6 and when powered back on it was like nothing happened and the dish resumed moving to SBS6 and stopped dead on. I have not done an all diseqc setup but I suspect based on the 2 sats I setup disecq wise with no USALs that it does not work correctly yet. Receiver got lost
after using diseqc postions moving from one sat to the other. It seemed to move slightly further each time I told it to go back and forth between AMC-3 and AMC-5. Each time I had to using the motor movement more and more to bring the dish back to correct spot.

So I give USALs support a big thumbs up and diseqc motor control is something to avoid right now.

On thing to note is AC-3 decoding is spotty. It works only some of the time and almost never works when switching from one AC-3 channel to another, I had to constantly change to a non AC-3 channel then back to get sound.

As a footnote, I tried all this on a Universal LNB and a dss lnb through a 4x1 switch. Unit had a few issue with the swithing from C to L a few times and I could not reproduce it regularly, but to summarize, it seems to forget to switch back to L when leaving a C signal. Going to C from L didn't have a problem. To fix it, I had to go back into setup and save the L sat settings of the sat I was on again. 22khz switch seemed to work prefectly.


PVR portion:
Let me start by saying this is a single tuner unit, so no watch one, record another channel.

Overall the feature is pretty neat, plug in a USB hard drive or flash drive and go into the USB menu's and it will format the drive for you. Otherwise, you have to format the drive as Fat32. After that the funtionaliy is like any DVR. Use the rew/ff, record, play etc buttons like any DVR that I have used in the past. On my tests, audio sync was not a problem.

The unit records in .TS format and with one of a few codec's easily found by googling, I could watch recordings on PC AND burn them to DVD. I was also able to play them in Win Media Player no issues.

To burn to dvd, I used VideoRedo to edit the .TS file, then saved it as a VOB. VideoRedo also saves in other formats, but vob's work best for me when I want to burn to dvd. I liken this to my Tivo's. I cannot directly burn to DVD without a utility. Again, I use VideoRedo and it works with the Tivo desktop software to natively play and edit the .tivo files. I don't consider this a big issue and kind of expected some sort of small conversion to burn to DVD. I do like the fact that a quick codec search and I can watch the .TS files easily on my PC.

Option in menu's for Timer recordings but that did not seem to work. It would start recording, but would not move to correct sat. So it would just start recording on whatever sat it was on. I don't think this feature is done yet, at least I hope not, otherwise the timers are useless. Even setting one was confusing. I may not have done it right, thus causing the no movement issue, but I am going to say it is a software issue cause of the oddness of the timer setup.

Let me also add that it does NOT automatically buffer whatever channel you are on, so no trick play functionality. The unit must be on for a recording to work. It does not seem to power the USB ports unless it is on.

Divx features:

This is pretty interesting. The unit actually has a button on the remote to change the device to Divx mode. I have a few divx files on my PC and I copied them over to a flash drive. I plugged the drive into the front port specifically for divx files and put the box into divx mode. Pressing the button automatically reads the front Divx port. I select my file and it starts playhing. All PVR/DVD style controls work as expected. According to specs, the Trio actually has 2 processors and 1 is devoted to divx side.

The part I think is really nice feature is in divx mode, the box has the option to upconvert over componenet whatever file you are playing. I must say that overall I think it does a fairly good job also considering some of the videos I had did not have much to work with. Possible resolutions are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i. There is also a NTSC setting that does not state resolution but it turns the whole picture a shade of blue.

I have not tried all file formats yet, but any divx/xvid supported format works. Also any mpeg file I tried worked flawlessly and upconverted as well. I also loaded a personal video recording in mpeg format we made at Christmas and the Trio played it flawlessly.

One bug I did experience in divx mode was to not exit divx mode while playing a file. You have to stop it first and get back to the directory listing first. Exiting divx mode while playing a file results in the unit locking up when you next go back into divx mode. I had to pull the plug to reset it. This is definately a bug as I could reproduce it every time.

Also, it appears that going into divx mode turns off the FTA side. At least it turns off the FTA-PVR functionality as I tried to record a PBS channel and then go to divx mode and the HD light stopped flashing on the recording.

I would like to upload some pics, but my camera is not available at this time (wife has it on a trip).

Also, let me add as this just came in...
Earlier this week, I contacted conaxsat and they responded to me tonight while I was playing with the Trio. I asked them about a few things to expect and such. They answered all my questions, but also alerted me that the firmware is still in beta technically and many things are being tweaked (such as AC-3 and diseqc). They also added that file format compatibility is being tweaked for the divx side and that routine updates for new formats/codecs will be added as needed. I guess only time will tell. They did extend to me an offer to be a beta tester and I think I will take them up on it.


To answer some of the questions that were asked
It does not seem to handle 4:2:2.
I answered a few of Anole's questions already I think. I didn't address the AC-3 over RCA, but I did not try it. I will put it on my list after they claim to have fixed the AC-3 issue.
Anole, just to restate the hardware compatibility part. The unit worked fine in with USALs with motor (sg2100) and a 4x1 switch or a 22khz.

I'm sure I'll learn more about it as I play, but so far this is my experience. Feel free to ask questions and I'll attempt to answer them.
 
Anole

Anole

SatelliteGuys Master
Sep 22, 2005
11,819
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L.A., Calif.
wow !

Incredibly comprehensive first look at the product !

Keep us informed as you do more tests, and as you evaluate new firmware.
Sounds like this and the sister model (Duo) are real winners.


Bit of a surprise that it can't read divx format from the hard drive.
And that the FTA and divx sections won't both operate together.
As I was considering the model without he divx, that should pose no problem :cool:
 
Labgate

Labgate

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 9, 2004
182
0
Thank you

Great review

I was hesitating about this receiver and maybe I'll wait a little more, even if the pvr part is very interesting.

Could you tell me if it supports diseqc 1.1 ?

Best regards

Labgate
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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May 22, 2004
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Anole:

I can read divx from a hard drive, if you plug it into the divx port on the front. It'll read pretty much anything from the HD if you plug it into the front divx port.

Labgate:
There is nothing anywhere mentioned on 1.1 so I don't know.

I am not as versed with the diseqc revisions like many of you are, but I can say diseqc switchng seems just fine if no motor is involved. I have a couple stationary sats setup and it switches between them just fine most times. A couple times though if I switched to a weak TP, it seemed to not switch properly. So I had to change the channel to a strong TP , then go back to the 1st sat, then switch back again and it was fine. I am sure this is part of the diseqc stuff they are working on.

I noticed last night that since the unit had 3 usb ports, it "auto-detects" when you tell it to read from USB in FTA side. Kind of annoying if you have a hard drive in the back and flash drive or another drive in the front. It does have an option to choose front or back, but only after it screws you up auto-detecting.

I am going to bring up the FTA-PVR stuff while in divx mode problem when I get my beta login info and bug report stuff. The more I thought about it, the more that is annoying. It should keep recording while in divx mode since it's a single tuner and I can't watch anything else while recording, so I might as well watch some divx files. Since it has dual processors, it should be able to handle it just fine, at least I think it should.
 
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SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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To add to the new stuff I found today:

You CAN watch one channel while recording another. I found that after starting a recording, if I press the OK button, a list comes up of other channels on the same TP and I watch any of those channels while recording. While not a true dual tuner setup, that is a pretty nice feature IMO for sats like G10 with many decent channels on the same TP.

Also, I just got my first beta software and it appears that the divx portion and fta-recording work simultaneously now. :)

Also, it appears they are working on a buffer type setup for pausing/rewinding live TV.

From everything I am reading it seems that there is really no finalized software yet, whatever is on the website is still beta, but is the most complete beta they have, so they have it as an official release. Many other fixes/functions are in the file I am playing with now.
 
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voomvoom

voomvoom

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May 18, 2004
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Good, Good, and Gooder. I like most of what I've read so far (with the exception of No 4:2:2), but keep your results coming. I find it all, Very Interesting! Nice Review...

Al
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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May 22, 2004
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Wanted to update a bit:

The file I am playing with has some really nice motor control and the timers are working great now. It's nice being able to record stuff on G10 on the nights I head off early due to early work schedule.

What I am really REALLY liking is the DIVX stuff. I know it doesn't flip everyones switch, but this thing will play any file I have thrown at it and the upconversion is solid to say the least, even with badly compressed files. Obviously, the unit is not perfect with some files. Garbage in, garbage out.

One thing I have noticed so far is the unit does produce a bit of heat, so it's best not to put anything on top of it or keep it in a tight enclosure.

Built in channel editor kind of sucks and I can't edit them in channel master as of right now, but I read that CM support is being considered.

Also, I like the feature of completely saving your whole system configuration to a usb stick or the hard drive. Sometimes when doing firmware upgrades you lose everything on other receivers, this nice saftey feature saved me some time a couple times already. Not a big deal overall, but it's a nice feature.

I'll continue to post as I learn more and play more.
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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Yeah! I have AC-3 audio now from optical port, nothing from RCA ports.
 
digiblur

digiblur

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Jun 8, 2005
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Wanted to update a bit:

What I am really REALLY liking is the DIVX stuff. I know it doesn't flip everyones switch, but this thing will play any file I have thrown at it and the upconversion is solid to say the least, even with badly compressed files. Obviously, the unit is not perfect with some files. Garbage in, garbage out.

Nice to see a satellite receiver get this functionality.

You sound like me when I first fired up my modded XBox with XBox Media Center several years ago. I was like a kid in a candy store..throwing ISOs, AVI's, MOV's, everything I could think of at it and it played them perfectly.
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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Ok, I forgot to do this and the_wizz reminded me.

Here's some pics of the unit front and some of the menu's. I didn't take any shots of the actual picture output as it always look bad on pics, but the PQ is really very good.

Remember I am not running the official website version of the software, I am running a pre-release version as I was selected to participate in some beta testing after contacting Conaxsat and asking some questions on the unit. I only took screen shots of the menu's that I was ok'd to take. Not that anything is top secret, but since it is not released to the public yet, features may disappear or change.
 

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T

the_wizzz

Member
Apr 25, 2005
9
0
thanks! it looks really great!

is it possible to have a pic of the main menu so we can see what is on offer

thanks
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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May 22, 2004
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The main menu really won't tell you much, it has limited main options that expand into sub-menus
1. Channel Manager
2. Motor/Diseqc setup
3. OSD setup, user settings, time
4. USB utilities, timer settings

I recommend taking a look at the website to see the official specs and features.

Is there something specific you are looking for that maybe I can answer for you?
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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Well, I think the firmware is getting ready for a real finalized release soon. Maybe another couple weeks.
  • Motor controls are working great when changing sats.
  • Blind Scan issues have all but been corrected (just a few minor things with low SR stuf) no more hundreds of bogus channels on the radio side.
  • AC3 output is working great.
  • PQ was tweaked I think, PBS's on AMC3 look amazing for SD.
  • System doesn't choke on HD channels or 4:2:2 channels during Blind scan. I can get some pic and perfect audio on 4:2:2 feeds, HD channels I get a RED screen, then flickers to white, but I get the Audio from the HD channels.
  • Remote control sensor seems improved than I first reviewed.
  • Timers are working correctly and Audio is in sync when recording (this was an issue before)

Now it's mostly polishing it a bit. Features I have requested are mostly in the blind scan area and channel editor. I want to see a polarity selection in blind scan, SR selection. Also, the channel editor is still crappy(really the only way to describe it) and no CM support yet.

I think this will be my last post for this box in the review. Honestly when the new software is relesed I would not hesitate to recommend the Trio or the Duo to anyone. In my limited experience with FTA (Coolsat 5000, Fortec Merc II, Pansat 3500sd, Captiveworks and my ultra I got on cheap), THe features of these units for the prices is pretty good IMO. Especially the multimedia features of the Trio.
 
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T

then

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Jun 18, 2006
31
0
Just curious. Has the new software (non-beta) been released? Have the features you requested been implemented? Could you please give us an update?

Thanks
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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May 22, 2004
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Most all features are now in the official release. Version 1.8 on the website. It is a pretty nicely refined unit now. Still has some growing issues (as I would expect with some of the features, but I am happy enough with it that it is hooked up full-time to my motorized setup now. Blind scan is working very well and catching almost everything (does miss occasional small SR feeds) and doesn't have any bugs related to data channels.

There was also a flash update for the divx side on the TRIO, added quite a bit of functionality and features to divx playback.
 
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T

then

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Jun 18, 2006
31
0
Is the channel editor still lousy? Does it have CM support yet?
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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May 22, 2004
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Man, I missed the post (vacation)

just to update:
CM is better, I do all my editing onscreen now. No channel master support that I know of, but that is not Conaxsat's ability to fix afaik.

I am running version 5 of the factory software, not sure why it still has 1.80 on the website. But that is not my decision. If you look around the web, some of the legit sites have version 5.0 for download. I think this is like viewsat was doing. Not updating the website, but units were being sent out with new version.

Blindscan is much like a fortec now. Multiple stepping options, SR range selections, polarity selection. It is grabbing stuff that it missed before with low SR.
 
SatinKzo

SatinKzo

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May 22, 2004
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Rumor has it that a true buffer setup to an attached drive is coming. Similar to how dish dvr's and tivo etc buffer 30 minutes at a time automatically.
 

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