Review: Geosatpro DVR-1100c

meinename

meinename

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 9, 2008
584
0
Portland, OR
What a box. With what time I've spent with FTA boxes, I spent my time learning FTA on the Coolsat 5000 and its sibling/twin the Coolsat 6000.
They are held as some of the best FTA/DVB-S receivers.
As for DVR's, I've only really used Windows Media Center and MythTV.
I figured the DVR-1100c had a pretty high standard to clear.

Arrival
=====================
Opened the box and found a remote, manual, RCA triple cable and the DVR-1100c.

Size-wise the box is approx. 1/4 inch wider than my Coolsats. Just enough to take notice, but not enough to be a bother.

Connectors
=====================
One USB on the back, a null serial interface, Component (YPbPr), S-Video (Y/C), Composite Video-outs, along with RCA Left/Right analog audio and a TOSLINK (optical) digital audio out.

It lacks a RCA/Coaxial digital audio out and a front USB port

Front Panel
=====================
The front panel is clean and smooth.
On the left 4 digit panel shows time, channel number, PLAY, or rEC depending on the unit's status
A red LED is lit for unit being in standby or when a remote keypress is received.
The green LED becomes lit when the unit is on.

A vertical blue light bar is lit when the unit is on. The color is similar to the blue that usually you want to cover up, but this is dim enough that it is completely unnecessary.
Below it is the front panel power button.

Behind the flip down panel on the right, the buttons for MENU, OK, Channel Up, Channel Down, Volume Up and Volume Down.
Above the buttons sit a Smart card reader. The documentation states that I can put a Viaaccess or Irdeto card in there and everything should work. (If it takes Irdeto 2, I'll be a happy camper since I'll be able to sub Setanta, at least in theory.)

Installation
=====================

First thing it asked me was Language and presented me with the North American standard of "English/Spanish/French"
After pressing enter it presented me with the most perplexing, yet pressing question.
Glorystar(Multi-Satellite) or Advanced(All-Satellite)
For the review I'll go through the Glorystar side as well but I originally chose Advanced when I got it

Glorystar(Multi-Satellite)
I was presented with a timezone selection.
Next the box prompted me with a real shocker. "Connect coax cable from Satellite dish to SAT IN." Of all the habits not to get into, hooking up a satellite system into a live box is a good way to fry parts.
After hitting enter, the screen showed what I presumed to be the signal screen. A dull pulse was coming from the speakers now. Hitting the blue button would silence it. Looking over the screen once more the system wants to be aimed to watch 3ABN on AMC4 at 101W

Too bad I won't get far with that. My system is such a mix that I'd be shocked that the defaults were the same.
Time to dive into the menus and see what we have in store for customization.

Menu
=====================

The Menu is divided into 5 sections,

Code:
Channel Manager | Installations  |    Options    |     Utility     |  Accessory
=================================================================================
Channel Manager | Channel Search |   OSD Setup   |   System Info   | Time Machine
                | Motor Setup    | Control Panel |       USB       |     OTA
                                 |  System Info  |   Time Record   | Smart Card
                                 |  Time Adjust  | Factory Default |
Setup
=====================
Channel search is the menu we want for setting the system up.

Now the names of the satellites and transponder were a bit out of date when I chose Glorystar mode and were even further out of date when I chose Advanced mode.
See USB down below for how to update.
After updating the transponders via Channelmaster/USB, I poked around at the various ways to setup dishes on this box

It allows for Diseqc 1.0 as well as Legacy DishNet SW21, SW42, SW44, SW64 and 22kHz tone.
There is no Diseqc 1.1 support, but it does USALS and Diseqc 1.2
I can't comment on Motor functionality as I don't have a motor.

The fact that it allowed for SW21 made me giddy since I had some sitting around from my Starband Dish that came with some. These SW21's now had some legitimate use.
Code:
Unrelated Side note: Diplexed ATSC reception take a -10dB hit when Dish 2 is selected
ATSC->|Diplexer|--12'->|Diplexer|->Antenna
DVR ->|                         |-> SW21|--50'-> DiSEqC 1.0 -> Starband @ 119W/123W/129W
                                        |--25'-> Voom/UL1 @ 97W
There is quite the list of LO's on this box.
There is the standard 5150,10750,10600,9750,11250 but it also has Dishpro, Dishpro FSS, 5150(0kHz)/10750(22kHz) and some others.

In setting up the system, if you type in the LO frequency instead of pressing OK and selecting it from the list presented, the next time that satellite is brought up first when reentering the satellite setup, the LO will be 0 instead of what you had previously punched in.
(To reproduce: Menu -> Right-> OK -> manually punch in LO;save and exit; exit and view a channel on the same satellite that you manually punched in that LO for; Menu -> Right-> OK -> LO is now 0)

Now the transponder edit function (hit the red Teletext button in Channel search) make editing a transponder a breeze. On my Coolsats, I can't edit the frequency of a transponder on the box itself (without losing the channels), I have to drag it over to my computer and edit it via Channelmaster.
On the DVR-1100c I can edit them without making a fuss at all.

Searches can be done by All Channels, SAT(FTA), One TP, One TP (FTA) and of course Blind Scan
Each search definitely takes longer than my Coolsats but not enough that it makes me annoyed or wanting to time it.

Blindscan has 3 refining options.
Freq. steps defaults to 4MHz and steps are in 2,4,6,8,10 Mhz
Symbol rates defaults to all and offers 8000 over, 8000 under, 8000~4000, 4000 over, 4000 under selections.
Polarity defaults to All and offers Horizontal, Vertical

The Channel Manager is quite complete except for the lack of PID/VID/AID editing.
Brian said that that part was in the works but if you can just use channel master you should be fine.


USB
=====================
Well after bugging Brain about it, he pointed out that I just needed to make my list in Channelmaster and to Import/Export it as a Conaxsat list. What a breeze...
Load it on a USB drive, hit Menu -> Left -> Left -> Down -> OK and push up once to go to the last thing added to the drive. Hit OK again and it loads right up.

Backing up satellites, channels and transponders easy as well in the USB menu. Enter the USB menu and hit the green button. It asks you if you want to back up Channel data make a Software backup.

Now the software backup doesn't seem to make a save of the timer events, which I'll get to later on how annoying that gets.

You are also able to delete files from this menu

Everything is sorted by creation date so this may feel a bit odd to some but for a DVR this is the most logical choice.


General Use (Viewing)
=====================
As a general use FTA box, I think this is the one for the family room. With 8 Favorite lists, most families will be taken care of.

TV channels are numbered starting at 100 with radio channels starting at 1000

Volume adjustment on the DVR will affect the volume coming out of the optical out.
My Coolsats do not do this.

The remote has a orange button for bringing up the signal meter. This was the meter I had been looking for. Where the Coolsats got stuck (while locked-important detail here) the DVR meter would move and show improvements through 10 points. Finally I could fine tune!
Much of the screen space is taken by the 10 bars that show the previous 5 seconds.
Annoyingly though, It automatically gives off one of 2 tones depending on if it is locked or not. High pitched for locked and low-pitched for not locked. The sound is turned off by pressing the blue button.

However I must warn that this signal meter is not nearly as useful for putting up new dishes as my Coolsats are. The meter does not react until the unit has enough for a lock.

As far as sensitivity goes, this unit beats my Coolsats in viewing. On the Coolsat meter this unit is able to lock and keep a presentable picture and sound up to 3%(coolsat meter) lower than my Coolsats threshold. This makes it quite the winner in my book.
The difference is enough that I could get MHzWorldwide (a 2/3 FEC), solid and perfect picture, on a Voom dish (26"x24" or 68cm according to global-cm) in a 80cm if contour maps are to be believed) while my Coolsats would block up, green-screen, and squelch at me.
It's enough of a difference that my grandparents are getting this DVR now that I'm done with this review. It's always that last 3 percent that ruins FTA for them.

Now once the DVR reception breaks threshold and has a lock, it can use error correction to hold a presentable picture and sound at 5 points below threshold (on the DVR meter)

Meter equivalents
Code:
FEC Threshold:      *  1/2  3/4  5/6  7/8  Perfect
==================================================
DVR-1100c    : 0----7---30---40---50---59--(>70)
Coolsat 5000 : 0---20---60---63---66---69--(>72)
Coolsat 6000 : 0---20---60---63---66---69--(>87)

* : Almost on the satellite when aiming.
Time Machine
=====================
Time machine wants to make a "swap file" to work.
It lets you choose 512MB (15 Mins.), 1GB (30 Mins.), 2GB (1 Hour) or 4GB (2 Hours).
It creates the file and "enables" the time machine features.

I constantly get interrupted with little things and love to be able to "catch-up" to what's on.
Time Machine allows me to Pause the channel, walk away, come back withing a certain amount of time (depends on swap file size) an pick right back up.

Caveat: Time Machine watching is not saved as a future-watchable file

This feature allows seamless pausing, skipping and shifting to and from record mode.
It worked great on lower bitrate channels like the Equity channels found on G18.
However when I switched to an AC3 audio station like RetroJams the unit wanted to freeze up/lock up.
Funny enough if I paused for 10 seconds and then hit play, I could watch it for almost any length of time on the USB Hard Drive (Seagate 160GB, 2MB cache)
My Sandisk USB flash drives were good enough to record on, but not quite fast enough to record and playback in a reasonably responsive fashion.
While on the Seagate drive the unit would pause and playback within a second of pressing the button on the remote. However with the Sandisk flash drives, the unit could take as long as 5 second or more to start or stop. So get yourself a magnetic hard drive


This cool feature has one annoying problem. If at anytime the disk gets removed, unplugged or otherwise unreachable by the DVR, TimeMachine becomes disabled. Even after the drive becomes avalible, Time Machine will stay disabled I asked Brian at SatelliteAV about this and was told that the problem was in the chipset and wasn't fixable. Not that I found this to be a problem with the full functionality of the DVR.


Hitting the pause button in normal mode with Time Machine disabled will start a new recording.


Recording
=====================
The unit records in a .ts (transport stream) file.
The file size gets to be about 1.5 GB per hour. I got these numbers recording MhzWorldwide @ 97W, RTNTurnaround @ 123W (before it was scrambled) and Whitesprings @ 129W
The naming scheme is a tad funny but it works alright for me.
CHANNELNAME|MONTH|DAY|HOUR|SECOND.ts or MHzWorldwide0124021009.ts
MHzWorldwide0124021009.ts would have been recorded starting at Jan 24 at 2:10:09 AM

I was pleased to see an "open" format like the transport stream but I had some trouble on my computers trying to play it back.

I got mplayer in Ubuntu 8.10 to play it.
Totem (Ubuntu's default media player) complained of needing a MPEG-2 codec.
The newest version of VLC, 0.9.8, wouldn't play the TS files back.

Since Program Guide info doesn't exist in North America for all but a few channels FTA, 8 recording timer events are all this box has to offer as far as automatic recording. These are all lost in the event of a power loss (Yes switching the power switch on the back will lose the timer events)

Caveat: The DVR will not stop your playback (let's say you're watching a previous recording or you hit pause on a Live show and are now in Record mode) to automatically start recording your timed event. Sometime you'll like it, other times you'll hate it. Positive or Negative, you decide.

The timer events will activate recording even if the start time has passed.
This is a good thing.
Also the unit will wake from standby to make a recording then go back into to standby.


NOTE: To exit PLAY(back) mode or REC(ord) mode you will need to press the stop button and not the exit button.

Playback
=====================
If you tap "play" on the remote it brings up the USB menu for play back here you can play MP3 audio or play the .ts recordings here.

The box says it can show JPEG files but all I've ever gotten was blank screen 'till I hit the exit button.

As far as skipping and jumping back and forth goes, the double up button offers 30 second jumps forward while the double down button on the remote offers 5 second jumps back. With the info bar up, pushing the left and right buttons make jumps in 5 minute increments making recordings of more than an hour easy to jump to a major spot.

Leaving a recording and coming back to it later starts the recording from the beginning. It does not remember where you left off.


Final thoughts
=====================

This is a great box for a finished satellite system. If you're not looking for an HD box, but want a DVR addition to your system, I seriously recommend this to be your next FTA box.

I couldn't use this for aiming, but definitely will be using it for fine-tuning.

=========================================================

Unfortunately I didn't take any presentable pictures of the unit, and I won't be around the unit until Thursday to get good shots of the front, back and remote.
 

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SatelliteAV

SatelliteAV

SatelliteGuys Master
Lifetime Supporter
Sep 3, 2004
6,486
184
Roseville, CA
Well written review! Appreciate the details. Gives us great input for future firmware releases.

As part of the initial install we recommend performing an OTA or USB Firmware Update. Several updates have been made available since the initial release. Many of the issues in this review have been addressed in recent firmware releases.

SatelliteGuys - GEOSATpro Firmware Update Tracker

Recent updates include:
  • Direct channel entry by transponder and PID
  • OTA update function available in Advanced User mode
  • Updates include new satellites and active transponders
  • Additional blank satellite positions in the satellite lists
  • JPEG display from USB

For recorded program playback on a PC, I prefer using the Media Player Classic or the newer Homecinema release.
Media Player Classic - Homecinema

Video ReDo (versions 567 and newer) support GEOSATpro file creation. Great for editing programs for playback with the DVR1100c.
 
Wescopc

Wescopc

SatelliteGuys Pro
Pub Member / Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Sep 11, 2005
1,897
206
Canby, Oregon
meinename,
Thanks for the review - lots of work - great information. This thread should be moved to the FTA equipment review section.
Bob
 
turbosat

turbosat

SatelliteGuys Master
Dec 26, 2006
9,003
80
Oneonta,AL
That was very helpful review! Sounds like a nice receiver with PVR. Now you made me want one for the pvr thing.
 
Gary Z

Gary Z

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jun 27, 2005
942
0
Seguin, Texas
I just got this receiver last week. I really like the OTA update feature. It downloads the update directly from the Satellite. I'm using the Maxtor 500GB GB OneTouch 4 Plus to record shows on and I have had no problems so far except when using VideoReDo.... the solution though was simple. All that needed to be done was to check GeoSATPro/Conaxsat header in the Transport Steam Output option Thanks to Glorystar for the tip. It is great watching programs I want to save without the commercials after editing with VideoReDo.

A big :up to Glorystar :)

The unit can be operated in 2 modes --- Glorystar mode for the Glorystar channels or Advanced mode for all FTA channels
 

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M

Mr Tony

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Nov 17, 2003
326
78
Mankato, MN
very nice review...now that wants me to get one :)

If I remember correctly, the receiver doesnt have blind scan does it?
 
meinename

meinename

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 9, 2008
584
0
Portland, OR
Oh it does true blind scan...

Iceburg:
Searches can be done by All Channels, SAT(FTA), One TP, One TP (FTA) and of course Blind Scan
Each search definitely takes longer than my Coolsats but not enough that it makes me annoyed or wanting to time it.

Blindscan has 3 refining options.
Freq. steps defaults to 4MHz and steps are in 2,4,6,8,10 Mhz
Symbol rates defaults to all and offers 8000 over, 8000 under, 8000~4000, 4000 over, 4000 under selections.
Polarity defaults to All and offers Horizontal, Vertical
I put it under setup without separating that out... :eek: :eek:

SatelliteAV:
Well you wonder why it took a month...
By the way the review was done using the 3.15 firmware done by USB "Bootloader" update. No way I could have given it a good review on the firmware it was shipped with, which was 3.10. That was not a firmware that I think should have made it out the door.
Unfortunately the DVR and a dish pointed at 97W Ku-band always seem to be either separate or the OTA update function doesn't want to work. Right now a manual OTA update goes straight from looking at 97W Ku to 97W C-band for the OTA update and waits on fail.

The JPEG viewer doesn't work, nor does the Preview channel video work in 3.15, but did work in 3.10. I do get audio.

I did try the recordings with Media Player Classic - Homecinema that was part of the Combined Community Codec Pack and that finally works...

I would love for these things to work but I really love it for it's holding of audio/video below normal signal levels.
 
Last edited:
Gary Z

Gary Z

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jun 27, 2005
942
0
Seguin, Texas
Unfortunately the DVR and a dish pointed at 97W Ku-band always seem to be either separate or the OTA update function doesn't want to work. Right now a manual OTA update goes straight from looking at 97W Ku to 97W C-band for the OTA update and waits on fail.

The OTA update will only work in the Glorystar mode. Once the new update is installed you can from then on do the OTA update in the Advanced mode also.... this is what I did. Just backed up your channel list and re-loaded it after the update.
 
SatelliteAV

SatelliteAV

SatelliteGuys Master
Lifetime Supporter
Sep 3, 2004
6,486
184
Roseville, CA
Sorry, I should have been more clear in the last post.

Firmware version 3.17 and data version 1.13 are updates from the versions that were used for your excellent review.

The recent updates corrected these issues:

  • Direct channel entry by transponder and PID
  • OTA update function available in Advanced User mode
  • Updates include new satellites and active transponders
  • Additional blank satellite positions in the satellite lists
  • JPEG display from USB
 
turbosat

turbosat

SatelliteGuys Master
Dec 26, 2006
9,003
80
Oneonta,AL
updates

Did the firmware update fix your AC3 problem on Retrojams? Do the other ac3 channels work ok , like pbs and pentagon-ac3 ?
 
meinename

meinename

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 9, 2008
584
0
Portland, OR
To make some things clearer...

Did the firmware update fix your AC3 problem on Retrojams? Do the other ac3 channels work ok , like pbs and pentagon-ac3 ?

I guess I need to make clearer that AC-3 worked flawlessly when Time Machine was disabled. It was when time machine was enabled that I had some problems with AC-3 audio.
The other thing is I am suspicious that it may have been the Hard Drive I was using. It only had a 2MB cache chip. I did not have a spare hard drive to check this against. I will be able to test again later this week with a hard drive with a larger cache of 8MB.

As my unit acts right now, I can still use the features I really care about just fine.

I use the DVR to record a channel while I go to take care of something, comeback and pickup where I left off and "catchup" to the live feed. I also need it to record programs that I'm not there to watch. The DVR-1100c does all of that fine with 3.15 firmware.

Furthermore I have already taken the DVR to my grandparents and I won't be able to check the new firmware until Thursday.
 
turbosat

turbosat

SatelliteGuys Master
Dec 26, 2006
9,003
80
Oneonta,AL
SatelliteAV whats wrong with your site? Click on the link on the top here, and won't load!
 
dunnsept

dunnsept

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 10, 2008
358
0
Central Meechigan
nice review.. I'm going to consider one of these to replace the pansat, me thinks..
but one question if you don't mind: Can you record off of the ANT connector with this unit? The manual talks about recording from sat but nothing about recording from the regular antenna (that I can find). If it can, that would make it doubly interesting for recording off other sources .
 
SatelliteAV

SatelliteAV

SatelliteGuys Master
Lifetime Supporter
Sep 3, 2004
6,486
184
Roseville, CA
GEOSATpro DVR1100c records only the satellite source.

nice review.. I'm going to consider one of these to replace the pansat, me thinks..
but one question if you don't mind: Can you record off of the ANT connector with this unit? The manual talks about recording from sat but nothing about recording from the regular antenna (that I can find). If it can, that would make it doubly interesting for recording off other sources .
 
meinename

meinename

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 9, 2008
584
0
Portland, OR
Well finally got to go update the firmware...

Good news is that the jpeg viewer and the preview window in the channel manager finally work as advertised... I'm happy :D

PID editor is available in Channel Search by pressing the blue button. I did not have time to use this today and I don't know when I'll be able to check it out. :eek::(:confused:

Bad news is even with the firmware update and switching hard drives (from a 2MB cache to a 8MB cache), when Time Machine is enabled, AC-3 audio channels have no audio. :mad:
Disabling Time Machine fixes this. :down

Code:
Tested on:
C -121°W-Sportstime Ohio
       -AmericaOne
Ku-123°W-Retrojams

External Hard Drives: (both USB-only drives, USB 2.0)
Seagate External   160GB, 2MB cache (not FreeAgent-series)
Maxtor One Touch 3 160GB, 8MB cache

AC-3 Decoder: SonicVoom

EDIT:
Interesting note: when a channel being scanned in has more than 4 languages (stereo AID) it will be split
I had this when I added Euronews today, 2 Euronews channels with 4 languages, the first channel having English as it's first audio.

Which reminds me that with this firmware update, L/R/Stereo channel selection is not longer a one-setting spans all channels. It is now per-channel. And like a few settings on this box (timers, time) are quickly forgotten if power is lost.
Old situation:
I ran into this first with Whitesprings and 3CTV. Whitesprings audio is on the Right channel only. 3CTV audio is on the Left channel only. Setting to left only, I could watch 3CTV and have audio or Whitesprings and have audio.
Also, BYU @ 89°W is a good example since all of it's audio channels are mono instead of stereo. All of the 8 mono-audio channels got stacked into 4 stereo languages. Now I can finally choose each left or right as I need and still get stereo on the rest of the channels
 
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