Voom Overall Review First Few Hours

Sean Mota

SatelliteGuys Master
Original poster
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
New York City
This is my personal review of VOOM in the first few hours that I had it. I will try to point the negatives as well as the positives. This is my own personal opinion and I am not trying to persuade that this is a good service or a very bad one.

First let me say that I connected the VOOM receiver through three different inputs in my SONY GWII. DVI, Component, and Composite Video. Out of the three I found the DVI to have much better HD presentation that component. The component video showed some red coloration and a softness on the picture that I cannot explain at this point. DVI input worked for me and this is where I left it. I also tried the composite and found that viewing non-hd channels through it showed a clearer picture than component or DVI. I can tell you that I do the same with my 6000 receiver. I rarely use the 6000 receiver to watch SD material and end up using my 721 instead through composite. I did not use the s-video in the VOOM receiver. Regarding the DVI, some might disagree with me but you need to try both and see what I mean.

In my DLP, I am also using DVI and composite input. I haven't had time to check the DLP with the component input. The DVI was very easy to use in my GWII (plug and play). In my DLP it was another story. The DLP (720p native resolution) had a difficult time downconverting the 1080i setting. It would not let me. It gave me part of the VOOM PG frozen on the screen. I switched to 720p and the same happened. I had to cycle through the whole thing twice and the only way that I made it to work was to go to my component connection on the 6000 connected to the DLP and then go back to the DVI input. At this point, I had left the DLP at 720p.

A little problem that I noticed with DVI: Everytime that I change channel on the VOOM receiver (HD channels only), I get pixelation on the beginning of the channel I am going to view. Strange and a litttle bothersome but I can live with it since the pixelation dissapears after two seconds. (According to Ken Ross from AVS, this is a known problem and VOOM is working on it).

Programming Guide (PG)

The PG is beautiful on a widescreen T.V. (Unlike the E* PG in the 6000 receiver). Favorite list is easy to do but you are restricted to only one list. The 6000 receiver you can have up to 5 different favorite lists. I tried to determine how many hours in advanced I could get the guide information and to my surprise it only went up to tomorrow 11:30am. Maybe I have not been a VOOM user long enough to get a longer PG.

There is no search program in the PG. It will be great if VOOM can provide one. The PG offers a Browse feature like the 6000.

Miscellaneous Notes:

The VOOM remote control recognized my T.V. 60" Sony GWII on/off code and input video without programming it. That was cool. It also recognized the volume and mute function. The same did not happen with my Samsung 42" DLP.

The VOOM remote lacks a recall last channel viewed. I do not know why it does not have one. (Yes, it does is the "Back" button on the remote).

10 Cinema Movie Channels

All or most of the 10 Cinema Movies are "upconverts*". If you are into old movies, you will like this channel. The quality of the movies varies from vary good to poor. It all depends how old is the film. Nothing to blame VOOM about. The movie selection needs improvement. Maybe if VOOM mixes some of the new movies with the old ones. Again, this will mean to get rights to show these movies. The line up of movies will be a let down since they get repeated every three days. One nice upconvert was "The Vikings" but it was not my type of movie. Bottom line: if you are going to showcase VOOM to friends or relatives, stay away from 10 Cinema Movies unless you really like the movie and the upconversion.

*I am using this word very loosely. These movies are true HD transfers but the quality of the HD transfer will depend on how good the source is. See comment posted at the bottom of the thread and on second page of this thread.

Discovery HD

Two thumbs up!! Discovery HD Theater shows how excellent their PQ is on VOOM and E*. Without a question SUPERB!! This is the WOW effect channel. But again no surprise here since we knew this about Discovery since E* launched it back when it started.


Not much to see here. Weather channel as of today with a SUPERB map showing. Excellent PQ but no news. VOOM has stated that it will start on 1/04.


Mostly upconvert material. If you are a horror freak, you will like this channel SD or HD. Now, I rather have the HD version (even if it's upconvert).


Nice upconverts and shows a lot of epics movies. I do not like this channel. I do not know if it is necessary since these movies can be showcased in the 10 Cinema Channels.


Fantastic PQ, but in my opinion not as good as HDnet MLS games! Maybe I romantize about HDnet. Don't get me wrong the PQ of this channel is excellent. The only thing I have seen is that HDnet presents more close shots.


Amazing PQ! But Big Bug Logo on the right corner. Not disturbing but I can see why some might be picky about it. They also have some upconvert programs.


The MTV wannabe in HD. It will be amazing if VOOM can get more videos produced in HD or good quality upconvert. I would love this channel if they can bring the old videos in HD. This channel has a big bug logo and it is disturbing to the eye.


Gorgeous! Especially the chicks! It's nice to admire the woman body in HD. PQ is excellent.


Not easy to get into collection stuff. If you are not into it, you will get bored. However, the PQ is excellent. This one has a logo as well.


Art. Again if you are not into this, it will not be your channel. However if you are into it, it will be an HD banquet. Excellent PQ.


Video Art--This one I do not get and do not see how can this be watched. The only way to see it will be to have it as background video and music on a social gathering.


This is a short DEMO that VOOM put together. It's really enjoyable to watch.


If you are a cartoon freak like me, you'll love this channel. Whether cartoons are upconvert or not this is enjoyable to watch. VOOM needs to add more to the current lineup to make this channel a hit. PQ is outstanding!


Same as our old friend E*. No changes here.

Standard Definition Channels

Here is where I am going to have the biggest disagreement with people. I compare a few channels like FX, Showtime, and comedy. The PQ is as good as E*. That said I don't have to say more. SD sucks in both satellite systems for those with 60" monitor. Sure looks much better on the 42" DLP but do not tell me that the picture is crystal clear of compression because it is not. The picture improves when I switched from DVI or Component to Composite. But again is SD compressed. Nothing like OTA.


VOOM is a nice service but it will make an impact once they add more of the non-exclusive channels such as INHD, Cinemax, TMC, ESPN, BRAVO, STARZ, PLAYBOY, NBATV, HDNET, ETC. They need to get more of these channels and then the 21 exclusive channels will supplement these. It will be an interested three months because the novelty of these channels will wear off and VOOM will need to add these other channels to keep afloat. I really love them to succeed. It will be great! I will add a few pictures to this post so check back.

P.S. Forgot to tell you. I did not review any OTA locals. My mapping is not working on VOOM although my 6000 reports no problems with the mapping and the channels.
In your 2nd paragraph:
I also tried the composite and found that view non-hd channels, it showed a clearer picture than composite or DVI.
Could you go back and edit that bit... a clarification is needed.

Thanks for a great report!!
Run down on VOOM menu. From left to rigth: This the VOOM menu. As soon as you start the receiver, this is where it takes you, This is a list of favorite HD channels I created. The PG shows them all, This is how the BROWSE function shows in the screen, This is the OPTIONS & SETTINGS menu.


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video62 said:
In your 2nd paragraph:
I also tried the composite and found that view non-hd channels, it showed a clearer picture than composite or DVI.
Could you go back and edit that bit... a clarification is needed.

Thanks for a great report!!

Thanks that was done. I will go through it once more to make sure.
Voom Run Down Menu

Spending Limits: is a feature that allows you not to spend over a certain amount on PPV events/movies. That is you have control over how much to spend on PPV. Nice feature. From left to right: Parental Control Menu, Help Menu, Program Planner: This feature is not active yet, Under System Settings: Picture Format.


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Voom Menu Run Down... From Left to right: Under System Settings: Screen Saver Menu Display, Under System Settings: Screen Saver Menu Display, Under System Settings: Audio Language, Under System Settings: Closed Captioning.


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Voom Menu Run Down... From left to right:Under System Settings: Audio Output, Under System Settings: Video Output, Under System Settings: System Status: Hardware, Under System Settings: System Status: Software & EMM.


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Voom Menu Run Down... From left to right: Under System Settings: System Status: Channel, Under System Settings: System Status: Channel Map, Under System Settings: System Status: Report Back, Under System Settings: Tune in Satellite Signal


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Voom Menu Run Down... From left to right Under System Settings: Report Back, NEWSBYTE CHANNEL MAP 1, NEWSBYTE CHANNEL MAP 2, RAVE LOGO 1.


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LOGO... From left to right: This logo will appear in any of the 21 exclusive channels, Treasure Logo.


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I recognize the Newsbyte content. Its the Cablevision "Metro Traffic & Weather" channel's computer graphics. Looks like Cablevision has moved beyond making forcasts for the Tri-State and now does National forcasts.

Good work Sean, excellent photos.

ps can the set-top do a full screen display of the program guide? Also what type of fittings did the installer use (compression or crimp)?
Previous channel

Previous channel

Use the back button to do this (left long slender key)
Sean, you said, "All or most of the 10 Cinema Movies are upconverts." Then VOOM is delivering less than HD! An upconverted master may be HD in an electrical sense, but the difference is readily apparent to the viewer. You noticed this so I am concerned. I hope this is not the case.

I had a long conversation with Ken Ross at AVS regarding the 'upconvert': I will change the wording to 'upconvert*'

Ken Ross 11/26/03 09:21 AM
AVS Special Member

Sean, although I agree with many of your comments about many of the channels you listed, I absolutely could not disagree with you more about your findings on the 10 Cinema Movie channels. I'm not sure if you understand the transfer vs "upconvert" process and maybe it's simply a case of you not using the word "upconvert" correctly.

IMO, these are absolutely, without any doubt, 100% true HD transfers in the same vein as HBO HD and Showtime HD true HD transfers. I'd stake my life on it! One only has to look at the picture for a few seconds to see these do not resemble upconverts in any way. Now, with that said, of course the quality of each movie varies as you said. As an example, the worst movie I've seen thus far in terms of PQ, was "Lassie" (no, I didn't actually 'watch' the whole movie). That was pretty bad, but it looked like the original film was in pretty bad shape to begin with so I guess there wasn't much you could do in the HD transfer process. For those that have any doubt about this whole subject, tune to an upconvert on Showtime HD and look for details in the background. Keep in mind that close-ups will generally look good even in an upconverted movie. However background details will suffer in any upconvert. A well done upconvert will approximate a good DVD. Now look at the typical VOOM movie on their Cinema 10 channels and you will see a WORLD of difference. Details are generally razor sharp right out to the horizon. Even some of the B&W movies are utterly stunning in their detail despite their age. There is simply no 'upconvert' that could possibly show this level of detail.

No way are these upconverts. It seem to me that most people have felt the PQ was amazing on these channels, although there are certainly mixed opinions on the quality of the movies themselves (content wise).

my response:
Ken, you're right that I am using the 'upconvert' word very loosely. If these are all true HD transfer, that's fine. But my point was that a lot of them did not looked that great. The reason maybe that they are too old and there were not in great shape to begin with. I still will sustained my comment that I will not showcased all these movies to relatives or friends since a lot of them did not look that great to me yesterday. I might change my opinion once I see more movies. I only started yesterday. So my opinion is subject to change depending of what else I see. Again, whether you like these type of movies or not, is a matter of opinion. Most of these movies (like HDnet movies), I do not like. Some I like. I think that since E* launched HDnet movies, I only watched one movie on HDnet Movies.

Regarding the Hardware DVI/Component issue:

Originally posted by Ken Ross 9/26/03
Sean, a couple of points on your post. The issue of DVI vs component is very much a function of the user's TV. Some TVs have better scalers than others and as a result, the final outcome may vary. I've found little to no difference between DVI and component, both look very good. I believe Mark Rubin found the same thing on his Fujitsu. Of course this is probably not surprising since we have the same displays. I've found in general, from reading posts on different forums and threads, that most people don't see a huge difference between DVI and component in general, but again the individual's display is the final determining factor. In some cases the output device (in this case the VOOM STB) can also be a factor. Some DVI equipped DVD players look pretty bad through component but great through DVI. I think the VOOM box is well engineered from this standpoint and both outputs are quite close in quality.

There is a "recall" button on the VOOM remote, labeled "Back". This will take you to the prior channel viewed.

The issue with a slight bit of pixellization on changing channels is a known issue and is actually also present on component. I suspect it's present on all outputs although I haven't tried it. As you say, it's a bit annoying but does disappear in a second. I'm sure they're working on that.

My response:
Ken, I agree completely with you regarding DVI and Component. Both connections give you the same quality image. However, it was my preference to leave both TVs, the GWII and the Samsung DLP, connected through DVI. I will spend more time comparing DVI and Component and see why I see this difference. I do not want to disregard this as of yet since I do not see the same with my 6000 connected through the same component input.

I am glad to hear that the pixelation problem is not my problem only. I did not check to see if through component I saw this as well. I will have to check more.

Good to know about the "Back" button. I used the same button to navigate through the menus yesterday but I never though of given it a try to use for recalling the last channel viewed. Thanks.

Ken, I think overall there is a lot of potential that VOOM has. It is my assessment to those that do not have it to try it. I really like the picture quality. Ken, keeps us informed regarding the OTA mapping. I believe you are doing a great service providing your insight in all of these different forums.
I don't see that as being a big problem. They are delivering 1080i so they're not cheating on the bandwidth. I think it's just a lack of high quality content, and that will come.

johnpete said:
I don't see that as being a big problem. They are delivering 1080i so they're not cheating on the bandwidth. I think it's just a lack of high quality content, and that will come.


And that was my point. As of today (of what I have seen so far), the content of the 10 Cinema channels needs addressing. These movies may be true HD transfer but VOOM needs to bring better selection of movies. Some of the HD transfer was not good because the source might have not been that great and it's not a fault of VOOM but selection of movies needs to be addressed. This is like having 10 HDnet Movies channels. It might be hard for VOOM to get a hold of new releases or even last year releases of movies since the big boys like HBO, Starz, & Showtime hold rights to them.
johnpete said:
I don't see that as being a big problem. They are delivering 1080i so they're not cheating on the bandwidth. I think it's just a lack of high quality content, and that will come.


If that is not a problem then I got some swamp land to sell ya! Anyone who has seen an "upconverted" SD program will know the difference. The quality is pretty bad. Bandwith has nothing to do with it. A crappy "upconvert" is going to be crappy no matter how much bandwdth you have.

Officially, the "upconvert" generally means the source tape is digi betacam or other StdDef. digital tape source dubbed from the telecined master which is usually D5 today after down conversion. A sub master may also be on HDCAM. The digi betacam is the distribution media. Then this is played through a box that upconverts it back to what Mike said is electrically HDTV.

Sean- Can you confirm that the Cinema 10 are really upconverts by this definition or are they really D5 or HDCAM masters and of just poor transfer quality? You'd probably have to ask someone at VOOM programming, a technical person to be sure. Additionally, you might ask if the airing program is from tape or from a server to air.

PS you made a very nice report. I appreciate it.

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