OUR Conclusion – AB-Com AB IP Box 250S review

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AB-Com AB IP Box 250S review

 


 

 

The IP Box 250S, from Slovakian satellite wholesaler / retailer / store AB-Com, joins the growing range of set-top boxes to think about outdoors-source Linux operating-system – rather than proprietary internal operating software (‘firmware’).

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The main advantage of selecting Linux (which is cute puffin emblem) is always that you’re forget about restricted to the producer for your firmware updates that fix bugs or add more features. Enthusiasts with understanding in the product’s hardware design and limitations possess the source code and modify or rewrite it to reflect their requirements. These, generally, coincide while using ‘wish-lists’ of other clients.

Connected with pension transfer Linux-based boxes, it’s a PVR design – our review sample was outfitted by getting an 80GB ATA/IDE hard disk drive, but we view 400GB models for sale (it’s, incidentally, easy to install and initialise a bigger drive in case you outgrow an 80GB model).

Which boosts a substantial advantage the IP Box 250S has inside the competition – cost. The 80GB version costs around £160 – that can take it near the selling cost from the ordinary budget satellite PVR. But you’ll find caveats.

Most clearly, the IP Box 250S only consists of just one tuner, so recording one funnel as you are watching this option strictly forbidden (sadly, even when they’re on one transponder). Just like a single-tuner design, the 250S is outfitted with simply one LNB input, that’s combined having a loopthrough output for driving slave receivers.

AB-Com AB IP Box 250S review

 

You’ll find Scarts for TV (RGB/component/S-video/composite) and VCR (composite-only), plus phono electrical electrical sockets for stereo audio and composite video. Digital audio is catered for by an optical TOSlink output. Really the only other connectors will be the all-important Ethernet, plus an RS232 port for upgrading firmware the standard way.

El born area is mid-sized in addition to humble design. Furthermore with a four-digit Introduced display certainly are a standby button exactly the same shape like a horseshoe and a variety of buttons for funnel selection, volume and menu access.

There isn’t any pull-lower flaps and, consequently, no hidden goodies like usb port place or CI slots. However again, would you like the 2nd just in case your receiver is able to do emulating CAMs anyway? Rather, the 250S gives you a card slot for use with whatever CAM your best firmware is emulating, that’s possibly more useful.

To have the ability to maximise the free internal volume, the traditional 3.5in ATA hard disk drive is attached to the top lid. One cannot fault the comfort in the internal construction, that’s tidy.

Furthermore for the primary board (with different ST Microelectronics tuner and embedded 350MIPS PowerPC processor) can be a switch-mode power that’s also capable of supporting hard disk. Whatever the high-ant hardware density, the 250S doesn’t run inside a temperature that gives reason to worry.

AB-Com AB IP Box 250S review

The remote handset is very nondescript to check out and includes buttons that nothing. Round the plus side, it’s acceptably organised in addition to control many TVs. You’ll find, however, some specific firmware-related oddities. While using pre-installed Enigma, the record button didn’t work. Combined with the official IP Box firmware, pressing teletext introduced within the DiSEqC designs for reasons uknown.

Review unit was supplied by getting an earlier ‘port’ in the Enigma firmware, that is familiar to Dreambox clients. It had been provided rather than the ‘official’ AB-Com firmware which, alas, doesn’t provide the onboard card-visitors – certainly within the original incarnation.

After connecting in the 250S with a broadbanded home network and enabling DHCP network auto-configuration within the setup menu (inside the situation of Enigma, one of several in the ‘carousel’ including PVR playback, Television and radio modes), we’re able to upgrade the firmware from a web-based FTP site which were pre-designed to the unit.

There has been two more recent versions – the initial up-to-date without problem, nevertheless the second was hurdled having a CRC error and therefore i wasn’t in a position to proceed further.

Sadly, this Enigma version left a great be preferred. It well-socialized erratically when selecting channels, wouldn’t permit you to start recording by pressing the remote’s ‘record’ button, needed half-hour to complete searching in the Astra 1x cluster and not successful to operate a vehicle a DiSEqC dish properly.

DCM acknowledged that 250S firmwares have handled to maneuver on ever since then, and pointed us with other people who better reflect the capabilities in the unit. They might be directly moved from FTP sites, provided the ‘network update’ designs are completed while using relevant parameters. As an alternative, they might be downloaded from various websites with a PC, and moved for the box.

A freely downloadable program referred to as ‘PCEditor’ is involved. This could also support and modify funnel/satellite databases.

Only then do we installed the state firmware, downloaded within the AB-Com website. It features a menu-driven interface of conventional design the look and feel of the numerous firmwares can differ, however, many styles are normal throughout. Setup parameters (aside from network designs) are the usual – TV standard, aspect ratio, parental control, LNB type, and so on.

Getting used, configuring satellites and finding channels involves a process that’s the identical on a vacation (non-Linux) receiver. Searching manually by individual transponder (frequency, polarity and symbol rate – inside the related ‘advanced’ mode, PIDs can also be specified).

Generally, signal strength and quality bars are displayed. To date because the ‘automatic’ alternative is anxious, searching by file file encryption status and network status are usually supported. Just what a shame there’s no blind search – this can be rarely seen nowadays.

Multi-satellite searches may also be possible, provided you’re employing a motorised dish and possess push the button properly. Here, the dish moves sequentially in a single satellite to a different until all of the available channels have been located.

AB-Com AB IP Box 250S review

Speaking which, the DiSEqC capabilities support Goto-X (USALS/1.3). What’s particularly awesome – certainly with Enigma – is that you could save with a specific DiSEqC memory location (‘satellite number’), therefore making sure compatibility by getting a current DiSEqC receiver’s database.

Sadly, no chance while using ‘official’ firmware and, indeed, a couple of from the third-party ones (a few of which are very similar with regards to look and feel). These need re-install every satellite.

Pressing the ‘enter’ button shows the funnel list, which can be sorted by satellite, file file encryption status or alphabetically. As they are usual, there’s a passionate handset button for switching between television and radio modes.

It is also simple to copy frequently-seen channels into among five pre-designed favourites lists (more such lists might be defined if required). The funnel list also permits channels to get erased or PIN-protected.

Full teletext is supported, as well as the EPG – that tracks might be scheduled – draws in seven-day records, should there be any. These tracks are listed, with particulars for instance EPG-derived programme name/particulars, time/date and funnel, in the ‘file list management’ menu. Separate lists are provided for television and radio tracks.

A variety of handset buttons is provided for playback manipulation – cue, review and pause, for example. The identical controls are suitable for purchase to ‘timeshifting’, because of the receiver’s capacity to buffer the presently up-to-date funnel towards the hard disc.

Presently, though, there’s not a way of saving the products within the buffer should you want to retain them just like a permanent recording. Nor is it possible to edit tracks (beyond renaming, getting rid of or ‘locking’ them). But we’re sure such features may be added through firmware – such could be the power and flexibility in the Linux concept.

You’ll be able to generate a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) session while using box – in the event you navigate your path for the /var/media/video directory, you’ll find all of your tracks. These could be gone to live in some PC for editing, conversion to DVD or storage around the home media server.

The tracks do not take the kind of an average transport stream, and should not thus be processed by utilities like the excellent free software application demultiplexer ProjectX. Thankfully, another free software application program downloadable on the internet, MakePS, will convert these files into standard MPEG ones.

The 250S is able to do an excellent standard of audio-visual performance – certainly from channels that may handle delivering it from consumers. Dynamic range, presentation of detail and colour fidelity all impress.

Appear quality, as proven having a give consideration to some couple of from the better-quality r / c, may also be good. Sensitivity, meanwhile, provides pointless to worry. A 1m motorised dish with .7dB LNB introduced in channels from numerous satellites, including Hot Bird, Astras 1x and 2x, Thor and Sirius.

We attempted a number of firmwares (official and unofficial) and searching out was, alas, equally slow generally. A whole scan of Hot Bird’s 100 roughly transponders, for example, needed between 10 and 15 minutes.

Thankfully, everyday funnel selection is a lot more responsive. If you’re carrying out a multi-satellite scan, an irritating problem becomes apparent. It starts checking before the dish has stopped moving – therefore the satellite’s initial few transponders might be skipped. The most recent official software wasn’t without its problems.

Periodically, it could display ‘error’ round the front panel display, and shut itself lower. Ironically, the unofficial ones shown more reliable in this manner!

However, it must be appreciated the 250S can be a be employed in progress. It is not in the marketplace for extended and will also be considered a while before the designers are fully current using this intriguing receiver. Similar encounters were reported previously in the Dreambox range.

If you are in a position to think that the odd feature might not function correctly within the start, your IP Box 250S provides extensive choosing it.

Features are restricted only with the desires and points of interest of people writing firmware and plug-ins with this – but to this day the 250S are capable of doing an infinitely more than non-Linux PVRs of comparable cost.

If you’re a satellite enthusiast from it experience (Linux clients will need for the 250S as being a duck to water) then consider the 250S as something from the bargain.

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