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Test Report for Mediastar M:I:111

Mediastar M:I:111

We're rather wary about lesser known brands that make their way into the satellite industry. Even though you pay more for brand names, you can (usually) expect a fairly decent standard of quality and reliability from branded manufacturers, whereas unknown brands can lead to all sorts of headaches.

While we haven't heard of Australian company Mediastar before, we found their standard definition set top box, M:I:111 much to our liking for the simple fact that it promises what it delivers. On first impressions, it's clear that Mediastar haven't spent much time on the aesthetics of this model. It's not ugly by any means, but has a rather cheap and plastic look and feel to it. Even the front panel display is just a green LED. Still, it's attractive and innocuous enough not to stand out. One may see six buttons there in order to control the receiver, incase the remote control is missing.

Rear panel greets us with the first surprise. It starts quite usual– LNB input with a corresponding loop-through output, two Scart connectors, three RCAs outputting the Video and Stereo sound, Digital Audio output and a RS- 232 port for updating a new receiver software. Design of the remote control is very simple, but at the same time, quite logic. The only unusual thing is that the EPG button is located right next to the info key, below all other numbers. All other buttons are where you expect them to be, so you will get used to it quite quickly.

Even the regular user, who is not planning to endlessly experiment with his receiver, will find the installation quite simple. After the first power-up and the welcome screen. Clear and understandable wizard will guide you through the installation process. First the box wants to know which languages you would prefer for the onscreen menu, audio and subtitles. Second screen allows configuring the local time, as well as the video settings. The menu options were simple and intuitive - Installation, System Settings, User Preferences and Games.

The next step was to scan for channels and we did this by selecting 'Installation' from the menu and then 'Auto Scan' In total, the Mediastar took around a 4 minutes and a half to pick up 1332 TV and 528 Radio channels. Channels can also be moved, renamed or deleted in the preferences menu. We've reviewed a few units that make setup an unnecessarily complicated experience, but we are happy to report that the software used by the Mediastar made everything remarkably hassle free. Mediastar supports all DiSEqC versions from 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 to USALS, so it can easily become the heart of your multi-satellite reception system. SCPC reception was tested on EUTELSAT SESAT at 36 deg. East, and Mediastar didn't disappoint us here. Channel search can be performed in Automatic or Manual mode, with possibility to select a network search, to leave out encrypted or FTA channels, or to keep all. You do not need to worry too much about filling channel memory: Mediastar limit is 6,000 channels.

One of the main screens you will be using on digital TV is the channel list, and the Mediastar has a few options to make using this easy. You can, for example, sort channels according to your preferences, use the quick scroll keys or view a multi picture display in either 4, 9, 10, 13 or 16 screens. After you select multi picture, the television screen will be divided into the selected number of boxes, with the current channel displayed and live in the top left hand corner, and still shots of other channels in subsequent boxes. Moving the cursor across will activate that box, allowing you to see easily what is playing on different TV channels.

The Mediastar also allows you to store groups of Favorite channels. You can then use your Favorites list in conjunction with the multi-picture display, thus allowing you quickly see what the frequently watched channels are currently showing. When you select a channel, the Mediastar displays relevant channel data in a large blue box at the base of the screen. This includes the channel name, current time, and symbols for Teletext, EPG, Parental Lock information and most importantly - a graph for signal strength. This is a useful function as you can tell at a glance if there is any problems with your signal. The length of time the information box appears onscreen can be set between 1 to 5 seconds in the preferences menu.



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