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Test Report for ASTON Xena 2000

ASTON Xena 2000

Life has been made much easier with the multi-talented analog/digital ASTON XENA 2000. It can not only handle both analog and digital signals through a single antenna input, but for all the PayTV advocates out there it also comes with two CI interfaces for Irdeto, Betacrypt, Cryptoworks and other types of modules plus a pair of card readers for its embedded Viaccess and Astoncrypt (Seca) systems.

A look at the front of the receiver should put a smile on your face.On top of this the display can also show antenna signal, band selection (C or Ku-band), which antenna input is in use and more. This is especially important with radio signals since now you don’t have to rely on the on-screen display shown on a TV. Almost everything is shown on this alphanumeric display. This fact alone is reason enough to buy this receiver.

The two slots for CA modules and the two Smart Card slots are hidden behind a flap. The first thing you see are the four quick-connectors for use with a magnetic or mechanical polarizer; so important for true C and Ku-band reception. In addition to simple DiSEqC, there are also higher levels of DiSEqC that permit a corresponding motor to be driven to as many as 50 satellite positions. The IF from two LNB’s can be connected to two individual inputs. In this case, both of these inputs can handle analog or digital signals. This makes it unnecessary to have a looped-through IF. Four (!) Scart connectors allow this receiver to be connected to a TV, a VCR, a decoder plus an additional external device. And in order to get the best possible video and audio quality from all of these features, the XENA 2000 also comes equipped with an S-VHS output and a digital audio output (RCA). For those with analog stereo systems, there’s also a set of analog audio outputs. Just like with a PC, there is a Port 1 and a Port 2. Here you can either upload new software or connect a modem. The XENA 2000 comes with a main power switch so that if the occasion calls for it, it won’t be necessary to search behind that large cabinet for the right power plug.

The remote control is nicely shaped. Next to all of the standard functions you can also control a motor (with Autofocus!) and quickly switch between TV reception, VCR and AUX (this could be a DVD player). There’s also a Freeze function that allows you to freeze the picture. An interesting feature is the Zoom function. In this mode a cursor in the shape of a magnifying glass lets you easily select a section of the picture and enlarge it.

Such a complex receiver requires a proper user manual. ASTON does not disappoint here. Whether a single antenna, multifeed, multi-user or a motorized type of system is desired, detailed information and graphics are provided for each possibility. The selection of available languages for the on-screen menus is rather limited at English, German, French and Spanish. The System menu includes an especially interesting feature. Next to all of the standard functions that you would expect to find is a section where you can enter in your own local coordinates. For single antenna systems this feature will calculate the azimuth and elevation for each desired satellite. For motorized systems these values together with the LocSat function make installation easier and aid in more precise positioning. A nice little extra is the LNB monitor. If the coax cable from the LNB should become disconnected or if the LNB is removed from the antenna, an alarm tone will sound.

Once the antenna type is selected in the menu, a high-resolution graphic appears showing the selection. And if everything is properly connected, a virtual signal path along with sound and a signal strength/quality gauge is shown in the graphic. Aligning an antenna doesn’t get any easier. After the desired satellites have been selected and the LNB correctly configured, the automatic channel scan can be started. One or all satellites can be selected. An extra bonus is the symbolrate list. Here you can select up to eight symbolrates for a scan. This is an important feature if you’re trying to find unknown signals like feeds with low symbolrates (SCPC). During a search routine all of the data related to the actual transponder is displayed. In the subsequent channel list is the channel name along with the corresponding package name. This kind of a search could take as long as 25 minutes but in this time the entire band with all of the selected symbolrates is thoroughly searched. The result is that truly every signal above 1.8 Ms/sec. will be found. The search mode will find both analog and digital channels. A future scan to find new channels will take much less time.

Naturally, after such a scan, some organization will be necessary with all the newly found channels. A portion of this work is taken care of by the receiver itself in that it sorts the channels into TV, radio and data lists. In these lists you’ll find not only the program name but also all relevant parameters for each program. Next to the PID’s, information is also provided on language, teletext, EPG and encryption technique. A well-made Edit function helps to make deleting and moving channels easy. More popular programs can be moved into one of six different Favorites Lists.

Switching from one program to another in digital mode occurs very fast. The analog tuner is highlighted by a truly low-threshold level (roughly 4.7 dB). Two filters (27/36 MHz) are provided so that even “wide” signals can be viewed with clarity. The analog audio parameters are automatically set but can be manually altered if needed. An integrated equalizer functions for both analog and digital audio. Model: Aston Xena 2000 Function: Digital/Analog Satellite Receiver Interfaces:2 CI Slots and 2 Card Readers Channel Memory:5000 Symbolrate:1.8-40 Ms/sec. SCPC Compatible: yes Ku/C-Band Compatible: yes DiSEqC:1.2 and 2.3 Dolby Digital Output: yes



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