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Test Report for OPENSAT XT-9500 HD


The front panel of OPENSAT XT-9500 HD contains an on/standby button, and the vertical set of buttons control channel and volume. These light up in red when the unit is powered up, and they're quite bright too - almost too bright when watching TV in a dark room. A crisp text display shows the name and number of the channel being received, or the clock in standby. In standby mode, the button lights are still on, joined by the matching red glow of the on/standby button.

Under the flap on the front panel we find two CI slots for 0.52 pay-TV modules and even a Smart card reader. Also under the flap is a USB socket, used to upgrade the receiver's firmware from a USB stick. There's plenty of options to choose from when it comes to hook-up time. Two Scart sockets are available for TV and VCR. Helpfully for recording purposes, the VCR Scart always outputs in standard definition, so even HD channels can be easily recorded to DVD or videotape if required. The TV Scart can be set to use component video, so if your TV can handle such signals and only has a Scart connection available, you can still get HD resolution. If you end up with a scrambled picture in a resolution your TV does not support as I did, you can switch over to the VCR Scart and still see the menu. The quality increase though between this and HD delivered via component is amazing, and makes the usual picture look quite fuzzy by comparison. So much for RGB then! Sadly, we're still in the early days of HD so there are few FTA channels to choose from. We can still get the benefits though, as standard definition broadcasts are upscaled when viewing through component video or HDMI. This results in a noticeable increase in picture quality and sharpness over the standard Scart, but of course it's not close to the clarity of a true HD broadcast. Most major European languages are covered plus Arabic and Persian, and those in Eastern Europe will be pleased to see Czech, Slovak, Slovenian and Hungarian included alongside the more usual choices.

The installation menu is the first port of call when setting up for the first time. A comprehensive list of 51 satellites is pre-programmed into the receiver, and these can be edited, deleted or added to as required. The corresponding transponder lists appear to be equally comprehensive and up-to-date. DiSEqC 1.2 and USALS are included to give easy control of a DiSEqC motor for multi-satellite users. DiSEqC switches are DiSEqC switches are also supported and all necessary LNB parameters are editable, so most setups will be easily catered for. Channel scanning is well thought out. All transponders can be scanned, or just a single one. Network scanning is also available which is very useful on large satellites like ASTRA and HOTBIRD. A nice addition is a PID filter function, allowing scanning of only TV or radio channels. The satellite and transponder menus work together, aiding any editing required. The transponder list menu also contains a PID editing function, invaluable for those rare but important times where PIDs need to be entered manually. Searching an entire satellite is quite fast – an entire network scan of ASTRA 2 takes 16 minutes to scan 83 transponders.
After the scan is complete, the list of found channels can be edited before they are committed to the receiver's memory. There's no blind scan function, but as this is a receiver designed to be used to watch standard TV rather than search for unusual channels, it doesn't really feel like it is missing. With the channels safely in memory, we get to the further editing of the list to suit our individual preferences.
This is never much of a pleasurable experience, but the XT-9500 does a good job here of making it easier than most. All the editing, sorting and filtering functions we need are available, and are easy and intuitive to use. Eight favourites lists can be set up, and adding to these is easy too. A second window appears next to the channel list ready for channels to be copied into it. This can then be switched to, allowing arranging and editing in the same way as the main list. Everyday use Once we have our lists set up, finally we can sit back and watch some TV, and everyday viewing is helped by some good design here too. The main channel list can be sorted or filtered alphabetically.



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