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Test Report for AZBox miniMe HDTV Linux Receiver

 
AZBox miniMe HDTV Linux Receiver

 AZBox-mini-me

The AZBox miniMe sports a stylish 'set-top box design', which means it comes with an unobtrusive back plastic casing which will make it a suitable addition to all your existing home entertainment gear. We were particularly taken to the slightly inclined side panels and the interesting design of the ventilation openings on the top side. In contrast to those unusual characteristics, the front panel looks rather conventional and comes with a button on the left to switch on the receiver. The button is surrounded by an LED that indicates the current operating mode of the receiver. Due its small size the back panel of AZBox miniMe looks a bit crowded, but that's only due to the fact that it offers a surprisingly wide range of connections.

 AZBox-mini-me-backpanel

The remote sits nicely in your hand and sports an ergonomic design that allows reaching all buttons with your thumb. What might be confusing at first is that in addition to the usual ring-shaped buttons around the OK button there is another set of six buttons in an outer circle. New users might find themselves pressing the EPG button instead of the DOWN button when zapping channels at first, but after a short while your thumb won't miss its target. What's more, we've been using the AZBox ME quite intensively in recent months so it's great to know we can just stick to the same remote. If truth be spoken, it only trickles down after a while how smart the layout of the remote is: As mentioned above, all buttons can easily be reached with the thumb and individual buttons can be distinguished even without looking at them. The actual high point of the remote control, however, is only revealed at second sight: If you open the battery compartment you will detect a small button that activates a learning function. There are only marginal differences which go unnoticed by users, since the processing capacity is identical and in both receivers the CPU is not fully exploited. In theory, for example, both processors could support even more flash memory. The single genuine processor-based distinction is Dolby Digital Plus, which is only available with the AZBox ME thanks to its SIGMA SMP 8655 processor. The AZBox miniMe we received for testing came with pre-installed AZtrino v1.6 Once we had connected all cables to the receiver we were finally able to turn it on. It always surprises us no end to see how user-friendly a receiver can be with topnotch software. In this case we were smoothly guided through various configuration steps by an efficient wizard, starting with language selection. Even though this receiver is small, the range of available languages is huge and we cannot think of a box that offers more options! Video resolution is next, with all modes from 480p to 1080p being available, either with 50 Hz or 60 Hz. Obviously, it is also possible to select interlaced mode (i) for all resolutions. We went for 1080i, a configuration that is very popular in Europe. What follows is the correct time zone, and here too the manufacturer seemed to have thought of all corners of the world. From these basic settings we are guided to the network parameters. DHCP is activated by default, and this actually makes sense since the router automatically assigns all required values and addresses.

 AZBox-mini-me-menu

If you prefer to work with a static user-defined IP address you can of course also manually set all parameters. At this stage you can even define a so-called time server from which the AZBox miniMe obtains the exact time. Let's turn to another very important aspect now. After all, the blind scan option is nice to have, but a receiver can only prove its worth in everyday use for watching television. No need to worry as far as the AZBox miniMe is concerned: It offers fast channel switching and comes with a very reliable software environment. During our test we were never faced with any freezes and all standard functions such as EPG, teletext or subtitles worked without a glitch. In order to test the PVR function we attached an external hard disk to the USB interface of the AZBox miniMe. It was formatted with FAT32 and already included a number of multimedia files, so that we were able to find out how easy or difficult it would be to use a pre-formatted hard disk with existing files in connection with the AZBox miniMe.


 

 

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