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Test Report for Arion AF-9330PVR

 
Arion AF-9330PVR

The AF-9330PVR certainly looks the part with a sleek mirrored front panel. No buttons are visible, but the basic on/off, menu and volume controls are available under a flap, which also hides the one Irdeto CAS embedded and two common interface slots. An VFD display shows various information, the most important being the channel number and the recording status.

Unusually, the receiver is supplied with two remote controls. The first is a good-looking, long silver unit. The second remote control is very small in size, containing only the most basic controls to for the channel, volume, recording and playback functions.

At the rear panel of the receiver, one can find 0/12V output is present, and DiSEqC 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 are supported along with the USALS protocol.

The receiver has a flexible set of options when it comes to setting up the antenna inputs. In addition to the typical twin-tuner setup of using a twin LNB to provide the same signal to both tuners, two others are available.

The second option is to loop the LNB1 output into the LNB2 input, allowing you to enjoy some of the twin tuner's advantages if you have only one input cable available.

This of course limits the channels that can be viewed and recorded at the same time, but the receiver does at least recognize this and limit the channels that can be chosen on the menu to reflect this. The final option is to have a different satellite on each of the of functions. The second remote is the opposite– a very small unit at just 11cm long, containing only the most basic controls to for the channel, volume, recording and playback functions.

At the back, you'll find the all the expected connectors: two LNB inputs – each with a loop-through output, two Scarts, RCA outputs for video and audio along with S-VHS and S/PDIF outputs. RS-232C and USB ports are available for connection to a computer. A 0/12V output is present, and DiSEqC 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 are supported along with the USALS protocol.

The receiver has a flexible set of options, when it comes to setting up the antenna inputs. In addition to the typical twin-tuner setup of using a twin LNB to provide the same signal to both tuners, two others are available. The second option is to loop the LNB1 output into the LNB2 input, allowing you to enjoy some of the twin tuner's advantages if you have only one input cable available. This of course limits the channels that can be viewed and recorded at the same time, but the receiver does at least recognize this and limit the channels that can be chosen on the menu to reflect this. The final option is to have a different satellite on each of the two inputs. Arion Af9330 PVR has the capacity for 4 channels recording simultaneously with Timer recording (40 events available).

This again limits some of the PVR functionality but in return allows the recording of channels from two different satellites at the same time. The receiver comes with a fairly up-todate database of satellites and transponders. Thankfully the network scan option is available so most of the missing channels will be found on the major direct-to-home satellites. The manual mentions that an editing package utilising the RS232 port will be available, so adding new transponders should not be too tedious a task. Channel scanning speed is impressive, with the 89 pre-programmed transponders of Hotbird scanned in 3 minutes 47 seconds.

There are only a few Irdeto embedded PVRs in the world and Arion’s AF-9330PVR is one of them. Using the network scan option increased the number of transponders found to 110, and the scan time to just over 5 minutes. Once you have the channels stored, they can be chosen from a list accessed with the “OK” button. This can be sorted into order alphabetically or by the encryption status. This optional sorting has to be chosen each time this menu is accessed, which is a small annoyance – the manufacturer however says that a future upgrade will allow the previous choice to be remembered. It's a good option to have though, as a large list of channels in their default order is difficult to navigate. Thankfully the favourite channels function works well.

When the favourites mode is selected, only the channels entered into the favourites list appear. Up to four favourites lists are available and their names can be edited as needed. Adding channels to the favourites list is a laborious process, but is well worth doing to get around the unfriendly default list. In this menu you'll also find a multi-picture option. Between two and sixteen channels are shown as a static image on a grid. You can then use the arrow keys to move between them with the selected channel showing the live broadcast.

In the [File management] menu, Arion AF9330 PVR has many useful and unique features. You can check all recorded file not only by the file name but also by pictures.

(Every file has a ‘Preview picture’ next to the file name, so users can easily see what the files are.) Choose one of recorded file and press “Info” key, then the file is shown into 16 multi-windows with each different times. So users can pick up the part they want to watch. Also users can cut off any parts they want from the recorded file. Users can play back any parts they want from the recorded file repeatedly. Book mark: you can search any parts very quickly and easily by bookmark during the recorded file playback.

Most of case, if you want to go to ‘Bookmark’, you need to first open the file. But you don’t have to. Users can go to Bookmark directly even from the file list. Just choose a recorded file and press ‘go to bookmark’ button.

A picture-in picture (PIP) function is also available, which can be controlled with the dedicated PIP buttons on the remote. This allows two different channels to be displayed at the same time, or one channel and a recording. Basic channel list editing functions are available in the editing menu. Channels can be moved, deleted, renamed or password protected. Transponders can be added and deleted, and the default list of fifty-three satellites.

Using the up/down buttons to zap from one channel to the next is not as fast as you would expect when the rest of the 9330's functions feel nicely responsive – it takes about a second for the next channel to appear. ARION have given an inventive spin to this however. In addition to the default, where the screen goes black while the next channel is tuned you can choose to have the previous channel's video frozen until the next channel appears – or for it to fade out, and the next channel fade in. This gives the operation a relaxed and classy feel, just the kind of thing to impress your friends with. In reality it does not change the time it takes to change channels, and those of us with zapping addiction may find that it makes it feel even slower! The 9330 offers several ways of recording programmes and a good read of the above average manual will help in understanding how it all works. The first mode is “instant recording”. With this enabled, the receiver starts recording a channel as soon as it is displayed.

The final and simplest recording option is simply pressing the record button on the desired channel. This starts recording with default duration of 2 hours which can be changed in the recording menu. The stop button can be used to cancel one or more channels being recorded. Radio channels can be recorded in the same way as TV channels. The fast-forward and rewind functions are not available when listening to radio broadcasts, but pressing the play button gives the option of moving backwards and forwards in blocks of time to locate a specific part of the programme. This is also available when replaying radio recordings.

The hard drive is fairly quiet, but it does make a small noise when in use and when changing channel. Recordings are accessed from the PVR menu and the quality is indistinguishable from the live broadcast. The amount of recordings that can be held on the 80GB drive is dependent on their original quality, but around 40-50 hours could be expected.


 

 

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