Review of iconBIT STB330DVBT2: Affordable TV set-top box with DVB-T2 support or preparing a sled from summer



Russia did not have time to fully switch to the DVB-T standard of digital television, as at the end of March this year it launched testing of the more advanced DVB-T2 standard. And the plans in this direction are long-playing - by 2015, the entire territory of Russia will be covered by digital broadcasting, after which analog broadcasting will be completely turned off.

Today, there are not so many devices that allow working with the new digital broadcast format. IconBIT is a pioneer in this field - one of the few companies producing set-top boxes that support the new DVB-T2 broadcast format.

A detailed review and video review of the available SBT330DVBT2 console under the cut.


What for?


Why switch to a digital broadcast format, and even more so to DVB-T2?

There are several reasons, but the main one is the quality of the picture, but more on that later. There are other reasons - for receiving an “analogue” it is required that the transmitter be in direct line of sight, and a “digit” can be received in more severe conditions, for example, a signal can be reflected from a neighboring building. In addition, one digital channel accommodates 8 digital channels and 3 FM stations. And the powers required for transmitting a digit and an analogue differ by orders of magnitude, and with the same transmitter power, a digit is transmitted over long distances than an analogue. However, at the moment, the digital transmitters in Moscow are not working at full capacity, and therefore, at a large distance from the Ostankino TV tower, the digital signal may not be available, while the analog signal will be available. But there is a significant point - the digital signal has a threshold, and analog television can be received even with a very small signal value. But even the lack of a response threshold for analog television will not help him win the confrontation with the new standard of digital television - because when the test broadcast is over, the transmitters' power will be increased by 7-10 times - the coverage area will accordingly increase. And of course, the advantages of DVB-T2 do not end there - the digital standard has a lot of interesting “goodies” - TV guide, subtitles, the ability to select an audio channel, etc. - all this will be written in the “Settings” and “The most enjoyable part is watching TV” sections.

Now let's get back to the issue of DVB-T2 picture quality. As you know, in Russia there are no free HD channels yet, and there are few paid ones ... A poorly informed person can say “why do I need a figure if there is no HD? Enough for me. ” Yes, there is no HD, but ... It is in the “but” that the whole point lies. After all, everyone saw the quality of the original DVD disc? Is TVRip similar in quality to DVD? Not! And now I’ll try to explain why. I hope everyone knows what strings are on TV (and if not, then here ). So - the number of lines in NTSC is 525, and in PAL / SECAM - 625. But, do not forget that this is interlaced. The trouble is that in the analogue, no more than 360 lines carry unique information - everything else is alternation + noise (in an ideal situation there is no noise). But in DVB-T2 there are 576 of them and most importantly - they all carry unique information.

Move on. What is the aspect ratio of analog television? 4: 3. And the numbers? 16: 9. In other words, the figure can be viewed on the whole screen, both on a widescreen TV and on a regular one. А аналог без искажений и ухудшения качества в 16: 9. не посмотришь. But that is not all. In an analogue TV, all colors, clock, and contrasts are placed in one signal. Because of this, they are compressed, and as a result we get fewer shades of colors and poorer definition than in DVB-T2.

Let's stay a little longer on this issue. A small number of lines with unique information and shrunken colors are not the only problems of the analogue. There is also another - relaying. In some cases, this is the biggest problem. The essence of the problem is that on the way from the transmitter to the transmitter, the analog signal is saturated with noise. The problem is partially solved by transmitting TV via satellites to the main repeaters. (with conversion to digital during transmission and reverse conversion to analog when receiving). But it's expensive. And as a result, a pretty bad signal reaches many TVs. Of course, with special filters you can partially solve this problem, but only partially - there will still be a loss in clarity. I hope that it is no secret to anyone - that the figure is not burdened with such a problem.



Why buy the iconBIT STB330DVBT2 ?

There can also be many reasons. When digital television appeared, many began to buy televisions with built-in DVB-T receivers. Buying a new TV now only for the new DVB-T2 digital television format is not rational. And who knows - suddenly with DVB-T2 there will be the same story as with its predecessor DVB-T - what if a new format suddenly appears? Personally, I think that the situation is unlikely to happen again, but still much nicer when you buy a device with a price tag of $ 100-110 - you can try the new technology and not worry if it will have exactly the future that is prophesied to it.

Specification



Диапазон частот : VHF:174МГц — 226,5МГц§ UHF:474МГц — 866МГц
Файловая система : FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS
Соотношение сторон : 4: 3. 16: 9.
Разрешение видео : 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Стандарт цифрового ТВ : DVB-T2, DVB-T
Видеодекодер : MPEG4 AVC, H.264 HP@L4; MPEG2 MP@ML.HL
Demodulation : QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM, 256QAM
Decoder : FEC 1/2, 3/5, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5, 5/6 FFT mode: 2K / 8K 32K
Video formats : TS, MPG, MP4, AVI, MKV, DivX
Photo : JPEG, BMP, PNG
Audio decoder : MPEG audio MPEG1,2, MP3, WMA, AAC, Dolby, DTS audio

Appearance and equipment





The prefix is ​​sold in a stylish black box, the inner space of which is divided by a seal into two compartments - in the first there is a prefix, and in the other there is a white box with accessories, which by the way are many:
Remote control, power supply, USB-AB 2.0 cable for connecting the prefix to computer, YPbPr cable and manual.



STB330DVBT2 is made in a concise design and has a fairly small size for a device in which you can install a hard 3.5 "drive: 22.8x17.8x4 cm. The case of the console is made of metal coated with black textured paint, in which there are ventilation holes.



Передняя панель устройства сделанна из пластика и на ней располагается цифровое табло, лейб, кнопка включения § выключения и несколько полезных кнопок: CH+§^, CH-§v, VOL-§<, VOL+/>, OK, BACK. In case of loss of the remote control, these buttons will allow you to use some of the basic functions of the device, however, there is no question of the full use of the device without the remote control.



On the back of the console are a variety of connectors: input and output for the antenna, coaxial output, HDMI, composite video output, component video output, stereo audio output, on / off button and connector for connecting the power supply.



And on the left side there is a slot for memory cards (SD), 2 USB 2.0 ports for connecting various devices and one port for connecting a USB-AB 2.0 cable, as well as a compartment for installing a hard drive:
The remote control is not unusual in design, but practical , and what I liked most - the D-pad (four-position button) is made of plastic, and not of rubberized material - which means it will not jam after a few months of active use.

HDD installation



Special attention should be paid to the possibility of installing a hard drive inside the device. I was glad that you do not need to format the hard drive to work with the console. This is often the case with similar consoles - often devices that support the “timeshift” function require that the hard drive be formatted in the device to create additional partitions. And this creates certain difficulties - if there is a data disk, then in order to make the device work with this disk, you must first move somewhere all the data from this disk (this is the biggest problem, because there may not be space), format the disk in the device, throw back all the disks and only after that you can use it. Not very convenient, is it? Fortunately, the STB330DVBT2 has no such problem.



We must immediately take into account that it is desirable to use "low-speed" drives (5400-5900 rpm), and even better, the so-called "green" hard drives - this is exactly what I used: Seagate 1.5 Tb Barracuda Green ST1500DL003. High-speed ("hot") discs, of course, can be put in the console, but they will make a lot of noise and warm up.



"Hard" is mounted in a special metal container on four pins and four side screws (optional). You do not need to use any connecting wires - the necessary connectors are built into the set-top box in the corresponding compartment - the case with the disk can simply be inserted into this compartment.





When using the Seagate 1.5 Tb Barracuda Green ST1500DL003, no problems were noticed - in order to hear the hard drive working (while recording air), it is necessary to be in close proximity to the console in complete silence, and even under such conditions it is barely audible that the drive is working. The one-piece metal case of the set-top box removes heat well - after two hours of continuous recording to the hard drive, the set-top box became only barely warm.

Preparing to turn on and start the device



As you probably already understood, the set-top box can be connected to a TV or monitor using an analog (component / composite) or HDMI output. In my case, the HDMI output was used. Sound can be output via HDMI, or you can use the analog stereo output. But the most unusual, in my opinion, is the presence of a third way to output sound - using a coaxial output - a rarity for a device of this class. In my case, a stereo audio output was used - I connected the STB330DVBT2 to the receiver, to which I have two speakers connected.



And to receive DVB-T2, I used the budget option - a room dipole antenna, which, incidentally, perfectly catches in the eastern district of Moscow.



After the first power-up, the “Installation Assistant” window appears. In this window, you can select the menu language, country (for example, Russia or Ukraine) and go to the next window, i.e. to search for channels.

DVB-T and DVB-T2





During automatic search, the device first scans the “rural” VHF frequency range (“rural” because it is unsuitable for densely built-up cities), and then scans the “urban” UHF frequency range, in which the DVB-T frequencies are located (frequency: 578 MHz, band: 8MHz) and DVB-T2 (frequency: 546 MHz, band: 8 MHz). It takes 5-7 minutes for the device to scan these two ranges. Scanning the entire range makes no sense, so you can skip “unnecessary” frequencies using the menu button

By the way, while I was looking for channels and playing with the location of the antenna in the room (I wanted to understand how close the window should be to the antenna), I got a little experimental confirmation that for reliable reception of DVB-T2, a less powerful signal is required than for DVB-T. Sometimes, changing the location of the antenna once again, I got a situation in which the STB330DVBT2 received only DVB-T2 and did not notice the existence of its predecessor.

At the closest location of the antenna to the window, I got the following results (reception quality can be found in the "channel information" menu):
Another confirmation that DVB-T2 is better caught.

And of course, radio stations still caught: Vesti FM, Lighthouse and Radio Russia. Personally, I did not notice the difference between the first and second standard when listening to radio stations.

But that is not all. Still sometimes 9 channels popped up at a frequency of 562 MHz, but, unfortunately, they all turned out to be encoded - this is some kind of paid package.

Settings





Not to say that there are many, but not to say that they are few - the most basic thing is:
Video . There are several modes: 400p, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p (60Hz). You can also select the required TV format: Pal or NTSC - in case you will use component video output. Ну и, конечно же, можно выбрать соотношение сторон: 16: 9. (Pillar Box, Wide Screen, Pan&Scan), 4: 3. (Letter Box, Pan&Scan, Full) или авторежим.

Sound . You can select PCM, RAW HDMI, RAW HDMI Off, Off. The presence of such a mode is due to the fact that you can supply sound as is, provided that the receiver has its own decoder, provide decoded sound, and you can also turn off sound via HDMI. The last mode turned out to be the most useful for me, because I put the sound out on the receiver and I don’t have to have a duplicated signal on HDMI.

Antenna . Antennas are both passive and active. Active antennas are those antennas that have a built-in amplifier that requires additional power from the receiver or from a separate power supply. Actually, the object of discussion allows you to work with both types of antennas - the menu contains the corresponding item "Antenna Power".

Time . The ability to work with time is another feature of DVB-T / DVBT-2 - you do not need to enter the time yourself just select the appropriate time zone and city. In addition, you can set the auto off / on timer.

Languages . You can configure both the menu language and the default language when automatically selecting the audio channel and subtitles.

The most enjoyable part is watching TV



In addition to the banal switching of channels and adjusting the sound volume, there are several more interesting things.

The choice of subtitles and audio tracks
So far this is just a look into the future. Currently available in Russia channels in digital format have not acquired the appropriate equipment or have not yet managed to turn on support for these functions. But from the fact that this function is already in the device, it won’t get worse, rather, on the contrary, it will be better, because sooner or later they will be implemented in Russian channels.

Program guide
Partly - this is also a look into perspective. But NTV and Channel Five already have support for this feature:

In my opinion - very convenient. In addition, you can not only find out what kind of program is going on now, which one will follow - but also read a very detailed description of the current program. This last opportunity I liked the most, because when you click on channels in search of an interesting program, such a description is very useful.

Editing and tuning channels
There are all the most necessary functions and even more:

For example, you can set up channel lists — add channels to your favorites, delete existing channels, hide channels (without deleting), change the order of channels in the list, and, of course, the developers did not do without the “parental control” function. In addition to all this, there is also the option of automatically sorting channels in the list - alphabetically, by special ID, etc.

Timeshift and Recording



In my opinion, this is the most useful feature. There are a lot of situations when this function may be needed. It will appeal to fans of sports programs. Putting it on record at the beginning of the program, you will never miss a goal, and you can also watch the fragment of the program you need as many times as needed. If you are watching an intricate film, you can always rewind and revise the key point to clarify the storyline. With this function, you can pause the program at any time and do not worry that you will miss something interesting. And so it can go on ad infinitum.

The only thing - before you start watching an interesting program, it is advisable not to forget to start recording. But in principle, even if you forgot to do it, and you were interrupted during the most interesting moment, then everything is not lost - after pressing the “REC” button for 10 seconds, the recording of air on the hard disk will start. But if the victim in the form of 10 seconds does not suit you, then it is advisable not to forget to set the record in advance.



The controls for this feature are simple and intuitive. If, after starting recording, you pause playback or rewind, an interactive bar appears, which displays where you are recording the file you are currently on. And there’s one more plus - you won’t be able to accidentally stop recording - after pressing the “stop” button, an additional confirmation is required by another button to end recording.

By the way, you can record not only to the hard drive - the set-top box also supports recording to a memory card or a USB flash drive / external hard drive. You can also configure the size allocated for the "timeshift": 0.5 Gb / 1.0 Gb / 1.5 Gb / 2.0 Gb / 2.5 Gb / 3.0 Gb / 3.5 Gb / 4.0 Gb.



And there is another function without which the prefix would be inferior - it is the ability to create a schedule of programs. There are two modes - viewing or recording. So, the first mode allows you to schedule programs for yourself in the near future. Pretty funny thing. You can remind yourself that I wanted to watch this or that program. Well, the second mode is recording to a hard drive or external media with the ability to repeat recording once a week or daily.

Impressions

Still, analogue television and digital are two completely different levels of quality. And after using this set-top box, I began to look a little differently on television in general. At least it struck me that using a simple room antenna, you can get very good picture quality. And if you use more expensive antennas that need to be installed on the roof of the building, you can, in principle, forget about artifacts and interference.

As for the console itself - there were no complaints about it - everything works like a clock: for the entire time of use, the device never hung, and the PVR function always worked at a strictly specified time. Of course, I would like the interface of the built-in shell to be more in line with current trends in the world of technology, but on the other hand, it is excusable for a device from this price category.

And it’s better not to tell some impressions, but to show them. And for this I suggest spending a little time and watching a short but capacious video review of STB330DVBT2. You can find the video at the end of the review.

Video and audio player





Do not forget that first of all STB330DVBT2 is a DVB-T2 set-top box, and only then a video / audio player. Therefore, you should not expect support for rare formats and other goodies from this device - for these purposes, iconBIT has a whole line of consoles (including those running Android OS) that will play almost all conceivable and inconceivable video and audio formats from a half turn.
But with all this - I could not pass by this function.

It’s easier to say what formats the console supports than to say that it does not support - in fact, I’ll do it. It was experimentally verified that the STB330DVBT2 successfully reproduced the following test video files:
Or the same, but in a more compressed form:
Containers : MPEG-PS (.mpg, .vob), Matroska (.mkv), AVI (.avi), MPEG-4 (.mp4), BDAV (.mts, .m2ts)
Codecs : MPEG Video, MPEG-4 Visual, AVC
Audio : MPEG Audio, AAC, PCM, DTS, Dolby Digital (AC-3)
Yes, the device is far from omnivorous, but for DVB-T2 set-top boxes with a price of about $ 100, whose main function is to receive digital television, the result is quite good . In addition, the codecs and containers supported by the prefix are quite popular - for example, if you download movies from a torrent tracker, then with a high probability you will be able to find the desired movie with the appropriate video parameters.

And yet - it was experimentally revealed that when using the AVC codec (BDAV container), the device confidently holds a 40-50Mbps stream at a resolution of 1920x1080, which indicates Full HD support - this is the highest level of quality for Blu-ray discs!



It was experimentally verified that the STB330DVBT2 successfully reproduced the following test audio files:
The device supports all formats except “music lovers”, which is acceptable in principle - this is a DVB-T2 set-top box, and not a professional multimedia player. She reads the remaining formats without any complaints.

Computer connection



As I said, a USB-AB 2.0 cable is included with the set-top box. If a hard drive is installed in the set-top box, then after connecting it to the computer using the USB-AB cable, the set-top box will be defined as an external hard drive. At the same time, the speed of copying from a computer to the console’s hard drive is approximately 22-25 Mbps, which is the norm for ordinary external hard drives (USB 2.0). However, if the hard drive is not installed in the console, then after connecting it to the computer, nothing will happen.

Connecting drives and memory cards to the console



To the console, you can connect external drives via USB - hard drives and flash drives. The device allows you to play media files and watch pictures from these media, as well as use them to record digital television (PVR function). In addition, there is a slot for memory cards, which will be useful, for example, by the owner of the cameras - you can view the photos you have taken on the TV screen - simply, quickly and conveniently.

The prefix recognized everything that I slipped into it - an external 1TB hard drive (powered by its power supply), an old 60GB external hard drive and various SD cards, as well as micro-SD (when using an adapter for SD)

The answer to the question “Why?” or review of competitors



To the question "Why take a DVB-T2 console?" we have already answered. And the answer to the question "Why exactly STB330DVBT2?" while it is in limbo - one review of the STB330DVBT2's features is not enough, you need to see how competitive it is - this will be an additional argument for the relevance of this review.

Let's just ask “DVB-T2 set-top box” query in Google search engine and see which devices appear on the first page (surprisingly, almost all DVB-T2 set-top boxes are sold only in online stores - that is, you will not find them on the shelves) :



The results speak for themselves. Among the competitors available on the market, no one has support for installing a hard drive, and this immediately casts doubt on the convenience of using the PVR function - in such devices it will be available only when using a flash drive - which means that one of the USB outputs will be automatically busy, and at the same time competitors only one USB output. Although, in my opinion - not so much the problem is that competitors have fewer USB ports, but that using a USB flash drive may not be rational - there will often be not enough space. And if you use the external hard drives of the console, it is at least unprofitable at a price (it’s cheaper to buy a hard drive for the console under discussion). It also seemed strange to me that most competitors have a USB port at the end of the device, and not at the back ...

And to all of the above, you can add that the prefix from iconBIT is one of the most universal in terms of video / audio outputs. And unlike most competitors, she acquired DTS support.

Pros and cons



Support for DVB-T2
✓ The ability to install a 3.5 "HDD
The presence of a large number of audio / video connectors
2xUSB 2.0, USB-AB 2.0
✓ A slot for memory cards
Full support for the PVR function
Low price
No HDMI cable included

Total



The STB330DVBT2 set-top box showed its good side: DVB-T2 support, the ability to install a hard drive inside the set-top box and connect external drives, full support for the PVR function, a large number of audio and video outputs, video / audio player - and all this at a price of ~ $ 100 . With such a good filling, the device stands out from the competition, which is not surprising in principle. After all, the manufacturer - the company iconBIT - is currently the market leader in media players.

Prices (at the time of publication of the review):
Art Technology: 3100 rubles
On-line Trade: 3390 rubles
M.
video : 3590 rubles
Funktech.ru 3590 rubles

Video review for a snack



A review is good, and a text review + video review is even better!



Happy viewing!