This report is the Copyright property of Roy Carman (Tempus Fugit Satellite Publications) It may not be copied, reprinted, nor stored in a retrieval system without the express permission of the owner. Roy Carman 2003.
Looking at the construction and board configuration of this receiver I would put a few pounds on the Satwork 3618 being yet another clone. The Satwork, being blessed with what can only be termed as really awful software. One wonders and is hoping that the software on the Inovia can be transferred to the Satwork, thereby resurrecting a receiver bound for the dump.
The test conditions were as follows.
Using a Triax 1 metre dish with an Invacom Twin Universal LNB.
The IF route to the Innovia receiver was via an Eurostar 8 Way active IF distribution unit.
Other receivers sharing the Euro Star splitter, but not turned on, were, Nokia 9600s with DVB 2000, RSD ODM 302, Satwork 3618, Coship 3188 C, Echostar AD 3000 IP Viaccess.
The dish was moved with an Echostar AD 3600 IP Viaccess. This receiver uses the second IF line direct from the LNB.
The TV signals using the CVBS output (in this case 3 RCA phono) from the Innovia were fed through a Pioneer VSX 909 RDS Digital Signal Processor amplifier.
On leaving the Pioneer the Video signals were then fed through a Data Video Distribution Amplifier / Time Base Corrector VP-299 / TBC 1000.
Speakers for surround sound were a set of six TEACs. 2 x Front, 2 x Rear, 1 x Centre, 1 x Bass. (Cheap, Cheerful and very exceptional)
The TV is a Bang and Olufsen LX 6000 of some 10 years vintage. (I hate 16 by 9)
ALL connecting leads are homemade in my workshop.
Weather at the time of writing varied from rain to dry and sunny
Description of the receiver.
The Innovia IDS-3088S is the newest of the blind search receivers that I have had the pleasure/displeasure to test.
The receiver arrived from China in just its primary packaging, which was to say the least a little battered.
The receiver is housed in a smaller container than normal and is almost square in appearance. 11 inches by 9.5 inches by 31/2 inches deep, approximately.
Just looking at the rear mounting plate it can be deduced that this receiver has been produced for the European market place.
Two Scart sockets immediately catch the eye along with two sets of 3 RCA phono sockets. Unlike the Coship and the Satwork, it does not have the SVHS socket, however this is available via the Scart.
The usual IF loop through accompanied by an UHF modulator loop through. Via the menu this UHF loop through can be switched to work with any PAL signal.
There is the usual RS 232 port for linking to a computer for upgrading purposes or connecting to another like receiver to pass data between them. The cable used to connect to a computer or another receiver is a Serial Cable and not the Null Modem type that we are used to in Europe. Also there is cluster of 4 spring clip fasteners for skew and accessories requiring 12 volts.
The mains off and on switch is on the front of the receiver which is a much more convenient place for it to be situated. For some obscure reason there are a further three buttons on the front, a Menu button, and Up an Down arrows. What the purpose of those being there really is, escapes me, as they can only be used in conjunction with the remote control unit (RCU).
Accompanying the receiver was obviously a remote control unit with batteries. I never use these batteries from China because they have a tendency to leak so destroying the RCU. A very useful 1 metre 3 phono connecting lead and a Userís Manual, yes, well that is what is written on the front cover.
The best bit of news about this receiver can also be found tucked away in very small print on the face of the receiver, it is DiSEqC 1.2 capable.
Switching on the receiver and the Menus.
On switching on the screen tells the user that there is "No TV Program".
The first button to push on the RCU is the one marked "Menu".
5 Options are given.
All of these have their relevant sub menus.
The first I advise you to explore is the System Setting menu. It is here that I learned the receiver has the following language options.
English, France, Deutsch, Italiano, Tuerkce, Espanol, Polskl, Indoensia, Arab, Persia, and Russian. Well that is what it says anyway.
With this sub menu you can also set the menus colour, the on screen mix ration, TV Type (PAL, NTSC, SECAM or AUTO). Video mode (CVBS, S-VHS, or RGB), TV mode, and the RF modulator settings.
Just this sub-menu alone indicates this receiver is usable World Wide.
The next port of call on the menu for the DiSEqC user would be "DiSEqC Positioner". Here the set up of the dish is activated with the usual East and West stops and the positioning of the relevant satellites you wish to visit. I thoroughly dislike DiSEqC so I am leaving that switched off and relying on my trusty Echostar to move the dish.
Switching to the Parental Control Menu you will find an amazing list. Password control, System time (which at this time I still cannot get to work, should it work? No good looking at the User Manual!) System Schedule (This requires the Clock to be working), System Update (As with most of these Chinese receivers they can be configured to work to and from a computer, or to and from another receiver of the same type.) Also within this menu are the facilities to clear, All TV Channels, Radio Channels, ALL Channels, ALL TPs and channels. And last but not least the dreaded one marked "Factory Restore".
A quick visit to the Edit Channel Menu reveals everything that you expect to be there on a good receiver.
Before going to the Channel Search Menu, the heart of the receiver, I will mention the Game Menu. Why Oh Why do some manufacturers insist on putting meaningless games onto their products when the memory that these games take up should be used, as is definitely the case for this receiver, to increase the amount of channel memory. This receiver sadly has a relatively small memory for European usage.
The Channel Search Menu at first glance could easily confuse the not so experienced user. As you switch to the first Menu screen the cursor is set on satellite 1 which in this case is Hotbird. Whilst the cursor is upon the Satellite name, depressing the right arrow on the RCU reveals a list of some 60 satellites across the whole of the Clarke Belt, many of them being within our segment of the arc. For those satellites that are missing for your arc, the menu provides the facility to rename one of those that you cannot see for use within your particular arc.
Using the receiver.
This first Channel Search Menu screen also raises the question that with a Blind Search Receiver such as this do we need to take up valuable memory space with transponders that could or could not be active? I later discovered that these preloaded TPs could be removed by using the Remove All TPs function in the parental control menu.
I decided that the first search would be of Hotbird at 13 east, using those TPs already set in the receiver software. How to do this you will have to work out for yourself, as the Userís Handbook requires a drastic re-write by a competent Technical Author.
Once the receiver was searching I was impressed with the speed that it searched each TP in turn. Within 51/2 minutes the receiver had downloaded 778 video channels and 545 radio channels.
I will jump ahead here a little. When I "Blind Searched" the Hotbird satellite constellation in its entirety yesterday, the receiver found 91 active TPs, but simply defaulted to the menu instead of downloading the channel data, hence my previous communication doubting the memory capability of this receiver.
Transponders can also be added and removed within the first screen of the Channel Search Menu.
I find the search menus a little fiddly to say the least, but once you have discovered how and when the various functions happen, I believe menu usage will very quickly become second nature.
Blind searching Astra took just 18 minutes, and a further five minutes for the channel download. Finding in all 64 active transponders that translated into 480 Video, 469 Radio channels. I then tried adding Hotbird by Blind Search once more. The search went OK but when the receiver switched to add channel mood it would only down load the amount of channels to a total of 1,100 including the Astra channels. This is the point where I discovered the use of the Remove All TPs as I mentioned previously. I will again labour the point here of what should be referred to as "Useless Manual" instead of Userís Manual.
After a "Factory Restore" and using the "Remove all TPs" function to clear the receivers software database, the receiver was then fully prepared to search, find, and download 92 TPs with a total of 846 Video and 565 Radio Channels from the Hotbird constellation at 13 east. Getting excited at this point with the thought that I may have cracked the limited memory problem I moved too blind search Astra at 19.2 east. Here 470 TV and 478 radio channels from 64 TPs to add to the list. To test the receiver to the limit the dish is then moved to Astra 2 / Eurobird 1 constellation at 28.2 East. As was expected the receiver found all the active TPs (74) but would only download enough combined radio and TV channels to reach the 3000 channel limit.
So this receiver will store 3000 channels as long as you remove the onboard software TPs at start up, and further more remember to do this every time you do a factory reset. If you are going to buy one of these receivers it will pay you to remember this fact.
What about entering a single frequency and polarity, will the receiver automatically find the SR? The answer to this is no when using the first Channel Search screen. But if you use the blind search facility and enter as your start and end point of search as the same frequency, add polarity, search, then it will find the TP data. The data can only be read after it has been downloaded and the "Info" button depressed on the RCU.
Sadly, as with both the other blind search receivers the data displayed does not give you Forward Error Correction (FEC).
I found all other functions simple to use and easy to understand. An editor usable via the PC would improve things, obviously.
On doing a final check of all the receiver functions I find that the clock has set itself up automatically. What triggered that I do not know. I guess it was on a signal from one of the Sky channels that are allied to Sky Programme Guide. This allows the user to set "System Schedule", the programmer for out of hours or away from home recording.
I am still intrigued as to what "System Version" in the "Parental Control" menu does. When entering, you are asked for a Password. No matter what you enter you get told "Password Error".
When viewing the "Main Menu" list you get a thumbnail view of the channel plus the audio is still present, that the receiver is on. This is also present when pressing OK to list the channels that are downloaded in the receiver, also displayed are the frequency in use and the symbol rate.
The Symbol Rate carries the classic ST 5518 processor error, 6666 true appearing as 6671, 5632 as 5640, 6111 as 6117, 27500 as 27531, etc. You soon get used to the error and adjust your brain accordingly.
A small criticism is that you can inadvertently turn down the volume on the receiver when carrying out normal menu, receiver functions. So if you think you have lost the audio, just depress the right hand arrow and the volume will rise again, also an indicator to that effect is seen on the screen.
The TV picture is excellent and the audio outstanding for the price of this receiver.
This is bold attempt at producing both a normal "User" receiver and a receiver for the feed hunter. The great thing is it nearly works, and it will work with a little more thought toward the often quirky software and a total re-write of the Userís Manual, but most of all the addition of a much larger and stable memory.
I can see this becoming a Flag Ship receiver in the Feed Hunting armoury in the very near future.
As a feed hunter I love this receiver, but as a normal satellite user I would tread very warily until the Userís Manual is written in more understandable and expanded terms.
With good use of the Menus a feed hunter could store up to 3000 Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) feeds on correctly named satellites and if you are a DiSEqC user it will even move your dish for you. This as long as the user remembers to use the "Clear all TPs and Channels" facility in the Parental Control menu
Suggestions for both Hardware and software improvements
For use in the Europe as a multi-satellite receiver the memory does need to be at least doubled, I think nearer 8,000 channels would be the minimum. 10,000 would be great.
About another 20 additional satellites would also be welcome.
(My reason for asking for such a memory advance is as follows, I am sick and tired of having to have one receiver for the "Entertainment" channels, one receiver for storing the thousands of feeds, and yet another for finding the feeds. Just one receiver with which I can do the lot is a dream come true. I am sure there are many Wives out there who would second that.)
The inclusion of the FEC in the channel data is a must for European users.
Setting Symbol Rate search to start at 1000 bits not 2000 bits, but keeping the upper limit at 45000 bits. This is a must also.
Separate Channel List for each satellite, instead of the one long list as we have at present. I would agree the use of the Sat button on the RCU to find the relevant place in the list and move the dish if using DiSEqC, is at the moment very useful.
The polarity being searched displayed in the search screen.
The ability too move/speed up the search, through those parts of the frequency spectrum that a satellite does not illuminate. For example W 1 at 10 east illuminates between 10.950 GHz and 11.200 GHz, 11.450 GHz and 11.750GHz and finally 12.500 GHz and 12.750 GHz. At present we have no way of knowing with the Inovia where the search is up to, if the search progress was displayed it could be seen when the receiver was entering one of these non-illumination areas, and the facility to accelerate the search on to the next active segment of the spectrum.
Get rid of the dreadful game! It is a real waste of receiver memory capacity.
The purists would demand much more, but for the present they can carry on using the now ancient Nokias or the Twinham card. Maybe someone will write software for this receiver similar to the excellent DVB 2000 programme for the Nokias.
After years of excuses by other manufacturers we at last are entering another World. The World of the blind search receiver, and I personally believe will be the way all receivers eventually will go. Why, because of the simplicity of keeping a receiver up to date. No more need to refer to countless web sites or out of date publications to catch up on active transponders. No more denial by the list keepers that such and such a TP does not exist, how wonderful.
This receiver is the best by far of the three I have tested that boast blind search.
I congratulate those at "Innovia" for giving me the privilege to test such an excellent receiver.
With a little more thought toward software, and an improved memory this receiver could and will take on the World.