Sneak Peak on ASTRO's Next PVR/Setup Box

This is just in , I was reading the forums the other day and managed to get latest information on the up-coming ASTRO Plus. Its just a hype/rumour yet. I am not sure what are in store for us. Anyhow , does it matter ?. This is the information that I’ve extracted from this original source. On top of that , I’ve added my thoughts and cool alternatives (if you don’t have the moola to fork out that much of money).
First of all , you may ask What is ASTRO Plus (according to this guy , the name of the new setup-box isn’t confirmed yet – Think of it as Malaysia’s TiVo). Its a replacement for ASTRO Max. Its way better then Astro Max and it does more then just recording. According to the author who posted it, it has many new features. Firstly it is capable of outputting HD , meaning that once ASTRO launches HD Service (whenever that is) , this decoder can output HD , however its only through Component (The Red,Blue,Green cables) and not HDMI (what a surprise). That isn’t the issue here as Component is capable of outputting 720p and 1080i. So thats not an issue , Full HD users might rant as there isn’t any option to enable full use of 1080p. Does it matter ? It does for some. Okay thats the box overall

According to the author , here is the picture (a drawing well) on how it looks like :-

The New ASTRO Decoder/Setup Box ?
The New ASTRO Decoder/Setup Box ?

Here are some of the new stuff :-

  • It comes with Two TV Tuners (just like ASTRO Max) , meaning you can record one channel and watch another channel. But , now its possible to record two channels at once. Suppose if you want to record your EPL Match and at the same time a Chinese Drama over at CCTV. Its possible. However you can’t watch another channel without canceling one of the recording. Again this is an advancement. However, its even possible to do with the current decoder provided if you switch to DreamBox. So once again it isn’t new
  • Improved Time-shifting , the decoder starts to record the moment you watch a channel and not the time when you hit record. Since its a PVR , it actually records the whole show to its temporary folder , so that you can rewind “live” TV and pause “Live” TV. Imagine if you went out to the bathroom while you were watching the drama and if you missed the scene you could actually rewind back. -This functionality isn’t new , in fact any PVR can do it. For your information , my windows media center does this as well. MythTV does this as well. So maybe if you’re not the geek type , then this would be the best method.
  • Automatically record the whole serial. Whenever the serial is being aired , it will record the whole serial (even on Astro on Demand) , so that you’ll not miss it. It stores in the hard disk so you can view it at a later time. – Nothing Fancy , once again if you have a TV tuner and a PC , you can even do that. The PC is much more powerful then this PVR\

Well apart from that , it has digital output and Ethernet input. No no no , not yet..Don’t Jump..There is a catch – Uh yes –¬† ASTRO encrypts your recording so that you can’t transfer it to your PC or burn it to a DVD (which sucks) and it roughly costs around RM 2,000. It comes with a capacity of ~160GB.
My Verdict : I am not too sure about the price but I think its overpriced. For ASTRO , they should improve the trasmission first , the whole thing goes off when its raining (blah rain fade effect). So there is no point of me watching ASTRO on HD (if any) or record shows if I can’t get any sort of transmission. Apart from that the price is pricy. One could easily buy a HTPC or a PC and install a TV Tuner card which is pretty much does the same thing as this PVR. The only disadvantage is that you’ll have to configure it rather then it just works. Plus you could even cut commericals with the tools out there and burn directly to DVD or convert it to play on to a PC , iPod , MP4 Player , Cell Phones. ASTRO , if you’re reading this please , improvise your service first. I would like to you to come up with more channels without lousy compression and change it C-band , whereby it isn’t affected by rain fade !. This is a nice concept , however I just want ASTRO to improve the service !. Oh yeah those who are wondering when it will be launched , it will be launched somewhere in next year , so just keep your fingers crossed !

11 thoughts to “Sneak Peak on ASTRO's Next PVR/Setup Box”

  1. The new set top box replacing Astro Max is not rumor. A fren already beta testing it. Anyway… I still think Astro wasting time and effort on this. I prefer they focus on Digital Astro pushing out 1080p signal. The current Astro program is really suck especially with those new LCD TV. Too much Mpeg noise. Quality like our those VCD time. Not forgetting signal lost during cloudy and raining time. Come on Astro… You can do a better job. DOn’t wait for competitors coming or Internet TV possible on broadband. Till then, I will be the first to terminate my Astro subscription. You guys has really wasted our Malaysian subscribers $$$ by investing in Indo. Don’t need an Einstein to know Astro will never make it big in Indon. They have big motorized C band dish. Virtually receiving free program anywhere in all weather condition. Just point the dish n receive. Please think carefully Astro.

  2. One reason astro encrypts the recorded signal is because they are the pure digital streams. What they record is the original broadcast quality transmitted directly from their stations. If you guys use a tv tuner to record, there are definitely few disadvantages. First off, you will not be able to record the whole stream of videos and audios and subtitles of a particular time. When you record this digital stream, you will automatically record the video stream, and all the audio streams, including the subtitle stream. If you simply use a tv tuner card, you cant do that. Then, using a tv tuner card, causes recompression of the signal and causes more noise/pixellated scenes. Not to mention, inaccurate color reproduction. And since you guys mentioned hd might pop in soon…ure tv tuners might break recording at 720p or 1080i resolutions… hence there is a need to break the encryption and utilize the goodness of pure digital recorded signals ūüėõ

  3. actually quite happy to know astro are going to deliver hd content soon…
    anyway, not much content can be shown in hd since most of the programme are produced in non-hd spec.
    and recording… xD i prefer to set up my own tvbox using computer… and not astro max.
    and no point recording those programme… most of them i can get from the internet easily!
    #anyway, im not subscribing to astro and i dont watch astro… xD!

  4. Well the deal breaker for me is no HDMI. Surely to future-proof the box they should have included it, even cheap ass DVD players have HDMI now.
    I’m a little disappointed my astro max box didn’t come with these features as standard…
    By the way the name is a COMPLETE RIP OFF of UK Sky tv’s digital recorder (called SKY +)
    Well we should expect that as everything in Malaysia is a copy of something else, just look at all those shows on astro for example. Football crazy (UK programme SOCCER AM), acadamy fantastic etc

  5. I’m an old timer, have traveled the world and lived and worked on all continents. Astro probably ranks as one of the worst satelite tv providers on the planet. Cheapy cheap low tech micky mouse infrastucture. Malaysia is a forward, modern, thriving country and it’s people deserve better. Get into the 21st century Astro, or get out of the game.

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