Satman Canada Reviews the Viewsat 9000 HD
(revised Nov 29,2007)
(second revision March 10,2008)
(third revision September 8,08)
NOTE: Satman reviews units shortly after they are introduced to the market place. Most equipment makers update their products as customer feedback is carefully reviewed. Satman updates the reports from time to time to inform customers of these upgrades.
Out of the Box
The Viewsat 9000 is slightly larger than the Viewsat Ultra or Xtreme the box is noticeably bigger. Opening the box one notices that the packaging is recycled cardboard instead of environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam. The carton is only printed in English. Most vendors provide a DISEqC switch and RS-232 cable . An HDMI cable needed for HD connection is not included.
Initial Set Up
A flip of the switch and up the unit comes. Satman had to do somewhat of a double take because the VS 9000 is identical to the Ultra in menu look and operation.
Users wishing to upgrade from an Ultra will have no problem doing so.
Here's some shots of a French menu:
Menu Principal Reglage du systeme
Viewsat's team failed to update the channel list to accommodate existing C-Band HD feeds. C-Band users will find lots of exciting material especially on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Wild feeds abound with Saturday NCAA football, Sunday NFL, one can also find NASCAR feeds on weekends.
The satellites where these C-Band feeds are found are not on Viewsat channel lists. Here's how to step through the whole process of adding satellites and transponder info.
The best way to make a good channel list is to start at SATCO DX or Lyngsat. Another good source is forums specializing in "wild feeds" for news and sports.
First one needs a general knowledge of who uses what satellite. CBS uses T6 , ABC uses G4R , ESPN uses several satellites for feeds. Let's do T6..
First I have to add the satellite to the channel list so I add Telstar 6 C .The list has no parameters to operate from so the values for the primary CBS feed are added 4080 V 32362 3/4 . Supplied with the proper information the receiver quickly finds the signal.
Add Satellite List Name Enter Values Values Complete Signal Acquired
Having acquired a strong signal I can name the channel I have found so that it is easy to identify.
Scanned Signal Renamed New Channel List Enjoy Tennis!
This process was repeated on G4R C band and G10R C Band . Information found in some forums indicated that Movie Central had discontinued its in the clear C-Band feed on Anik F2 3893 H 9000 3/4 only days before our test therefore no effort was made to locate this signal. Our test did not do AMC 4 ku but you would have to additionally create a channel list for this satellite also . If one does a careful check of the Viewsat USA website you will find that the sat file info list currently published is NOT compatible with the HD unit therefore manual edits as explained above are the only way to add information is to use the above outlined process.
Time Spent Building Channel Lists Well Rewarded
Once important information is in the unit then the fun can begin !! Our tests were done on a fall Saturday afternoon which to most sports fans means NCAA College Football . Satman is a Big Red-Nebraska-fan and is sure to catch every game.
Screen Shots from G4R C Band 4040 V 29125 5/6
G10R 4180 H 20279 3/4 Lunch Time (but who's for lunch ?)
In a later Saturday/Sunday test several sports feed forums were checked and many games were located.
KU Band Operation
Most readers of this article to not have access to C-Band so this is what you have been wanting to read !! Satman carefully reviews C-Band because it is a good indication of how the unit will perform under adverse conditions and weak signals.
Set up was done for T5 Ku using motor control DISeQ 1.2 software in VS 9000 . The channel list for auto scan was checked prior to scanning--a necessity as T5 transponders change rapidly. A typically weak transponder 11874 H 22000 2/3 was selected and checked a complete channel scan was done and 146 channels were found.
Find Sat Select Auto Scan Start Auto Scan 146 Channels
Midnight in Moscow
Screen Shots from T5 ku This illustrates how an S value (voltage going to LNB) is very constant. Q value(voltage returning from LNB) varies because transponders on T5 have different levels. This is typical of linear polarization. Circular polarization on High Power DBS produces higher S and levels that are more flat .
In all of our tests we were amazed at how easy the VS9000 was to operate . Viewsat appears to have intentionally designed the 9000HD so that users who wished to upgrade would find the transition to be transparent.
The nuts and bolts issues of signal handling ability seem to remain the same. The tuner is no more sensitive than the Ultra . Given that most users use the product on high power circular polarized DBS there is no issue although it would have been a nice improvement.
Several user forums have commented about switching issues. Axing 4x1 Diseqc switch from Satman works best.
Dual Tuners on HD 9000 ??
The absolute short answer is yes. The detailed answer -- two tuners are found in the unit one for off air ATSC signals and a second tuner for satellite signals. Many Canadians are asking what is ATSC ?? Americans know that ATSC represents HD signals broadcast off air. The US is in the final stages of a digital transition while Canada -- as one would expect -- has not even started an orderly transition program. The use of the VS 9000 HD to capture off air signals plus satellite signals makes for a great deal of value added and functionality. If you live in the US or Toronto ,Montreal, or Vancouver then you can get off air DTV signals. In Winnipeg Global has applied to the CRTC for a digital license . The CBC's President Robert Rabinovitch is saying the corporation has no money for HDTV in the Winnipeg market. Here is a good source of information for Canadians wishing to receive HD off air programming. Americans needing a more accurate list can simply plug in their zip code to the Consumer Electronic Association web site .
The VS 9000 gives no on screen indication of what picture transmission rate it is receiving. 480,720,or 1080 ?? The SD picture quality seemed to be lacking when compared with even a Viewsat Ultra. Most HD units allow the user to upconvert the transmitted picture quality to a higher level the VS 9000 HD seriously lacks this feature.
March 10,2008 Update
Users have not rated this as an ongoing issue . Users should not that several HD programs are transmitted at 720i .
No adjustments for AC3 audio could be found the unit simply said stereo, right, left. Most HD units indicate when AC3 is present and if you highlight AC3 it will pass. This is a software issue and many STB manufactures address this issue in early software updates. Some user groups are reporting that audio drop out still exists as of the Sept 8,08 update report.
March 10,2008 Update
The AC3 audio issue has been addressed in recent software upgardes.
September 8,08 Update
Viewsat updated the look of the VS 9000. It is an option. The download can be found on the Viewsat website.
Here are some shots showing how to upgrade.
Check old software version With new GUI file form Viewsat site Load New GUI full Wide Screen Display
The new GUI software allows a full widescreen display of the information. It makes the most of any HD TV you may own.
Final Evaluation and Purchase Recommendations
Satman does find the VS 9000 has operational capabilities of the Ultra therefore any buyer knows that he will immediately find the unit to be reliable. Owners of the Ultra will find the transition to this product to be seamless.
Viewsat aficionados who want to grow with the product with have an exciting journey as the Viewsat team improves their product. The general public can have access to HD and an expectation of performance generally equal to the Ultra.
At a retail price of approximately $450 this unit represents good value. HDTV prices are dropping due to increased demand and the strength of the Canadian Dollar.
Greater value added exists for Canadians in areas here off air HDTV broadcasts exist--in the Toronto , Montreal, and Vancouver areas. Vancouver rbroadcasters recently added
a CBC and Global HD off air channel. It is truly disappointing that Winnipeg has no HD off air stations.
Satman has compiled a features table to help consumers make wise comparisons:
|Receiver||USB Ports||Up Scaleable Picture||Blind Scan||Pass AC3 Audio||Channel Lists Current||Retail Cost|
|Pansat 9200 HD||1||yes||yes works great||yes||current to three months||$459|
|VS 9000 HD||2||no||yes||yes||UpDate at satcodx.com||$489|
|SV 8000 HD||1||no||yes works great||yes||some update required||$479|
|Coolsat 8100 HD/PVR||1||yes||no||yes||current to three months||$489|
Final Thoughts....Satman says
C band Tests conducted with 12' Odem dish and DMS BSC-621-2 feed . Ku band tests done with KTI 1 meter dish motorized with SG2100 motor using an Invacom QPH-031 dual linear/circular feed.
PVR NOTE: Due to the level of performance reported by users using various hard drives Satman has chosen NOT TO TEST PVR functionality on this unit. In order for the test to be fair and valid ONE hard drive must be used on all brands of receivers.
SatmanCanada does not test ANY 3rd party software.
SatmanCanada welcomes questions and comments about any products we have reviewed.