I have been testing the AZBOX ME along with Rick and here is my review of it. I am using it as a slave from my 10ft C-Band dish with C/Ku and had not tested a motor with it as of yet.
AzBox Me ( Aluminum Body )
Operating System: Linux
Processor (CPU): SIGMA processor SMP 8655 AD ( 667 MHz + 333 MHz , 1230 DMIPS )
Memory: 512 MB RAM + 1 GB On Board Storage Memory ( Storage )
Flash Memory: 128 MB
Tuner: Single tuner (DVB-S2 or DVB-T/DVB-C) embedded.
DiSEqC: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, USALS
HDD: eSATA and internal SATA
Video Output: PAL / NTSC
MPEG1/2/4 (M1V, M2V, M4V); MPEG1/2 PS (M2P, MPG); MPEG2 Transport Stream (TS, TP, TRP, M2T, M2TS, MTS), VOB, AVI, ASF, WMV, IFO, ISO; Matroska (MKV), MOV (H.264), MP4, RMP4
XVID SD/HD; MPEG-1; MPEG-2: MP@HL; MPEG-4.2: ASP@L5, 720p, 1-point GMC; WMV9: MP@HL; H.264: BP@L3; H.264: MP@L4.0; H.264: HP@L4.0; H.264: HP@L4.1; VC-1: MP@HL; VC-1: AP@L3
AAC, M4A, MPEG audio (MP1, MP2, MP3, MPA), WAV, WMA, FLAC, OGG
AAC, AAC+, Dolby Digital, DTS, WMA, WMA Pro, MP1, MP2, MP3, LPCM, FLAC, Vorbis, DTS (Audio Pass-through); Dolby Digital (Audio Pass-through)
JPEG, BMP, GIF
SMI, SRT, TXT, SUB, SSA
576i (480i), 576p, (480p), 720p, 1080i, 1080p
10/100 Base-T Ethernet (max.100Mbit/s)
1x HDMI; 1x Component (YcbCr); 1x RCA Video; 1x RCA Audio (L/R); 1x e-SATA1x RJ45; 1x USB 2.0; 1x Optical S/PDIF; Power Switch;
1x CR Slot
The hardware is impressive in the ME. It is from what I know to be the fastest processor in any Satellite STB. Where it shines is in channel changing speed and recording high bit rate feeds. Definitely the fastest channel change of any receiver I have ever used as it takes about a second for most channels. Also you can now have 3 different images loaded and choose which one you want to use when booting. I have to say that is has the best picture quality of any receiver I have used bar none. Also PAL to NTSC conversion from what I have seen is flawless. You can also install an internal SATA drive or use an external eSATA. Most importantly it does do 4:2:2 like the first generation receivers.
At this point Blind Scan was just implemented in AZtrino 1.6 and RTI Enigma 1.6 but still has some bugs that need to be worked out.
The remote is much more basic than previous ones and unfortunately it will interfere with previous AZBOX's remote. My Onkyo A/V receivers remote was interfering with the ME but the latest E2 version fixed that. There is a 3 way switch under the battery cover but I haven't seen anything on what it does anywhere as there is no user manual yet just a hardware one, quick setup guide, and instructions how to load firmware.
If you find the previous AZBOX's difficult to navigate then this isn't the receiver for you. If you have trouble using a Openbox S9/10, Pansat, Manhattan, or any basic receiver stay away from this one. As with the previous lines this one is geared toward the European market. There also is a ton of settings and it is customizable in many fashions. I can see a novice really being confused and really having problems.
There is an Ethernet 10/100 port on the back as it is a must when upgrading firmware and keeping the correct time from the Internet. Initially there was no manual time setting but that was patched recently to allow it in the E2 firmware. There has been some development for a wireless adapter plugged into the USB port but I haven't tried any.
Being open source who knows what the future will bring. I feel open source will mean many great features that would never happen if opensat was only doing the firmware development.
Since the AZBOX ME's firmware open source and the source code is available to developers by request. The decision was made after Sigma's lack of support with the Android platform. It seems that Android has been abandoned for AZtrino as the official firmware.
Upgrading the firmware as I said requires an Ethernet connection and can be accomplished through your home network using a web browser. You essentially put the receiver in rescue mode by powering it up and holding the volume + button. After about 15 seconds you will see the IP address of the receiver scroll across the VFD (front display). Then you go to a PC on your network, open a web browser like Internet explorer, and type in the IP address. It will display a page where you can choose to flash firmware on one of 3 partitions. Choices are Boot 0, Boot1, and Boot2. This is a great advantage when testing different firmware’s. Loading firmware is also very quick and usually takes a minute or two.
I currently have 3 different firmware’s one on each partition. Switching between them is easy as when booting you can choose between any 3 by simply using the number keys on the remote to correspond with the boot number. After rebooting with a new firmware load you can use the front display to setup up the appropriate video settings for NTSC, resolution ect. All the latest version of firmware now have this feature.
There are currently 4 different versions of firmware for the ME AZtrino 1.6, RTI Enigma 2 Version 1.7, RSI E2 0.3 ME, and Spaze 1.0 Millennium Edition.
The official firmware is AZtrino and version 1.6 is the latest. They have released AZtrino for the original receivers.
I have to say that the official AZtrino on the ME is in my opinion is terrible and useless for the North American market at this point. If your thinking about upgrading your original firmware for an Elite/Premium/Premium +/Ultra to AZtrino I highly suggest you DO NOT.
AZtrino is extremely basic with no plug ins, YouTube, Web browser, or just about anything else. The only other features it has is a picture viewer and TS file player. I have tested it from version 1.0 up to the latest 1.6. The satellite list has only European birds and the menus are very different from anything else out there. You can update the satellite.xml file that it uses but you need an external program like Dreamset to do so. To set up a satellite the menu calls it services and then you have to configure the tuner and change the appropriate setting like LO, switches, ect. Again it is geared toward the European market so it will be like nothing you have seen before. Blind Scan was just implemented but doesn't work correctly for the USA market as more work is needed on it.
What I have found that if there is no Provider name for a mux it will see the signal and try to scan it in and you get transponder scan failed. This is troublesome as the CBS front hauls have no provider or the PBS feed on AMC-21 Ku as well. If there is a provider name it will scan those muxes in no problem. This has been there from version 1.0 and still in the latest 1.6.
I do have to say that it seems to play video files like AVi's and other formats very well in TS viewer.
With all that being said AZtrino is the least of what I have been using. I have been working with Rick and he has been passing the information I have found to AZBOX to help fix issues in AZtrino. At this point I only use AZtrino whenever a new version comes out and only for testing.
RTI Enigma 2:
The RTI Enigma 2 firmware is the best of all of them and since version 1.0 through 1.7(the latest) they have made many improvements in bugs and functionality. I have to commend the RTI Enigma 2 team on their efforts as it is the most stable and useful firmware for the ME. They had come out pretty quickly with firmware versions tackling the bugs and adding improvements rapidly. Blind Scan was implemented in version 1.6 and already patched once in it. Blind Scan in Version 1.7 is the same from 1.6 that was patched from what I can tell. It will let you scan in encrypted channels on standard Ku but will not find any FTA ones. On C-Band it will find transponders and then won't
scan anything in at all. In Europe it is being reported that the lower frequency Ku birds all do the same thing and not scan anything in at all just like C-Band does here.
More work needs to be done on Blind Scan but I have great faith in the RTI E2 team. It seems like all development of the ME isn't being done by Opensat but by the open source groups like The RTI Enigma 2 team.
The E2 firmware has plug ins such as My Tube player (basically YouTube and yes it does HD), Media center (for movies, pictures, music), and a few others included. There is no web browser but a plug in called web interface.
Web interface is settings for interfacing through your PC's web browser. You can actually stream whatever you have on the receiver to your PC using a web browser and VLC player and it works very well. It has a picture of the remote control also and you can change channels from your browser. You can also stream recordings from your receivers hard drive and that works very well.
Plug ins can be download from the receiver directly but most are geared toward the European market for services and are of no use to the NA needs.
The RTI E2 firmware has satellites from all over the world including North America. You can customize the satellite file satellites.xml for just whatever ones you want and can even split one each for C & Ku band. There is a website that has all the satellites that will create your custom list and it is said to be updated daily with transponder information. One thing is you have to manually set up your satellite configuration using the remote and the satellites listed on the site are what they are and you can not change their names or transponders. There are editors out there but I choose not to use one at this point. I was able to simply copy and paste the satellite.xml file using windows explorer to the Me in the RTI E2 firmware. You then reboot the receiver and the list shows up.
Initially I could only get C-Band birds to scan in using a Diseqc and no Ku birds. There are a ton of setting under tuner configuration and I couldn't get any to work. I decided to use a 0/22 KHz switch and now I get both bands.
Like the AZtrino to setup up a satellite and scan one in the menu you go to setup, then service, and Tuner setup. Notice it doesn't say satellite setup. Once you set up your satellites you can go to manual scan and you can scroll through the Birds you configured and choose the one you want. The choices are single satellite (scans transponders for that bird in the satellites.xml file), single transponder (manually input info including polarity and doesn't scroll through a list of them from the satellite.xml file), or multiple satellites. Doing a manual satellite scan gives you only 3 choices network scan, clear before scan, and only FTA with yes and no as your choice for each. There is no choice of polarity when doing a satellite scan it will just scan what transponders are in the satellite.xml file but this is common for most receivers. If you choose clear
before scan it will empty and previous channels you've scanned for that satellite previously.
The addition of Blind Scan is under manual scan and you can also select network, clear before scan, and only FTA but no choice of polarity. As stated above there are still some bugs to be worked out in Blind Scan. Like I said previously it is very different from any receiver out there menu wise and not for a novice.
The good news is it will scan anything in CBS front hauls, PBS's, ect as long as you can get a signal your fine. Since the satellite.XML file has most known transponders in it already I just would set my polarity on my analog receiver and scan the satellite twice. If the transponders are right you will get the channels in on the correct polarity. Scanning a satellite takes around 4-5 minutes depending on how many transponders are present. The less there are the faster it scans obviously.
One thing that is very different is that it arranges the satellites in 3 different sub folders lets call them. From top to bottom its listed as Services, Providers, and New for each satellite in the satellite list. It will automatically put the satellites in orbital order with all 3 folders. Choosing services brings all channels in that bird in the list. There is no way to arrange them and they stay in alphabetical order in that list. One issue currently is it will also put radio channel in the services list on some satellites. There is a TV and radio mode that can be selected but it is still a little cumbersome.
To change satellites for viewing it is a little awkward also. If you press the channel up/down button it brings up a list of the channels for the satellite you’re on and doesn't flip through channels like you'd expect. On the remote there are 4 different color buttons and green has satellite next to it on the screen. Select the green button and you can scroll through the list and choose the desired satellite and either services, providers, or new for the desired satellite. The left and right buttons around the OK one will change channels on that satellite. A bit weird but hopefully they will fix that so the channel up/down button works as it should as in other firmware.
Recently someone came out with a key file that maps the remote keys and it has fixed the channel up/down button to work as expected.
As I said earlier channel change is really fast at about a second for most channels with some taking a little bit longer. Picture quality is beautiful and you can change so many settings for the video like brightness, hue, sharpness ect.
Some bugs I have found in playing certain channels like eScapes just, as previous AZBOX receivers, the frame rate looks off and the video staggered in previous firmware. With the latest firmware eScapes will give you stuttering audio and no picture. I also noticed on some of the CCTV channels in the same mux on IS-9C one may play fine and the others just had a blank screen.
One other feed that I have found to be troublesome with choppy video and smooth audio was an NBC back haul for football on AMC-6 Ku and this was with RTI E2 1.5. Recording the NBC signal turns out fine just live was a problem. I believe it is associated with the audio and I'm sure it can be fixed with a firmware update. I did test the NBC back haul on AMC-9C for the Super Bowl in version 1.6 and it played and recorded fine so it may have been fixed. Also using Version 1.7 I was able to watch the Sunday afternoon NBC Hockey back haul with no issues at all so it looks like that issue was fixed.
Recording on the ME using RTI Enigma 2 has been flawless for everything I have done so far. All of my recording have been done using this firmware but I can play back them in all others. I am using an external eSATA Seagate 500 GB drive and with E2 firmware it will power the drive up when I turn on the ME and power it down when the ME is powered down. You have to physically create a directory from the root of your drive under the HDD folder called movie otherwise it will fill up the flash portion when you record or use time shift. I was able to do this using my PC and windows explorer so it was a snap. You only have to do this once and all firmware will be fine recording.
I have recorded the CBS channels, NBC back hauls, ESPN back hauls, and PBS feeds all in HD with no issues playing back high bit rate feeds at all. Some of the channels I found that the previous versions of AZBOX wouldn't record like NBC front hauls and NHK World record fine on the ME. I have read somewhere that the chip in the older receivers had macrovision enabled and that was the reason some channels wouldn't record. Playback starts fast and flawless if you watch the entire program. Rewinding and fast forwarding has some issues and you have to use the number keys to do so at this point. There is a separate viewer to watch recordings that worked very well but since 1.6 it doesn't work at all but the Media Center plug in plays them fine.
It has been reported where someone had installed an internal 2 TB SATA drive and it worked no problem.
Time shift wasn't tested by me but it has been reported to have issues in the last two releases so it has to be fixed.
RSI E2 0.3 ME
This firmware is 100% based on RTI E2 Version 1.5 and works essentially the same as it. The menus have been customized and arranged a little differently and some other things function a little differently. It's a nice choice but hasn't been updated in a while.
Spaze 1.0 Millennium Edition
This firmware is also based on RTI E2 Version 1.5 and has a bit more customized menus. I have found that changing satellites and channels is very difficult and awkward. One thing that it has the others don't is the home button on the remote works like the original AZBOX's. You can scroll across the bottom of the screen using the left and right arrow keys. There are also many more downloads available for the European market in the plug ins section for services.
Again I have to say that the hardware in the ME is very impressive. If the firmware can be utilized for the North American market to suit most of our needs it will be a great receiver. Channel changing speed, recording, multimedia playback, and picture quality are greatly improved over the previous AZBOX's.
As it stands now the RTI Enigma 2 firmware is the best of them all and the most user friendly with the greatest support. The ME as of now without Blind Scan working properly for the North America Market would be on par with a standard Premium or Elite with the improvements I stated above.