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EchoStar HDS-600RS review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 349
inc VAT

A very simple-to-use dual Freesat HD PVR with the ability to stream video over the internet, but it's expensive and not as flexible as we'd hoped.

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The quality of the channels depends on which one it is. SD channels veer from the decent, such as BBC One, to the poor, such as the 24 hour news channels. Given that it’s the same feed as on Freeview, this is to be expected. The HD channels look fantastic, as they do on Freeview HD, with a much sharper image and no artefacts.

With dual tuners you can watch programme while recording another or even record two channels and watch a recording. If you’re recording two channels and try and change to watch a third, you get a warning that asks you which recording you want to cancel to carry on. It’s easy and neat to understand.

Paused TV and recorded programmes can be navigated at up to x64 speed, plus the dedicated skip buttons let you jump backwards or forwards in 30 second chunks. With the 500GB hard disk installed, there’s around enough space for 300 hours of SD programmes and 100 hours of HD.

Echostar HDS-600RS remote

The well laid out remote control makes it easy to pause live TV and control recordings, plus it has dedicated buttons to access the Guide and your Library of recorded programmes.

As with all Freesat HD boxes, you can access BBC iPlayer by hitting the red button on any BBC channel. You can’t get the HD stream, although you can choose a Higher Quality version, which gives you quality equivalent to a decent SD Freeview channel. The interface is neat and easy to browse, with a search to help you find the content you want to watch.

It’s the Sling Loaded part of the box that’s likely to garner to the most attention. Setting it up is incredibly easy just by visiting the Sling Website. We had to use Internet Explorer, as Chrome is not currently supported for viewing video. If you’re on your local network, the HDS-600RS is found automatically; to connect over the internet you need the unique Slingbox ID, which you can access through the menus. You only need this the first time that you set the box up.

Quality from the stream depends on the speed of your network connection, but it’s adjusted on the fly so you’ll always get watchable content. On a LAN you get quality that’s around standard SD broadcast. Quality will most likely dip when you’re on the internet, as it’s bottlenecked by your broadband’s upload speed. As most of us use asynchronous DSL services, uploading isn’t nearly as fast as downloading. The Sling technoogy does a very good job of making something watchable out of little bandwidth, but don’t expect miracles from a basic 256Kbit/s upload speed.

If you’ve got an Android smartphone or iPhone, you can install the mobile Slingplayer app, which costs an additional £18. This lets you watch and control your HDS-600RS from your mobile device. It’s a neat trick, but expensive unless you travel a lot.

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Details

Rating ****

Features

Analogue tuners 0
Digital tuners 2
Hybrid tuners 0
Radio DVB-S
EPG days 8
Dual-channel recording yes
Series link yes
Video recording format MPEG2, H.264
Certified Freeview Playback no
Picture in Picture no
Interactive content support yes

Connections

Analogue tuner RF inputs 0
Digital tuner RF inputs 2
Hybrid tuner RF inputs 0
RF passthrough sockets 0
HDMI outputs 1
Component outputs 0
Output resolutions PAL (576i), 720p, 1080i
Total SCART sockets 2
S-Video input 0
S-video output 0
Composite inputs 0
Composite outputs 0
Stereo phono inputs 0
Stereo phono outputs 1
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs 0
Optical S/PDIF outputs 1
Surround sound formats Dolby Digital
Other ports USB

Storage

Capacity 500GB
Optical drive no
Optical drive type N/A
Audio playback formats N/A
Video playback formats N/A
Image viewing formats N/A

General

Power consumption standby 17W
Power consumption on 25W
Extras remote control
Size 390x275x55mm

Buying Information

Price £349
Warranty two years RTB
Supplier http://www.johnlewis.com
Details www.exchostareurope.com

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