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AMICABLE AMSTRAD

 

INTRO

If you're interested in satellite TV but fed up with the growing collection of black boxes and wires cluttering your living room Amstrad's STV2100 21-inch TV with built-in satellite tuner and decoder could be the answer

 

COPY

Building a satellite tuner into a TV makes a lot of sense when you think about -- one less remote handset and box of winking lights to start with!. It's certainly not a new idea Salora and Luxor were doing it ten years ago, long before the Astra satellites took to the skies, however, they've never been very popular, but all that may be about to change. For the past couple of years Amstrad have been at the forefront of this combination of technologies, and at last, with the launch of the 21-inch (51cm) STV2100,  it has become a viable proposition.

 

The secret of  the STV2100's success is Amstrad's decision to make it largely future-proof by incorporating an Astra IRD into a good-looking  and well-specified stereo TV, rather than simply tack a cheapo satellite tuner onto an ordinary television, and hope for the best. The satellite receiver inside the STV2100 is almost overshadowed  by the set's other features. These include high quality NICAM stereo sound on terrestrial broadcasts,  full level-one fastext, on-screen displays, a sleep-timer and sensible STV recording facilities. The latter overcomes a particularly obstinate hurdle for STV-equipped TVs which normally have to be left switched on and tuned to the relevant satellite channel, when a recording is being made; the STV2100 is unusually flexible in this respect (provided it's connected to the VCR by SCART cable), and it can be either tuned to a teressestrial channel or switched to the standby mode, whilst the satellite recording is underway.

 

Amstrad's stylists have done much to shake off the sometimes cheap 'n cheerful image associated with some of the company's earlier products and the STV2100 looks and feels like a class act, in fact it could easily pass for one of the more up-market stereo TVs now on the market. One area where Amstrad haven't yet learned to compete with the big boys, though, is with sound quality. Whilst the STV2100 is no worse than many other small to medium-sized  NICAM televisions, the full range of the digitally-processed stereo sound is constrained by small speakers, set in fixed and cramped enclosures. The end result is a fairly bland sound and a narrow soundstage; fortunately the set has stereo line audio output sockets, so alternative arrangements can be made, by plugging the set into the auxillary input of a  nearby hi-fi syste, with proper speakers.

 

Other design plus-points include the clean and uncluttered front panel with the set-up controls hidden behind a hinged flap, and the placement of the smart-card slot on the back panel, well out of the reach of inquisitive little fingers. The only major gripe concerns the remote handset which is covered in dozens of titchy buttons, with frequently used functions, like volume control and channel step, almost lost in the muddle. 

 

The set's 85-channel IRD is factory-tuned to all existing Astra stations, though channel allocation is in ascending order of frequency, which means UK viewers will have to go through fairly lengthy re-tuning procedures to get all the English-language channels into some sort of order. Manual tuning on the UHF channels involves similar sequences of button-pushing, though because there's only four channels to worry about it doesn't take too long, and the on-screen displays are generally quite helpful.

 

Picture performance is very good, and with a strong signals from the TV aerial and dish it can hold it's own with the best of them. Satellite reception is clean under most normal conditions, and even with reduced signal strength noise levels remain in check. Audio quality through the set's own speakers is at best average; piping the audio through a hi-fi system improves matters dramatically, though a low-level background hiss is always present. 

 

It's taken longer than expected for someone to come up with a sensible satellite television but better late than never. The only question-mark remaining is when will Amstrad get around to making one with a decent-sized screen?

 

FACT FILE

Make/model:          Amstrad STV2100

System price:        

Address:                 AMSTRAD  Brentwood House, 169 Kings Road,

Brentwood, Essex CM14 3EF

Tel: (0277) 228888

 

VERDICT

Sound ***

Picture ****

Ease of use ****

Features *****

Value for money ****

 

One-box conveniece and future-proof route into satellite TV and NICAM stereo

 

Buying Satellite Rating:   85%

System: Amstrad STV2100 TV with built-in IRD. Features: NICAM stereo fastext, on-screen displays, sleep timer, 60 UHF channel presets, 85 satellite channel presets, satellite record facility. Audio: terrestrial - mono, NICAM, stereo mono or dual; satellite 16 mono/stereo presets Sockets: LNB F-connector, TV aerial (RF) in, SCAER AV in/out, SCART -- external decoder Dimensions: 600(w) x 471(h) x 474(d) mm

 

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(c) R.Maybury 1993 0705

 


 

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