Buying Satellite





Multi-satellite receivers needn't look like Joderell Bank in miniature,  the Manhattan 9000 takes the sting out of the technology with the simple to use, black-box approach



The huge number of satellite transmission systems now in use makes it practically impossible to encompass all the necessary tuning and decoding technology in one box, so inevitably any multi-satellite receiver is going to have to be a compromise. The Manhattan 9000 is a compromise but it's a class act and the designers have pitched it at the upper end of the market, where performance, looks and ease of use carry as much, if not more weight than knobs, buttons and gadgets.


Starting with the price, which is listed around the 640 mark for the receiver on its own (though expect to pay less on the street); this immediately sets it apart from the crowd. It's not one of those exotic multi-standard, all-singing, all-dancing type receivers but you get a very fair assortment of useful features for your money. The design is deliberately understated, even to the extent of having a discrete backlit LCD front-panel display, much more refined than those garish LED beacons, don't you think? Multi-satellite reception means having some way of steering the dish, the 9000 has a built-in positioner that associates dish direction with a particular satellite and channel, so selecting Sky 1, for example, will automatically track the dish from wherever it happens to be, to 19.2 degrees, and select the correct frequency and polarity.


The receiver's 350-channel memory has been factory-programmed with channel data for 30 satellites, though be warned that you will need the appropriate external decoders for many of the stored channels. All that remains is for the installer, (or user, of they're feeling brave), to do, is to carry out a once-only positional alignment for the satellite co-ordinates, by manually tracking the dish. Once set the receiver will measure signal strength and auto-focus the antenna whenever a new satellite position is selected.


User-oriented features include a 9-event/1-week VCR timer, password-operated parental lock, favourite-channel memory, dual LNB inputs, and good provision for external decoders. The manufacturers thoughtfully supply a set of leads, one SCART to SCART for AV interconnections, the other, SCART to D-Sub connector, for a decoder. Additionally the 9000  has a SCART socket for a MAC decoder, a second SCART for normal AV interconnections, and a separate composite video and stereo audio outputs, for connection to a VCR or TV.


Connection to the positioner and voltage or pulse-controlled polarisers are via banks of spring-loaded terminals. The 9000 also has 7-pin DIN socket on the back panel; this is for transferring or copying the contents of its memory to other slave receivers in multi-user installations.


During setup the 9000 is controlled by a two-layer, menu-driven on-screen display system, (it sounds worse than it is...) with selected data for any given channel position repeated on the LCD display. There's minimal front-panel controls; all major operations are directed from the IR remote handset, so don't loose it! Options include the normal video and audio frequency adjustments, audio mode and de-emphasis, which can be selected or changed using a pair of up/down buttons, or -- in the case of frequencies -- entered directly, using the handset's numerical keypad.


The adjustments cater for the variations in the vast majority of satellite transmissions, though the manufacturers may have decided that too many controls might be a bad thing, die-hard dabblers may find themselves yearning for a few more things to fiddle with. Incidentally, the instruction book is a sorry thing,  it could do with a few more illustrations, or some graphics, to make it a little more approachable.


Generally speaking performance is good, and the very positive and accurate actuator control system deserves a special pat on the back. Noise levels are well below average, and the receiver always seems to have plenty of gain in reserve when it comes to signals that are below par. Audio quality is fine, maybe a little light on the bass, but background noise levels are low and it sounds quite clean. 


This is a competent piece of kit for the STV devotee who wants more than Astra but doesn't want to get entangled in the technology of multi-satellite operation. It's well designed, easy to use and performs reasonably well; maybe not the kind of receiver to get your blood racing, but there are many who would consider that an advantage...



Receiver:             Manhattan 9000

System price:       639 (receiver)

Address:               Eurosat Distribution Ltd., 1 Oxgate Centre, Oxgate Lane, Edgware Road, London NW2 7JA. Telephone 081 452 6699



Sound                     ***

Picture                   ****

Ease of use            ****

Features                ***

Value for money    ***


Good-looking  core-component  for those interested in an easy-to-use  multi-satellite system


Buying Satellite Rating:   90%

System: PAL multi-satellite receiver and dish positioner. Features: 350 channel/30 position memory, menu-driven on-screen display, parental lock, multi-mode video and audio, inverse video,  dual LNB inputs, backlit LCD front panel display, compatible with switched and optocoupler positioners  Audio: mono/stereo (50us/J17/DNR). Sockets: RF bypass,  dual LNB input, MAC decoder (SCART), AV out (SCART, remote control/data transfer, PAL decoder, stereo audio out, video out, AGC out, polariser, positioner . Dimensions .  420 (w) x 86 (h) x 255 (d)



(c) R.Maybury 1993 1506



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