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MASPRO-DUCTION...

 

INTRO

Maspro have been in the satellite TV business almost longer than anyone else, so when they launch a new mid-range IRD system it's worth sitting up and taking notice...

 

COPY

Maspro and satellite television have come a very long way since December 1985, when they introduced their first domestic STV system in the UK. Then the SRE-80L six-channel tuner came with a 1.2-metre dish, and a whopping 1,500 price tag, though that did include the cost of installation! This Spring Maspro launched their ST8 Videocrypt IRD; it comes with a 60 cm dish, precisely half the size of it's forebear. It is pre-tuned to128 channels covering a dozen or so satellites, and at around 250 it costs one sixth as much as the SRE-80L, mind you, these days installation is extra...

 

One of the best things about the ST8 is that it doesn't instantly look like an STV tuner, it could just as easily pass for a discreet, midi-sized VCR, or a CD player, which makes a welcome change from the hotch-potch of awkward-looking black boxes we've seen lately. The key cosmetic design feature is a flip-down, see-through cover in the centre of the front panel, which hides the smart-card slot and basic operating controls for power on, channel change and mode lock; just about everything else is controlled from the compact remote handset and the multi-lingual,  menu-driven, on-screen displays. This includes the provision to select 20 favourite channels from the 128 stored in the receiver's memory. These can be quickly accessed using a pair of up/down buttons on the remote.

 

The ST8 has a useful selection of secondary features which include an 8-event/31-day timer, (to turn it on and off for VCR recording), a sleep timer, mode lock, parental lock, picture mute (for radio listening), and an input level display, which comes in handy for initial alignment. The comprehensive on-screen displays cover virtually every aspect of the receivers operation, including  frequency, audio mode, decoder status and LNB parameters to name just a few, though strangely there's no provision to label or tag channels with anything other than a simple one, two or three digit number which appears on the screen every time the channel is changed. Delving too deeply into the receiver's set-up modes and fiddling with the factory presets is not for the faint-hearted, unless you're confident you know what you're doing. However, everyday functions, provided they're no more involved than switching the receiver on and off, or changing channel, are perfectly straightforward, and almost -- but not quite --  granny-proof!

 

The ST8 works well; noise thresholds and sensitivity compare favourably with the competition. Under most conditions picture noise levels are low or well within acceptable limits and overall it is capable of providing a good clean picture. The audio side is also up to scratch, induced background hiss is minimal and stereo channel separation is fine; the ST8's independently tuneable sub-carriers could well be of interest to the inquisitive with access to a steerable dish.

 

Maspro have been designing and building satellite systems for longer than we care to remember, and it shows. The ST8 is a stylish and refined product that is perfectly at home as a dedicated Astra IRD, though for those with wider horizons, it is equally viable as a multi-satellite workhorse.

 

FACT FILE

Receiver:              Maspro ST8

System price:       250 (60cm dish)

Address:               Electrotech Distribution, Unit 6, Drury Way Industrial Estate, Laxcon Close, Neasden, London NW10 OTG.

Tel: 081-451 6766

 

VERDICT

Sound ****

Picture ****

Ease of use ***

Features ***

Value for money ****

 

Stylish-looking receiver with average to good performance, a worthy contender for the latest batch of mid-market IRDs

 

Buying Satellite Rating:   80%

System: Maspro ST8 IRD Astra receiver. Features: 128 pre-tuned channels, 20 channel presets, 8-event/31-day timer, parental lock, menu-driven on-screen displays. Audio: 7

stereo (3 fixed, 4-variable), 14 mono (10 fixed, 4-variable). Sockets: LNB F-connector , UHF loop-through, 3 x SCART AV (TV, VCR, decoder), stereo audio out (phono), AC mains. Dimensions 360(w) x 73(h) x 262(d) mm.  

 

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(c) R.Maybury 1993 2004

 


 

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