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REVIEW

 

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MINERVA SAT5000

 

INTRO

Competition is hotting up at the budget end of the market as Grundig weigh in with yet another sub-£100 system

 

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This year independent satellite dealers have been justifiably miffed by the raft of headline-grabbing deals offered by the high-street multiples. Paceís well-specified Apollo system -- distributed only through independent outlets -- helped level the playing field, but now it has been joined by the Grundig Minerva SAT5000 which will also be selling for £99.99. That price is conditional on the customer signing up for a yearís subscription to BSKYBís full movie package, and paying a compulsory £40 installation fee. This will be carried out by Tele Aerial Satellite (TAS), who also process the subscription and handle warranty claims.

 

The compact, curvy styling is bang up to date, maybe a tad derivative of recent Nokia designs, but itís uncluttered and importantly for newcomers to satellite TV, it looks simple and unthreatening. There are four front-panel controls, a single (exposed) smart-card slot plus a pair of on/standby LED indicators. Around the back thereís a solitary SCART AV socket, one dish input, stereo line-output phonos and the aerial bypass sockets. The wideband tuner and LNB are fully compliant with Astra 1D but the 100-channel memory is only barely adequate to cope with existing Astra TV and radio channels. Nevertheless thereís a good range of convenience features, these include a 20 favourite channel memory, on-screen display, parental lock, 2-event/28-day VCR timer, 23 audio modes (13 preset, 10 user-definable) and LNB tone switching.

 

The on-screen display is very easy to use, menu selections have been well organised and basic channel change functions are readily accessible. The only minor gripe concerns the unconventional button layout on the remote handset, which takes some getting used to. The factory defaults will suit most users but thereís plenty of opportunity to fiddle around with the favourite channel selection list and the tuner programming. Options include changing the frequency, polarity LNB settings, audio mode and 6-character channel idents. The parental lock is reasonably secure, itís protected by a 4-digit PIN code, which can be used to restrict access to individual channels.

 

PERFORMANCE

In spite of the fairly basic specification tuner sensitivity is good with fewer than usual sparklies on weaker channels, moreover thereís enough in reserve to cope with poor signal conditions. Channel change is fast, with minimal disturbance. Colours are clean and picture noise is well within acceptable limits. Overall a very creditable picture for the price. Audio quality is fairly average though, the lack of Wegner Panda 1 noise reduction is evident from the ever-present background hiss,  though apart from that the soundtracks have a reasonably flat and uncoloured response.

 

SUMMARY

Whereas most sub-£100 receivers are older or poorly-specified designs that have reached, or passed their sell-by date, the Minerva SAT 500 appears to have been designed from the ground up to compete in this increasingly competitive segment of the market. In that respect itís a success and ideally suited for undemanding Astra viewers, attracted by the headline price. However, beyond that market it doesnít have a lot to offer, the single SCART socket will almost certainly entail some compromise with picture quality if the receiverís connected to a VCR, and the 100-channel memory is only just sufficient.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model:                 Minerva SAT5000

Typical price:                 £99.99 inclusive of 60-cm dish but not mandatory BSKYB subscription and installation

Features:                      100-channel tuner, 20 favourite channel memory, on-screen display, parental lock, 2-event/28-day VCR timer, LNB tone switch, 23 audio modes (13 preset, 10 user-definable)

Sockets:                       1 x SCART AV, stereo line audio out, 1 x LNB F-Connector, RF/aerial bypass, mains supply

Dimensions:                  348 x 79 x 230mm

Contact:                        Grundig Satellite Communications. Telephone (01443) 220220

 

 

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R. Maybury 1995 2609

 

 

PS.  Iíd appreciate getting on the mailing list, my address is:

Rick Maybury

73 Penrith Road

Thornton Heath

Surrey

CR7  8PN

 

Cheers!

 

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