IRTE MULTISAT SATELLITE RECEIVER
Barely twelve years go, when Channel 4 first went on the
air, there was considerable and often heated public debate about whether or not
we actually needed four television channels in this country...
Multi channel TV has been
quickly absorbed into our culture and hardly anyone bats an eyelid at
48-channel satellite TV anymore. However, for some TV addicts even that is not
enough, and the prospect of a further 16 channels next year, when Astra 1D is launched,
does little to satisfy their craving. Help is at hand, and now it is possible
to pick up another 60 or so extra channels without changing to a large
motorised dish. It's all thanks to a simple bolt-on gadget, called the IRTE
Multisat. It works on the principle that although a dish is aimed at just one
satellite, it actually picks up signals from satellites a few degrees either
side of the one it's pointing at.
Over the past couple of
years several companies have marketed bolt-on extension brackets to exploit
this feature, these have a second LNB, positioned a few centimetres to one side
of the main LNB, to intercept the extra signals. They work well but in addition
to a second LNB, which can be expensive, they require a second cable between
the dish and receiver, and unless the tuner has two inputs, lead swapping can
be a chore.
Multisat gets around this
problem by replacing the original LNB mounting bracket with a small motorised
arm. It physically moves the LNB from side to side in front of the dish so it
can 'see' up to four extra satellites (Eutelsats F1, F2, F3 and Kopernicus).
There are no additional cables, the existing cable carries both power and
control signals to the arm, and it will work with just about any satellite
system on the market.
Providing you don't mind
working up a ladder and are reasonably familiar with satellite TV hardware
installation needn't take longer than half an hour; the three Multisat kits
cover most popular makes and sizes of dish, including one specifically for Maspro
systems. A small control and IR receiver module connects between the receiver
and LNB cable (extra leads are supplied) and after entering the set-up routine
it automatically sets the LNB off on its travels, seeking out and memorising
the positions of all receivable satellites. Satellites are subsequently
selected using the remote control handset; spare channel memories on the
receiver can be allocated to the new channels.
Picture quality largely
depends on dish and LNB performance, and the fact that the other satellites
transmit less powerful signals than Astra. In London and the home counties the
picture quality on channels broadcast from Eutelsat's F1 and F3, using a 60cm
dish, are generally acceptable, there's bound to be a few sparklies but not
enough to spoil the picture too much. Transmissions from Eutelsat F2 and
Kopernicus are quite noisy but viewable. Further North sparklies will almost
certainly make the pictures on some channels unwatchable, and it may be
advisable to get a larger dish (80cm), and/or a higher-performance LNB.
Multisat is a quick and
reasonably simple upgrade for Astra dish owners living South of Watford, those
living in more northerly latitudes might have to resort to more costly
solutions. It's a useful halfway-house fix STV addicts who, for one reason or
another cannot install a steerable dish, but we suspect it'll prove most
popular with ex-pats living in this country, who will find an interesting
selection of European and North African TV and radio channels to sift through.
IRTE MULTISAT SELECTOR £145
The simplest and currently the most efficient means of
increasing the number of channels on older Astra fixed dish systems. Very well
designed and sturdily built, it's a boon for satellite TV addicts and homesick
ex-pats from various European and Arabic countries, who are well catered for on
Eutelsat and Intelsat satellites.
It's not a straightforward DIY job, and should not be
tackled by anyone unfamiliar with satellite equipment, or uncomfortable working
up a ladder.
Picture quality on the extra satellites may be poor,
especially on older systems or smaller dishes (60cm), and on sites North of
Build quality ****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
MASPRO UK/ELECTROTECH, Unit 6, Drury Way Industrial Estate,
Laxcon Close, Neasden, London NW10 OTG
Telephone 081-451 6766