GigaBlue HD Quad Review
Dual full motion PIP even with HD
Only 1 built in card reader
Picture quality of SD channels could be better
GigaBlue HD 800 Quad is one of the fastest Enigma 2 based receiver we have tested yet. Read our complete review of this Quad tuner receiver.
GigaBlue HD Quad is a Linux based dual tuner DVB-S2 satellite receiver with 2 additional slots for plug and play tuner modules. With up to 4 tuners in all and a very fast processor inside it has a lot of potential. Read the review here.
This review is updated 26.10.2012 after new driver release. The unit for this review was bought at hm-sat.de.
Introduction GigaBlue HD Quad
GigaBlue HD Quad is the first Gigablue receiver we review here at linux-tv.com and it is brand new on the market here in october 2012. Gigablue already sell cheaper models but this is their top of the line box with support for up to 4 tuners.
In this review we are reviewing the GigaBlue HD Quad with the 2 onboard DVB-S2 tuners along with 2 DVB-T/C plug and play tuner modules.
DVB-T/C tuners are the only tuner modules currently available so you cannot make a 4 x DVB-S2 GigaBlue HD 800 Quad. DVB-S2 tuner modules are reported to be coming in Q1 or Q2 of 2013. For full flexibility some would perhaps have preferred a 4 x Plug and Play Tuner design which would have made 4 X DVB-T/C possible.
Broadcom are yet to release microcode for the use of kernel 3.xx with this new CPU so some things are still missing. LINUX-TV have no information as to when the kernel 3.xx code will be ready.
Design and Connectivity
The main attraction, apart from the quad tuner possibilities of the GigaBlue HD 800 Quad, is the processor used. Inside the Gigablue HD 800 Quad we find a BCM7356/1300Mhz Broadcom MIPS CPU. This is also the cpu expected to be used in coming models from VU+. On the memory side of things the Quad does not disappoint with its DDR3 1024MB / NAND 512MB.
The design is in classic black and most noticeable on the front is the 2″ color LCD. This gives program/time/menu information and can also show Picons for channel identification. You have to be somewhat close to read it clearly though.
Beside the LCD we find the standby button in silver design. There is also a small light indicator which is blue when turned on. This very bright and perhaps a bit too bright for my liking.
Hidden behind the front panel we have basic control buttons, a front mounted USB, along with a single card reader and two CI ports. Many would probably have preferred 2 internal card readers. A per usual the built in card reader requires use of softcam software.
On the rear of the GigaBlue HD 800 Quad we find:
- DVB-S2 tuner input A
- DVB-S2 tuner input B
- Optional Plug’nPlay Tuner option C
- Optional Plug’nPlay Tuner option D
- Component video out
- Composite video out
- Optical audio out
- Ethernet (10/100 Mbit)
- 2 x USB
- 1 x eSata
- RS-232 port
- Power connector for the external power supply
- Power Switch
There is no scart but if you absolutely need this you can buy a composite to scart adapter.
One thing that has caused some controversy about the 800 Quad is that GigaBlue mentions 1000 Mbit support on the Ethernet port. This is not the case and also not to be expected by a software upgrade we suspect, as the specs of the on board Broadcom BCM7356 makes no mention of this being supported.
There is no internal fan in the receiver so the only noise will be from an internal mounted hard drive should you wish to install one.
A remote and batteries are of course included along with a power supply, Sata data/power cable and 4 screws plus a user guide. At the time of writing only available in German.
GigaBlue HD 800 Quad Remote Control
The remote control provided by GigaBlue is a good one with a logical button layout. There are plenty of buttons for accessing things quickly. There is no qwerty keyboard but that is also not of much use right now. A different more advanced remote is rumored to be sold later on.
Installation / Choosing an image
Being brand new there are currently only a limited number of images available for the GigaBlue HD 800 Quad. The stock firmware image actually crashed on first boot for us and seems the same case for others as well. So you are well advised to have a fresh image handy when installing for the first time.
The OpenAAF image is one of the few choices currently here in the middle of October 2012. The image comes preinstalled with Enhanced Movie Center, CoolTV Guide and plenty more plugins available via the plugin menu. OpenAAF has always been a favorite of mine but it does have a problem currently with the LCD coloring where yellow and red in Picons are shown as blue.
OpenMips 2.0 Image
The OpenMips 2.0 Image does not come with as many things preinstalled as OpenAAF but it does not have the LCD color issue and I quite like the default skin ru_infinity_hd.
My favorite image so far is the OpenViX Image. It just suit my taste with the default skin and includes full image backup utility which is handy.
- Download the Image online and place the gigablue folder in the root of a USB key
- Turn off the power on the back of the receiver
- Put the USB key in the USB front or back and turn on the receiver
- A notice is shown shortly after power on in the color LCD screen
- You should press OK button on the receiver (no on the remote control)
- The Image on the USB key is now flashed automatically
If your are used to Enigma based images, first time installation of the lnb etc. is the same as usual.
The first thing you notice when using the GigaBlue HD 800 Quad is the speed. You can really feel the speed of the 1300 Mhz CPU.
Booting is done in 46-48 seconds which is very fast. But you also notice the speed when you are navigating the menus or zapping through the channels. It just feels very snappy and definitely the fastest I have ever tried.
The menus and general use is familiar to those of you with Enigma 2 experience. Of course the look of menus and general interface depends on the skin you install.
The 800 Quad does full motion Picture in Picture even with HD channels.
Both DVB-S2 and DVB-C scanning performed as expected.
The picture quality has been improved with the latest drivers later than 25.10.2012 but still not as good as Vu+.
HDMI CEC support is also not ready yet and in fact I noticed this receiver blocked HDMI CEC working between my Plasma TV and AV Receiver. Hopefully this can be fixed soon as this is a deal breaker for me. Carefully I did manage to cover pin 13 with a piece of tape which prevented it. A HDMI cable without pin 13 connection should also fix it but this should not be needed.
HbbTV is another promise made by Gigablue a bit too soon. There is no support for HbbTV or webbrower right now and no firm timetable as to when it will be available.
PVR – Recording tv on the GigaBlue HD Quad
The GigaBlue HD 800 Quad is PVR ready and offer you the choice of installing a 2,5″ internal hard drive which enables you to pause live tv, record satellite tv or satellite radio for that matter.
Installing a hard drive internally is pretty straight forward. Of course remember to disconnect the receiver from the mains before doing this.
After installing the hard drive you should now have a entry inside System / HDD in the receiver menu where you can initialize the hard drive.
Recording 4 channels simultaneously is not a problem and even more if these are on the same transponder/cable tuner frequency in use.
The Video button takes you into the list with your recordings.
Multimedia and networking
When connected to your home network the GigaBlue HD 800 Quad makes it possible for you to mount a network drive, play music and video. Mediaplayer software is included but you can of course add many more advanced player plugins. Some file formats seem not to be fully supported yet.
You can access the receiver through a webinterface or FTP. On my Windows 7 PC I also had access to the HD 800 Quad inside the network neighborhood under the name GBQUAD.
Verdict GigaBlue HD Quad Review
The GigaBlue HD Quad shows a lot of potential and steps into the next generation of Linux receivers. The fast new 1300 Mhz Broadcom BCM7356 really makes a difference when it comes to booting and daily use. Especially coming from a pretty slow DM8000 I noticed the fast and powerful new engine inside this GigaBlue HD Quad.
For a fair price you get 4 tuner capabilities all though the 2 plug and play slots as of yet only does DVB-T/C.
It is still very early days with this new receiver and while the Images seem pretty stable already but the promised Gigabit Ethernet and Hbb-TV is still not available. Picture quality is not 100% yet also.
I really hope Gigablue can deliver the drivers to match the great hardware of the GigaBlue HD 800 Quad. Then it will for sure be one to watch.