Reviews – News Vu+, Dreambox, GigaBlue, Venton

 
 


VU+ Duo2 Review

 

 
Overview
 

Manufacturer:
 
Tuners: ,
 
Tuner Type:
 
Card Readers:
 
CI Slots:
 
PVR:
 
HDD:
 
CPU:
 
Hbb-tv:
 
Release Year: 2013
 
Price: 499
 
Our Score
94%
94/ 100


User Rating
87 total ratings

 

Positives


Ultra Fast
Hardware Transcoding

Negatives


No DVB-T2 Tuner option yet
Only 2 Tuner slots


Bottom Line

Is the Vu+ Duo2 the best receiver ever? We review the Vu+ Duo2 and all of its great features.

6
Posted July 10, 2013 by

 
Full Review
 
 

The best Enigma 2 receiver ever?

 

Our extensive review of the VU+ Duo2 which features a dual front screen displays and 2 pluggable tuners. Read our full Vu+ Duo2 Review below.

tvradioshoppen_2013_625

duo2top1

VU+ Duo2 versus Solo2

solo2vsduo2

Vu+ Duo2 is different to the Solo2 when we look at the tuner specs. The VU+ Duo2 is equipped with 2 tuner slots. So you have the choice of which tuners you want to install in these. These are the current possible tuner config options

  • DVB-S2 + DVB-S2
  • DVB-S2 + DVB-C/T
  • DVB-S2 Dual + DVB-C/T
  • DVB-S2 Dual + DVB-S2 Dual
  • DVB-C/T + DVB-C/T

So you can have a maximum of 4 DVB-S2 tuners by using 2 DVB-S2 dual tuner modules.

But of course external USB tuners are an option on the VU+ Duo2 too. USB is currently also the only way to have DVB-T2 tuners as there is no DVB-T2 tuner module available from VU+ yet. A bit disappointing but supposedly it is in the works.

Key Features on the Vu+ Duo2:

  • 1300 MHz CPU BCM7424 dual-threaded
  • 1GB Flash / 2GB DDR3 DRAM
  • Option to fit Internal SATA HDD 2.5 or 3″
  • Dual Card readers
  • 2 x Front display (VFD and LCD)
  • GigaBit Ethernet
  • HDMI 1.4
  • Dolby Digital Plus & DTS 2.0 supported
  • Dual MPEG2/H.264 Hardware Decoding (HD PiP possible)
  • On-the-fly hardware transcoding of content into a variety of formats (upport transcoding bit/frame rate change)

Click here for technical comparison Vu+ Duo2 – Vu+ Solo2

Vu+ Duo2 Solo2
Production Available Available
Life cycle 2013- 2012-
SoC BCM7424 BCM7356
CPU type MIPS MIPS
CPU (MHz) 2×1300 2×1300
RAM (MiB) 2048 1024
Flash (MiB) 1024 256
Default OS Enigma2 Enigma2
DVB 2 × S2/C/T 2 × S2
HDTV Yes Yes
3D TV Yes Yes
PiP Yes/HD Yes/HD
Common Interface 2 1
Smart card 2 2
USB 3 x 2.0 3 x 2.0
RS232 Yes Yes
LAN (Mbit/s) 1000 1000
HDD 2.5/3.5 in 2.5 in
ATA SATA SATA
eSATA Yes No
SCART 1 1
HDMI 1 1
Display VFD+LCD VFD
Transcoding Hardware Software
Other connectors 1 x YPrPb
Dimensions, WxHxD (mm) 380 x 60 x 290 280 x 50 x 200

Compared to the Solo2 we do see many improvements or added options if you would like. Of course we now have the pluggable tuners and also a healthy increase on memory specs and the WiFi is built in. The added 3.2” TFT LCD 262,000 colour front panel display also sets the Duo2 apart.

It is also worth a note that the Duo2 has dedicated hardware in the box for transcoding where as the Solo2 is software based. On the Duo2 you can change the transcoding bit/frame rate while it was fixed on the Solo2.

On the connection side of things the Duo2 offers component video out and e-Sata. On the Vu+ Duo2 you can also put in both a 2.5″ and 3.5″ hard drive while only 2.5 was supported on the Solo2.

The new Duo2 remote control is another difference between the two but as of yet we have still to try this as there is a delay on these.

Vu+ Duo2 design and connections

vuduo2_front

The VU+ Duo2 is similar to the VU+ Ultimo in stylish black of course. The front though has something which the Ultimo2 has not and that is the 3.2” TFT LCD 262,000 colour front panel display on the left. In the center we have the more traditionel VFD display. There are no controls on the receiver for volume or channel change only a power button which is hidden behind the front flap.

vuduo2_cardreaders

If we flip down the front flap 2 internal card readers are revealed along with 2 common interface slots. Add to that a front USB connector which is very useful for putting a new Image on the box or for a simple file transfer without having to plug in the USB device on the back.

vuduo2_rear

On the back we find these connections:

  • 2 x  Tuner slots
  • Composite video and analogue audio out
  • Component video out
  • 1x scart
  • HDMI
  • GigaBit Ethernet port
  • 2 x USB
  • 1 x e-Sata
  • Serial RS-232 port
  • Optical digital audio out
  • Power connector and switch

As you can see on the picture of the Duo2 rear there is a cover beside the 2 tuner modules this is for fitting an optional external WiFi antenna and not a third tuner module.

vuduo2_insidetuners

vuduo2_reartuners

Our review unit was equipped with 1 Dual DVB-S2 tuner and 1 DVB-C/T tuner.

vuduo2_insidehfan

As you can see there is a fan mounted at the back. It is not a noisy fan so should not be a problem and the fan has an automatic temperature sensor based FAN speed control so it will not make more noise than needed to keep things cool.

vuduo2_boxcontents

The VU+ Duo2 is delivered with:

  • Remote with batteries included
  • 1 x HDMI cable
  • Setup guide in English/German
  • Cables, screws, fittings for internal PVR
  • Loop Through cable

The Duo2 Remote

vuduo2 remote

 

vuduo2_remote_batteries

The Duo2 remote was a bit delayed but we now have it. The new Vu+ Duo2 remote requires 3 x AAA batteries which is one more than usual on remotes. It has a curved end at the back of the remote where the batteries are placed.

It looks a bit more high end than the one that is delivered with the Vu+ Solo2. It also feels a bit more heavy than most remotes but and in general it feels fine in the hand but perhaps with a feeling that it could slide out of your hand. Perhaps some kind of rubber material on the back would have helped.

vuduo2_remote_navigation

The main navigation buttons + the menu/channel/volume buttons are in silver which makes them stand out a bit.

vuduo2_remote_batteryinfo

At the bottom there is a low battery indicator. The PVR buttons are located at the top of the remote and there are dedicated buttons for what you would expect except perhaps one for subtitles.

The range of the remote seems fine but it does seem a bit more picky than the old Duo. You have to point more precisely at the receiver with the Duo2.

 

Installation and Image support

The Vu+ Duo2 is of course delivered with software already pre-installed but most likely you will want to install a third party image.

Vu+ is probably one of the most widely supported receivers so you will have no trouble finding images from the likes of Blackhole, Vix, VTi and many more at least not after a little while. Check our Vu+ information box for links.  You find this to the right at the top of the review.

The BlackHole Image for the Duo2 was released just a few days before we did this review.

Installing a new Image is easy on the VU+ Duo2

usbupdate

  • Download the VU+ Duo2 image you want to install on your PC.
  • Unzip to a USB stick
  • Turn off the VU+ Duo2 on the back
  • Insert the USB stick on the front of the Duo2
  • Turn on the VU+ Duo2
  • Follow the messages on the front display of the Duo2.
  • Press the power button to install
  • The Duo2 installs the image from the usb and reboots.

Inside the VU+ Duo2

vuduo2_insidehdd

The Vu+ Duo2 looks very well built everything is pretty tidy inside and nicely separated.

vuduo2_insidepower

Vu+ is using an internal power supply for the Vu+ Duo2 which makes sense since there is plenty of room inside of this receiver.

The HDD mounting tray does no have the raised guides on the mount points as was the case on the Solo2 but it is still pretty easy to work with.

Installing a hard drive is quite easy on the VU+ Duo2. All the necessary screws and cables are included. The hard drive can be a 2.5 or 3.5″ sata hard drive.

The 3.2” TFT LCD display

vuduo2_lcdfront

We must start our usage part of this review with the most noticeable new thing on this receiver namely the LCD display.

vuduo2 vuduo2 picon lcd

You can customize the look of the display by using the LCD4linux plugin. You get to this by pressing the green button on the remote.

There are a lot of options and thankfully setting up the layout i very visual so you can see how it looks like inside the plugin on screen menu while you customize. If is possible to use picons in the LCD display. Do not forget to adjust your path to the picons folder if needed.

weather_lcd4linux

You can spend a lot of time customizing the display and include weather information, time and program info and much more. There are different LCD modes for on, idle and media playback.

The LCD may be too small for many from a distance if you add to  much information to it. Channel logos and the time works fine also from a distance. The VFD display is similar to the one on the Ultimo but actually it feels a bit fuzzy when you have the clear LCD beside it.

If Vu+ wanted to go ultra high end they should have put one big LCD panel on the whole front instead of having both.

All in all we do like the LCD and with the plugin it is more easy to customize than the VFD.

Daily use

Booting speed

As we expected the Vu+ Duo2 is really fast. Booting a full feature Image including Hbb-TV support and everything is done in 33 seconds.

Boot leaderboard

Receiver Boot (secs)
Vu+ Solo 4K 32
Vu+ Duo2 33
Formuler F1 35
Vu+ Solo2 35
Formuler F3 38
Vu+ Zero 39
GigaBlue Quad HD 47
VU+ Ultimo 49
VU+ Uno 54
Clarke-Tech ET-9000 63
IQON IOS 100 HD 65
Venton UNiBOX HD2 65
Dreambox 7020 HD 71
Venton UNiBOX HD1 72
VU+ Duo 80

vusolo2_bh_speedup

The BlackHole image even offers to make the boot even faster with the BlackHole SpeedUp feature. This function allows you to enable / disable various plugins and features that are included by default in the image, so you can disable any plugins you do not wish to use, and this will in turn speed up the boot (and restart) time of your Vu+ receiver.

Press Blue button on the remote control and then Blue button again and select BlackHole SpeedUp, select which options you want to disable and then press Red button to save and reboot the receiver.

In our experience you can shave a few seconds by using this but it is plenty fast even without.

Picture/tuner quality, zapping speed and Picture in Picture

We cannot complain about the tuner sensitivity of the DVB-S2 tuners and the picture quality is great. You can set the video output up to 1080p 50/60Hz. If you need 1080p24, 1080p25 or 1080p30 you can do this with the auto resolution plugin.

vuduo2_tvzap

Channel zapping is really fast and you can of course play around with the on screen graphics look by downloading and changing skins.

One thing is still a bit slow and that is the channel searching so you might want to hunt down some settings. We have tried both satellite and Cable TV scanning and both found the channels just fine. There is also a blind scan option on the Duo2.

vusolo2_bh_piphd

The VU+ Duo2 offers Picture in Picture mode and even support full HD channels in this mode. This is excellent and what we expect from a second generation device like this.  A dedicated PiP button on the remote would have been great but that is sadly missing. On Black Hole image you get to this by long press blue and the blue again.

PVR and Multimedia playback

With dual tuners or perhaps even quad DVB-S2 tuners you will be able to record a lot at once. All recordings are of course saved into .ts files which are easily transferred over the high speed Ethernet if you want to edit them on your computer.

The Vu+ Duo2 serves well as a media player, playing video, music stored on the box hard drive or your home network. Do not expect every file format out there to be supported. But common mp3, flac, avi and mkv files are handled pretty well. 

Hbb-TV and Internet Browser

vuduo2_hbbtv

Hbb-TV is working well on a fast receiver like this.

vusolo2_bh_webbrowser

Using the Vu+ Duo2 you are also able to browse the Internet with the integrated browser. On the BlackHole Image you do this via the plugins panel (green button), activate the Opera browser and enter the URL using the remote control. Using the browser via the remote control is somewhat a challenge though.

Improved Transcoding feature

Vu+ Duo2 Transcoding

On of the interesting new features on the Vu+ Duo2 is the on-the-fly transcoding of content to other devices. The transcoding gives you the opportunity to stream tv from the Duo2 to your pc at the office or your tablet or smartphone. It works both inside and outside of the home network, therefore it also works over the internet, if you have the correct ports open in your router. It also works via 3g if your connection is good enough.

The transcoding was also a feature on the Solo2 but it was software based and the quality was fixed at a pretty low bitrate on the Vu+ Duo2 there is hardware transcoding with more control over the bit/framerate.

Check our detailed guide on setting remote streaming up here.

 

Vu+ Duo2 Review Conclusion

The Vu+ Duo2 was definitely worth the wait. It really stands out from the the rest of the crowded Enigma2 based receiver market.

The Duo2 has more options than the Solo2 with its pluggable tuner slots and it just feels more high end.

They Vu+ Duo2 is the fastest Enigma2 based receiver we have reviewed as of yet and that comes as no surprise if we look at the strong specs of this receiver. The transcoding feature is better on the Duo2 than on the Solo2 and while we are not complete sold on the front VFD display it is not a big negative and the LCD display looks nice and clear and is pretty easy to customize once you have experimented for a while.

Where could the Duo2 be even better? Well we do have a quad tuner slot receiver on the market so 2 tuner slots is perhaps a bit modest. Thankfully there are dual tuner modules.


  • George Oneil

    decent review although boot times is a very subjective thing and wholly dependent upon the image used and any plugins you have installed, so in my opinion it’s a rather pointless statistic.

  • gerry brennan

    no mention of tuner sensitivity at all, is it better than a clone db800hd se?

    • linuxtv

      Difficult to test without having the tuner you mention to compare with. If I had to guess it could be better.

  • Chris

    The RC is pretty bad, after just 6 months you have to press the keys like a mad-man, pretty bad quality for my opinion.
    Glad they RC aren’t that expensive about 25€. My advise, buy 2 spare RC.

    The receiver is pretty good, it boots like 10 seconds faster when use prelink and a different kernel compression,

  • Rex Watson

    If I transfer the HDD from my Ultimo to a new Duo 2 will it be able to play the files recorded by the Ultimo?

    • linuxtv

      Yes that should be possible.