VU+ Solo 4K Review
Easy HDD install
Is it time to move to 4K? VU+ releases its firts UHD / 4K receiver. Read our review of the VU+ Solo 4K
VU+ Solo 4K specifications
The VU+ Solo 4K is the first receiver from the company to be ARM based, previously they have all been MIPS CPU type. So note that any old MIPS plugins you may use will not work on this model.
It is a fast receiver with 2 x 1500 CPU which is faster than the 2 x 1300 of the VU+ Duo2. We measure a boot time of 32 seconds from power on using the VTI image.
As you can see from the comparison table below there are some differences. You give up some things on the Solo4K like analogue outputs and a common interface port. But to many this will not be that big of a deal.
|DVB||2 X S2/C/T2||2 x Fixed Dual FBC
1 x Dual S2/C/T/T2
|USB||3 x 2.0||2 x 3.0
1 x 2.0
|HDD||2.5/3.5 in||Detachable 2.5″|
|ATA||SATA III||SATA III|
|Display||3.2″ TFT LCD
(262,000 Color/16 bit)
|3.5″ TFT LCD
|Other connectors||Digital Audio:S/PDIF,
Analogue Audio:Right & Left (Cinch x 2),
Analogue Video: Component Video (YPbPr),
Composite Video (Cinch x 1 )
|Digital Audio: S/PDIF|
Some might be a bit bummed that 3.5″ drives are not supported but with the detachable solution VU+ has chosen it was to be expected.
FBC – Full Bandwith Capture
The FBC technology adds more possibilities by capturing more transponders. So the 2 FBC tuners can pull in up to 8 transponders providing they are in the same frequency band/polarisation that is.
- (950 MHz – 1950 MHz) : Low-Band / Vertical
- (950 MHz – 1950 MHz) : Low-Band / Horizontal
- (1100 MHz – 2150 MHz) : High-Band / Vertical
- (1100 MHz – 2150 MHz) : High-Band / Horizontal
So say you are watching a channel in band 1 on tuner 1 you can with the same tuner pull 3 additional transponders in that band at the same time. So with the two FBC DVB-S2 tuners in the VU+ Solo 4K reception of up to 8 transponders simultaneously is possible.
By using Unicable/SatCR technology each tuner gets 4 Unicable/SatCR-Frequencies. So Unicable LNB is an advantage if you wish to take full advantage of FBC.
So now you can record a lot of content at once even more freely than before with regular Twin Tuners. 24 channels at once if you are really crazy. There is blindscan option as well for you feedhunters but it does not seem to support 4:2:2 feeds not that we expected this.
Ultra HD channels and HDR availability
Look here for a up to date list of UHD channels on satellite
Apart from being UHD ready the Solo 4K is also advertised as doing HDR. If you got access to Hispasat 30 W there should be a demo there with some HDR content we have been told. So if you have both a Solo 4K, HDR supported TV and access to Hispasat maybe worth a try. We do not know if it works as we do not have access to that satellite.
Vu+ Solo 4K what is in the box
- Power adapter / cable
- Remote with batteries included
- HDMI cable
- Setup guide
- HDD bracket and 4 screws
The remote is the same as previous models. We did feel that Solo 4K was a bit more particular than the Vu+ Duo2 when it came to having to point at the receiver for commands to be received.
VU+ Solo 4K design and connections
The Solo 4K looks like a Vu+ box.
On the front you notice the large LCD display which is even larger than on the VU+ Duo2. You can watch live tv on this display with the MiniTV option but honestly we did not see the point of this. It is too small unless you right in front of it.
In general the display is fine if you like to have channel icons displayed and such.
Behind the flap we find a power button (This that should be pushed if you want to go ahead with a firmware upgrade). The Solo 4K offer 1 CI slot along with 2 internal card readers. There is also a front USB 2.0 port useful for firmware upgrading.
- 2 x DVB-S2 fixed Tuner inputs
- 1 Optional pluggable tuner slot
- Ethernet port
- 2 x USB 3.0
- Optical audio out
- RS-232 port
- Power connector and switch (external power supply)
Easy HDD installation
You just install the drive into the provided HDD bracket and slide it into the Solo 4K. Easy as that. We have moved our Vu+ Duo2 hard driver into the Solo 4K and of course previous recordings work fine. We have to say that we do feel there is more noise from the hard drive now in the Solo 4K than when it was inside the Vu+ Duo 2 but not really so much that it is an issue.
As you can see everything inside the Solo 4K is neat and tidy. Having seen receiver boards for many years we really notice how much more simple they have become. In the old days they would be a ton of chips and stuff now more and more is on a single chip.
Installing an additional tuner
Installation and Image support
Of course the receiver comes with the VU+ Stock firmware on it but most want something else and both the VTI team and Blackhole have already put Solo 4K images out. These are our favorites right now and provide a good experience. After our review there is now also an image from the OpenATV team
- Download the VU+ Solo 4K image you want to install on your PC.
- Unzip to a USB stick
- Turn off the VU+ Solo 4K on the back switch
- Insert the USB stick into the front USB port
- Turn on the VU+ Solo 4K
- The LCD display will inform you that an upgrade is available
- Press the power button behind the front flap to install
Picture quality, zapping speed
The picture quality seems better on this new Solo 4K than older models. Often we have found that ARM based receivers had the advantage over Mips when it comes to picture quality. Perhaps the difference it is most noticeable on SD channels.
UHD channels of course looks best. We have heard reports of a tearing issue on the Solo 4K. We did not see this during our review. If you do not have an UHD TV you can of course still watch the UHD channels it will just be scaled down.
Channel zapping is super fast. Faster than anything we have seen on any other receiver really.
What is missing right now shortly after the receiver has been released is support for transcoding. Supposedly the hardware supports it so probably coming in a future software update we would guess.
Ultra HD file playback
We did try some demo 4K video files and results were mixed some played fine some audio only. We do not believe that the Solo 4K support the YouTube 4K format VP9. We tried to play some HDR demo files downloaded from the web but played through the Solo 4K we did not see our TV recognize HDR like it did with the same clips played from a USB drive directly on our TV.
HbbTV worked fine for the German channels but we did have issue with the HbbTV offering from the Danish channel DR. The latter worked fine on the Duo2 so must be a software thing.
Vu+ Solo 4K Summarized
The Vu+ Solo 4K is definitely an upgrade over the Vu+ Duo 2 in many areas. The support for Ultra HD tv channels is the most noticeable but also general speed, picture quality and the FBC technology provide a tempting incentive to upgrade.
But for many we do believe that there is no rush. The Solo 4K still lacks some features in the software like transcoding and as of yet the number of UHD channels are very limited and many are just demo channels.
Say you already have the Duo2 and do not desperatly need to watch the UHD channels that are availble now then we would recommend you to wait. If you want to be a first mover and want the latest and greatest right now here in late 2015 then there is no better receiver than the VU+ Solo 4K.