Vu+ Solo2 Review
Transcoding does not seem optimal yet
The Vu+ Solo2 is marketed as the fastest twin tuner pvr on the earth. Read our review of the Vu+ Solo2 where we put this claim to the test.
VU+ Solo2 Technology, design and connectivity
Vu+ Solo2 is, despite carrying the Solo term, a twin tuner receiver. It comes equipped with 2 x DVB-S2 tuners. These are not pluggable tuners so you cannot put in DVB-T/C tuners in the Solo2. If you need these tuner types built in you should wait for the Vu+ Duo2 which will support pluggable tuners. But of course external USB tuners are an option on the Solo2 too.
- 1300 MHz CPU BCM7356 dual core
- 256MB Flash / 1GB DDR3 DRAM
- Option to fit Internal SATA HDD 2.5″
- Dual Card readers
- Front Display 12 digit VFD display
- GigaBit Ethernet
- HDMI 1.4
- Dolby Digital Plus & DTS 2.0 supported
- Dual MPEG2/H.264 Hardware Decoding (HD PiP possible)
- On-the-fly transcoding of content into a variety of formats
Click here for technical comparison Vu+ Solo – Vu+ Solo2
|DVB||1 × S2||2 × S2|
|USB||2 x 2.0||3 x 2.0|
|Other connectors||1 x YPrPb|
|Dimensions, WxHxD (mm)||280 x 50 x 200||280 x 50 x 200|
You have to say that the new Solo2 adds 2013 hardware and specs and great to see 1 GB DRAM being included.
Note also that Vu+ has included 256 MB Flash in the final version of the Solo2. Originally it was only to be 128 MB. Vu+ actually still has 128MB up on their website. No need to undersell your product guys 😉
The VU+ Solo2 is in stylish black with a single touch sensitive standby button on the front. You will need the remote to control the receiver as there are no other buttons.
The front has a clear 12 digit alphanumeric display which will display channel name or the time and date when in standby mode.
If we flip down the front flap on the left 2 internal card readers are revealed along with 1 common interface slot. 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.
- 2 x LNB in
- Optical digital audio out
- Composite video and analogue audio out
- 1x scart
- GigaBit Ethernet port
- 2 x USB
- Serial RS-232 port
- Power connector and switch
As you can see on the picture of the Solo2 rear 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.
- Power Supply
- Remote with batteries included
- 1 x HDMI cable
- User Manual in English
- Cables and screws for internal PVR
Gigabit Ethernet support
The Vu+ Solo2 seems to be the first receiver to support GigaBit Ethernet. Though Gigabit was also claimed on the GigaBlue Quad receiver, as of yet it has not proven to be the case. So Vu+ is the clear winner here.
- CIFS: around 30 – 35 MB/sec
- NFS around 40 MB/sec
- FTP around 40 MB/sec.
Expect a much lower number for uploading.
If you must use WiFi there is the official Vu+ USB WiFi adapter or many more brands are supported by several Image teams.
The Solo2 Remote
The included VU+ Solo2 remote is in very stylish glossy black, and it is quite nice in the hand with the buttons sensibly positioned. It is the same model as supplied with the old Solo so no change here . It is very responsive in general but some are reporting problems with plasma interference. But Vu+ cannot be faulted for that.
Daily use is comfortable using the big dedicated buttons for the things you want the most. A few more dedicated buttons perhaps would have made the remote even better. We do miss a dedicated PiP button.
The Solo2 remote also can act as a Universal remote for controlling your tv.
Installation and Image support
The Vu+ Solo2 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. Check our Vu+ information box for links. You find this to the right at the top of the review.
What Image you choose is pretty much a matter of taste. We prefer ViX or Blackhole, the latter seems the most advanced image out there.
- Download the VU+ Solo2 image you want to install on your PC.
- Unzip to a USB stick
- Turn off the VU+ Solo2 on the back
- Insert the USB stick on the front of the Solo2
- Turn on the VU+ Solo2
- Follow the messages on the front display of the Solo2.
- Touch sensitive standby button to update
- The Solo2 installs the image from the usb and reboots.
Inside the VU+ Solo2
Everything is pretty tidy inside and nicely separated. You will notice the lack of an internal power supply. Vu+ now seems to favor using an external power supply. Certainly an external power supply will eliminate heat inside the receiver. Still not everyone will probably like having the external power supply lying around.
The Vu+ Solo2 looks very well built with a notice for the details and usability also regarding hard drive installation.
The HDD mounting tray has raised guides on the mount points to ease the installation process.
Installing a hard drive is quite easy on the VU+ Solo2. All the necessary screws and cables are included. The hard drive must be a 2.5″ sata hard drive.
As we hoped the Vu+ Solo2 is really fast. Booting a full feature Image including Hbb-TV support and everything is done in 35 seconds. If you do not believe us check the video above.
|Vu+ Solo 4K||32|
|GigaBlue Quad HD||47|
|IQON IOS 100 HD||65|
|Venton UNiBOX HD2||65|
|Dreambox 7020 HD||71|
|Venton UNiBOX HD1||72|
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.
But at 35 seconds default boot I did not bother to test this.
Picture/tuner quality, zapping speed and Picture in Picture
We cannot complain about the tuner sensitivity of the DVB-S2 tuners. This seems a bit better than previous Vu+ receivers.
The picture quality is great. Certainly much better than the GigaBlue Quad when it was released. To be fair the GigaBlue Quad has improved a lot since but still I rate the Vu+ Solo2 better.
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.
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 slow and thats is the channel searching also we are missing blind scan option. But perhaps there is a plugin for that.
The VU+ Solo2 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. So the usability of the PiP is not 100%.
PVR and Multimedia playback
The twin tuner PVR works as advertised and of course you can watch 1 channel and record another at the same time. Record 2 or even more simultaneously is possible if they all are on the same 2 transponders. 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+ Solo2 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. WMV, FLV, 3GP. seem not to be working so Vu+ have some work to do in this area.
Hbb-TV and Internet Browser
Hbb-TV is working well on a fast receiver like this. Again Hbb-TV is a feature that works out of the gate while we are still waiting for the Hbb-TV support on the Gigablue Quad.
Using the Vu+ Solo2 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. One really miss a keyboard and a touch pad for this so the browser is probably most useful for Hbb-TV support.
New feature Transcoding
On of the interesting new features on the Vu+ Solo2 is the on-the-fly transcoding of content into a variety of formats.
The transcoding gives you the opportunity to stream tv from the Solo2 to your pc at the office or your tablet. 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.
This is still in a beta stage but seems pretty stable already testing it through the WebInterface with an iPad al though the quality was not the best. Also the audio sync seems a bit off. I guess there work to be done on this feature still and to be fair it is only labeled as beta at this stage.
Really cool stuff from Vu+.
Vu+ Solo2 Review Conclusion
The Vu+ Solo2 really delivers on many points. It is definitely the fastest twin tuner PVR right now here in early 2013. The receiver seems stable even at this early stage and it will be interesting to follow the transcoding function developing more in the coming months.
The Solo2 has impressed us with its fast booting and channel zapping and it is already widely supported by many Image teams. The Gigabit Ethernet and Hbb-TV support works straight away unlike the recently reviewed GigaBlue Quad.
If you are in the market for the very best twin tuner receiver then look no further than the VU+ Solo2. If you want pluggable tuner support and a more high end front display then you can wait for the VU+ Duo2.
Linux-TV.com thanks TV Radio Shoppen for supplying the unit for this review