VU+ Uno Review
VU+ Duo made a strong impression when we reviewed it here on Linux-TV.com. Now time has come for a brand new box from VU+, the VU+ Uno. Read our review on this new box which features a plug and play tuner. VU+ Uno – A short presentation VU+ Uno comes as equipped with a DVB-S2 [...]
VU+ Duo made a strong impression when we reviewed it here on Linux-TV.com. Now time has come for a brand new box from VU+, the VU+ Uno. Read our review on this new box which features a plug and play tuner.
VU+ Uno – A short presentation
VU+ Uno comes as equipped with a DVB-S2 tuner installed which of course can receiver satellite television. But as it is a modular plug and play tuner it is possible to take the DVB-S2 tuner out and replacing it with a DVB-T/C tuner. Doing this will make it possible to receive either digital cable or terrestrial television on the VU+ Uno.
The DVB-T/C tuner module is to be released in august 2011, so this review only focus on the VU+ Uno as a DVB-S2 receiver. We might have the opportunity to review the DVB-T/C tuner module later on. If so we will be updating this review at that time.
Engineering, design and connectivity
VU+ already released a single tuner box with the VU+ Solo so why this new release with the VU+ Uno? Well the Solo was stripped of many of the features of the VU+ Duo while this new VU+ Uno is even better than the VU+ Duo in some aspects.
But let us compare the VU+ Solo to the new VU+ Uno:
- More powerful CPU Broadcom BM7413
- More Ram (512 MB)
- Plug and Play tuner DVB-S2 tuner or DVB-C/T hybrid
- Option to fit Internal SATA HDD 2.5″ or 3.5″
- Dual Card readers
- Front Display 12 digit VFD display
- Rear eSata port
- 3 x USB
- LNB loop through
- Standby power consumption around 0.5 W
The VU+ Uno is all in black with buttons on the front for changing channels and adjusting volume. Along with a Standby button those are the only buttons on the box, making it possible to do the most simple tasks without having the remote in your hand.
In the middle we have a clear 12 character alphanumeric display which will display channel name, OSD menu title, filename or just the time and date when in standby mode.
If we flip down the front panel on the left 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 simpe file transfer without having to plug in the USB device on the back.
The built in card readers are X-Crypt readers by default. Softcam software is needed if you need them to do anything else or you could choose to use a cam. I have been testing it with Conax cam and the Canal Digital Nordic channels.
On the back we find these connections:
- 1 LNB in
- 1 LNB loop through
- Optical digital audio out
- Composite video and analogue audio out
- 1x scart
- 2 x USB
- Serial RS-232 port
- Power connector and switch
Some might be missing component video out. But VU+ has dropped that on this new box.
As you can see on the picture there is a fan mounted at the back. It is not a noisy fan and it seems wise to have a fan on a box like this just to keep things from heating too much. The fan can be managed to some extend in the on screen menu of the box.
The VU+ Uno is delivered with:
- Remote with batteries included
- HDMI cable
- User Manual in English
[stextbox id="info"]I messure power usage at 28 W (regular use with hard drive installed and active)
Regular standby 18 W
Deep standby 0.7 W [/stextbox]
Boot speed. The time it takes from power on until picture is visible on the screen.
The VU+ is fast (53 seconds) but installing an alternative full featured image like from the ViX Team will make it boot a bit slower (80 seconds).
The installation guide is pretty much the same as all other Enigma 2 based receivers. You can choose to have preconfigured channel lists installed for 19,2 and 28 east but scanning them yourself or choosing to download a settings list online is a better option.
Scanning channels on 1 west I initially noticed that the channels on SR 30000 DVB-S2 transponders were missing. Only a day later VU+ was ready with a FPGA update which fixed the problem. Be sure to do this upgrade if it is not already installed on your VU+ Uno. The update is easily done online via the FPGA Upgrade plugin or via USB. Check out this page at VU+ for more information.
The VU+ original firmware includes a blindscan plugin. I did breifly test it but I am not sure that it is fully optimized yet.
After this I decided to install the ViX Team VU+ Uno image.
- Download the VU+ Uno image you want to install on your PC.
- Move the vuplus folder to a USB stick
- Turn off the VU+ Uno on the back
- Insert the USB stick on the front of the Uno
- Turn on the VU+ Uno
- Follow the messages on the front display of the Uno.
- Press the CH- button within 10 seconds to update
- When messages Finished is displayed. Then remove USB stick and turn off and turn on the Uno again.
Inside the VU+ Uno
Everything is pretty tidy inside with things nicely separated. Installing a hard drive is quite easy on the VU+ Uno. All the necessary screws and cables are included. The hard drive can be a 2.5″ or a 3.5″ sata hard drive. Remember there is also an eSata port should you wish to use an external hard drive.
The stock firmware is somewhat a slimmed down versions which lack several settings and options. After installing the ViX Team image, all the usual settings we expect to find are exposed. What I did not find in the ViX Team image was the blindscan plugin but maybe I just have not looked hard enough.
Channel zapping is really fast and you can of course play around with the on screen graphics look by downloading and changing skins.
The VU+ Uno offers Picture in Picture mode but since it is a single tuner box only channels which transmit on the same transponder can be watched in this mode. If a HD channel is displayed in the PIP window only I-Frames are shown.
I find the picture quality out of the box to be better than other similar boxes I have reviewed but it might still be worth tweaking it with the Video Enhancement Plugin which is included in the ViX Team image. The ViX Team also includes ViX-EPG a simpler, faster version of CoolTVGuide.
The Vu+ Uno serves well as a media player, playing video, music stored on the box hard drive or your home network. Do not expect all file formats to be supported though, as of yet anyway. But common avi, wmv and mkv files are handled pretty well.
PVR works as advertised. The single tuner of course put some restraints as to what you can record or watch while recording simultaneously. Of course several images offer additional external USB tuner support which can ease this problem a bit.
The included VU+ Uno remote is in very stylish glossy black, and it is quite nice in the hand with the buttons sensibly positioned. There are dedicated buttons for things you could want. It acts as a Universal remote for controlling your tv. Remote control codes for many brands are included in the user guide.
After test driving the new VU+ Uno we can say that it certainly does not disappoint. It is a very successful Linux receiver which builds on the stability of the VU+ Duo by adding amazing speed and features by the way of the new and faster CPU.
With its possibility of changing tuner type from DVB-S2 into DVB-T/C you have a great receiver for a wide user group. And it is somewhat future proof. Say you are moving and changing the way you get your television signal from satellite into cable, you will still be able to use the VU+ Uno just by changing the tuner module.
The Uno impress us with its fast booting and channel zapping. We do recommend installing a third party image though for exposing all the settings and options on this box. VU+ seems very active when it comes to supporting their receivers. Within only a day of testing the scanning SR 30000 channels problem was fixed. And support is definitely something not to be forgotten when choosing between the different Linux box offerings.
If you are in the market for a rock solid single tuner box then look no further than the VU+ Uno. If you want more tuners then the VU+ Duo is still worth our recommendation or perhaps you have the time to wait for the VU+ Ultimo which promises 3 tuners…