temporary1's Mediastar 920 page


A collection of stuff from/for/pointing-to information about the Arion clone, the Mediastar 920/820, & Arion AT-9300
Last update 17/11/2008

On this page... 

General Links
EPG
Firmware
File format: Downloading, to DVD, uploading
Hacking and Upgrades: HDD upgrades and case mods
Bug lists
Undocumented tips and tricks

Batch files / Code(another page)

General Links

There is quite a bit of information out there on the Mediastar 920. It was quite spread out when I got my unit, so i have created this site to help you out (and so I know where everything has come from).
Many thanks to those that have contributed info that has gone into this page, particularly users of the DTV forums, way too many to list individually here, but please contact me if you think you should be referenced.

Also be aware that almost every link takes you off-site (if that worries you). I have no control over their content, but if the link dies I may put that info up locally if I can. 

Info:

Mediastar Australia company website (the 920), the supplier.
Arion, the manufacturer.
Crusher's web page with lots of photos of the user interface and some info 

Questions:

Best place for questions is the Australian DTV forum (http://www.dtvforum.info) including:
        Crusher's first post that started it all off.
        Tricks and traps you wont find in the manual
        List of known bugs and feature requests
I encourage you to use those forums to work out any issues you might have. All in all it is a very good unit, so you shouldn't have any problems... Check out the bug lists here first to see if it is something easy to fix...

Clones:

Some are probably more closely related to the Mediastar 820, but all are still very similar to the 920...
German forum pages on other Arion clones: Eycos 50.12 and the Arion 9300 (may I suggest Bablefish)
Another clone is the Echostar 5020
The Arion AT-9300PVR is now available in Australia. Its own DTV thread.

Best price:

Oct 2006: You could read the whole 1400-odd post thread (or the price thread here) on it, but it seems that $440-$550 was reasonable. Nov 2006: many bricks and mortar places have stopped stocking it (but around $500-550 still seems reasonable). Compared to other current $450-500 offerings the Mediastar 920 is great value. I wouldn't get the "large-chain-store"'s new PVR over this, the $50 is very well spent (even at half the price now -sep07-, at 10 timers and no uploadable EPG I'm still hesitant to recommend it).

end 2008: You can still get it, but the 920 is pretty much superseded by the 9022 which has upscaling HDMI output. Still SD-not HD, and exactly the same features and user interface. The Arion 9300 is also an option. Both can be had by mail order from regular DTV forum users, who as far as I know are reputable, but I have never dealt with them personally.

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EPG (Electronic program guide)

Since most of the FTA channels have started to give a reasonable EPG, I have personally stopped uploading one. Its not worth the effort since you cant upload recording times with it like the topfield(s)/beyonwiz can.

The source is up to you... iceTV support has been on the drawing board since the release date, and the wording later removed from advertising. It was still due in the next update or two... (but that was 2 years ago! so im not holding my breath).

XMLTV uploaders for Windows (Download & Questions) and Unix/MacOSX Perl script.

Dave®'s Windows EPG uploader is able to handle the iceTV XML formats now (link) and apparently about a dozen other XMLTV formats, and you could hack the script to do others (if they exist).

Sat TV (820/8022 etc) users need to read this about setting up the converter. Free to air TV should just work...

There is a report (link) that iceTV's DGtec guide works without modification. This isnt 100% true... The mediastar (at least) has a limit of 30 characters for the title of the show and if this is exceeded that show does not appear on the EPG. Many programs do this, particularly when they use "Special Presentation:", "Encore:" "Movie" or other stupidly long names. So if you use it, some things wont show up. You could probably hack a perl or awk script like the above converters to get this to work, or try get iceTV make a filter for you (it should be trivial for them)

The EPG also works -with the same instructions- for the Arion 9300... (link)

An automated EPG uploading solution has also been accomplished, but requires a bit of work and expense

Some instructions (now mirrored here, the link had gone dead) on getting Dave®'s script to work with ozTiVo EPG data from deano71 from the DTV forum. Last i checked (mid 2008) the ozTiVo format changed and this wont work, but there might be a converter out there that I havent bothered to look for.

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Firmware

DT-920PVR

Make sure you power cycle the unit *fully off* at the back rocker switch or wall for 5 minutes (really, not just quickly! - link) after you have completed the re-flash and factory reset.

Firmware 2057 (first Australian release ?)

Firmware 2069 (Beta 1.1, 13/7/06, some bug fixes)

Firmware 206A (Beta 1.2, 2/8/06) Use this or 2087-20070725 depending on preference. Fixes end of month crashes and EPG problems. Less HDD chatter noise. Less audio dropouts. Timeshift/instant replay buffer from 30-120 minutes (NB you *MUST* fully power the unit down and unplug and restart *each time* for changes in the bufer to take effect). 5 minutes screen saver on MP3 player. SBS LCN problem fixed. Library/edit of current recording fixed. Did not have the weekly timer issue that 2084 had.

Firmware 2073 (Beta 1.3, 15/9/06): Not recommended. Changes the way ad skipping is handled. The only fix I know of is that the autodelete bug is now confirmed fixed? Did not have the weekly timer issue that 2084 had.

Firmware 2084 (Beta 1.4 12/2/07): Do not use. Had a serious new timer issue that resulted in weekly timers not firing on the correct day. Also had file cutting and timer overlap bugs, but worked if you observed these limitation. Some really disliked a few of the feature changes, but after a while of using it, It got 1 thumb up, one down. However there were some great additions with this new firmware.
Minus:
1) New skip function is actually OK (not perfect), BUT holding down the button to skip through large files takes longer now (if you use <1 min), but you could guess percentage to go large jumps quickly.
2) Skip with progress bar up is limited to 10 seconds skips, so file editing becomes very hard, taking 45 seconds per hour to select the region to cut/keep. You can *NOT* use percentage jump or bookmarks to speed this up.
3) The cut to end is also broken, you only have 0.5 seconds to hit cut once reaching the end or the selection is lost.
4) When reaching the live time of a chaseplay it jumps back to the library, not keep playing.
5) Ovlapping timers are not detected between different types. i.e. Daily and specific dates. Also overlaps are not detected for "timer padding". Cannot force an overlap if you are certain it is ok (or you want to do that)
6) Appears to be more of a glitch at cut points than before. Used to be almost seamless?
7) Skip does not work in instant replay. Need to use progress bar in 10 second skips...

Fixes/Additions:
1) Skip function selectable in varying sizes from 5 sec to 5 min.
2) HDD spindown setting available if timeshift is disabled. 3,5,10,30,60 min. Takes ~10 sec to restart
3) Timer/schedules list now shows recording custom name!!!! and a few other goodies, day etc.
4) Aspect ratio change fix, less cryptic, now says "pan scan" "letterbox" "full screen"
5) Schedule Conflicts - it now comes up with a box showing which channels are conflicted, but not the custom name
6) Weekly Schedules - forward programming of weekly schedules from EPG now selects the correct day
7) Chaseplay now works no matter what channel you are currently on.
8) Recovery from power out trick requires **MONDAY**. sunday no longer works
9) Corrupted cuts from file start fixed.
10) Multiple cuts from same file now name _cut _cut2 _cut3 etc, rather than overwrite

Firmware 2087 (Beta 1.5? 20070628): Note there are 2 version of this firmware, check the date.
    Fixes/changes:
1) Weekly timer works again
2) Wake up from power out on standby timer now *SUNDAY* again
    Set "Reminder" for "NINE" 00:00 duration 00:00 "Weekly" "SUNDAY"
3) Custom background image for Radio
4) Cut to end of file now loops back again... but selection is lost after another second
5) "Accelerate" function to skipping with progress bar up returns, but different...
    Jumps: 5, 15, 30, 50, 1:15, 1:45, 2:20, 3, 3:45, 4:35, 5:30, 6:30, 7:35, 8:45, 10:00
    About 4 seconds per hour while holding
6) Fix to slow selection for cutting, due to 5 (YAY!)
7) Subtitle fix?
8) New EPG functionality: Now pressing REC in the EPG will autofill *AND* create a schedule without taking you to the schedule list. Pressing REC a second time will allow you to edit *that* recording. Good idea, broken in practice
PROBLEMS:
The shortcut to the schedules list is now unreliable at best.
If there is a timer clash the error is cryptic and must be fixed manually.
There are many examples of false timer clash detection or failure to detect (Here).

Firmware 2087 (Beta 1.5? 20070725): Note there are 2 version of this firmware, check the date.
    Supposedly fixes the timer overlap bugs.
    What really appears to have changed is that false overlap detection is no longer occurring (that's good)
    BUT, it still does not detect some types of clashes (same channel overlaps, and once off-v's-weekly) -BAD
    So it is OK, but be very careful if you program a lot of timers that there are no undetected clashes.
    Works fine if you observe this limitation.
    Still the latest firmware Nov2008-still working ok with DLS etc providing the station sends the correct time!
    Setting the time manually doesnt work, it always changes to the broadcast time.

DW-820PVR 

Latest for the 820 is also at 206a.
New (?just released) 2073L?    New: Skip function (on large volume keys rather than from the progress bar, faster smart card response, descrambling files done away with Copy of issue- no more duplications, Aspect ratio improvement, PAL/Auto, Instant replay can be set 30 min To 2 hours.
Issues: Some users are reporting troubles with the new firmware, follow the discussion here.
A newer firmware (207a? or "December 6th") addresses the major new problems.

I haven't kept up to date with this model. It appears to get preferential updates (gets them first) and from what little I have read lately it seems like a good box for those wanting to record satellite TV and free to air. The one big tip is make sure you descramble the files promptly (same day) or you will lose the decode keys and cant watch it later. Set up an automatic descrambling event daily.

No longer works since some changes to the sat encryption. There is no possible work around.

General firmware notes: 

You will have to email the supplier for the latest firmware. Their website is out of date for the firmware.
They (OPAC) are normally *very* prompt with replies (same hour/day in most cases!). It is my experience that if it has been more than a day or 2, contact them again as your message has been missed.
Crusher's "TVBox" web site also appears to have firmware on it.
Also try the DTV forums if you need more help.

*** Be very careful as always when updating firmware *** Make sure you use the correct firmware, and do not be tempted to use FW from any of the other Arion clones as the Australian units are significantly different.

Updating to at least 206a for 920 is highly suggested (less HDD noise, less audio dropouts), and "December 6th(?)" for 820

Short how to upgrade the firmware if you need it (thanks Deano71-mirrored here now as the link was dead).

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File format for the Mediastar 920/820/9022 & Arion 9300 & ?...

Downloading files: 

Downloading (i.e. getting files off of the unit) is relatively easy like most other PVRs. The unit is a USB2.0 slave device that appears under Windows as a drive, or should be mountable under any system that you could use a USB flash drive on. No you can not plug a removable drive into the unit.

The files you want are the .AVR files. Search for guides for downloading files using the Topfield .rec format.

Basically the files are MPEG 2 TS (transport stream) files with a custom 32KB header (more detail).
ProjectX (my favourite, multiplatform java based), PVAstrumento, USBloader (will also do radio to mp3, but I have issues using the video files), MPEG Streamclip, DVR Studio pro, VideoRedo... probably many more, will read the files. The last two are commercial programs that will do most of the work for you (I have been told, I am *not* endorsing them). All the free sources (as in beer and speech) I know of need to be used as part of a set, but there are many guides out there for using them. 

Random useful links as i find them: here, here, Tony's Topfield TF5000PVRt guide...

Downloading files to a PC

  •  First you should move the files on the PVR from the top directory. Use the Blue button to create a subdirectory if none exists and then use the Blue button to move files into that directory. With most recent firmwares a windows PC will "blue screen" if you try to access files that have not been moved. (Just FYI: the bug appears to be a non-unique short file name issue, which is fixed in the copy)
  • Plug in the PC, click ok on the PVR (make sure you are not recording or it will be stopped, and no recordings will fire while plugged in)
  • My favourite program is "projectX" it can fix a lot of errors, including corrupt files when the data is still present. A lot of people love MPEG streamclip, but it is just as quirky as projectX in my opinion.
  • Select all the ".avr" files and process them accordingly.
  • NOTE projectX appears to have a limit of about 15 consecutive files, which is about some 32gb limit but it does not tell you and fails very obscurely (thats over 3hrs of *HD* content, yes, HD ;-) ).

Burning DVD from AVR files (An example: The free way)

VideoRedo and DVR Studio Pro (has 1 month trial) come highly recommended from others as commercial programs. As I don't want to use those (or don my eyepatch and cutlass) this is a free (beer and speech) list of programs that I currently use (projectX and GFD can be scripted). (n.b. some links underlined. Most can be found at doom9)

  • Check your disk space. You will need 3-4x the size of the AVR files. You could get away with 2x if you delete as you go.
  • ProjectX (at OOZOON or at doom9): I have found this to be more useful than other such programs (and usbloader files are not suitable for GFD). Configure ProjectX in PreSettings, Audio, check "fill gaps with prev. frame" and "add frames". Load the files in projectX (you can do this straight across the USB), File|Add and select in order all the .AVR files that make up the whole recording. Do not split the output files unless you have too. Set the output directory to somewhere, and hit prepare. Select "Demux" and hit the play button.
    These may be required, but should be set: PreSettings|Special|Concatenate and ||Generate PCR/SCR.
  • Cuttermaran: (optional) If you need to cut out adverts etc then do this here. Remember that video needs to start with an "i" frame and end with a "p". So use the arrows with e.g. "p>" to find where your cuts should be. (i.e. find the start of your program with ">i" and click the "cut in". Then go to the start of the advert by scrolling/playing to around the right spot and then find the nearest "'p" and select "cut out". Save your selection with the icon below with a "+" and bar. Repeat till the end. Actions|Preview and Actions|Cut. You can select to multiplex here (for DVD) or just leave it for GFD to do later.
  • Size: DVDs are limited to 4.8GB. GFD can do a quick and ok shrink for you ~20%, but it isnt that smart. Otherwise use DVD shrink after the "create DVD" step below to have it do all the calculations for you.
  • GUI for DVDauthor (GFD): Gets the job of creating a simple menu done. It isnt the easiest but it works.
    Tip: The background image should be set using
    a right-click on the menu background, select 'Menu properties' in the context menu and select an image file in the 'Menu and Background properties' dialog, not the "insert picture" icon. See the online guides for more instructions.
    Tip2: Get the background image from the video file using projectX (if you are only using this) or cuttermaran (is the easier of the two, particularly if you are already using it)
    Dont select auto burn if you want to play the DVD in 4:3 pan and scan. "Create the DVD", leave GFD running and use ifoedit below to fix this, then return to the GFD window and burn.
    or
    DVDFlick (free) is a nice very easy program to use. If your files are under 4 GB then a tip to dramatically speed up the processing is to go to "Project settings-video-advanced-copy mpeg2 streams". It wont re-encode and lose any quality then. But if you run into any problems or you *do* want to shrink several hours onto one disk then, obviosuly, dont use this option. The menu options are very limited though so this is really only good for single recordings (or use the "plasma sphere" theme to get the longest file names). It will burn the disk for you with imgburn. I also like DVDFlick for turning avi's into normal DVDs for older players.
  • Ifoedit: (optional) If your TV is 4:3 and you dont like the letterbox format then you may like to load each ifo and double click on the video line and check the "automatic pan&scan" as well as the "automatic letterboxed" before you burn. If it is really 4:3 then select only the pan&scan option and uncheck the letterboxed option to force most standalone DVD players to play it in 4:3 mode. (DVB is always 16:9, they just broadcast the 4:3 frame in the middle of it, so you need to either cut it with mencoder or try this trick if it bugs you). GFD specifically sets no pan and scan for every 16:9 video.
  • To burn the DVD just use GFD as instructed (recent versions can use either Nero or the free imgburn).

Uploading files:

Yes you can, but it's not for the feint hearted or those who need a simple point and click. Once you understand, it is easy to repeat though... You have to ask yourself if you really really want to do this... or just get a $50-$100 dvd player that can play the format of your choice... In my case, avi's go to the DVD player, HD content gets re-encoded and transferred back. MPEG streams are easy to upload...

This works well for pre-processing high res mkv files (or change mkv to avi or whatever format is required) before a projectX upload.
ffmpeg -y -genpts 1 -i "%1.mkv" -target pal-dvd -ilme -ildct -flags +ildct+ilme -maxrate 9600k -s 720x576 -copyts -aspect 16:9 -acodec mp2 -ab 256k -dc 10 -f mpegts "%1.ts"

File format hacking... Discussion and CameronD's detailed summary of what is known to date. The Mediastar has a tricky obfuscated information file that accompanies all recordings with a .AVF extention. Withought the AVF file the recording will not play or is sometimes automatically deleted. Read the discussion to see what has been involved! There are 2 solutions for uploading files. Dave®'s "ts2msavr" (windows) and CameronD's Arion hacked ProjectX (compiled for Windows).

The simpler of the two is summarised here. Basically, use mencoder or ffmpeg to transcode the video and audio to mpeg2TS (pal DVD 720x576 25fps) with 256k audio and then ProjectX it to arion format with 2GB file splits. A *BIG* thanks to those guys and everyone else who helped get that working.

Option 3... MPEG Streamclip on a mac (or a PC?). This is a GUI app so is just a bit easier than mencoder. Just remember to set the MP2 audio bitrate to 256 in the preferences. Then use the output option "Convert to TS" -> "Convert to TS with MP2 audio" (from dischucker)-I've never done it this way... i scripted all the mencoder strings...

This works also on the Mediastars 920/820/9022/?,  Arion 9300, and should on the Eycos 50.12 and Echostar 5020 (but i haven't heard confirmation yet). Cameron's projectX works well if you feed it simple file names (spaces probably ok, but no punctuation "._#" or it isnt read by the unit)

Also, some Windows batch files of mine you might find useful (or not...) here to help with the transcoding.
Example methods (for the computer-confident) are in the discussion and are TODO here...

HD processing

Yes, the Mediastar 920 (at least) can record HD content. This really taxes the hardware so menus will become sluggish and simultaneous playback or other recordings are sometimes too much and glitches and crashes will occur, but are avoidable if you keep that in mind. De-fragging the harddisk and sending the files to the end appears to help (but this takes days the first time and hours to maintain if you keep adding recordings). I use jkdefragGUI.

You can set a timer for HD channels, but not a manual record. Remember that you cant see whats happening so put in some buffer time. When done you can copy the files to a PC using the instructions above.

Options: Use DVDFilck to transcode and send to DVD (may not work so well with 1080i "TEN"), or ffmpeg to transcode and send back to the mediastar (works well with the 1080 interlaced "TEN" broadcast)....

Demux in projectX, rename the files to something simple and identical with ".m2v" and ".ac3"

ffmpeg -y -genpts 1 -i "%1.m2v" -i "%1.ac3" -target pal-dvd -ilme -ildct -flags +ildct+ilme -maxrate 9600k -s 720x576 -copyts -aspect 16:9 -acodec mp2 -ab 256k -dc 10 -f mpegts "%1.ts"

Upload with arion-aware projectX (tip: create a custom ini file with the arion format turned on, then load it here so you dont mess up your regular usage... but you dont have to)

java -jar ProjectX.jar -ini custom.ini -split 1990 -tots -out "output path" "file.ts"

Or... to DVDFilck...

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Upgrades & Hacking

HDD Upgrades

The Australian supplier says that the HDD is a standard commercial parallel ATA IDE drive, and recommend Samsung, Seagate or Maxtor. I have no legal advice on this, but it is believed that under current laws (NSW Office of Fair Trading) that opening an electronic device and replacing the hard disk cannot void the warrenty unless there is signs of user inflicted damage. Some comunications with the supplier suggest that they are OK with this, BUT I strongly suggest you proceed with your own advice and at your own risk.

  • Several Australian users of the Mediastar 920/820 have had success upgrading with Samsung brand HDDs.
    • Original drive (in Australia) is a Samsung SP1203N 120GB 2MB buffer 
    • A Samsung 250GB SP2514N (link w/instructions)
    • Samsung 300GB HD300LD (link)
    • I have the 400GB Samsung HD400LD in my unit and it works fine - 381GB reported free. Have filled it to 96% and its still working well. Crusher reports that works for him too, good price too $150!
      This drive is superceeded and very hard to get now...
    • The WD 500GB AV series is now recommeded by a Mediastar re-seller (link) WD5000AVJB (?)
  • HDD Change Over Instructions: Link & link to Crusher's photo-instructions, or see link from above. Firstly, beware that there are lethal voltages inside from an uncovered power supply (so turn the power off, and double check that you have!). Also beware that under the HDD power connector (small white plug) is a rather tall capacitor that I can see someone damaging if they are too rough with a tight connector. Other than that, its just 7 screws on the outside (pivot the case up from the back until it comes loose at the top front), 4 screws holding the caddy down (remove the cables first and replace last), and 3 either side of the caddy. All up about 5 minutes work, including the automatic format it does on next boot. Also note that if you are transferring files from the old drive that the directory structure is very important, copying the whole "AV" directory is easiest.
  • A Seagate 500GB does not appear to work (report here)
  • (Older ?) Western Digital drives have not worked for some people
  • The Arion 9300 is sold with a 400GB drive (link-comercial site)
  • I do not know what the official upper limit of HDD size is. The official line is "120GB and up". 400GB is suggested, 2TB is the theoretical limit for the FAT32 filesystem the Mediastar uses. As the Seagate 500GB doesn't appear to work, 400GB may well be the hard limit. Experiment at you own expense!

Case Mods, and removable caddies

Destructive: Some international users have cut their units to pieces and installed removable HDD caddies and custom cases. The interconnects are all standard items, so in theory this is easy (but anything involving a hacksaw is certain to void the warranty!!!) (linky)

Non-destructive: Inspired by the above site I investigated further into what I might do with my unit. Conveniently, the IDE header is located parallel alongside the right hand edge of the case, and the lid is reasonably flexible along the sides. Taking a spare 80 conductor IDE cable and molex splitter/extension I fed the cables out the right hand side of the unit and connected a HDD caddy which now sits raised up off the lid of the unit. The only tools required (apart from a screwdriver to take the case apart) was a sharp 1/16" drill bit which, by using my fingers only, I drilled out the blocked pin on the new IDE cable. Two layers of duct tape was wrapped around the cables to protect them from the sharp case edges. All the screws were replaced normally except the two on the right edge where the cables were, which I left just barley finger tight so as not to cut into the cables.

Firmware mods?

I am not aware of any firmware mods with any of the Arion clones. In theory it uses same/similar processor as the Topfield recorders (an NEC emma2). I am keen on finding out what programming and simulation environments we might be able to use for hacking. Contact me with any info at temporary1ms920 at gmail dot com

Interesting...

Since the unit is a real USB HDD device, I have had some success with booting *from* the HDD with a linux live ISO (DSL-aka Damn Small Linux). While that means a PC next to the MS for manually uploading an EPG does not need a HDD, it wont work for an automatic system as you need to IR-blast an "OK" for the connection to work, and the computer hasnt booted yet... An idea would be to boot from a "frugal" install off of a small cheap USB flash drive, that can then pass over to the MS's HDD for a swap file and other programs once the connection has been established (if you wanted a fully featured system for ripping  video etc)... But i havent gone that route, (yet ?)...

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Bug lists 

I will say again that the MediaStar 920 is a *very* good unit out of the box. I can't recommend it enough. It is great. I wouldn't still own it if it wasn't and I returned 4 other brand's units before keeping this one, I am picky! If you want to get into debates over whether Mediastar or Topfield is better, my bottom line is that it is "the bottom line" i.e. the price that is the deciding factor (both are great units and have pluses and minues). The main difference is the the Topfield has "TAPs" which are programs that can change the way the unit works, and that the Topfield can be plugged in permanently to a computer/router, while the Mediastar does/can not. At the time (2006) the several hundred dollar price difference wasnt value. The current clearance price drop of TF5000's (mid 2007) would now make the decision harder-but I'd still be spending more on a wireless router (icebox) to go with it, or it would be pointless.

As with anything if you look for the bad side you will find it, and that is what is below. I dont want to scare people off of buying this unit. There arent many bad bugs and no real usability problems. Most complaints are nit-picking, my own included...
Contribute to the bug lists at the DTV forums or if you must at temporary1ms920 at gmail dot com

Serious Issues
Minor Issues
Quirks
Feature Requests

Serious Issues 

  • If you have a problem, first try switching the unit off and on completely at the back rocker switch. If that hasn't worked then turn it off again for at least 10 minutes and disconnect the aerial, do a factory reset if it still isn't working, and if it that still doesn't work, a format. In some extreme cases you may have to remove the HDD to a PC and run chkdsk/format, but call the supplier first for an OK if you worry about your warranty etc... If in doubt, *DO* call the supplier for help (they are nice), the number should be inside the drop down panel on the front.
  • You must have autodelete turned on in Tab 6 or if the drive becomes full, corruption will occur requiring a reset and reformat, losing all data from which there is no recovery... Apparently fixed in 206a? but still being recommended by the supplier even in FW 2087.
  • DO NOT upload a file larger than 2GB or the drive may become corrupt and the unit will not boot!!!
    The drive can be removed and connected to a PC by an IDE cable, have chkdsk run on it and delete the file. The USB connection will not work as the unit never boots (yes, I do have grey hairs because of this).
  • The time is not restored when power is lost to the unit and the unit was in standby. If this is an issue then if the unit is fully powered up and on all the time then it should recover. See below for a trick to get it to wake from standby after a power outage. A small UPS might fully power the unit for 20-30 minutes or an hour if you are lucky when in standby. 
  • If you start a manual recording it takes priority over any timers it may conflict with (same channel or not enough tuners available). There is a 60 second warning "Do you want to start the recording?" that allows you to select which of the current recordings to stop using the odd stop dialoge box -mentioned below- but defaults to not stopping anything current if you dont touch it. It appears to fire the timer once the conflict is over, but try not to count on it...
  • NEW FW 2084/beta1.4, still in 2087: Overlapping timers are not correctly detected if "timer padding" is used or if timers of different types overlap. eg "Daily" and specific dates.
  • Fixed (FW 206a): With old firmware the unit will crash, behave unpredictably, have no EPG etc at the ends of the month-usually 31st and 1st. Upgrade your firmware to fix.
  • Fixed (partially in FW 2069, mostly in 206a): Recordings not happening on time or not starting when *any* on screen display is visable. Fixed mostly. The remaining issue is that if you try to turn off the unit and leave the dialogue "Do you want to stop the current recording" up, the unit will not start a new schedule until the one that was running when the dialogue was activated finishes and it finally turns off. It will fire another later timer OK (but only post 206a!!!) 

Minor Issues

  • Chase play (viewing something that is currently recording from the start before it finishes) only works fully when you are on the same channel as the recording. It plays, but the progress bar does not display the time elapsed and you cannot ad skip. It does play from the beginning however. Fixed 2084/beta1.4, but goes to library view when you catch up to live rather than continuing to play-just a pain...
  • Timeshift/instant replay does not work properly after you change the default buffer size (30-120 minutes) unless you fully power the unit down after *each* change at the back rocker switch (or unplug). You don't change this often, so not really an everyday usability issue.
  • Noise: Disk access "clicking" is reduced from the 206a firmware. BUT, you will have to live with it in any system that uses moving media like a HDD. Turning off the instant replay and not recording will stop access noises. Leaving the unit on the same channel it's recording will also reduce the noise if instant replay is on.
    In my opinion it isnt much, but I did have it in a glass front case and on top of halved squash balls. Low level resonance hums seem to be individual cases where there is an interaction with the shelf and the unit (like in my case) or from very loose screws in and outside the case. Some users also found that the rubber feet were missing/fallen off. I just found that taking the case off and firmly pushing it forward and doing up the back screws first before the rest got rid of a newly developed resonant whine/rattle (which went away by touching the top of the case). I now have the HDD (upgraded to a HD400LD) in and external caddy on top of those aforementioned squash balls, and you really cant hear it outside the cupboard now.
  • --> If you are watching a live channel in chase play and a timed schedule starts, you lose the chase play buffer. I have found myself caught by this one several times now! Record (with the red dot) anything important!!!
  • You must press "exit" from the schedules list for it to be saved and become active. If you shut down or power off the unit before it finishes updating it will not record and/or remember the programs.
  • Ratio button not working: Go to tab 3 > Configuration > Remcon . There's a choice of Universal / Standard. Chances are you have the wrong one set. Old units are 'standard' and you got a small remote with it also. Newly manufactured units have a universal remote (came with the 820 and new 920s). Both are still in stores (and I kind of like the "old" small remote!). Another fix in firmware "Beta 1.4"
  • Sound drop outs when recording starts etc are somewhat reduced post firmware 206a. Some notice a great improvement, others (like myself) minor... Another fix in firmware "Beta 1.4"
  • MP3 player: It is best to manage your files over the USB. The onboard controls tend to crash when dealing with lots of files. It plays ok, but playlists are limited. File names and directorys are limited to 30 characters I believe.
  • The EPG does not fill the schedules list with the correct info if you are using favorites. The work arounds are to either don't use the favourites or just delete the channels you don't want (best for 920). 820 users may like to reorder the channels (only post 206a) with your 'favourites' at the top and have the 'favourites list' in that same order! Check any old schedules afterwards are the channel mapping may have been mixed.
    Might have been fixed in "Beta 1.3", definitely fixed in 2084/beta1.4
  • Can delete folders full of "locked" files without needing the password. Fixed 2084(?), as in files that are "locked" are not deleted, but other unlocked files in that directory are (as you would expect).
  • Fixed 2084/Beta 1.4: Cutting a large portion from the *very* beginning of a file past about 45 minutes (the 2GB split) will result in a corrpted recording. Remember to leave a few seconds at the beginning to avoid this. Fixing a corrupted recording requires either a) demux the file to a PC/DVD or b) fix the AVR headers so that the internal filename matches the actual one (experimental! windows batch here, never finished)
  • Fixed 2084/beta1.4: Can delete a schedule with one key press and no confirmation. Now asks.
  • Fixed (206a) SBS LCN is incorrectly mapped: What should be, depending on location 3, 31, 33 is 1280, 1281, 1282, 1283. No issues on usability, the EPG uploaders even take this into account...
  • Fixed (2069) The first Australian boxes had issues with not being able to set a schedule duration between 4 and 9 hrs. Few users appear to have gotten this early pre?-FW2057 boxes. Upgrade...

Quirks: Things that we might get changed if we ask nicely... 

Nothing here really effects day to day use, but would possibly turn a very good unit into a fantastic one... 

  • Fixed in firmware "Beta 1.4/2084" !!! Schedules list only shows the channel name and time, and "weekly" rather than the day(s). Not the name of the recording. Summed up graphically by Cameron here (Thanks!). OPAC said they were "requesting" this from the software guys, and it was a "big ask", but it happened!
  • Fixed in firmware "Beta 1.4". If you select a program to record from a future day in the EPG and change the recording day to "weekly" it fills in with the current day and not the day of the recording, which you then have to change, so remember to double check!
  • Uploaded EPG data lost: rarely the EPG will stop working, the fix is to re-upload the EPG. Connecting and disconnecting the USB to trigger the "Updating TOC" might be enough... 
  • Deleting and cutting: Can take 10-20 seconds with large files. This can also cause a momentary corruption in other current recordings, so best leave your file managment to times when nothing is being recorded.
  • Cutting: Occasionally cutting/trimming the end off a file the end is corrupted, but this isnt a big issue as the remainder is OK.
        Pre Beta 1.4: Beware that cutting and saving creates a "_cut" file that if you cut and save again is silently overwritten (so rename it immediately!). Cutting is accurate but only to the point you skip to using <>. 'Play'ing to a point and then hitting cut will only cut to the point you last skipped to, not where you expect.
        After Beta 1.4/2084: Cutting will create files with a "_cut" "_cut2" "_cut3" etc. It is also now accurate to where you see, so you can now skip, or "play" to the end cut point (but not FF/RW and slow).
        Cutting to the end requires a reasonably quick finger, once reaching the end, hold the skip until you are ready to hit cut. If you take more that 1-2 seconds after the playback loops back to the 1st cut point it no longer cuts to the end, but between there and the now only few seconds of video.
    If you need to do serious editing get it on a PC and use something like cuttermaran (Doom9.org).
  • Be careful with the user interface (UI) in that the keys sometimes change their meanings... i.e.
    When changing names of schedules the operation of red is to cancel and exit for confirm, BUT when finishing a timer Red is confirm, exit will cancel silently without saving the timer.
  • USB connection stops all PVR functionality (view channels like STB still works) and must be physically unplugged for the unit to resume normal operation. Would be great if either:
    A) the unit would allow soft and remote (PC-side) mounting/unmounting of the USB or...
    B) allow a permanent connection (even low speed if required) 

Feature requests 

  • Would be nice to have a "gnatt chart" like display of all the DVB-T channels in the EPG
  • There is no "renew" recording option. A new file is created every day for repeat recordings 
  • No way to save the schedules or upload them along with the EPG
  • FF is 16x, RW is 8x. Would be nice to have both at 32x.
  • Added in firmware "Beta 1.4" !!! HDD spin down
  • Jumping by % is nice for some, apparenty jump by time entered is "on the roadmap" 
  • Unit display: When off it shows time, when on it shows the LCN (aka channel)
    Some have suggested: Always show the time... "Rec" when recording... 
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Undocumented Tricks

Most listed below, but you may like to read above links for up to date info I might have missed

  • Power cycle your unit at least monthly. If you never get power outs in your area, it may be a good idea to turn the power fully off for 5 minutes once every 2-4 weeks. It seems a reset like this can avoid some strange behavior and surprise crashes and missed timers (I believe).
  • BEST TIP (In my opinion...) If recovery from power outages is a problem/concern, as the unit will NOT recover normally when it is in standby you should either leave the unit on 24/7 or set a "Weekly" timer for *Monday* (in Beta 1.4 2084) or *Sunday* for (2087, 206a, 2069) at 00:00. I use "Reminder" (first option in the schedule dialog) and set the duration to 00:00 (on Channel 9). When power is restored the unit will do its little boot up and shutdown and then wake up 10 seconds later and by 60 seconds it has the broadcast time again. The down sides are a) it may change channel at midnight every Saturday/Sunday, and b) the unit will wake *every* Saturday/Sunday midnight - but this does not effect how I use it. You could also set a record timer but this may clash with other schedules. Much better than missed recordings...
  • Ad skip: (firmware 206a and earlier) Press "play" to bring up the progress bar and use < > (Vol) on the round dial or <<>> ff/rw. With the <> buttons, the first press goes 10secs, double is 30, triple is 1min, 4=2'30", 5=3'30" etc. It really is quite quick to get used to hitting it 4 or 5 or 6 times to jump a prime time ad break, and then a single or double forward/back if you miss it... 
    Firmware 2073 (beta 1.3, and also 2084/beta1.4) changes this to a user selectable and *fixed* amount of 10, 20, 30, 60, 120 or 180 seconds forwards or *backwards*. You lose the 10 sec back ability, but ff/rw seem ok for this, you just have to get used to it. I like 20 seconds, and if you dont press it too fast you can jump 7x20 quickly. You can also hold it to zap faster (about 45 seconds per hr with 20sec skip), but it isnt as fast as 206a.
    Firmware 2084/2087: Goes both ways. Fixed skip without progress bar, accelerating skip back with progress bar up. Jumps: 5, 15, 30, 50, 1:15, 1:45, 2:20, 3, 3:45, 4:35, 5:30, 6:30, 7:35, 8:45, 10:00
    About 4 seconds per hour while holding
  • Jump to %: When in playback press digits on the number pad to jump, i.e. 4 9 on the number pad and the recording will jump to 49%. Wait 2 or 3 seconds without the progress bar, or about 1 second with it up. With the progress bar up, the time it will jump too is displayed instantly so you can guesstimate easily,
    eg 50, 40, 45, 43, correct spot, great!
  • Schedules list, the quick way: press <EPG>, then <Rec> buttons without selecting anything. Saves going thru menu system. If you select something then it will autofill the schedule for you. In 2084 if there is no EPG data then the short cut no longer works. Also in 2087 (buggy) it may now select that program and schedule it to be recorded despite your intentions, or delete the first schedule. So dont use it in my opinion, go the long way though menu.
  • Manually started recordings always default to 2hrs. If you want to change it, hit record a 2nd time and a menu appears where you can change the duration or stop the recording. This also works if you change to the channel that is being recorded and hit record again (say if you forgot, or want to manually extend *any* current recording). Although the name for the recording is filled from the EPG, the Duration is not.
  • From the PVR library current recordings are highlighted orange. (broken in 2069, but fixed 206a) You can select that recording and "edit" -blue button?- to get the same dialog as above.
  • Yet another way to stop the recordings is to hit the "stop" button. A window pops up, but from here it is not obvious what to do. Select the recording you want to stop, hit stop again and a tick appears. When you hit "EXIT" that recording will *then* stop. Be careful that is what you wanted to do. If you end up here by mistake, make sure you unselect anything you might have accidentally selected first -using stop- before you hit "EXIT" to get rid of the dialog. "OK" does not work... 
  • Saving the instant replay buffer: Rewind to the point you want and hit record.
  • Instant replay buffer duration can be set from 30-120 mins post FW 206a.
    HDD spin down added in beta 1.4 if (and only if) instant replay is disabled.
  • Turn the unit off (to standby) automatically every night by setting a "sleep" schedule. In the schedules list where it says "Mode : Record" select it and scroll left and right through Sleep/Reminder/Record. If you plan on moving your unit to a computer then don't set it too close to midnight. The sleep timer also cannot overlap any other schedule. I find 01:30 works most of the time. (I actually use different sleep schedules for different days. i.e. Weekly 1:30 for S*TWTF* and  3:30 for *M****S. Most will probably just use "Daily")
  • If you carry the unit to a computer and don't plug in a TV then you need to remember this -easy- sequence. Boot your computer (if not already), plug into wall socket and turn on the Mediastar, switch the MS out of standby (if the time is showing, probably 00:00 right now since you moved it, then it is in standby, press the on button and wait about 20-30 seconds for it to finish booting). Now you can plug in the USB cable to both the computer and MS. Press OK on the MS unit (top right hand side) and then after a few more seconds Windows will detect it (or your linux distro will be able to mount it as e.g. sda1, etc).
    *** Power down in an orderly fashion when you are done. Make sure your writes are finished to the MS, "Safely Remove" hardware (or unmount), physically unplug the USB cable when safe to do so, and leave the unit to finish "Updating the TOC" (as you are blind here, you must wait 60 seconds). Then press the on/off button for it to go to standby, wait for the HDD to spin down and then switch the power off at the back rocker and move the unit back to where it belongs...
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