Later today or on monday – depending on the installers timetable – this household will retain the services of satellite television. I finally bucked under the pressure of family members wanting over-the-air television. I’m guessing a lot has happened on the hardware side since the last time I ventured down this path, and I wanted to find out more. My receipt from the cable company detailed the receiver box as “HD 2850 ST + PLC”, and I took this information to the internet to see what I could find out – and if the box could be made to do some fun things apart from the stuff it was SUPPOSED to do.
First stop: The website of our merchant, which has a page dedicated specifically to the box in question here (link in Norwegian). It doesn’t tell us much, but there are a few things though. It appears this entry-level box actually has pvr capabilities, if you connect some sort of external storage. It also supports a couple of online services, notably Canal Digital’s Go!, which is their on-demand video renting service, and the streaming music service WiMP. I doubt I will be using either much. Notably, the page also mentions it supports 3D, which is surprising. It also has support for the companys unified app remote system – but it’s iOS only, so of absolutely no use to me. It would also appear the box comes with a set of homeplug adapters, which is interesting. More info on those once the box appear. Clicking the link for more info on those however, revealed a further page with more technical details. Weird that they wouldn’t hotlink that from the page we visited earlier.
This further links to a user manual PDF in Norwegian, which reveals fun stuff like the fact that the tuner in fact supports both DVB-S and DVB-T! It only has one card reader though, so unfortunately you’re limited to one service at a time. I am not knowledgeable enough about how DVB-T works in Norway, to know if there would be any benefit to me in trying that function – are there FTA channels that I would not receive in my normal satellite package? Further investigation required. The PDF further details the PVR functionality; with an USB of 16GB or 32GB, you get pause tv functionality and with larger drives/sticks PVR gets activated. The maximum is apparently 1TB, and larger drives will be limited to 1TB, regardless of actual capacity. According to the manual, the functionality formats the stick/drive in a non-Windows/OS X-readable format – which begs the question of what filesystem it uses. Let’s hope further investigation will reveal that – would be quite interesting if the disks could be mounted and read under Linux. :) Other than that, the manual contains very little in the way of interesting information except for the very last page – the CE information states that “Herved erklærer ADB S.A. at TNR-2850ST oppfyller” and so on – so we know the make and model of the receiver. Now, let’s see what we can find out with that information.
ADB are Advanced Digital Broadcast, a Switzerland-based producer of set-top boxes. The products link at the top of their page quickly leads us to the product page for the ADB-2850ST. It looks slightly different from the model offered by Canal Digital, which is probably the reason why that model holds a TNR prefix. It is not unlikely that TNR is short for TeleNor, which owns Canal Digital. So, what can the product page tell us. It features a flash video detailing some of the features of the box, and at least the video makes it seem mighty responsive. It appears the user interface is unchanged from the default for the Norwegian edition, based on this video and the Norwegian pdf manual. Under a section called Key Features it also lists “Open-standards platform with expandable functionalities” – which sounds a lot like “linuxbased” to me. :) It’s More Details link reveals a quick overview of the technical capabilities of the box, which I will reveal here in its entirety;
MPEG-2, MPEG-4 H.264
Resolution: Up to 1080i
TV reception: PAL
MP3, AAC decoding
Dolby AC-3 (down-mix and Pass through to SPDIF)
Copy protection: HDCP 1.3, Macrovision 7.01
1 x DVB-S2
1 x DVB-T
ADB’s CARBO™ award-winning User Interface
Middleware: MHP 1.1.2
All features of ADB Carbo HD user interface
All optional features of ADB Carbo HD user interface
Recording on external Hard Drive using USB
Channel change speed: 1.3S (average)
Certifications & Conformities
DVB-S2, ETSI EN 302 307
DVB-T, EN 300 744
PN-EN 62216-1 (section 12.7)
So – what does all this tell us, apart from the fact that they are seemingly very pleased with their trademarked but cartoonish-looking Carbo interface? A few things; it supports Conax and PAL only, which tells us it was tailored for European markets. Other than that, not a terrible lot. Luckily, they also provide a link to a PDF they call the Full Product Specification, so let’s have a look at that. It also features a Technical Specifications list, which goes into a lot more detail than what I posted above. The CPU is an STi7111 from STMicroelectronics, which according to the specs on their website actually supports VC-1 in addition to the codecs already mentioned. Not that anyone has ever broadcast in VC-1, but still – if the box can get properly hacked, it does open it up to more accelerated video formats, so “yay”. It should also support WM9 audio, which probably got left out of the spec sheets for much the same reasons as VC-1. The PDF also removes any doubt as to the operating system: This box runs Linux, which is definitely good news as far as hackability is concerned. The final bit of interesting information is in what video formats it accepts; I will paste the information directly from the PDF below;
MPEG-2 MP@ML (ISO 13818-2): up to 15 Mbps
MPEG-2 MP@HL (ISO 13818-2): up to 25 Mbps
MPEG-4 H.264 MP@L4.1 (ISO 14496-10): up to 25 Mbps
MPEG-4 H.264 HP@L4.1 (ISO 14496-10): up to 25 Mbps
Aspect Ratio: 4:3, 16:9 with Pan & Scan, Letterbox
H.264 part 10
Supported resolutions: up to1080i/30
So, there – we know a lot more than we did going in. I’ll be back for a part 2 when we actually can poke (and nmap :P) the box.
Edit: I found some more interesting info on the Canal Digital page – apparently, the TNR-2850ST differs from the standard model slightly. For one, it has 512MB RAM (DDR2 400MHz) as opposed to the standard box’s 256MB. The page also offers more information on the CA modules it supports;
Conax v7 for broadcast services, with at lease #3 Security Level.
MS DRM 10 for VC1 services
MS PlayReady for H.264, services
Further – it also lists “Web Browser – WebKit” – which is interesting in itself, since I’ve seen no mention of any browser in any of the other materials.