FS-4400 Satellite PVR

You may remember that I’m quite a satellite TV fan, having installed it in 2004 and compiled a FAQ. Over the holidays, I replaced my 4-year-old Digiquest receiver (terrible website) with a FortecStar FS-4400 PVR from Maplin.

I’d love to build a MythTV but how am I ever going to build such a small, quiet receiver for anything like that price? The FS-4400’s decoder gives a dribblingly clear picture and (one firmware upgrade later) the recorder works flawlessly. I can even watch other channels on the same transponder while recording. It has a couple of small niggles (the file manager that appears every damn power-on, the pidgin English on-screen displays and it’s too easy to activate the motor), but it seems pretty good value on the whole.

Now I’ve a dilemma. I put a 4Gb USB stick into it, just to see how I got on with the recording. I like it, but 4Gb is enough for only 2 or 3 hours and I don’t want to get into swapping sticks around like video casettes. I still don’t know what’s where on half my tapes.

I’ve seen a few places report things like Solid State Drives Getting Ready to Take Over (by Jaymi Heimbuch) with much larger capacity just around the corner, but the best rate I found today is around 1 Gb/pound for SSDs up to about 32Gb, compared to nearly 10 Gb/pound for USB-powered hard disks from around 300Gb. On the flip side, SSDs are silent and I don’t know how noisy or power-hungry the HDDs are. How would you play this?

By the way, if you care about UK TV, BERR.gov.uk is consulting about reducing Sky’s control of itv – what’s to consult about? Sky’s doing all they can through the courts to drag their feet, but we need to put the independent back into independent television! Tell them by Friday 23 January 2009, please.

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