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General VU+ Receiver Discussion VU+ Zero Review By Black Hole Team

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?The True Standard of HD Zapper?

Vu+ have been very quiet lately, working away behind the scenes on their new creation, there was no mention of the Vu+ Zero at Anga 2014, so for many the Vu+ Zero will be a bit of a surprise.

So what is it, and is it any good ?

Let?s find out.

Features:

The Zero is a very small and compact, a bit like it?s price tag, make no mistake this is a budget STB, but don?t let it?s small size and price-tag fool you.

Hardware:

? 2K DMIPS Single Core Dual Thread 750MHz CPU

? 1x Fixed DVB-S / S2 tuner

? 256MB Nand Flash / 512MB DRAM

? Dolby Digital Plus & DTS Supported

? 1 x Smartcard-Reader (Xcrypt)

? 2 x USB 2.0 Ports

? 10/100 Mbit Ethernet Port

? 1 x HDMI 1.4 video / audio output (digital)

? Full HD 1080p Output

? 1 x RCA video output (analog)

? DiSEqC 1.0/1.1/1.2, USALS

? External 12V power supply

? Power Switch

? Fanless Silent Operation​


Software:

? Linux Operating System

? Media Player

? Downloadable Plug-Ins supported

? HbbTv

? EPG supported

? Unlimited channel lists for TV / Radio

? Automatic & Manual Service Scan Supported

? Multiple LNB control (DiSEqC) supported

? OSD in many languages

? HD 1080p Skins Supported

? Skin change supported​



As you can see, it?s certainly not lacking in features for a low cost STB.

Inside the box:

I am testing a pre-production model here, therefore the box that mine arrived in may well be different from the final retail models. Mine arrived in a cardboard box, with a sticker on the front of it, showing the Black and White Editions of the Zero.

On opening the box up, you find the following inside:
? Vu+ Zero Satellite Receiver

? Quick Start instruction manual

? Remote Control (the same popular Universal type that is supplied with other models in the Vu+ range and will come in either Black or White, depending which colour Zero you choose)

? 2x AAA Battery?s

? Hdmi 1.4 cable

? A/V Cable (3.5mm Jack ? RCA)

? IR Blaster

? External Power Supply unit​













Appearance:

The Zero like the SoloSE is just a small (it really is small) plastic box. The front panel is simple with only the IR sensor, a single LED and a single card slot to the right hand side. It would not look out of place in a kids play room, the bedroom, spare room or if you don?t need a big flashy all singing all dancing box for the living room then it would fit in just as well there. It?s available in both Black and White so you can decide which will match your furniture the best. Once again for me it?s Black all the way, however my wife is a fan of the White. If you can?t decide you could easily hide this away behind the TV if you wanted as the dimensions are (W x D x H): 160 mm x 145 mm x 20 mm (not sure why you would want to though) and thanks to the included IR Blaster it makes this even easier.





The plastic case (well more of a top cover) it seems to be a good quality plastic that they have used, and as the Zero uses an external 12v power supply unit, there is no need for it to be made of metal as it doesn?t get hot (warm but not hot).

At the rear we find the connections available on the Zero:



? 1x Fixed DVB-S/S2 Tuner

? 2 x Usb 2.0 ports

? 10/100 Mbit Ethernet port

? 1 x HDMI 1.4 video / audio output (digital)

? 1 x A/V video output (3.5mm analog Jack)

? 1x IR Sensor / RS232 port

? External 12V power supply connector

? Power Switch​






Inside the Zero,, at the rear right, is the single fixed tuner, in the centre, is the

Broadcom BCM 7362 2K DMIPS 752 MHz single core, dual thread Cpu, protected with the same new design passive heatsink as found in the SoloSE, then to the front right is the single card slot. There is no room for an internal hdd in the Zero and therefore you will not find any Sata or power connectors inside.



Getting started:

I connected my Zero up to my motorised dish. I also connected up the HDMI cable to my TV, connected an Ethernet cable from my router (there are many Usb Wi-Fi dongles that will work just fine with the Zero if you would rather use Wi-Fi), and then I connected the power lead.

I flicked the switch on the rear and powered on the box for the first time.

First Power up and Flashing:

Before I did anything else, I let the receiver boot up, to make sure it was all working ok. Once booted and I was happy, I then proceeded to shut the Zero down, pulled out my trusty Usb stick, and loaded on the Black Hole 2.1.4 image for the Vu+ Zero.

If this is your first Vu+ receiver, you will be pleased to know, that installing an image onto any of the Vu+ receivers is a very simple process. Simply grab a Usb stick, format it in fat32 with your pc, download the Black Hole image, images are available from different teams) and extract the zip file contents to the root of your newly formatted Usb stick. Once this is done, plug the Usb stick into 1 of the rear Usb ports and then power the box on.

The Zero will do the rest and once flashing is complete it will flash the LED on and off, to let you know that it has completed. So you simply power the box off again, and remove the Usb stick, and then power the Zero back on again.

It?s a very quick and simple process and typically takes around 1 minute to reflash.

On first boot after flashing, you will be greeted with the setup wizard, just follow the simple onscreen instructions to setup your new Zero.









Time to Play:

So first of all I decided to do a channel scan, which didn?t take very long at all, I scanned 985 services on 28.2?E in about 15 minutes.



If you would rather not wait, you can grab a channel list from the BH addon?s server, or choose one of the many available on the internet.





With the channel scan done, I then added the EPG, I personally used CrossEPG.





The Zero from a cold boot gives me a picture on my screen less than 60 seconds (time will vary depending on how many plugins, skins, plugins etc are installed) which is truly outstanding.

The Zero is not just a budget receiver, it is still a "Smart Box?, which means you can browse the internet with it, stream IPTV channels, and it also supports HbbTv, it will run all the plugins that it?s big brother and sisters can run, and you can even connect to your other Vu+ box?s and watch movies or TV recordings stored on there hdd?s. This box might be tiny, but it still has all the multimedia capabilities found on the full size box?s.



Opera Browser:

The Zero has the ability to browse the Internet with the integrated Opera browser. In the Green Panel (green button), activate the Opera browser and enter the URL you want to view using the remote control.

Navigation can be directed to local LAN address?s such your NAS drive, or to the internet without leaving the comfort of your sofa.



The arrows on your remote control will allow you to move the cursor to the middle button of your browser or just use the OK button (the ok button replaces your left mouse button). At any time you can call the virtual keyboard (yellow button) if you want to enter data in a field of the displayed page or to Exit to return to our page.





HbbTv:

The Zero also supports HbbTv, just tune to a channel that provides the service (ZDF HD on Astra 1 19.2?E for example) and press the red button, the Zero will then use your internet connection to connect to ZDF?s ondemand services.









Conclusion:

Well I have to say, when I first read the specs of the Zero, I wasn?t too excited about it. I have had the Duo2, Solo2 and SoloSE for a while now, and I am used to the speed these box?s run at, with there Dual Core 1.3GHz CPU?s. When I use my original Duo or Ultimo, I find myself pressing buttons and waiting for things to appear on the TV screen, and I was expecting something similar from the Zero.

But I am very happy to say this is not the case, in fact in normal use, it is as fast as the 1.3 GHz machines. The only really noticeable difference in speed is the bootup from cold take around 20 seconds longer. Even with a 1080p HD Skin, the box is as lively and responsive as it is with the standard definition skins.

Over all I have to say I?m shocked and seriously impressed. The Zero is tiny, however it?s performance is anything but. It is fantastic value for money and I?m really not sure how Vu+ can produce such a great product for the price. This is a no fuss machine that will just get on and do what you want, fast response and seemless channel zapping, ideal for the bedroom, kid?s room or a spare room.

I think it?s fair to say, that the new Zero really is ?The True Standard of HD Zapper?

Review written by Ev0
Black Hole Team.
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