Here we go, this is the long awaited and all new Vu+ Solo2, the now famous Korean company Vu+ continues to produce new products and with this latest model, things really have been updated. They have produced this little gem for the entry level of the market, but its features, as we shall see are first class.
What we have tested for you is one of the first units that were produced, but despite this it arrived in its full retail packaging. The classic cardboard box decorated with a description of the main features of the receiver.
Inside the box we find the Solo2 maintains the same dimensions as its predecessor, a small cardboard box to the right, contains the HDMI 1.4 cable, the classic remote control, already used on the other models in the Vu+ range (except the Vu+ Ultimo which has a completely different remote control), the batteries, the external power supply unit and power cable, 4 screws and 4 anti-vibration rubber grommets to secure a hard drive.
Space for an internal hard drive for this receiver is the first big news for this little masterpiece. The Solo2 is able to accommodate a 2.5" SATA hard drive (the ones that are used in most common notebook/laptop computers), if you wanted some extra response you could fit a 2.5" SSD drive if you wish. Also included is the SATA and power cable required to use the hard drive.
Powerful 1.3Ghz Dual Core CPU
Twin DVB-S2 Tuners
Dolby Digital PLus & DTS supported
2 x SmartCard Readers (Xcrypt)
1 x Common Interface
Dual MPEG2/H.264 Hardware Decoding
DNR (Digital Noise Reduction)
12 Display VDF display
256MB Flash / 1GB DDR3 DRAM
3 x USB 2.0
SATA3 2.5" HDD supported
1 x SCART
SPDIF for digital bit stream out (optical)
Automatic temperature sensor based FAN speed control system
Linux Operating System
Downloadable Plug-Ins supported
Automatic & Manual Service Scan Supported
Multiple LNB control (DiSEqC) supported
Skin change supported
Aesthetically the Solo2 is very similar to the Vu+ Ultimo (although much smaller), but has a 12 digit VFD display as seen in the Vu+ Uno, in the centre and on the left hand side is the power button infinity style as used on the Vu+ Ultimo.
On the right hand side there is a flap that hides the front USB 2.0 port and also features a single CI slot and below it there are 2 conax embedded card readers. Note that there are no channel change or volume control buttons.
At the back we find many new features, starting from the left side we find two fixed satellite DVB-S2 tuners, then the inevitable scart socket and above it a composite output and audio output. In the centre we find the optical digital output, HDMI 1.4 socket, a gigabit Ethernet port and below it two USB 2.0 ports, and an RS232 serial connection, on the right hand side is the ON / OFF switch, underneath is the connector for the external power supply and finally a cooling fan to ensure things stay nice and cool.
Ok now it's time to look inside the Solo2, on the left side is the platform for the 2.5" hard drive, in the center, the new cpu Broadcom bcm 7356 1.3 GHz protected with the classic passive heatsink as seen in the previous Vu+ models, then to the right the block that houses the card readers and CI slot.
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And now the fun begins. We are going to install the new Black Hole 1.7.9 image by inserting a usb stick in the front usb port, after powering on, the receiver asks you to confirm by pressing the Power button on the front display. The display gives you information on what it is doing and with amazing speed (seemed like only a few seconds) the display shows that it has finished flashing the image to the box and will automatically restart with a countdown of 10 seconds.
We remove the usb stick and the receiver restarts. then the first startup begins in a few seconds. The sequence of steps is very fast, something never seen before in any enigma2 receiver.
We connect our external peripherals, a usb dvb-t tuner, usb memory stick and a usb Wi-Fi dongle, (in this case we used the official Vu+ Wi-Fi dongle, but the BlackHole image supports many of the aftermarket usb Wi-Fi dongles on the market).
As usual, we are presented with the Setup Wizard, and proceed to the configuration of the tuners and the configuration of the network, after turning on the WiFi system it starts a quick scan for AP's (access points) and asks you to select the one that you want to use. The entire procedure takes place in a few minutes after which the Solo2 is already surf the internet.
With Wi-Fi you have the flexibility to put the receiver anywhere in the house, but if possible it would be better to use the Ethernet port as, as mentioned above it has been upgraded to Gigabit. With a Gigabit port you certainly will not have any problems with the streaming of HD channels to your PC.
We then proceed to scan channels, and another great surprise here, in addition to being fast, it has scanned and found more channels, than we found when a scan was made a few minutes before with the same satellite dish and lnb when it was connected to a Vu+ Uno. The Solo2 also has a higher SNR (signal) than the Uno displayed.
Even dvb-t (using the usb dvb-t tuner) channel scanning is performed quickly, however once you have confirmed that your tuners are working correct, there is always the option of downloading a ready made channel list from the internet, which may save you time and all of the well known and popular settings lists are available to download on the Black Hole server (green button and then yellow button on your remote control).
From the first time you switch on your Solo2, you will notice that the boot is extremely fast but to make it faster you can use the main feature of this new image, BlackHole SpeedUp. This function allows you to enable / disable various plugins and features that are included by default in the image, so you can disable any plugins you do not wish to use, and this will in turn speed up the boot (and restart) time of your Vu+ receiver.
Press Blue button on the remote control and then Blue button again and select BlackHole SpeedUp, select which options you want to disable and then press Red button to save and reboot the receiver.
The Solo2 from a cold boot and gives us a picture in less than 45 seconds, (41 in my case, to be precise, but this will depend on how many plugins you have installed and how big your channel list is) which is something that has never been seen before with any Linux based receiver, truly outstanding.
So far we have only tried a few of the features that are available, but we know that the Solo2 is not a simple receiver, it is a "SmartBox" so let's put it to the test with some of the other functions that help make it Smart.
The first function that we will try is the ability to browse the Internet with the integrated browser. In the plugins panel (green button), activate the Opera browser and enter the URL using the remote control we could start our navigation.
Navigation may be directed to external sites or even to internal sites on your Lan (local network) such as the webpage of your NAS drive, without leaving the comfort of your sofa.
The arrows on your remote control will allow you to move the pointer to the middle button of your browser or just use the OK button (this is what would usually be 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.
You can even view the Solo2's user manual using the Opera Web Browser.
Another smart feature is the page with the current weather forecast, from the main menu just select Black Hole Weather and it will tell you what the the weather is where you are (once you have set your location).
With the Solo2 you can even look at your favorite videos, in fact with the MyTube Player any video on YouTube is just a remote control click away, it's so simple and easy to use.
Finally lets not forget that the Solo2 also supports HbbTV, in fact by tuning to a channel that provides the service (for example, ZDF HD on Astra1 19.2e.) and having an internet connection, pressing the red button we will open a whole world of on demand services.
At the time of writing this review the new transcoding function is undergoing beta testing.
We hope this new feature will be ready for release very soon.
The Solo2 really is a combination of technology and power, in the world of TV if there were a Goliath, then the Solo2 would be David.
All the credit goes to Piefav & Lorenzo64 of Black Hole Team
Thanks to BH team
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