Amiko Alien 2 Plus (Part 2)

4/23/2013 6:44:17 PM

PVR and multimedia

The recording facilities are mostly well thought out. It’s possible to record and view programmers on different transponders, thanks to the multiple-tuner arrangement. As with most other Linux-based receivers, simultaneous recording and viewing of channels carried by the same transponder is also permitted. The channel list shows you what’s available any channels you can’t receive are ‘grayed out’. You can also access the media player while a recording is in progress. This can handle a good number of video formats (including its own recordings) while switching between USB and networked storage is easy.

Any current recordings are inaccessible, although you can play existing ones. If ‘chasing playback’ facility is desired, then, you’re instead advised to use the ‘time shift’ facility which is invoked with dedicated handset keys. The only significant limitation is that a maximum of two recordings can take place simultaneously, even if your storage device is a USB hard drive. A third channel can, however, be viewed. The unit shares its own drives on the network, meaning that computers and media players can access your recording. A nice touch as is the fact that terrestrial HD recordings are accessible to the wider world (something that’s not true of pukka Freeview HD PVRs)

Press the handset’s prominent ‘portal’ button, and you’re whisked away to a world of downloadable Spark ‘apps’. Categories here include video (mostly overseas broadcasters). Sports, shopping and news; a handful of simple games are also available. The Spark portal is built around the Opera web browser; press the Menu button, and a row of icons provide additional web-related functions. Among them is ‘O’ button, which graphically depicts popular websites (such as Google, eBay, Sky News, Facebook and Twitter). It’s rather slow and unresponsive when compared to visiting these sites on a PC or modern smartphone. The Amiko’s 450MHZ CPU really isn’t fast enough by current Smart TV expectations and the lack of bookmarks is annoying. Apps, which are optimized for the platform, run at a much more acceptable speed.

Description: Spark’s Opera browser gives you access to a selection of apps and websites. Browsing can be slow but ‘optimized’ apps perform well

Spark’s Opera browser gives you access to a selection of apps and websites. Browsing can be slow but ‘optimized’ apps perform well


Searches were fast, and the tuners held onto signals with a limpet-like grip. Picture and sound quality, especially from HD channels, are truly excellent. The New Year’s Day Concert form Vienna, broadcast on BBC HD looked stunning as the musician’s manuscripts, the Musikverein Golden Hall’s intricate interior and an outdoor performance all demonstrated excellent detail and extremely solid images. Both satellite and terrestrial simulcasts had a similarly-fine visual balance, but 5.1 audio was only available from the satellite feed.

Standard-def channels of high quality and multimedia files hold their own – even when upscaled to HD. Poorer quality material is alas ruthlessly exposed!


Overall, we’re rather taken with the Alien 2+ as a digital broadcast receiver and media player. Those three tuners, a worthwhile EPG and decent recording capabilities – albeit with external storage add up to real flexibility. Its portal and web browser are limited, and more computing power is needed for it to run more responsively. But maybe we’re nit-picking here. As the Alien represents great value.


Description: Connectivity

1.    LNB 1 input and loop through output

2.    LNB 2 input and loop through output

3.    Aerial input and loop through output

4.    Ethernet and USB ports

5.    HDMI output

6.    Composite video and analogue audio outputs

7.    Coaxial and optical digital audio outputs

8.    Scart socket

9.    RS232 port

10.  Mains switch

In the box

Description: In the box

1.    Switch-mode power supply

2.    STi STi 162 multifunction ‘jungle chip’

3.    Flash memory chips

4.    SDRAM chip (128MB)

5.    Card slot PCB

6.    DVB demodulator chips

7.    Ethernet port module

8.    Sharp DVB-T2/C tuner

9.    2x Sharp DVB-S2 tuners



·         Easy to drive, thanks to excellent user interface

·         Triple-tuner arrangement provides unprecedented flexibility

·         High standard of AV performance


·         No provision for internal HDD – network or USB recording

·         Opera web browser runs at a snail’s pace

·         A maximum of two simultaneous recordings and eight timer events

·         Build: 8 stars

·         Setup: 8 stars

·         Searching: 9 stars

·         Performance: 9 stars

·         Features: 9 stars

·         Value: 9 stars

·         Overall: 87%

Test and measurement

Power usage

The efficient standby mode greatly increase start-up times and prevents use of the recording timer

·         In use: one LNB: 16W

·         In use: two LNBs: 18W

·         Standby: 14W

·         Deep standby (default) : <1W

Search: 280E

On a par with most FTA hardware and considerably faster than most Linux receivers

·         FTA scan: 3m39s

·         Full scan: 3m41s

·         Blind search: 7m0s

Search: 190E

Speedier than most Linux receivers, the blind search ranks among the fastest of any current product

·         FTA scan: 3m26s

·         Full scan: 3m37s

·         Blind search: 5m34s

Search: 130E

Again, impressive timings. Note that the search times for FTA and all channels are practically identical

·         FTA scan: 3m8s

·         Full scan: 3m7s

·         Blind search: 5m42s

Video formats

·         MPEG-2: yes

·         FLV: yes

·         DIVX: yes

·         XVID: yes

·         MKV: yes

·         MOV: yes

·         MP4: yes

·         WMV: yes


·         Size (WxHxD): 300mm x 64mm x 231mm

·         Net weight: 2.0 KG

·         Operation Temperature: 00C~+450C

·         Storage Temperature: -100C~+700C

·         Storage Humidity: 5%~95% RH

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