TEST SATELLITE manhattan Plaza HD-S2
Manhattan
Plaza HD-S2
the opposition
Bush BFSAT01HD
n 40 percent more expensive
and with lesser picture
quality, less integrated
non-Freesat channels access,
slower to operate and search
Alma S1800
n Smaller, cheaper, with
DiSEqC control and PVR ready
– but not a Freesat machine
so slower search, no Freesat
EPG and no iPlayer
This high-definition Freesat receiver gives you that little
bit more and at a remarkably low price
While FreeSaT HD
receivers in the living
room tend to be
twin-tuner recorders, when
you want to make the most of
an HD TV in the kitchen, bedroom
or family room, usually a
straightforward HD Freesat
set-top box is all that’s required
– which is exactly what you get
with Manhattan’s Plaza HD-S2.
Build and connectivity
The HD-S2 is small, almost to the
point of not being taken seriously.
Although not quite in the minireceiver league, it’s just 21cm across
and only 4cm high – that’s the size of
my paperback copy of Cloud Atlas.
Despite its small size, the HD-S2
has some style about it. The front
panel is a shiny black acrylic panel
with pleasant curved ends, set in a
matt black plastic frame. There are
just three buttons (power and
channel up/down) on the front and
a single power indicator light. It’s all
very understated and classy.
A look inside reveals the
chassis additions for a card reader
on the right hand side of the
front, but the HD-S2 is only
available as a Freesat machine
for unencrypted channels.
The rear of the receiver is pretty
busy. Manhattan has not gone
overboard with the connectivity,
but it’s got all that most users are
likely to need. There’s a single LNB
input, but this does not drive a
Interface
Even better you get everything
from an HD Freesat box that you
could possibly ask for, including BBC
iPlayer and ITV player, easier access
to non-Freesat channels and
cracking quality high-definition
reception – and all for less than 50
quid, which has to be a bargain.
With the HD-S2 you can watch excellent quality
high-definition pictures and access the full
Freesat 8-day programme guide
Reprinted from What Satellite & Digital TV
Freesat and Non-Freesat channels can be stored
alongside one another in favourite channels lists
to be treated as a group
The HD-S2’s comprehensive and easy-tonavigate menu system includes an effective
search for non-Freesat channels
www.wotsat.com
www.manhattan-tv.com • 020 84500005 • £49 TEST SATELLITE
‘Despite the relatively small
price tag, the Plaza HD-S2 delivers
top-notch pictures and sound’
The back panel also includes an
Ethernet socket for connection to
a broadband router (for online
catch-up TV) and a USB socket for
updating the software (although
over-the-air downloading of updates
is also available). It’s a shame this is
not also for connecting PVR storage
– if you want to record Freesat
programmes, you’ll have to get a
Freesat+ machine.
The one part of the HD-S2 that
lets the side down is the remote
control. Although this operates fine
and the buttons are sensibly laid out,
it is small and cheap looking and not
up to the standards of the receiver.
Setup
DiSEqC switch (or DiSEqC motor)
so this really is a machine for 28.2°E
only – although that won’t put off
the audience this receiver (and
Freesat itself) is mostly aimed at.
The main connection to a TV
screen is via HDMI, which delivers
hi-def images and digital sound.
For those with a separate sound
system, there’s an optical S/PDIF
digital audio output, too.
The only SD video and analogue
audio output is the single Scart
socket, but that’s enough for
connection to a DVD recorder or
PVR for recording programmes. The
Scart might even be connected to
a stand-alone modulator to send
Freesat TV around the home by UHF
as, like most Freesat receivers, the
HD-S2 has no built-in modulator.
All Freesat receivers follow much the
same set-up procedure, laid down
by Freesat, and the HD-S2 is no
different. On first switch-on, you set
the HDMI output format, check the
signal levels, enter your postcode
(using either the number keys in the
normal texting fashion, or a pop-up
onscreen keyboard) and start the
search. This takes about 1.25
minutes, which is quite long for a
Freesat search, but still short enough
for hassle-free occasional use.
The HD-S2 will also search for and
find non-Freesat channels, of which
there are a good few – the likes of
Arise News (in HD), Horse & Country
TV, and innumerable shopping,
music and religious channels.
You can either search an
individual transponder (a Manual
Scan) or all of them (Automatic
Scan). In the test, the Automatic
Scan took under 1.5 minutes to find
all the channels on 28.2°E that are
not part of the Freesat platform.
As there is no DiSEqC control
from the HD-S2, searching for
(and viewing) channels from other
satellite positions is not very
practical. You can use a manual LNB
switch to change between an LNB
for 28.2°E and one for some other
satellite position, but you cannot
perform a whole-satellite search
on the other satellite because its
transponders are not in the HD-S2’s
database. Instead, you can search
each individual transponder and find
channels that way, but it’s a tedious
way to scan a satellite!
The only other setup process is
the internet connection, and this is
all automatic with DHCP setting the
network addresses (although these
can be set manually, too).
Basic Use
Like the setup, the receiver’s
everyday operation is largely
controlled by the Freesat
specification. However, Manhattan
has bent this a little to make it easier
to use and more flexible.
The Freesat channels are listed
onscreen with a preview window
showing the currently selected
channel. You can preview another
channel by highlighting it in the list
and pressing OK and then switch to
viewing that channel with another
press of the OK button.
You can also switch directly to
other channel lists – Freesat radio,
non-Freesat TV, non-Freesat radio
and the favourite channels lists are
all displayed ‘in parallel’ so you can
Features
No LNB inputs: 1
LNB Loopthrough: No
DiSEqC: No
Selectable FEC: No
Symbol rate range:
2000 - 45000
Blind search: No
Linux: No
CAM: None
Common Interface: None
Teletext: DVB decoded
EPG support: DVB now/
next, Freesat 8-day
Timer: Unlimited events,
8-day
Hard drive: None
UHF modulator tuning: n/a
Software upgrade:
Over-the-air or USB
download
Data ports: USB, Ethernet
AV outputs
SD out: TV Scart (Composite,
RGB)
HD out: HDMI
Audio out: Optical digital
audio
Connectivity
1 LNB input
Ethernet network
2 connection
3 USB data connection
4 HDMI
5
Optical digital
audio output
6 TV Scart
1
2
3
6
4
www.wotsat.com
5
Reprinted from What Satellite & Digital TV
TEST SATELLITE manhattan Plaza HD-S2
in the box
1 Built-in power supply
2
2 Ethernet interface
3
3 IF tuner
4 Memory
5 Central processor
6 Unused card reader
framework
5
4
1
6
Ratings
PLUS
n Low price
n Good picture
and sound
n Easy access to
non-Freesat channels
Minus
n Cheap-looking remote
n No support for other
satellites
n Not PVR-ready
easily move between them. The
favourite channels lists (eight of
them) can be populated with any
channels you want from both the
Freesat and non-Freesat channels
so you can, say, set up a list of news
channels that includes BBC News,
Sky News, NHK News, and Arise
News and move between them
seamlessly although they are some
on, some off the Freesat platform.
Then there’s the ‘browsing bar’,
displayed when the channel is
changed, which not only gives the
details of the channel and the
programme on now, but also what’s
on next on this channel and what’s
on, on any other channel – to select
another channel if anything takes
your fancy. It’s the ultimate
channel-hopping convenience.
If you still can’t find the channel
you want, the name search will soon
locate it. The EPG also follows the
Freesat form, with the channels
arranged into content categories,
but the HD-S2 has the favourites
lists as alternative categories, so
that you can see the programme
schedules for the (Freesat) favourite
channels together.
This is the cream on the cake for
the favourite channels system, which
takes Freesat on the HD-S2 to a new
level of real-world ease of use.
upscaled to HD for display is
impressive, too.
Given a half-decent internet
connection, BBC iPlayer and
ITVplayer videos are presented in
excellent shape, and overall you’re
left with the feeling that the Plaza
HD-S2 is performing well above
its price n Geoff Bains
VERDICT
The Plaza HD-S2 probably takes a
straightforward Freesat receiver
about as far as it can go. The tuner
behaves well with any reasonable
signal, the images and sound are
excellent, and the integration of
non-Freesat channels into the
user-friendly navigation means
that the HD-S2 is more than ‘just’ a
Freesat receiver. That the HD-S2 is
also so ludicrously cheap makes it
the clear choice.
Performance
Despite the relatively small price tag,
the Plaza HD-S2 delivers top-notch
pictures and sound. You want an HD
receiver to produce vibrant, lively
images and crystal clear sound
that do justice to the best-quality
transmissions from BBC, Sky, NHK,
and so forth – and the HD-S2 does
not disappoint. SD reception,
Build
hhhhhhhhhh
Setup
hhhhhhhhhh
Searching
hhhhhhhhhh
Test And Measurement
Navigation
n/a
hhhhhhhhhh
Idling
Performance
In use 20W
hhhhhhhhhh
Standby <1W
hhhhhhhhhh
4
6
8
10 minutes
0
2
4
6
8
10 minutes
0
hhhhhhhhhh
Power usage
Consumption is
quite low and the
economical standby
mode saves power
and money
Reprinted from What Satellite & Digital TV
2
4
8
10 minutes
search: 28.2°E
Fairly fast at Freesat
setup and no slowcoach to access all the
other FTA channels on
28.2°E either
2
4
6
8
10 minutes
4
6
8
10 minutes
2
0
2
4
6
8
10 minutes
search: 19.2°E
Without a transponder
database for other
satellites, it can’t scan
a whole satellite other
than to 28.2°E
2
4
6
8
10 minutes
4
6
8
10 minutes
N/A
Full scan
0
N/A
Blind search
N/A
FTA scan
0
N/A
Full scan
0
N/A
6
N/A
FTA scan
0
1m20s
Blind search
Value
86%
2
Full scan
Features
Overall
1m12s
FTA scan
0
2
N/A
Blind search
0
2
4
6
8
10 minutes
search: 13°E
Without a transponder
database for other
satellites, it cannot
scan a whole satellite
other than to 28.2°E
Video Formats
MPEG-2
●
DivX
●
AVI
●
Xvid
●
Mkv
●
wmv
●
MTS
●
www.wotsat.com