Tuesday, May 24, 2011

1 Astro B·yond 2 TV

It's very common that most people have more than one TV in their house, one at living hall and one in the room. As a result, very often people like to watch a single cable or satellite TV subscription over a second or third or even more TV. This is quite simple and cheap to achieve with a RCA composite splitter or a TV coaxial RF cable (or commonly known as TV aerial cable). Alternatively, a wireless AV extender can also be used to wirelessly transmit the signal to the second TV, like the image shown after the break...


Astro, the only legal and pay television service provider in Malaysia (there are others but the offered channels do not justify the fee). You get a new decoder if you subscribe to the new HD service...



The new decoder comes with a digital HDMI out, analog component out (I wonder who is still using this?) and RCA composite out. Unlike the old decoder, this decoder does not come with TV aerial output and therefore you will not be able to broadcast the channel to a second TV using TV aerial out with coaxial RF cable (this was the method I used in my old house). Since my objective is to share the broadcast to a 21" CRT TV in my mom's room, thus HD or not is not a concern and the RCA composite out is good with a wireless AV extender...


The extender usually comes in pair, one being transmitter and the other a receiver...


The usual connectivity option you get is the RCA composite. This model also offers S-Video...


The Remote Out (the transmitter on the left) enables total control over the decoder remotely from the second TV. In other words, you can change channels (using the same Astro remote controller) remotely from the second TV just like sitting in front of the first TV.


Since it rides on 2.4GHz frequency band (similar to most wireless router, cordless phone etc) the extender usually packs with a channel switching feature so that you can switch to a clean channel if there's interference. This unit features a 4 channels switching option as shown above. Perhaps it's better to fork out a bit more to get a 5GHz extender if your house (and your neighbor) is full with wireless devices (note that new wireless N routers operate on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz). Google wifi scanner and use the free tool to check the house surrounding if you want to be certain.

Get it up is as simple as ABC (assuming you already have the decoder setup properly on the main/first TV)...


Connect the transmitter using RCA composite cable to the decoder by matching the colors. Repeat the same on the receiver with the second TV.

Now come to the meat for new and to-be Astro b.yond subscribers, the most frequently asked question - can the new decoder output both digital (via HDMI out) and analog (via the composite out) simultaneously?

The answer is...


Yes. On the left is my HP monitor connected to byond decoder's HDMI out and on the right is obviously the old TV via the composite out.

And to get effective IR transmission (remote controller) from the second TV...


Stick the IR extender to the left of smart card slot.

3 things to note here:
  • You will see black bars if the aspect ratio of both TV is mismatched. EG: 16:9 vs 4:3 as shown above.
  • Dolby Digital is not supported over composite out. You will not get audio on the second TV (connected via composite) when watching HD channels. You have to change it to stereo in the Setting.
  • No HD quality on composite out.

Last thing to highlight is to take caution on the range the extender offers. The unit shown above was the first model I bought, unfortunately the range was not far to reach my mom's bedroom. I have to exchange with the shop for another model...


It's still a 2.4GHz extender and I couldn't find one operates in 5GHz in Klang Valley, anyway this second model works well for me though. The price was RM290 and I learned that it's ranging RM200-300 for such extender. You might get charged RM350 or more if you ask the Astro contractor to setup for you.

I only complete part of the project. Coming up next is how do I maximize my ROI (of Astro subscription) to output the HD channels to a second HDTV?

p/s: if you're looking for a second Astro b.yond remote controller, you can get it from Pineapple Computer Store in 1U. Exactly like original, RM40 for one.