The Technisat Skystar 2 is a 'desktop satellite' USB solution for those who don't want to open up their PCs. Powered by its own 'wall-wart', it's a well-specified unit with a CI slot for pay-TV.

Like a lot of other PC tuners, the Skystar 2 USB is compatible with both DVB-S2 and DVB-S services and supplied with its own handset. Also included is a cut-down 'Technisat edition' of DVBViewer, catering for viewing, timeshifting and recording TV.

It supports both now-and-next and 7-day EPGs and incorporates an excellent timer. Text-searching and favourites makes locating a specific channel easy. DVBViewer TE also supports the Skystar 2 USB's CI and DiSEqC 1.0 capabilities.

The Skystar 2 is actually compatible with 1.2 (and thus motorised dishes) but the only other version supported by TE is USALS, which doesn't give you manual dish control (as catered for by the 'full' DVBViewer Professional). TE also makes provision for playback of multimedia files.

The software, which has been around a long time, is remarkably stable. Even with one tuner you can record/view different channels, provided they're on the same transponder.

Our early review sample was supplied with beta software – the drivers are installed, followed by DVBViewer (there's also Mainconcept's Eve2 video-editing application, should you need it). Those drivers are BDA-compliant, by the way, and will thus work with other suitable digital TV software.

Searching for channels was pretty nippy, a full scan of Astra taking less than four minutes. Picture and sound quality, with SD and HDTV channels alike, could not be faulted – even full-screen playback was superb (you'll need a fast PC if you're doing this with HDTV, though).

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