back to article Echostar HDS-600RS Freesat HD recorder

Freesat, launched three years ago, hasn’t quite caught the imagination in the same way as Freeview HD, but if you don’t have terrestrial coverage, or you want more channels than Freeview provides, without having to go for pay TV, it’s a good option. Echostar HDS-600RS Echostar's HDS-600RS includes Slingbox functionality for …


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  1. Marky W

    That's one fugly box

    a bit like one of those robot vacuum cleaners

    <--- and look, it made me barf

    1. There's a bee in my bot net

      Sifi styling

      I though it was one of them gimmicky branded products made specially for Battlestar Galactica uber fans...

      1. phlashbios


        Absolutely right. Clearly a product made by fracking Cylons.

        Or possibly it has been made by David Hasselhoff from discarded KIT spares.

  2. Matt Bucknall

    Has anyone

    seen my oven tray?

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Other channels?

    Freesat isn't Pay TV. So why are most boxes so awkward for non-Freesat?

    How many button presses to go to Sky News (or what ever non-Freesat channel) and go back to Freesat mode and get BBC 1 HD?

    Why can't you have a favourites list with Freesat and non-Freesat?

    Does MHEG5 work on Non-Freesat channels (I know there are none in UK, but there is one in Germany and some in Ireland shortly )

    Has it got Diseqc?

    Does 28E have to be on Port one of Multiswitch distribution or 4 way Diseqc switch?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      As far as I can see

      Alongside the lack of Unicable support (which would make life so much simpler), there are no options for advanced config, such as Diseqc, so you'll have to rely on the port one trick.

      If there is anything, it's hidden very well (as, of course, is the option on the Humax to access things like Unicable).

      I lost count of button presses; you have to go into the settings, installation, manual scan, and then enter the frequencies one by one - no blind scan here - to store the channels.

      And you have to go back into the menu to change between freesat and non-freesat modes; although non-freesat channels are saved from 5000 onwards, you can't access both lists at the same time.

  4. Stephen 2

    Looks fine to me

    Looks fine to me. Just looks like a larger Slingbox.

    I have been thinking about ditching Sky in favor of Freesat. I could of course watch Freesat with no extra charges by simply cancelling my Sky which automatically converts the card to a freesat card. The problem is that I loose the SkyHD box features such as pausing, recording etc.

    So I'm in the market for a new box. This one seems alright. I have a slingbox so this would consolidate two items down to one, and perhaps even save a bit ont he leccy.

    But I can pickup a regular 320GB Freesat box for 150 quid and I already have my Slingbox. So I dunno. Doesn't seem worth forking out another 150 quid just to consolidate my two devices into one.

  5. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "...hasn’t quite caught the imagination in the same way as Freeview HD"

    OTOH Freesat hasn't exactly had much advertising.

    Agree with the other comments - this review is lacking in a lot of detail any satellite box owner will want to know (why is it impossible to get something which understands more than 1 of the EPGs??)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Couldn't they make the device look more horrible?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      If you're looking for a full-featured sat box ...

      ... then you're not really looking for a Freesat one.

      It's a platform-based service, and as such, I don't think we're ever going to see receivers for it that offer all the flexibility people will expect from a more enthusiast receiver.

      Do say exactly what detail you want to know, and I'll do my best to help.

      The technical reasons why you won't tend to get a multi-sat box that combines Freesat and other channels are pretty straightforward; if you're tuned to another satellite, you're not going to be able to pick up the Freesat streams with their EIT p/f info, which is used to trigger accurate recording. You'd be falling back to time based recording instead, and consequently have issues with rescheduled recordings.

      For stuff on 28.2E, my suspicion is that they're never going to make it really easy for people to mix both on the same EPG or channel list, because if they do allow receivers to do that, what's the incentive for people to pay to go on the Freesat EPG.

      With regard to channels with MHEG on other services, no, sorry, I didn't test that. Soarsat isn't launched (and will anyway be at a different orbital position) and likewise any German channels with MHEG will be on a different satellite, and without any apparent support for Diseqc, it would be a bit of an odd move to buy a Freesat box with the intention of tuning in to those.

      As I mentioned in the review, there's not even a blind search.

      A box designed for a specific platform is never, I think, going to offer all the bells and whistles that satellite enthusiasts want.

  7. Hardcastle the ancient


    would that be as in 'sling yer hook'?

    Till we get sDSL or summat better, it all seems very pointless.

  8. MJC

    The whole point of slingboxen...

    ...for me, anyway, is to be able to easily watch and control my Sat/Blu/PVR/etc from anywhere in my house, from my phone or a laptop or another TV, via ethernet or wireless. If it does that well, I couldn't care less about remote access. If this device supports that with good picture quality, I like the idea (after taking a screwdriver to all the front lights of course). I see no sign the the review of that MO being considered.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      It does work in home

      And yes, you'll get much better quality than when using it remotely; eminently watchable, and without the restrictions on image quality that I referred to in the review. I did use test it that way, but there are only so many words in a review, and the remote quality was something worth commenting on.

      Whether you'd want to use it like this, of course, depends; it's probably easier than putting in a separate LNB feed to a bedroom, say, but if that's the main use case, you might be better off in the long run, especially when in-home sharing of recordings in added to products from other manufacturers.

      What's the right choice is going to depend on where you're starting, and what equipment you're prepared to spend money on.

  9. MJI Silver badge

    Any reason yet not to buy a Humax HDR?

    I still haven't seen one

  10. Alan Brown Silver badge


    > For stuff on 28.2E, my suspicion is that they're never going to make it really easy for people to mix both on the same EPG or channel list, because if they do allow receivers to do that, what's the incentive for people to pay to go on the Freesat EPG.

    I suspect there's likely to be a clause in the Freesat EPG licensing conditions which prohibit manufacturers from allowing EPGs to co-exist. Enquiring gnomes wish to mine.

    (WHY does Freesat want to have loock-in? What would happen if someone was to reverse engineeer the EPG and then publish the information?)

    Yes, I'm primarily interested in 28.2E - for starters there's RTE and a large number of non-UK english language channels which are of interest.

    Perhaps I should just give up and build a suitable HTPC?myth media box.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Well ...

      I think there are a couple of likely reasons for this sort of lock-down being desired by platform makers, including Freesat. As for the reverse engineering issue, that's not really a big one - Myth already has a plug-in for the Freesat EPG, so it's possible to get the programme data, and they've not been taken out back and shot.

      Freesat's intended to be a self funding system, with an advanced EPG (ie series link, rescheduling, and so forth). And for that to work, it has to charge channels to go on the guide.

      There's also a viewpoint (which depends on your exact interpretation of EU law, and applies more to Sky in any case, I think) that satellite receivers must not block the reception of other broadcasts that are in the clear, hence the addition of the 'non freesat' scan mode. (Annex IV, Framework Directive 2002/21/EC, itself a rewording of Art 4, Directive 95/47). But I digress...

      Once you've got a function to scan for those other channels, then what do you do with them? On a box like the old Humax HDCI-2000, no problem, because there is no common EPG. They just go in the channel list.

      But I suspect the reasoning for not doing that here (and indeed on Sky) is that it potentially harms your sales of EPG slots, if people know that it's pretty simple for users to add an extra channel and then view it. If you could simple scan and store in the same channel list, might not some smaller channels decide, rather than pay the EPG fees, that they'll simply explain on their website how to scan and store themselves?

      There's also then the issue of the platform services, which is the enhancements like series links, auto rescheduling, and trailer booking, which are offered over and above the capabilities of the standard programme information.

      Some of those thing, to work, will require that at least one of the tuners on the box is monitoring a transponder that has Freesat data streams on it, otherwise you won't get things like the accurate recording flags, or notice of rescheduled events. That, potentially, could mean either things like recording failing, or missing start or ends.

      I'm not going to say this sort of issue isn't surmountable, but it requires thought, and it's still going to be confusing to some of the non-techy punters at whom platform-based services like these are aimed. You can end up with situation where end users have recording issues not because of any failing in Freesat itself, but because, for example, they happen to be watching a non--platform channel at the time when a recording was meant to start.

      Readers of sites like RegHardware will probably understand why there might be issues; but many people will just see that a box has failed to record a particular thing and their view will be "Freesat is crap, because the box didn't record Doctor Who properly while I was watching XYZ", even if XYZ is on a non-Freesat transponder.

      So, from a technical support/reputational point of view, I'm not saying this is the right thing to do, but I can quite see why Freesat and the makers of compatible equipment adopt the approach that they do.

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