08 June 2012 @ 06:31 pm
First impressions of ASTRO IPTV  
The ASTRO IPTV guys finally came yesterday to hook me up with some fiber-optic goodness. Whilst the process of pulling the fiber-optic cable from the riser was horrendously time-consuming (it took the installers four hours just for this task), it was well worth the wait.

After some finagling and tinkering around with the PVR box, Huawei fiber-optic modem, and Cisco Wireless N router, lo and behold I got me some 1080i HD goodness as well as a pretty decent 6mbps broadband connection. Benchmarks were done with the SpeedTest app on my iPhone.

PROVIDERDOWNLOADUPLOAD
6mbps ASTRO IPTV6.1mbps6.6mbps
5mbps TM UniFi5.5mbps8.9mbps
1mbps Streamyx ADSL0.8mbps0.3mbps
Maxis 3G6.1mbps0.4mbps

Being the curious bastard that I am, I simply could not resist tinkering around with the Huawei modem and the Cisco E1000 router. While I could not access the Huawei mode's administrative console, I could easily do so with the router. The administrative password was deceptively simple, although it has been modified from the Cisco factory defaults. From there, I can see that the broadband connection runs on a PPPOE connection, the exact same authentication technique as Streamyx.

Unlike Telekom Malaysia's fiber-optic UniFi service, which requires some weird-ass custom wireless router in conjunction with their own custom fiber optic modem, I can easily swap out the Cisco E1000 router with one of my own, which was easily accomplished by calling the ASTRO IPTV customer service helpline at 03-95431543 to get the PPPOE password. (remember to add the @astroiptv suffix to the username though)

I had not bothered to test it out yet though, due to lack of time and the fact that I am still waiting for my Asus RT-N66U router to be delivered.

There was precious little to configure in the B.yond PVR box, apart from configuring how 4:3 standard definition channels are to be displayed, default audio and subtitle languges, and if the audio is to be output as PCM 2.0 or Dolby Digital 5.1. Leaving it as Dolby Digital 5.1 has zero effect to standard definition channels, but it would result in lack of sound in the high definition channels unless the box is connected to a receiver via HDMI. Since my Yamaha RX-V567 receiver is still in Penang, I am forced to leave it as PCM 2.0 for now.

Deeper in the box's menus is a PIN-protected Installation Settings menu, where one can configure if the video is to be output as 720p or 1080i. I experimented with both, and could not see any difference, so I left it as 1080i.

One surprise I discovered is that the HD versions of the Discovery, History, and National Geographic channels had different content from their standard definition counterparts. AXN, Fox, and Star World shared the same content between both standard definition and high definition versions.

The PVR feature is simple to setup, and it can even be configured to always save a particular series, instead of only a single episode. I set it to save an episode of Man vs Food off TLC, and it was relatively seamless to play it off the hard drive this morning.

The storage indicator says that I still have 290 hours available, although I don't know if that is only for standard definition or HD content. The PVR is currently configured to save Ip Man off the Celestial HD channel later tonight, and I will check on it tomorrow morning to see how many hours it took off the hard drive.

I did not bother to open the PVR box to see what sort of hard drive is included, although their FAQ site indicates that it is only a 500GB drive. I doubt I'll ever see the need to add the external 320GB module.

I did not test the VOD services, as there wasn't anything there worth spending RM8 or RM15 on.

Overall video quality for the HD channels is pretty good, with the fiber-optic delivery method resulting in a slight but noticebale improvement over the default ASTRO B.yond satellite delivery. It would not be fair to compare it to Blu-ray content though, as it's obvious these channels are encoded at a much lower bitrate. I spent a few minutes surveying random episodes of 24, Despearate Housewives, and MasterChef USA that were being aired at the time, and the quality is passable at best.

Overall, whilst the broadband benchmarks are comparable with UniFi, I have to say this is a better deal since RM216/month (after tax) not only gets me a fiber-optic broadband service but also HD channels and PVR service on ASTRO B.yond, which is more economical to getting the traditional ASTRO service (HD or otherwise) along with a 5mbps UniFi subscription.

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Current Mood: nervousnervous
 
 
 
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous) on June 28th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Hi MC, did you manage to setup Asus RT-N66U router on Astro IPTV? I have difficulty and hope you can shade some lights.
munchoong on June 28th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Yup, am using it right now with my Astro IPTV

To set it up, go to the WAN tab and ensure the following settings are set
WAN connection = PPPOE
Enable WAN = Yes
Enable NAT = Yes
Get the WAN IP Automatically = Yes

For the Account Setting section, you'll need to call the Astro IPTV support (see the blog post above for the phone number) for your username and password.

Click Apply to save the change, and then power cycle both the RT-N66U and the Huawei fiber optic modem. It will be able to connect after that.

Edited at 2012-06-28 05:41 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on July 2nd, 2012 07:34 am (UTC)
Hi,

I will be getting Astro IPTV soon and I plan to used back my TPlink 1043D router. May I know that you use your Asus router for both internet broadband as well as IPTV? or the IPTV still tag with the linksys E1000 router?
munchoong on July 2nd, 2012 09:06 am (UTC)
The Asus router ONLY for the broadband service, still dependent on the Huawei fiber-optic modem for IPTV because it is fed by the fiber-optic cable and the Astro PVR unit connects to it via Ethernet.

The Linksys E100 router they provided was only for the broadband access anyway, it did not control IPTV
(Anonymous) on July 2nd, 2012 10:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. Last stupid question. Now, you linked the Asus router direct to huawei Fibre modem right? Or you linked to E1000? If link to modem directly, the E1000 just purely for the IPTV seek?
munchoong on July 2nd, 2012 10:32 am (UTC)
Yes, the Asus router is connected to the Huawei modem. The E1000 is collecting dust in the box now.
Nor Azhan Hasbullah on November 18th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
Hi MC,

I am awaiting the installation of my Astro IPTV (in less than 3 weeks) and I am nervous because I am leaving UNIFI for this. I dont really understand what you wrote up there as I am no techie guy. But did you (or can we) have more than 1 TV connected to the IPTV? Do we need to spend more to have that?

Thanks :)
munchoong on November 19th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC)
Since Astro IPTV uses the standard Astro B.yond PVR, you can indeed hook it up to multiple displays.

If your secondary TV is an old fashioned CRT TV, just search around eBay or Lelong and you'll find many China-brand solutions that aren't too expensive.

If you want to beam HD across multiple rooms (like me), you'll need to look for a WHDI or WiDi compatible device such as the Asus WiCast. They are a tad more expensive but worth it if you intend to spend most of your time on HD channels.
Nor Azhan Hasbullah on November 19th, 2012 09:55 am (UTC)
Thanks, MC.

Is beaming HD across multiple rooms easy? Can the Astro contractor do it for us?
munchoong on November 19th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, beaming using a WHDI or WiDi device is very easy. Again, for my case, all I needed to do was buy an Asus WiCast box, which did not require any setup at all. All I needed was to get a HDMI splitter, so that my Astro B.yond PVR can output to my home theater (for the living room) and the WiCast (for the bedroom) simultaneously.

I don't know if the Astro contractor will do it for you though since wireless beaming isn't something that they would cover or provide for.
Nor Azhan Hasbullah on November 21st, 2012 10:37 am (UTC)
Ok thanks MC :)
(Anonymous) on July 3rd, 2013 08:32 am (UTC)
you staying in high rise??
munchoong on July 3rd, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
Yup
oscarchd on October 21st, 2013 07:32 am (UTC)
hello there bro! i just got my maxis astro iptv setup.

i'm having the huawei hg655m port 2 to the technicolor gateway wan port

now i'm actually able to log into the hg655m and set the port binding to port 3 and was able to use my dd-wrt custom router to connect to the internet just by using a pppoe dialer...

my question now lies on the iptv... can you sifu help me with the iptv setup? the vlan 822 and 823 are still port binding and vlan tagging to port 2...
munchoong on October 21st, 2013 08:41 am (UTC)
I'm using the Huawei Echolife HG850A fiber optic modem, and I could never get an IP assigned when I connect my laptop to it. Even using the static IP 192.168.1.x did not allow me to connect to the modem either. :(

What is the IP you get when you connect to the fiber optic modem?

I don't understand what you mean by the IPTV setup though. Just connect the ethernet cable from the fiber optic modem (I have to use port 4) to the Astro Byond PVR, no other configuration required.
oscarchd on October 21st, 2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
the thing is i'm not able to the iptv using any ports on the modem hg655m, mine is not fiber optics, it's a copper version because i'm on high rise... i'm on maxis, r u on time?

according to lowyat forum, the ip is 192.168.100.1, username: telecomadmin and pw: admintelecom for hg850... can u try logging in and help me check the settings for the vlan tagging as well as the port binding? is there a better way i can contact u that u willing to share? thanks!
munchoong on October 22nd, 2013 08:40 am (UTC)
I'm using Time. There was no Maxis Astro IPTV yet at the time.

I'll have to find some time to test the fiber optic modem, maybe this weekend. Will let you know.
oscarchd on October 21st, 2013 03:01 pm (UTC)
not too sure y my comments all consider spam... can you help me?
munchoong on October 22nd, 2013 08:41 am (UTC)
It's automated by LiveJournal. I don't have control over it. :(

I have unspammed your earlier comment.
oscarchd on November 7th, 2013 11:24 am (UTC)
bro! still not able to set it in my router!

my problem now is the not being able to connect directly to the tm huawei box to astro and have astro... if i go through the maxis technicolor, got astro but no tv guide -_-
munchoong on November 7th, 2013 01:09 pm (UTC)
Errr... What's the Maxis technicolor?
Like I said, my Astro Byond PVR is connected to LAN4 and my wireless router is connected to LAN1 on the Huawei modem.
(Anonymous) on January 27th, 2014 07:18 am (UTC)
Hi, I'm planning to switch from Unifi to the Astro IPTV broadband Maxis. Just want to know if you have faced any connection issues over the time you have used it. As in are internet outages frequent? And if so what's the length of time it's usually down for? Does it need the technician to come over?

Thanks for the input. Appreciated.
munchoong on January 27th, 2014 08:04 am (UTC)
My Astro IPTV is under Time.com, not Maxis.

Only ever had connectivity problems once, and the Time.com contractor came within 24 hours to fix the problem, which was due to a broken terminator at the fiber optic riser on my floor. It took him less than an hour to diagnose and fix the problem.

There are rare occasions where my router failed to connect to the Internet after establishing a PPPOE connection to Time's network, but those were quickly fixed by rebooting the router to obtain a new outbound IP address.
(Anonymous) on January 27th, 2014 09:31 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot for your input Munchoong. Damn fast response time from you lol
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )