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July 16, 2007

Techno TM9100 - Dreambox killer?


by BGonaSTICK

Technomate TM9100 - Multimedia Centre running on Enigma + PVR Ready + 9in1 Memory Card Reader + Ethernet Communication Port + Unlimited Channel Memory + 2x Smart Card Readers + 1x Common Interface (CI)

When first released onto the market in November 2006, this box was regarded by many in the Linux STB world as a cheeky young upstart.

It was very late onto the scene - the market was already dominated by Dream Multimedia’s Dreambox range of receivers. A few other Linux boxes had shown potential up to that point, like the Triple Dragon and to a lesser extent, the Relook, but nothing really came close to challenging the mighty Dreambox.

Had Technomate - already with a huge following in the sat scene for their 1xxx series boxes - completely lost their marbles?

It was a flop. At £250 it just didn’t have the support or the features to sway the punters.

But now the TM-9100 is back with a vengeance, and is quickly building a strong following.

Why?

Market forces dear chap. The manufacturer has recently dumped the prices to a cripplingly low level - these boxes are on sale for as little as £99 if you know where to look.

But wait. Although they are cheap, and run on the open-source Linux operating system, there is a small catch. The dumping of stock in the recent fire-sale was to make way for the new TM9100 Super.

The difference? As far as we can tell, the only thing to set them apart is the amount of available memory. They even have the same amount of physical memory on-board, but more of it is useable in the ‘Super’ version.

The Super’s price tag is less attractive to the tune of around £50 when compared to the original. Only time will tell if it’s worth the extra money, but this annoying pricing/upgrade tactic may ultimately add up to a second round fired straight into the old plates of meat by Technomate. Does it mean that Technomate have flooded their own market with boxes sold at a loss?

What does the extra memory mean in real terms? Well, we don’t really know yet. An awful lot of the old boxes have been shifted in recent weeks, and those owners are certainly not going to be upgrading to the Super anytime soon. Linux communities, especially Linux satellite communities are very resourceful, and will support each other until the last person standing finally turns out the lights.

Much of the software and plugin code for either of these machines can be transferred directly from the Dreambox platform without the need for recompilation or modification, so there is a fair library of software already on hand.

This is obviously not a happy coincidence. Technomate have used the same chipset and CPU as Dream in an attempt to dramatically reduce the development lead-time for after-market ‘accessories’.

It works well too. There are more images coming out for it now, including one or two from teams who made their name writing for the Dreambox. It does most of the things the Dreambox 7020 can do, except timeshift-record (pause live TV). Unfortunately it’s thought that this is a hardware limitation, but overall it’s surely not a reason to cross it off your shopping list.

Visit our own growing Technomate TM9100 forum for more information, support and advice.

 

Specification :

# Fully DVB compliant

# Linux open source; Standard Linux API

# Runs various Linux applications

# 252MHz IBM PowerPC Processor (350MIPS)

# Internal Hard Drive (HDD) & support for PVR (HDD not installed as standard).

# Multi-Slot Flash Memory Card: SD, Olympus, Memory Stick, MMC, Smart Media Card etc. supported

# 10/100M Ethernet interface

# 2x Smart card slots

# S/PDIF interface (Optical & Coaxial) for Dolby bit stream out

# Sharp Tuner (2~45 Msps, SCPC scan)

# 1x Common Interface (CI) slot

# Firmware/Software upgrade through: Serial (RS232C), Memory Card, Ethernet & Internet

# Unlimited TV/Radio channel storage

# Very quick channel change time; < 1 second

# Support multiple LNB switching control (DiSEqC 1.0, 1.1 & 1.2)

# Full automatic satellite/service scan

# Smart Electronic Program Guide (EPG)

# OSD & VBI Teletext

# Variable aspect ratio (4:3, 16:9)

# 24 OSD Language menu

# Programmable event timer

# Subtitles

# Parental Control

# C & Ku band reception

# Video Out: RGB, CVBS, S-Video & YPbPr selectable

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