Astro Max

Astro Max Unit

Is Astro Max as good as they say? Here’s my personal account on what its like to use Astro Max.

I managed to get hold of an Astro Max unit due to Astro’s initiative to reward faithful existing clients the opportunity to experience this new service via free upgrade of our existing unit with a brand spanking new Astro Max unit. With that…. who can complain?

I was happy to hear of the free upgrage from their notification letter and quickily called the Astro center to have the upgrade sent to us asap. I was informed that it will take about 3 weeks to have the unit delivered over but to my surprise again, it was delivered by one of their agents only after 3 days.

During installation we had to change a “receptor?” on the satalite dish because apparantly one of the sensors in it was damaged. What used to work for the old Astro unit will no longer work for the new Astro Max unit. This is because the new Astro Max unit requires all the sensors or receptors to work properly before it is able to operate properly. The changing of the part cost like RM80.00 (if I remember correctly) so… so much for the FREE upgrade. In any case, we’re still happy to receive the free unit F.O.C.

The Astro Max unit is touted to have various features:

  • Pause Live TV
  • Rewind Live TV
  • Records 60 hours of Live TV
  • Watch another show while recording another

Astro MAX highlights:

  • 80GB hard disk drive.
  • 60 hours of programme storage capacity.
  • 2 tuners – watch two time-conflicting programmes.
  • Creates a 30 minute buffer in the programme you are currently watching.
  • Lets you control live TV with pause, rewind, instant replay, slow-motion and frame by frame.
  • Fully integrated with the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) for easy to use recording

My Personal Experience (after a couple of months usage):

PROS

  • Astro Max ControllerI like the recording capability of Astro Max. The fact that we can record while watching another channel is a good plus point
  • Furthermore the ability to set the unit to record at a pre-designated time and interval is also useful.
  • The rewinding feature while watching Live TV has also been used but not all the time. Its good to have none the less.
  • The fast forwarding feature for pre-recorded shows are a good feature. I find myself fast forwarding past all the adverts. I wonder how they can charge as much now to advertisers. Most people will just fast forward through them right? … unless you’re dead bored and would watch anything out there.

CONS

  • Unlike old Astro units, this Astro Max unit takes ages to load! When you click on a button from stand-by or start-up it boots up like a PC. After all it is somewhat like a PC with a 80GB Hard Disk in it. This is what you see when you start up….
  • I have experienced lots of software issues with the unit. Luckily they’re really not that life threatening and I can close one eye and “reboot” when I am faced with such situations. I wonder if it uses a Microsoft Windows operating system… what’s with the reboots? Anyway some of the software problems I have encountered are:
    • Astro Max Startup ScreenSlow Startups. It takes up to 20 seconds or more for the unit to start showing a channel. The old units will normally display a channel within a couple of seconds.
    • Auto Checking and Updating of unit when starting up and sometime while watching astro
    • Channel Information sometimes does not show up automatically at all when changing channel. All I see is a channel number without the name of the channel. Everything else is blank. I will need to press the INFO button before I can see the name of the channel and also name of the show.
    • Unable to record certain channels. Sometimes I will be able to records Channel 30 WLT but sometimes it doesn’t even give me the option. I am sure this is not limited to Channel 30. Why is it I can record sometimes and I can’t at others?
    • Astro Max Signal ScreenUnable to start and watch pre-recorded shows during rain or poor signal strength. How frustrating have you felt when you want to watch astro and it starts to rain? Ok so you decide to watch pre-recorded shows… After all they are pre-recorded and you don’t need signal strength to watch it. But then, due to some unknown reason (probably software related rather than hardware), the unit is not able to start up without proper signal even though you are planning to watch pre-recorded MYMAX shows.
    • Hanging of machine. What’s new here? In order to get out of hanging, pressing any other button will not help. You actually need to swicth off the wall switch and back on again and keep your fingers crossed that the unit will boot up correctly. Of course in the meanwhile, you will need to wait for the starting up again. Sometimes it takes up to three reboots to get things to work properly. What gives?

 

Would I purchase my own Astro Max? – The answer to this is perhaps NO. Though it has all the perks listed above, it also has all the problems listed above. For ordinary Astro users, I think the old units will do just fine. However if Astro is able to address my concerns above and have them rectified, I think it Astro Max would be the way to go. After all, the features are good things to have. But from how I see it, Astro Max still needs a lot of tweeking to carry out. The hardware might have limitations but the software is definately way below par.

NOTE: This article is based on personal experience and need not be a full and complete representation on all users of Astro Max.

Astro Max Front Panel

Astro Max Rear Panel

 

To find out more about ASTRO MAX service you can find it here at

http://www.astro.com.my/astromax/

 

 

23 thoughts on “Astro Max”

  1. I actually had time to do a MANUAL UPDATE of the system today via the download & update options from the MENU and guess what? It solved my INFO NOT DISPLAYING when changing channels problem. Now when I change the channels, it does what it should, which is… it displays the name of the channel and the show (instead of being blank). So if you guys run into problems with the ASTRO MAX unit…perhaps its time to do an UPDATE.

  2. Well, the RM80 for the LNB is now RM50. And, that was after a lot of haggling with the technician. I guess I was not alone in this upgrade. I wonder if those who paid the full commercial upgrade rate were spared this known ‘extra cost’.

    I have to agree that this upgrade is not worth the money paid. What? With all the time taken to rectify the problematic installation and inconvenience caused.

  3. I don’t blame you for feeling that way. Having the upgrade done does not show you anything extra on Astro. You continue to watch it like before and the shows are not any clearer or more vibrant. The only added advantage to all this is that now you can rewind and forward during shows plus record certain shows for later viewing. Those in itself are good things to have but you will also notice that the astro max units take ages to start up and sometimes they simply decide to do system checks when you switch on the system. Who would want to sit infront of the TV waiting for the system check to complete? Ppl get infront of the TV to relax but I guess the relaxation will just have to wait sometime. Most of the time I just cancel it. I leave it on standby enough to get irritated that the system decides to do such checks when I just want to swith on the unit to watch something… and not get stressed all over it. I have also noticed that if you happen to press the buttons and switch channels too quickly… the system will simply jam and hang. Then you need to switch off the wall switch and start again just to get the unit to respond again. Any key presses on the controller will not work. What gives!?!? Buggy system!

  4. I think that astro max unit should have a HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output for LCD and plasma screen…. Because the picture quality is great…..

  5. I think the decoder for the Astro MAX system has been discontinued as of now. Perhaps permanently. The service is also been subject to review, and will soon be ended.

  6. Bryan, I think you might be right. There hasn’t been any “promotions” from Astro as of late regarding the Astro Max service. Obviously there is something unsatisfactory or unfavourable about it be it “piracy issues, copyrights,” or it could be “profit related”. As an end-user however, it is very useful to be able to record shows for later viewing but the Astro Max Unit is pretty sucky. Each new startup (system checks & etc) takes at least 1-2 minutes of so before you can start watching shows. That’s terrible. And more often than not, it will need to be updated (even though we leave the unit on standby) or the Information screens will not show up during channel change. I wish they would buck up the service rather than give up on it…

  7. Bucking up the service does not help as the decoder for Astro MAX is permanently in the past. Maybe they should shut down it and go on.

  8. The service shouldn’t be shut down. What they should do is come up with better units and system. After all if with Tivo it can be done… why not Astro. I think it’s just the mentality of the people behind the service.

  9. The better units will be IPTV-ready, and capable of widescreen, as they support most of the modern plasma and LCD TVs already in the market.

  10. When do you think those units will be out and overtake what we currently have? We’re definitely backwards compared to other countries like Singapore. Take the internet as an example… our connection speed still sucks as compared. It’s really a joke.

  11. Yeah, Astro is trying to remain true to its name: only television and mobile. They’re trying to make it simple, and cut costs. Expanding its contents for modern distributions to PC and laptops are irrelevant to what the company is focused for.

  12. Or there’s one possibility. If News Corporation (News Corp.) purchase a controlling stake in Astro All Asia Networks (Astro). If the government (the encourager of satellite television services, and perhaps the owner of Astro) allows it to proceed, the result will be unprecedented concentration within all aspects of the television marketplace, as well as increased prices for consumers satellite television. News Corp. having a stake in Astro would place in the hands of one owner television programming capabilities, satellite network programming, and a complete television programming distribution system, while serving, but not violating the public interest. Also, it would help Astro Max even further to become better than ever before.

  13. This just in: the Astro MAX service has been ceased since from January to March of this year; its programmes with the “Max it” strip below the Astro channel DOG identifiers have been stripped off; on TVIQ it has been replaced with strips representing the corresponding package.

  14. Also, Astro has laid off the people working behind the Astro MAX and Astro Broadband services pending re-deployment into other roles. These two services have been permanently closed.

  15. My AstroMAX unit has suffered all the usual hangs and bootup delays mentioned above. However the latest problem encountered has resulted in a tech taking my unit away. This is what happened,
    Saturday 9th May – watching TV late at night. Switch off the unit.
    Sunday 10th May – unit will not boot (get the Hello screen, startup screen, then the goodbye screen). A few frustrating phone calls later, the technician arrives at my house and pulls the motherboard out, but doesn’t have a replacement. So he takes it away.
    Monday 10th May – unit returns – apparently the hard drive had a problem – so it was formatted (lost all my programs) – and then its working again.
    Tuesday 11th May – Same problem occurs in the morning. Which leads me to conclude that there is something going wrong when the system does the auto update at 3am.

    The unit is still at the technicians shop – he says the hard drive will need to be replaced (RM250) – but I’m not convinced it will fix the problem as formatting the disk didn’t work either.

    If Astro is ceasing the MAX service – does that mean the units will no longer work? Is anyone else having similar problem? and controversially, has anyone ever tried changing the HDD inside the unit themselves?

  16. My Astro Max was just “serviced”. Same problems; hang,funny behavior,cannot switch to standby,won’t boot. Called Astro; a technician called and said hv to charge RM50 for “service”. An Astro techie turned up: found that the power board is blown. Changed it -FOC ! Asked him have to pay him for service or not? No need. Can I suspect there’s a scam between the Astro call centre operators and some techie to screw subscribers for “service” charge? Beware !! Anyway, the tip of the day is: you MUST leave the Max unit on at about 6.00am everyday so that software update can be performed. Then no above mentioned problems. Well, time will tell.

  17. my astro display poor coverage,cannot go to menu,just dish seting,what can i do,do you have solution how to solve this…

  18. Fandi… I would call ASTRO up and get them to send a technician over immediately.

    Though the Max unit is giving so much trouble, I still like it coz it is able to record stuff. If their newer units are able to do this then I’d switch mine over anytime 🙂

  19. Hey, Adrian,
    I stumbled on your site while I was trying to find out a detail regarding Astro Max. So since I have your ear, I’ll ask you about the aforementioned detail: is the Max display HD? Forget recording programs and all that stuff (considering the number of incessant repeats), I’d get Max for HD alone. Have a good weekend.

  20. Nadzir, by HD, do you mean High Definition? Astro Max is just like the normal Astro decoders. The quality definitely isn’t HD. The only difference is that Max allows you to record shows (while watching another) for later viewing. Max also allows you to rewind, pause or forward current viewings so that you can walk away or ignore advertisements. That’s all its good for. Apart from that… it kinda sucks really haha 😉

  21. Anyone knows how to reformat hdd on Astro Max?
    Press some keys on the remote control in sequence while booting up Astro Max?

  22. My astro max decoder suddenly show an error msg on its display ‘out of order’, funny……..anyone knows what happens?

  23. I think its an inherent Astro Max problem which is why they have discontinued it. Anyway I myself am having a POOR SIGNAL error for channel 551. All other channels are ok. Best thing is to just call them up and request they send a technician over. Its free and shouldn’t charge unless your unit needs major replacement?! Good Luck.

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