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Topfield 5000PVRt Australian version
New user tips

Introduction

This page is a collection of my notes about the Topfield 5000PVRt Australian version. I have no connection with the manufacturer/importer and put these notes here for your conveinience.

What is this machine?

A 'Personal Video Recorder', with twin 'free to air standard definition' digital tuners, 80GB hard disk.
Made by a Korean manufacturer called Topfield and sold through major retaillers and specialist dealers.
This unit is one of a growing number of set top boxes for receiving free to air digital TV as broadcast by CH 2, 9, 10, SBS.
Digital TV offers near DVD quality pictures and sound, and will be the only way to receive free to air TV when the analog system is shut down in 2008.
This unit is fairly unique in that it has twin tuners, a USB port, is able to load extra software and has an easily upgradeable hard disk.
Topfield make sattelite receivers which are popular in Europe - this model is virtually the same as the sattelite version 5000PVR.

Tip 1 - Resources

I won't list a lot of links - the following FAQs list them, the forums are very useful and the official sites have full specs/downloads.
Extensive FAQ http://users.bigpond.net.au/deangelj/ToppyStuff.htm
Original FAQ http://www.dtvforum.info/index.php?showtopic=3684
Topfield Australia (Good forum, Product info, manuals, official software downloads) http://www.topfield-australia.com.au
Topfield Korea (Product info, manuals, official software downloads) http://www.topfield.co.kr
Digital Broadcasting Australia (Useful industry page with technology overviews) http://www.dba.org.au
Digital Broadcasting Australia (Forum) http://www.dtvforum.info/index.php?showforum=8

Tip 2 - Set up the antenna properly

This is very important for correct operation of any digital STB - Unfortuately an antenna that has given good service with an analog TV may need to be updated.
While there is a 'signal strength' meter built in to the toppy, this is only part of the puzzle - there is also 'signal quality'.
Because digital TV uses the same basic technology for broadcasting, it is prone to ghosting effects - which reduces the signal quality. Unlike analog TV this is not directly visible but the effects are 'blocky' pictures and/or signal dropouts.
* There is quite a good writeup about this on the Digital Broadcasting Australia website's FAQ section.
* A free user written TAP program called 'Infodisplay' can be installed and shows the signal quality. Refer the FAQ above.

Tip 3 - PC connections and required software

The Toppy can be connected to a PC with a USB cable and have 'Topfield Application Programs' loaded to enhance the machine.
At the topfield Korea site there is a download called "Setup for topfield utilities" which installs the USB drivers and programs (though these can also be seperately downloaded and installed). Once installed there is a program called 'altair' which is used to transfer files to/from the toppy.
(Unfortunately it's not USB Mass storage device compatible, so it does not appear as a drive letter. The hard disk is formatted with a proprietary file system but there are tools to make it visible when directly connected to a PC).
Note - Installing the USB drivers on Win 98 seems to cause trouble. Also because Win98 uses FAT32 which has a 4GB file size limit.
I read about someone trying to install it on a Mac via a PC emulator but it didn't work properly. Linux - who knows.

Tip 4 - Installing and running TAPS/MP3s

Installing TAP files is just a case of start altair.exe, select the .tap file and a destination directory on the Toppy.
Then on the Toppy use press the 'file list' button on remote, arrow to 'program files' menu. Select the TAP to run and press OK.
The 'Turbo' option in Altair speeds up transfers but disables the infrared remote.

The Toppy can transfer any file in or out. Recorded programs are stored in .rec files and these can be archived and burnt to DVD with some free programs. MP3s transferred into the Toppy can be played with a very basic jukebox function. See FAQ linked to above.

If a TAP is put in the Autostart folder it is loaded when the Toppy is booting. I think this can be blocked by pressing 0 on the remote but haven't tested it.

I'm told that TAP files cannot do any damage to the system. The firmware is kept in EEPROM and presumably the TAP API (i.e. the commands TAPs can use) do not have any way to write to the EEPROM. Of course a badly written TAP might be able to delete all your settings or format the disk.

Tip 5 - Firmware upgrades

Support is provided for users to perform firmware upgrades. This does not use Altair but rather a dedicated program for firmware updating. I have not done this yet so can't report on the steps.
Apparently any firmware loaded in completely replaces the existing firmware, meaning that the firmware can be rolled back to an earlier version if you're not happy with it.