Compro VideoMata U2800F DVB-T Receiver Tested In Belgium

Others/Miscelleneous by geoffrey @ 2009-05-07

Classic analog antenna broadcastings are soon to disappear all around the world and in most cases being replaced by a digital version, in some occasions you might even run into full high definition video broadcastings. Great news for wireless receivers out there, DVB-T is an excellent way to watch quality video wherever you want, but is it really? We tested a Compro VideoMate Vista U2800F USB DVB-T receiver on Belgian grounds and the outcome is not always what you would have wished for... read on!

  • prev
  • next

DVB in Belgium + channel list

Digital Video Broadcasting in Belgium

Madshrimps is mostly aimed to a worldwide public, though for this one we gladly like to provide extra information for our dearest local readers because I think some are not totally aware of what's happening around them. Belgium exists out of 3 districts: Flanders, Brussels and Walloon, for each of these districts the situation is slightly different when it comes down to DVB. Since 2008 the Flemish government has decided to completely quit broadcasting analog television via the 'ether', though analog tv via cable is still available because of the large amount of people who're still using it plus it's not up to the Flemish government to ban analog cable broadcasting.

In Flanders there are two mayor DVB providers: Belgacom who offers IPTV via ADSL and Telenet who broadcasts via cable. Third in row is TV Vlaanderen which is being broadcasted via satellite and last but not least is DVB-T broadcasted by VRT (Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroep). All of these provide Flemish TV channels as well as a whole assortment of famous abroad channels like National Geographic and such. With DVB-T it’s slightly different though: VRT, once called NIR/BRT/BRTN has been the public broadcaster ever since TV showed up in Flanders. They are being financed by the government and only broadcast their own TV/radio channels using terrestrial technology. The thing is that their TV/radio channels are also available when choosing DVB-C/DVB-S/IPTV so why would one go for terrestrial broadcasting and have only 2 TV channels when other TV providers can offer you a lot more channels without having to install an antenna on top of the roof (which looks way to ugly too)...

Well, since VRT is using tax money they broadcast free-to-air, and that's unique for Flemish providers, because with all other providers (TV Vlaanderen DVB-S/Telenet DVB-C/Belgacom IPTV) you have to pay a monthly subscription fee which can go from 100€ per year to over 200€ per year depending on which options you choose. DVB-T is not dead because it's free-to-air (FTA), the start-up price is very low, and because it's Digital Video off course. People who don't watch television too often could be DVB-T users, as well as students, people on vacation and off course people on the road because it's wireless.

The decision is up to you, do you really need those extra commercial TV channels or are you satisfied with what you have and save that €100~200 per year for a trip to Italy or maybe Spain :)

Madshrimps (c)
VRT DVB-T reception using a roof antenna

In the Brussels district you'll also find Belgacom TV, Telenet Digital TV and Coditel which is now renamed to Numericable. Numericable broadcasts analog and digitally (SDTV and HDTV) and is an aggressive competitor for both Belgacom and Telenet in the Brussels district.

In the Walloon district you'll again stumble upon Belgacom TV customers, and very few TV Vlaanderen customers. Since 2008 TV Vlaanderen has however a daughter company named TéléSAT which also broadcasts via DVB-S, especially for people living in Walloon. Third market player here is Voo, a fusion company between ALE-Télédis and Brutele. In Walloon you'll also find DVB-T broadcasted by the RTBF. What the VRT is for the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, RTBF is for the French speaking part of Belgium: DVB-T free-to-air but with only few channels available.

Madshrimps (c)
RTBF DVB-T reception using a roof antenna

As you can see from these maps, wireless DVB-T signals are widely available but to put things straight: this is DVB-T reception using a roof antenna, with indoor antenna's you'll probable have to be within 30km from a transmitter in order to receive quality video.

Terrestrial Digital Video Broadcasting in Belgium: channel list anno February 2009

  • Eén
  • Canvas/Ketnet
  • Canvas+/Ketnet+
  • Radio 1 (audio only)
  • Radio 2 (audio only)
  • Klara (audio only)
  • Klare Continuo (audio only)
  • Studio Brussel (audio only)
  • MNM (audio only)
  • MNM Hitbits (audio only)
  • Nieuws+ (audio only)
  • Sporza (audio only)

    DVB-T via RTBF
  • La Une
  • La Deux
  • La Trois
  • Euronews
  • La Premiére
  • VivaCité (audio only)
  • Musiq3 (audio only)
  • Classic 21 (audio only)
  • PureFM (audio only)
  • BRF (audio only)

    Terrestrial Digital Video Broadcasting in Belgium: current state and future plans

    Before 2002 people had to pay government tax to listen and watch TV/Radio independent of which medium they preferred, with cable TV around (adds a lot more channels and doesn't require a roof antenna) many people decided to pay some extra subscription cash instead of choosing analog terrestrial broadcasting. Digital TV brings many benefits but it's only through publicity from private TV providers like Telenet and Belgacom that people came to know that, it's no surprise to see people choosing for Digital TV via cable/ADSL instead of broadcastings from public DVB-T providers VRT/RTBF.
    All together let's be honest, with the above channel list you're still missing some of the biggest commercial TV channels in Belgium, plus many people won't grab back to what looks like 50y old tech: the ugly antenna on the roof. Aside of this there is no-one really earning money behind DVB-T broadcastings in Belgium as they're all free-to-air, so why put money into commercials if you hardly get anything back. It has however become a very cheap alternative for watching DVB, though it's no where near a complete replacement for DVB-C/IPTV from Telenet/Belgacom

    Future plans might bring the DVB-T2 standard to Belgium which would allow more channels, but fact is that DVB-T2 is still in an early stadium and it will only be for the end of the year that you'll find the first DVB-T2 receivers on the market. DVB-T2 will only become more frequently used by 2010, chances that it will become quickly available here in Belgium are nihil. Well, most people have only now upgraded to the first generation DVB-T receivers and with only few channels available anyway there is no need to upgrade either. High Definition broadcastings might take some time too as their hasn't been made an agreement between the VRT and the Flemish government. Currently the VRT has been given only one multiplex but in order broadcast in HD you need more then that. We did pick up the news that EPG (Electronic Program Guide) is going to be added during this year.

    From a personnel view I think it would be cool though to see the few other (commercial) Flemish channels added, even if it would come with a small compensation fee I believe DVB-T would become a lot more interesting for many people here in Belgium. There is only one downside with future in mind: DVB-T doesn't have a returning channel which is used for interactive TV, more experiments might bring a solution to this but I believe at some point DVB-T is just not going to be able to keep up with DVB-C/IPTV.

    Now let's move on to our test object, the Compro VideoMate Vista U2800F!
    • prev
    • next
    Comment from geoffrey @ 2010/12/03
    It's been a while since this article is launched and I've been using this thing for a while now. I must say it's pretty handy to have one of these, though the software bugs are still there and are sometimes annoying cause they can ruin your recordings.

    This said, I was looking for Linux support but unfortunately there non such, Compro simply hasn't got any drivers for it. I ended up opening the device to have a look at the internals and it seems Compro is using a Trident TV Master TM6010 video decoder. On I found the following info:

    There were some efforts on developing a driver for tm5600/tm6000/tm6010 chips.
    Michel Ludwig (michel.ludwig did some development mostly focused at DVB-T of tm6000. Mauro Carvalho Chehab did some development moslty focused at analog support, and extended support for tm6010.
    There are some versions of the driver at that merged both developments.
    The driver is still at the TODO list, however its development is currently frosen. Mauro intends to return back to it, but this is not on his current top priorities.
    Those chips are very buggy and they behave badly if the driver doesn't do exactly the same thing as the original one (it starts to loose frames). The reason is unknown, but it is suspected that there is a firmware or hardware bug at those chips.
    Maybe the conversion of the driver to the new i2c approach could help to fix this issue, since this will avoid sending probing packets at i2c bus, as it is known that some i2c probe sequences can hang those chips.
    Also, on all tests we've done so far, it can't reliably read data from an i2c device. This prevents that tools like scan work, since you can't be sure if a signal lock happened. Also, driver can't even be sure if xc3028 firmware were successfully loaded on this device.
    It is important to notice that the vendor (Trident) doesn't seem to want helping with open source development. Contacts with the vendor were tried during 2007 and 2008 in order to get their help by opening docs, via Linux Foundation NDA program, without success.
    The vendor also seems to be refusing so far to help the development of a driver for their demod DRX-K line that they acquired from Micronas (as pointed at
    In brief, while we want to fix the driver issues, it is recommend to avoid buying any devices with tm5600/tm6000/tm6010 (and DRX demod) chips.

    It seems that these random crashes could be caused by a firmware runtime error, although I can not confirm this and neither did Compro at the time I asked them about it. I'd say better be warned...