What is DStv’s Smart LNB? Here’s a primer

Before we break down what a Smart LNB is, it’s prudent for us to start with a clarification. Despite what you may probably think, Smart LNB technology isn’t proprietary to DStv. Far from it. But we will obviously talk about the DStv Smart LNB, duh! Actually, a good place to start is an explanation as to what exactly an LNB is and what it stands for.

LNB is an abbreviation for a Low-Noise Block down converter. This is a palm-sized device attached to a satellite dish that receives radio waves which it converts to signals your set top box/decoder/TV-tuner can understand.  It’s interesting to note that an LNB helps keep the overall sound and picture of satellite TV from becoming greatly degraded, despite the size of your dish. So, no, bigger isn’t necessarily better depending on your needs.

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DStv Unicable Smart LNB, Model LMX500 

DStv Smart LNB

MultiChoice retired the Multi-switch/DStv Switch in favour of the Smart LNB. The Smart LNB is capable of receiving high band transmissions from the newly launched MultiChoice satellite. On a sad note, older decoder models i.e. Dual View Decoder and the SD PVR are not capable of decoding these high band transmissions even when hooked to the Smart LNB. So there’s that.

Now let’s have a look at what you stand to gain. DStv’s Smart LNB ought to save you some money by reducing the eventual cable run at installation. On top of that, the connection is done straight from the LNB to various rooms in the house, unlike the DStv Switch.  What’s more, you don’t incur extra costs to get hooked on that XtraView. Let’s not forget an easier way to connect to HD decoders and HD TVs via HDMI cables.


Related: DStv Explora Versus Explora 2: Here’s what’s new


While this is good and all, some XtraView combos require a Quad LNB in conjunction with the DStv Switch to work. For the case of some decoders like the DStv HD Decoder, it’s frankly over-kill to install a Smart LNB. The reason for this is that the HD Decoder is a single view decoder and thus can make do with a single LNB and an 80cm dish.

Now for the heartbreak: DStv Smart LNB isn’t suitable for apartment complexes and the like. DStv’s Smart LNB was designed with non-commercial installations in mind. In the comfort of your own home, you can do wonders with it. I suppose that ought to be a consolation in itself.

Models

From a technical standpoint, the DStv Smart LNB combines the features of a DStv Switch into a single UniCable LNB for transmission of multiple satellite signals. DStv has two models of Smart LNB. The new model LMX501 will replace model LMX500. DStv saw fit to increase the number of user bands from 24 in the old model LMX500 to a decent 30 bands in the new LMX501 model. To compensate, DStv cut down the UniCable outputs from 4 to 3 in the new model even as the Universal outputs were reduced from 2 in the old model to just 1 in the new one.

Other types of LNB

If you have any experience using satellite dishes, you’ll notice that there are various types of LNBs out there. These range from a basic single LNB, Dual LNBs, Quad LNBs, Quattro LNBs and UniCable LNBs.