DSTV – High-definition – WTF?

DStv operator MultiChoice announced at a press-release last week, that they will (finally) launch O-N-E high-definition channel on August 1. The channel, which will be available in a resolution of 720p, will be used to broadcast the Olympic Games from August 8 (apparently not life, but re-broadcasts), and from August 24 it will carry a new entertainment channel called M-Net HD.

The device, which includes a 500GB hard drive, costs the same as the standard-definition (SD) PVR model — R2 499 — and is capable of storing 150 hours of SD content and 50 hours of HD material.

Come on Multichoice — ONE CHANNEL???? Most of the HD-content broadcast on the marvelous new HD-channel will be anyway multi-cast on standard definition: Season 6 of CSI Miami (Tuesdays at 8.30pm), Season 4 of CSI New York (Thursdays at 9.30pm, and Season 1 of Gossip Girl. Other shows include season 3 of My Name is Earl, season 1 of Samantha Who, season 4 of Lost and season 1 of Reaper.

But wait – there is more – a whole bucket of high-def movies (all of which you should have on Blu-ray already): Die Hard 4, Zodiac, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Spiderman, Oceans Thirteen and Shrek the Third.

The new HD-PVR is a step backwards though. While the current SD-PVR features dual-view (you can hook up two TVs, record one programme but watch two different channels in parallel), the “new” HD-PVR will only support watch one and record two – WTF? DSTV is broadcasting so many repeats anyway, so it is pretty pointless two record two programmes simultaneously anyway.

But there is XtraView which eventually will allow you to pair your existing decoder/PVR with your HD-PVR and will then give you view-three/record-three (if you pair the HD-PVR with a SD-PVR).

The device would have been appealing if even SD content looked better via HDMI (if you are running an LCD bigger than 46″ you will find out that most programming appears washed out or grainy). But to just watch one channel with re-broadcasts in high-definition defeats the purpose of forking of R 2,500.00.

I am certainly not going to get a HD-PVR, as Multichoice will only launch XtraView “sometime in October”. Multichoice was supposed to provide a firmware update to stabilise the PVR’s by last year October and is only now managing (10 months later) to deliver it. So who believes that XtraView will be on time. Not to mention that you will either have to fit a splitter/multiplexer and in the worst cast re-cable/re-install (if you do not have a twin-LNB).