Meet the new DStv decoder

2013-08-01 07:43
Cape Town – MultiChoice unveiled its brand-new next generation DStv Explora decoder on Wednesday.

The new high definition personal video recorder (HD PVR) device will become available from August 15 at a retail price of R2 499 and comes loaded with terabytes more recording space, enhanced functionality and an improved interface and which will in time also include broadband internet connectivity.

Nicknamed by MultiChoice insiders as "the pebble" due to its shapely curved design, the new DStv Explora is the first DStv decoder model to arrive with a brand name – one which will be carried forward for this PVR decoder line.

The DStv Explora comes with a massive 2TB hard drive which allows for the recording of an average of 220 hours of TV content and will mimic the broad video-on-demand (VOD) services which pay-TV viewers are increasingly gravitating towards.

The DStv Explora comes with a major expansion in the amount of content MultiChoice will be able to make available and push to subscribers, thanks to the increased capacity, with a dramatic increase in the DStv Catch Up and DStv BoxOffice services and the catalogue of titles offered on the new PVR.

The DStv Explora is manufactured for MultiChoice in East London by Pace in partnership with local manufacturer Vektronix which started mass production of the DStv Explora earlier this month. The current PVR will no longer be manufactured but will still be available at retailers while stocks last.

Pace's relationship with MultiChoice dates back to the development of DStv's very first personal video recorder (PVR) in 1995.

New image rich interface

The new DStv Explora comes complete with a redesigned DStv remote including hotlink buttons and a much more visual, streamlined, image rich interface as well as improved all-round functionality and better search options.

The DStv Explora represents MultiChoice's new next generation premium entertainment console to anchor subscribers' home viewing, as more content than ever before will be funnelled by satellite direct to homes.

MultiChoice will not be launching the DStv Explora with broadband connectivity, although the HD PVR which is making use of a new Linux with Java operating system, was originally conceived to be an internet connected device.

South Africa's poor broadband penetration – both in terms of levels and speed – has  hampered plans for devices such as the DStv Explora to be seamlessly connected to the internet.

South Africa is the African continent's most advanced pay-TV market, yet high broadband penetration is still lacking and only 1.7 residents per 100 inhabitants have access to a fixed line broadband connection.

MultiChoice will enable internet connectivity later for the new DStv Explora as broadband penetration grows and as DStv subscribers continue to adapt to the evolving VOD service.

The need for a new decoder is necessitated by the number of HD channels which continue to be added to the service and which require more recording space for user recorded programming, as well as the lifestyle changes as subscribers demand the choice to view content at a time that suits their individual needs.

The DStv Explora saves two hours of television in the buffer of the live TV channel the decoder is tuned to, but now "remembers" and retains it for that same period even if a DStv subscriber switches channels.

Other much-improved functionality includes the HD on-screen display. It's highly visual and mimicks Netflix and Hulu and other on demand content operators in the United States with a representation of a "shelf grid" display populated by constantly updated content.

The DStv Explora is ExtraView capable and has a new blue "DStv" blue hotlink button on the remote control which takes the user straight to "DStv Central" from where the subscriber can navigate and scroll through sections and options.

More features coming

"We want to provide our customers with a rich, high definition video-on-demand experience, similar to what they would get in markets where broadband is a lot more accessible," says Collins Khumalo, CEO of MultiChoice South Africa.

"More features will be enabled over the coming months such as delivering content through broadband, setting of remote recordings and one-click BoxOffice rentals," says Khumalo.

The DStv Explora will be rolled out to the rest of Africa from next month.

"We believe the DStv Explora will give our customers greater control of their viewing experience with access to their favourite programmes when it suits them."

How to set up

Existing PVR subscribers need only plug the new device switch to their existing installation to begin using the new Explora decoder. The Explora switch is then connected to a new uni-cable input on the back of the decoder. However, Multichoice will need to be contacted to reactivate Xtraview, if applicable, when they install the new PVR.
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