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DSTV issues

Here in South Africa, your choice when it comes to television is one of 2 things: Analogue or DSTV. With analogue, you can view 4 channels, with a 5th, Mnet, needing a decoder to work, as it is pay tv. DSTV, operated by a company called MultiChoice, is a satellite offering with many unique channels, plus it also carries the analogue channels.

Our family got DSTV at the start of the year, along with the PVR decoder. This let us record good programs, pause live tv, and watch 2 different channels on 2 different tv. So the tv in the bedroom could watch something while the one in the lounge something else.

At first, the service worked absolutely great. The amount of interesting programs was vast, and we all enjoed it. All the functions worked as advertised, and we were happy. Unfortunately, then the errors started creeping in. The decoder started freezing when we swtiched it on, there were random restarts, channels just stopped working on a whim, bizarre sound errors every now and then.

I went to the forums on the DSTV website, and found that our experiences were nothing new. Many other people had the same issues. I also found out that in 2006, many firmware updates were issued by MultiChoice, which helped, but frustrated users. That lead me to check our decoder’s update feature regularly, but to date, no firmware has been released so far this year.

It’s a pity that such a good product could be so flawed. Recordings have always worked flawlessly, and there has never been an issue with playback either. Hard rebooting the decoder is never a great idea, due to the hard drive in there. Sudden power loss can corrupt a hard drive. I guess the other issue that bothers me is the heat that the hard drive puts out. I know all hard drives do create heat, but in the slim factor of the decoder, it seems to be worse than what I’m used to. You can really feel it by putting your hand on top of the decoder after it’s been on for a bit. Luckily we keep the decoder on an open spot where air can circulate around it.

I hope that their new decoders, due out soon, that offer HDtv, will be more stable. Competition in the industry would also be good, to force prices to come down and more features to be offered. Unfortunatley, no one has been able to muster the cash and skills to compete with MultiChoice. They just have too long a headstart and too big a user base at this point in time. And that is exactly what a monopoly is.

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