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DSTV PVR (article first published : 2005-10-24)

It’s always a joy to walk into the MultiChoice building in Randburg. Housing the vast television giants of M-Net and DStv, the atmosphere is always welcoming, the staff cheery and positive, the studios extremely well-equipped and the premises themselves beautifully appointed.

I was part of a media group invited to celebrate DStv’s 10th birthday and we were transported to the glorious Mount Grace Hotel in Magaliesburg (see article to be loaded shortly). While we relaxed in the beautiful surroundings amid constant birdsong, we were there for far more important matters. This was the launch of the new DStv PVR – television that literally “does what you want it to”.

On screen wearing a party hat, a branded casual T-shirt and raising a glass of champagne, MultiChoice South Africa’s CEO, Nolo Letele, is a pro-active and congenial host. It is easy to see why his staff like and respect him so much. He mentioned that the PVR (personal video recorder) was going to change peoples’ viewing habits – and he’s not far wrong. The technology has taken off in the US where it was introduced in 1999 and it is estimated that 40 million PVRs will be in use in the US by 2007 and in the UK, 25% of homes will have a PVR by the same year.

Okay, let’s get technical: The DStv PVR adds to MultiChoice’s current range of decoders. Its features consist of a Dual View component, an integrated Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and a hard drive that provides viewers with sophisticated characteristics such as pausing live television, instant replays, and recording programmes while watching two other channels. This allows for the setting of future programme recordings directly on the hard drive and a direct play of recorded programmes from the programme list.

What this means is that you can pause live television, get instant replays on demand, and record programmes while watching two other channels. DStv PVR Decoder virtually produces a TV that does what you want it to. It has Dual View with the ability to record and playback in both viewing environments. There is 80 hours worth of recording time which represents enough space for at least 40 movies!

You are able to watch two different programs concurrently in two different environments while recording a third completely different programme. If your telephone rings or you have any interruptions, you don’t have to miss any content. Press the pause button and when you return you will continue watching from exactly where you left off.

Instant Replay means that if, while watching a concert or performance you would like to rewind, a click of a button will take you back 10 seconds. Another click will take you back 20 seconds. The Slow Motion button allows you to slow down the video so you capture all elements of any particular scene.

Bookmarks allow you to place markers in your recorded program so that you can easily return later to the exact spot you marked. This is useful if you have recorded a music concert and want to mark the different spots where your favourite artists are performing.

The closest analogy I can find is that of three trains running along adjacent tracks – all on the same journey. One keeps on its journey regardless (that’s TV real time) while the other two can be stopped and you can hop off and back on again to continue your journey – or even go back to the last few stations .. several times - and still pick up where you left off.

Oh, well, I’ll probably end up getting a 12 year-old to explain it, anyway! Happy Birthday, DStv and congratulations on a stunning product. – Caroline Smart




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