Ok, so we are slowly approaching that accursed day of the year again where we have to confirm our love to those close to us by conforming to the prescribed norms of buying meaningless gifts like cards and flowers.
If someone really loved me they would buy me Google Play gift cards instead. No need for an iTunes card because I cannot really afford an Apple device (who spends a thousand bucks on a phone anyway) and we all know where I get my music, I mean from Spinalong, of course. I think Valentine is another one of those scams run on our willing selves by the retail industry including Easter and Christmas.
Anyway, I have already resigned myself to a day of torture. She will probably make me spent the whole day on the couch in the name of quality time and make me watch the whole season 4 of Pretty Little Liars. After 4 hours of nutty conversations, I might just have to confess to being “A” just to make it stop. Or maybe God forbid it will be The Vampire Diaries (can anyone explain to me in what world vampires can be considered romantic?)
It was with these horrors in mind that I decided to watch the DStv guide channel (100) with the thought that maybe I would in the process come up with a tolerable Valentine’s Day movies list by brushing up on my movie trailers.
Those among us who have PVR decoders probably already know what this is or have at least encountered the vanilla old version of Catch UP. It is a service that allows you to watch select TV show episodes, sporting highlights and other programs that you have missed on demand on your decoder.
This is a privilege that is reserved for those who have paid a fortune to acquire the name “Premium bouquet subscribers”. It is usually applied to the latest sporting events and in the Express from the US shows where you get to watch the latest episodes of a select number of US shows within hours of them airing in the US (which means no DCI Banks, Downtown Abbey or The Fall for you). The episodes are automatically deleted from your access menu as soon as they expire and are limited in number due to technological reasons.
DStv Catch Up Plus, which is still in Beta by the way, allows you to access even more TV shows and other content on demand. This is done by hooking up your Explora Decoder to the internet using an Ethernet cable which you can plug into the decoder port. This would leave you running around with yet another cable into your living room. Or alternatively, pay Multichoice R399 (about $38) for a WiFi connector.
You can then access and watch these shows from the internet on your TV via you decoder. This is a noble move that is probably long overdue anyway, broadband uptake is on the rise everywhere here included.
I couldn’t test the service which, naturally in MultiChoice fashion, turned out be limited to South African subscribers and everywhere else, but here. Why do they keep doing this? Surely it cannot be for licensing reasons. After all, it is the same content that they air on their bouquets everywhere.
There are plenty of workarounds, but the second requirement is for the subscriber to have an Explora. Right now, I am stuck with my PVR 2P with its ethernet LAN port and everything. Is it for technical reasons or a ploy to force people to upgrade? Or perhaps it works but this was just an oversight on the part of the marketing team?
In addition to these and the usual need for you to to be a Premium subscriber you will also need to have a 2 Mbps broadband connection to use the service. All these requirements are rather disappointing but hardly deal breakers.
What ruined it for me was the fact that the content is not streamed to your decoder so that you can begin to watch it immediate after clicking on it in the Catchup Plus menu.
You have to wait for it to download which takes about 30 minutes using a 2 Mbps connection. It’s probably longer if you are to use our shaped connections that ISPs here like so much. A typical TV show episode is around 280MB in size for most 40 minute (1 hour with ads) TV shows or 140MB for comedies like The Big Bang Theory.
Having to wait for the content to download is torture enough but the real kick in the unmentionable parts comes from the fact that the content is all in SD ( around 480p) which to the initiated means it is not in HD.
For those who have spent their entire lives on the staple diet of the showery images from our state Television with the occasional CAM quality, or dark Jack Sparrow movies ( the man does disservice to the quality of movies and should be locked up for this reason alone), the quality still feels like heaven. I have gotten used to the Good Life of watching my football and Test cricket matches in HD so I staunchly refuse to be abused by anything else.
Catch Up Plus is long overdue. They have been watching content on demand via Cable and Satellite top Boxes in other places for a while now. But the service could do with a few tweaks, The ability to stream the content right away without waiting, for starters, then HD content, should also be added and the user presented with the choice to download in SD or HD depending on their needs and bandwidth.
Otherwise, even as I applaud the move, I will stick with YouTube for my highlights and other sources for my movies and TV shows, of course I mean Hulu Plus what else would I mean by that. If you excuse me now I have to resume my search for the Valentine’s movies now. Any suggestions?Please save me!
Image Credit: MyBroadband