DStv Explora Ultra vs Explora 3 – A “must-have” upgrade

MultiChoice recently launched a variety of new DStv offerings, which include a new DStv decoder named the Explora Ultra.

Like previous Explora decoders, the Explora Ultra will enable the reception of DStv’s satellite broadcast signal to your TV and will support existing or new satellite installations.

The new decoder sports a built-in Wi-Fi connection, however, and delivers a number of new features aimed at DStv customers with Internet connections and streaming packages.

MultiChoice said this product will offer customers “the best of the satellite world and the best of the streaming world” in a single package.

It is currently unclear when the Explora Ultra will be released in South Africa, with MultiChoice stating that the launch date of the new decoder will be announced in due course.

A major focus of DStv’s showcase event, during which the Explora Ultra was launched, was the integration of support for third-party streaming services into DStv’s unified platform, with the company stressing its role as a content aggregator for online and satellite services.

The company previously confirmed it had signed a deal with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, although this has since encountered problems.

This deal is under investigation by the Competition Commission, and neither the Commission nor DStv have provided any further details as to the nature of the investigation.

The integration of third-party streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video could be game-changer for DStv and the Explora Ultra, although the fate of this concept is currently unclear.

Even without Netflix and Amazon Prime Video support, however, the Explora Ultra offers a number of great features over the previous-generation Explora 3.

We compared the specifications and features of both these devices to illustrate the improvements offered by the new decoder.

Offline experience

MultiChoice states that the Explora Ultra will offer the same selection of offline features as the Explora 3, including standard DStv viewing and Catch Up.

“The features of all Exploras are the same when there is no connection to the Internet,” DStv said. However, the Explora Ultra does offer better recommendations via its overhauled and unified home screen.

The full list of offline features offered by the Explora 3 and Explora Ultra is as follows:

  • Pause Live TV for 2 hours
  • Catch Up
  • Box Office
  • Eight-day TV guide
  • Parental Control
  • Interactive apps

Users are able to record up to 110 hours of content on both Explora devices, although this may vary depending on the quality of the recordings.

The Explora Ultra has an edge against the Explora 3 in both video and audio quality, however, offering 4K video and Dolby Atmos audio support.

It should be noted that these additional features only apply to supported media, as standard satellite broadcasts do not support 4K resolution.

“Selected third-party apps on the DStv Explora Ultra offer 4K streaming content, subject to availability and subscription terms,” MultiChoice said.

Online features

The biggest difference between these two decoders is in their online features.

The Explora Ultra not only offers support for third-party applications, but it also includes DStv Now and the full version of the Showmax app.

“Although both have Showmax, the Ultra has the Showmax App with full features,” DStv states.

Conversely, the Explora 3 only offers Catch Up Plus and a less advanced version of Showmax.

Using the Explora Ultra, you can watch a variety of content over your Internet connection, including videos from third-party applications.

DStv recommends the following minimum Internet connection speeds for DStv Explora Ultra users:

  • SD streaming – 2Mbps
  • HD streaming – 10Mbps

“For 4K streaming, we recommend checking the requirements of the individual content suppliers,” DStv said.

“Although a capped connection may be used for limited streaming, we recommend an uncapped connection (due to volume of data consumed when streaming), with line speed based on the customer’s viewing requirements.”

When combined with its retention of all the traditional satellite broadcasting features of previous Explora models, it is apparent that the Explora Ultra introduces a wealth of new features and viewing options.

It is unclear how much the Explora Ultra will cost in comparison to the current-generation Explora 3, but DStv asserts that it is the “must-have” device for those who want a simple and easy way to access content across many services.

The specifications of the DStv Explora Ultra and Explora 3 are shown below.


Specifications Explora 3 Explora Ultra
Sound quality Dolby Digital Dolby Atmos
Video quality 720p, 1080i 720p, 1080i, 4K
Connectivity Ethernet, USB for external DStv Wi-FI connector Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Recording capacity Up to 110 hours Up to 110 hours
Smartcard slot Yes No
User bands 32 32
USB Ports 2 1
Insurance R35 per month R45 per month
Price R1,999 (including installation) TBA

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DStv Explora Ultra vs Explora 3 – A “must-have” upgrade