OpenView HD launched and tested

OpenView HD (OVHD) decoders from Ellies/Elsat recently became available at South African retailers, with the box, dish, and installation going for around R1,600.

Once installed, OpenView HD has no further fees, and Platco Digital has promised that it will remain “free forever”.

On its own, the Elsat OVHD decoder has a recommended retail price of R999, which means you can shave R600 or so off the installation cost if you have an existing TopTV dish in place.

For your R1,000, Ellies offers a decoder with the following specifications:

  • 1080i high definition (HD), 16:9 widescreen compatible;
  • Surround sound compatibility via HDMI cable;
  • Parental controls and electronic programming guide;
  • F-type RF-in connector for the satellite dish (LNB);
  • HD output via HDMI 1.3; and
  • SD output via RCA audio/video cable, or RF out.

According to Ellies, two decoders can be controlled with the same remote, and multiple decoders can be chained so they share the same dish.

As noted on the decoder box, to view HD channels you will need at least an “HD Ready” (or 720p) TV with HDCP-compliant HDMI ports.

The decoder also only comes with an RCA cable, so you’ll need to buy an HDMI cable if you don’t already have one.

OpenView HD Elsat decoder
OpenView HD Elsat decoder

OpenView HD channel line-up at launch

As announced earlier in October 2013, OpenView HD has launched with 15 channels: SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3, e.TV, eKasi+, eAfrica+, eMovies+, Glow TV, ASTV, Deen TV, eToons+, Mindset TV, Da Vinci Learning, Spirit Word Channel, and Inspiration TV.

At the time of writing, Glow TV was displaying a “Coming Soon” banner and 4 of the 15 channels appeared to be broadcasting in 1080i.

Based on information output by the decoder, the OpenView HD channels broadcasting in HD at launch are:

  • e.tv
  • eKasi+
  • eMovies+
  • eToons+

Of the 4 HD channels, only e.tv was broadcasting HD content when we tested the service on the morning of 16 October 2013.

First impressions

While the competition that OpenView HD brings to the South African satellite TV space (or more generally: the multi-channel broadcast platform market) is welcome, the R1,600 price tag is steep.

Comparing OVHD to other entry-level services such as Sentech’s Freevision and DStv’s EasyView, it’s worth remembering that the cost includes an HD decoder while its competitors only offer SD at this stage.

One could argue then, that the biggest drawcard of OVHD over other entry-level multi-channel services is that it offers HD channels.

If it’s HD you’re after, and not the entertainment or kids/education channels (where OVHD seems to have more options than its direct competitors for the moment), keep in mind that OVHD’s HD channels do not broadcast only HD content.

Availability

At a recent launch event, Platco Digital boss Maxwell Nonge announced that OpenView HD is available at the following retailers:

  • OK Furnishers,
  • Jet Mart,
  • Pick n Pay,
  • Hirsch’s,
  • Extreme Discounters,
  • Game,
  • Dion Wired,
  • Makro,
  • House & Home,
  • Hi Fi Corporation.

Disclosure Message: The author’s OpenView HD installation was provided by Platco Digital.

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OpenView HD launched and tested