New Openview decoder hands-on tested

Satellite TV broadcaster Openview’s new decoder offers a much more compact design than its predecessors, but its on-demand streaming content is currently lacking.

After years of teasing that a new smart decoder with Wi-Fi capability was coming, Openview officially launched the OV512 decoder last week.

Openview’s parent company, eMedia, provided MyBroadband with a unit for review.

Off the bat, we were impressed with the minimalist and lightweight design of the decoder.

The OV512 is a black cuboid with three rounded corners and one sharp edge at the front right side, where the Openview logo also appears.

On the brushed top are physical power on/off, volume up, and volume down buttons. The back has ports for DC power, HDMI, AV in/out, USB, and an LNB-in satellite connector.

The sides of the decoder have a series of parallel lines that help to disguise the openings for cooling.

The OV512 measures just 12cm in length and width and stands about 2.5cm high, comparing well with the dimensions of modern media boxes. For reference, the last Openview HD decoder was 27.4cm wide, 23.9cm long, and 5.5cm tall.

DStv’s top-of-the-line Explora Ultra decoder is a fat brick in comparison — being 37cm wide, 21cm long, and 7cm tall.

The OV512 is also slightly smaller than MultiChoice’s DStv Streama box, which does not support satellite channels.

In addition to the decoder itself, the packaging included a DC power supply, AV cable, and a new infrared remote. The one noteworthy omission was an HDMI cable.

However, given that this product will likely appeal more to existing Openview users, the odds are many will already have such a cable or benefit from the AC cable on older sets.

While the remote’s casing and buttons were nothing special, it responded well to our inputs and the decoder’s software was also quick to react.

Openview OV512 decoder front
Openview OV512 decoder back
Openview OV512 decoder with average male’s hand for reference

For our first hands-on test, we focused on the big new feature — streaming on-demand video.

The initial startup took less than a minute before we could access the main interface.

It features six main tabs at the top, which users can navigate through by pressing the left or right buttons on the remote. At the top right, there is a satellite connectivity and Wi-Fi status icon.

The Home tab highlights popular content with scrolling background wallpapers.

One tab to the right is Live, which contains all Openview’s linear satellite TV channels. Next to it was a Guide section with the schedule for satellite programming.

The fourth tab — +More — was the one we were most interested in, as it houses all the movies and TV shows available to stream on-demand.

The remaining tabs were for the Search and Settings sections.

+More can also be accessed quickly by pressing the remote’s new “Stream” button.

Before we could start streaming, we first needed to connect the decoder to Wi-Fi, which was straightforward and quick.

The interface of the streaming section was similar to Netflix or Showmax, albeit a bit more basic and lacking in genre categories.

Each title is represented by a portrait-oriented poster tile, which can be highlighted by scrolling up, down, left, or right.

Openview OV512 Home page
Openview OV512 +More streaming tab
More of the Openview OV512 +More streaming tab

Selecting a highlighted tile brings up the movie or TV show’s description and the option to start watching it.

Based on Openview’s advertising of the on-demand content, we assumed that it would offer its eVOD streaming service’s content in this library.

Unfortunately, at the time of our test, the on-demand library only had 26 titles, which is only a tiny fraction of the eVOD catalogue.

The vast majority of these movies and shows were several years old.

However, the content was free to watch, as long as you are willing to sit through one minute of pre-roll ads followed by several more ad breaks for every 15 minutes of playback.

The overall playback experience was smooth and responsive, with minimal loading or buffering when fast-forwarding, rewinding, or jumping from one part to another.

The video quality in some titles appeared to peak at either standard definition or 720p HD, while others were in 1080p full HD.

An example of a title page. It should be noted that some of the pixel lines visible in the photo would not be visible with the naked eye.
The Expendables appeared to peak at 720p resolution on the Openview OV512
However, London has Fallen seemed to be streaming at 1080p HD.
The yellow lines on the timeline indicate where an unskippable ad will be shown

Although we were disappointed with the limited content selection, this is still early days in the new decoder’s lifetime.

Hopefully, eMedia will add eVOD to this section in the coming months.

eVOD currently does not support any Smart TV platforms and can only be accessed via a computer browser or mobile app.

Adding the service to a decoder could draw in new subscribers who prefer to enjoy their content on a TV and don’t want to fuss with connecting a laptop or PC to their display.

Being able to stream some of eMedia’s linear channels on eVOD would also be a great benefit to those households that don’t have a satellite dish, which is declining in popularity.

In addition, adding support for third-party streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ could make the OV512 appeal more to those in the market for smart streaming boxes.

It remains to be seen whether Openview plans to take this content aggregation approach, similar to what DStv does with the Explora Ultra.

Below are more photos of the Openview OV512 and its accessories.

Openview OV512
Openview OV512 remote
Openview OV512’s box contents

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New Openview decoder hands-on tested