After Publishing Airtel Digital TV Review and Features, ShaswatPatel.com brings you exclusive Review of Videocon d2h – Direct Hai, Correct Hai. It’s written by Anoop, Member of SOD Forum and whole review written by himself based on his experience.
My agenda here was clear, The last DTH I was using, The SunDirect subscription was about to expire, I had no reason to renew it, For me the DTH means a way to disconnect the cable service, Neither because it’s quality was bad nor because it was pricey, It was affordable, good and served me for many years. The only reason for leaving the cable was choice, But SD never attracted me on this count, I have my c-band dish which I used for quiet so many years, In fact from very old days, when nothing like the digital cable of today existed. I love my dish and the freedom it offers me, My c-band dish made me feel I’am in control of whatever I’am seeing, The reason for DTH was something called pay-channels, the ones which took your money and showed you a lot of advertising and when there is free time they may also show some content. Well with a DTH I will be able to view some pay-channels too, like the many kids channels and sports ones.
It was in this situation, nearly an year ago I heard Videocon was starting D2H, their DTH service, I really got interested, I have a long standing relationship with this company, Have been using their Washer, Fridge and Microwave etc, for many, many years, more than I can actually remember, Also this was the first electronics company which started a DTH service, The various kinds of products they offered was mouth watering, I am a big fan of DTH, that I could design some custom trading pins and share it with friends. The first intention was to go for the satellite-LCD, But I took the cautious path and decided to go for the cheapest option , The satellite-box, Who knows this box is locked too? and why spend on something which will leave you with a product, which is of no use if you decide to stop subscription, I inquired with every dealer I knew, and all of them told me It will be locked, So decided not to put my hard earned money on something risky,That is the reason for the satellite box, But I’m impressed now.
I got this box in the start of February, I did not call the installer for next three days, and in the meantime decided to take a closer look, The box is sleek and good looking, I did like the colour combination of white and black , almost looks black to me , the translucent plastic faceplate surely makes it look modern and technically advanced, Three buttons exists on the front panel, one for power on/standby, the other two buttons marked ch up/down changes the channel, So this baby is not of much use without the remote , The rear has a CI slot and an embedded IRDETO cam into which the smart card goes in, The CI slot is just above the embedded Cam slot, Being in the rear has it’s own advantage and disadvantage, It is actually kid safe, but it also takes lot of rear space and if you have to take a look at your card number for some purpose, You have to really turn around the box (read removing connections) this is a mess, especially when you call the CC and they start asking the numbers, The rear also has a pair of audio and one composite video connectors, The closer look reveals that a sheet of plastic is covering the entire area where connectors are fixed, also the RF in/out connectors present in earlier (OCTOBER 2009) model is gone , Those holes are covered by this plastic sheet, D2H reduced Rs.400/- on these boxes as these cost only Rs.1390/- now, Well four hundred rupees reduced for a pair of missing in/out connectors. Here’s how the box looks from the front:
And see the rear view here
Here’s the card slot and CI slot
I could not resist the temptation to see what is inside , So opened the box, One thing here is the low quality screw holes, If you open it more than twice, you will need to replace them with larger size screws, opening the cover reveals a few things inside, The well laid out board and power supply and the CI/CAM slots directly attached to the board all looks good and clean, Good work here
I felt the heat sink could be a little larger, and fixed with something more than glue and a piece of paper tape, Hope it wont give way, To the left of the processor , you can see two Hynix (HY5DU561622FTP-D43 C) ram modules, So this one has some 32mb ram installed, Also you can see here the STV0903B ,dvb-s2 modulator, Also seen is a JTAG port(20 pin)
and a header which looks like a four pin usb-header(or maybe an rs-232 header, not sure),
and also a CI slot
another set of headers present on the board are here, Maybe some modem header and a possible another AV port to it’s side ,
So the box is essentially future proof and seems to have some interesting chips inside, I wont be surprised to see the same box with HD in the near future, Especially as the D2H website now has a 32”HD LCD.
Two days later I called the number given to me by the dealer, He said he will come on the same day by 10′A.M, and kept his word, The two guys were carrying a dish and the lnbf, also a fresh roll of cable, The leader of the team started a small lecture about site requirements for satellite installation, importance of good line of sight to satellite etc, and asked me which side the dish is to be fitted, I pointed out my preference but the guy said, there are trees in the line of sight etc, Anyway these two were very polite and talked sense too, I just understood that at least these guys do know the job, Now the whole circus goes to the roof and then the gentlemen was surprised to see the 6′ dish with six LNBs fitted and another two ku-band dishes facing opposite directions, Well he became very humble and told me he was giving the lecture only for the purpose of making people aware about the requirements and in my case I can tell him where to fix the dish, I replied since I was paying Rs.300/- , it was my right to hear the free lecture and he can continue, Now the guy says he is planning to buy a used c-band dish and wanted to know if I could help him with suggestions to make it multi-lnbf, Well I said he can consult me and I will tell him whatever I know, Well the install went in friendly terms, Also I did tell him that D2H should have provided more than the satellite meter to him, Now one of the guys goes down to TV and the other starts adjusting the skew, which looked messy, So I told him to pick up the box and follow me and offered him the small B&W tv so he can keep it on the roof itself and adjust, Well D2H must provide some good installation equipment, so they don’t look like clowns when installing.
I had the STB mated to the 14” Tv in our study, Since there is no S-VHS, port on the stb the connection was purely composite, The A/V out of that TV is connected to the composite input of My Desktop tv-tuner, This suits me as it becomes easy to simply point and click to take screen shots at the same time running the TV, This is how the setup looks
The first time the STB is connected and pointed to ST1 , it will begin update, First it gave the “Happy New Year”, boot-screen version, A day after there was another update and yesterday February 26th , Well they did improve something, Previously upto the Happy-new-year software , Pressing the Ok button on remote did not do anything useful, But now it opens up the channel list and also once you get the channel list , you can use the colour coded function keys to bring up your favorites, Well done D2H, Now the newest update does nothing more than the “Holi hai “ Graphics and colours, I would love if one could change the theme to something pretty simple,
Plugging the stb in and starting it brings you to the boot screen , which continues to the Welcome screen, Which essentially runs the Home-channel (100)in the background,
Take a look here:-
Pressing Exit on the Welcome screen takes you to the home, channel running the D2H ads and help topics, You do get bored after seeing the angry Hubby & Wify episode every time you open it up, But I did change to that channel to somehow get away from the “rin & tide” ads running in some advertisement channel, with “Joda Akbar” running like a filler programme for a few minutes here and there, yesterday night, Finally gave up trying to watch the movie at about 11.30, A lost evening, Don’t remember the channel , But think it is UTV-Movies, Anyway I will never watch that channel again.
The picture quality on this DTH is exemplary, so is the audio quality in most channels, The much depends on the transmission and original broadcasts, I can tell you this is the first DTH coming equal to the clarity and audio of the channels received directly from a c-band dish, But I’am yet to see BIG-TV on component or HDMI, as nobody I know owns one, on a scale of ten I can give it a cool 9.5 , if I consider Luxe-TV or Euronews or France-24 from Asiasat-5 as a 10, (all Standard definition), In any case it is much better than Dish-tv, TATA-sky or Sun-direct. I have seen them all. This is one very good STB, I have a feeling that the STB chipset is much better and advanced than any other DTH boxes currently available and that may be making the difference here. May be the fact that ST1 has a real 53dbw EIRP in my area (West coast of India). It may further improve the sound if the digital out connector is connected to the SPDIF input of an amplifier, I have seen an Home Cinema audio setting in it. Not checked it yet.
All the picture , sound and signal quality is of no use , if you cannot afford it , D2H scores on this count too, Currently it provides around 230 channels and services for RS.275/- per month, If you go for yearly offers, You end up paying still lesser, and considering most of the prime channels are included it looks good to me.
Press the menu button and you get to see a well laid out menu on screen, The menu won’t intrude your picture much, The saying “a picture can speak a thousand words “ is the norm here , SO I did take enough screenshots and hopes these will explain it much better than words
The one oversite on this is that the STB display shows “nenu” instead of “Menu” when this button is pressed, An ugly sight by all means.
The Mosaic(PIP) above is a nice way to sort and get to channels you are interested in, You can select one of them and it opens up for example Entertainment
moving the white border to any channel also shows the current program running, See the name of the programme called “Behenein” running on Star Plus. You can also open the mosaic (pip) by pressing the shortcut button on the Remote
There is a channel guide provided where you can schedule reminders for the programmes, the guide has two modes full and mini, here is the screenshots.
You can specify the time to start the programme, say 1 minute before etc and also the time to stop ie say 2 minutes after etc.
Next on menu is tickers, This is an extremely useful feature , when your Junior is totally absorbed with “Chota Beem” or “Chip &dale” and you want to get the score of India v/s SA one dayer etc, You can activate upto two tickers at the same time
You can also add upto four favorite lists and rename them as you like, It is also possible to order the list of channels as you like in favorites list, Something stopping my MOM from using sun direct, She wants Asianet and Manorama news to be first in the list which is not possible in SD, D2h solves that too,
D2H movies shows a list of movies running in MOD 1 to 5 , It seems to be working well after the software updates
Also included are a few Radio channels from AIR , They are available under radio in the menu , The radio has a good looking interface ,
That brings us to the all important setup menu , This is where you can actually setup a lot of features , The most important menu here is the installation menu, You need to type a password “1234” to enter this menu , You can change this later
the User settings allows you to change your location, TV settings, Language and other preferences like Menu opacity etc.
Channels visibility helps you hide some channels and show only particular channels , Also channels can be locked , I don’t think we have or will have any programme with parental rating above 18 , in India in near future, So that lock option is currently useless.
This is one classy looking remote, feels good and looks good, I would prefer the navigation keys in the centre though, The remote also comes with an led around the ok button , ie the centre button of navigation keys, It also has function keys, large and easy to locate, One real good improvement is the stand for the remote where you can keep it safely in an upright position, no more searching the remote under the CD covers lying around the TV -rack , This one is real attention to detail, However the remote is not Universal , They should have made it universal just like Airtel. Let us hope they will improve on this too in the near future, Have already seen posts on SOD forums that they have introduced models with Universal remote, I’am yet to see one in my location, Also the 32”HDlcd and the 21”slim Flat-tv with D2H are not available even in the NEXT showrooms, Also the hardware options are very slow to reach everywhere. These problems need to be solved very soon.
The active services menu is used to provide addon services in any dth, in case of D2H you can say this feature is being tested and improved and you can see it is yet to offer any fully functional services , Currently they have Direct Active, which shows channels grouped into DD-active showing four DD-Channels, State Active-yet another set of DD channels, then three games, and a Puzzle & quiz application called Direct puzzle and a link to D2H movies, This is yet R&D portion, or at least appears to me like that, Please note that this is where dth operator can earn a few Rupees with addons and they may be researching their capabilities right now, Three games are included and can provide some entertainment in AD-breaks , My son likes the monkey game very much , It looks good and colorful too.
D2H looks like it is tailor made with the Indian customer as a whole , The price range starts from 1390/- + 300/- for installation with four months gold or two month diamond pack free, Excellent picture and audio quality , at least on STB (Not to forget that there were complaints all over with some Sat-dvd models), Excellent packages and so far good service with the customer care being very polite and co-operative as far as my experience go, I would recommend it to anyone who is going for a Dth for the first time, Especially the packages are reasonable and not very confusing , Altogether D2H currently is real value for money , with reasonable package prices and a lot of future options like active services.
However it has a long way to go, They have to improve their website, especially the recharge and addon packages part, The SunDirect has the best selfcare portal as far as I know, where you can activate and addon in say about 10 minutes, Just choose and click and the package is activated, D2h will be a better service if such a system is made available.