Forum > Decoders > PVR Decoders > About the SD PVR
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Old 2017-11-20 , 11:54
MC Marietjie's Avatar
MC Marietjie MC Marietjie is offline
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Default About the SD PVR

Hi there everyone, I've asked our General Manager for Broadcast Technology (the guy who is in charge of decoders) to put together some words on the SD PVR for you. See his letter below - you can post your questions on here, and I'll ensure it gets to him.

Hi folks,

My name is Phil, and I had the privilege of leading the team that developed our first PVR. The SD PVR as it is now known. As I now near retirement and look back on my time at MultiChoice, it is probably the single biggest achievement of my career. It is a source of great pride to me, when I hear about our customers being so reluctant to let go of this magnificent old lady. It was an iconic, ground breaking product. Almost in the same mold as the VW Beetle.

Unfortunately, unlike the Beetle, the SD PVR is part of a bigger system that moves and changes to accommodate new challenges in the PAY TV business. As a result, the old lady is starting to creek in her joints trying to keep up. You, as customers, would see this manifest in spontaneous reboots. The demands of our conditional access system with a plethora of new and changing channels and products loads her to breaking point.

We have run out of memory on this platform to make the necessary software adjustments to keep the SD PVR running as smoothly as she used to. Every few hours, we need to deliver keys and conditional access information to decoders to keep the base secure. This is done through a broadcast mechanism, so every decoder gets, and filters all this data looking for those commands that it needs to action. As the subscriber base has grown the SD PVR has become overloaded when this data is broadcast and it results in a reboot and rescan.

I promise you, there is nothing sinister in what you are seeing. It is not a nefarious plot by MultiChoice to get you to purchase new decoders. It is simply a sign of a technology that is reaching the end of its life.

When we designed the hardware back in 2003 prior to launch in 2005, the design life was 5 years. We manufactured the last of these PVR’s in late 2007, so even the youngest model has lasted double its expected life span.

It has become a bit like a 30-year-old child still living with her parents. She is loved dearly, but it really is time to let her go.

MultiChoice is making a concerted effort to ease this separation anxiety as you are generally our most loyal and valued customers. Watch out for specials on Black Friday (24th November) or speak to your local agent or branch about the specials targeted for SD PVR owners.

Best wishes
Phil Nicholson
Group General Manager: Broadcast Technology Division
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  #2  
Old 2017-11-20 , 12:26
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Optimist Optimist is offline
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Many thanks for the feedback.

From what I've seen E32 is rearing its ugly head again - this particular security feature or set of features has been the plague of many subscribers for years now and I think its re-involvement or intense current newer activity is causing the recent increased and worsened SD PVR reboots.

Why am I so certain? It's affecting other decoders as well, INCLUDING a recent causing of processor freezing or slow-downs on the Explora 1's EPG etc. functionality!

E32 aside, I don't believe this can't be better designed. But I also don't believe more senior personnel are interested in those considerations.
Whoever is endlessly making these shove-in-their-faces-now-then-fix-later decisions re security, maybe it's time to look at the economy and think twice about the customers being regularly irritated or as a result alienated.
I'm not going to go further into this, perhaps someone else may choose to...

That said, the "old lady" is certainly getting on and it's my strong opinion that those without the tech skills now often needed to still use her should move on.
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Old 2017-11-20 , 13:50
Geoff D Geoff D is offline
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Hi Phil

I trust you will enjoy your retirement and I am sure MC will miss you!

Yes the SD PVR is iconic, it IS still a superb piece of hardware, super reliable and stood the test of time, until that is the powers at be in MC tried to get it to do things it was not designed to do!

It is in the mold of the VW Beetle. The difference is that the Beetle can still perform within its capability. There is NO external agent trying to get it to do things it was not designed to do! That is the key reason I reject these analogies all together.

The SD PVR was and still is completely capable of receiving ALL the possible channels that MC can throw at it with the ONLY proviso being it is not DVBS2 capable. If MC had used this as a fact to dictate its demise and suitability for use in a modern Pay TV operation, most of us would have accepted it unchallenged. BUT then to do that MC would have had to shut down and make redundant ALL non DVB-S2 decoders!

It IS the Conditional Access System (CAS)that is the root cause of the problems with the decoder as it stands. IF MC is able to create a CAS stream that caters for the older single view decoders, which do not have one eighth of the capacity the SD PVR has, then MC could just as easily create a special CAS stream for the SD PVR ....

The SD PVR was designed with the customer in mind. It was based on extensive input from your customer base, and as a result we feel that we own the design just as much as you do! It is part of us. It was revised and fixed and modified with lots of blood and sweat by many of us.

Some of the things we are all proud of are:

(1) Its dual view capability with shared access to recorded content. And going with this 2 x 2 hour buffers plus recording! One can watch 3 programs near simultaneously! NONE of the modern decoders offer this. And NO Catchup does NOT make up for this capability in the least.
(2) Its 3 tuner capability, although those of us in SA never got to use this as effectively as those outside of the borders because not all 3 tuners were accessible in the SA version externally.
(3) The incredibly powerful RF modulator! Capable of pushing a signal way beyond 100m.
(4) The simplicity of the software to do all of this on a limited (by today's standards) processor.
(5) The sorting routines!
(6) The simplicity of the EPG.
(7) The ease of setting up recordings.
(8) Its resilience and reliability (even if we gave MC hard time about failures in the early days, we wanted more, like spoilt kids!)

So we are sad to see its demise in a way that we perceive to be completely unfair and unjustified.

So looking forward to the Black Friday Specials!

And attached please see this photo of a working SD PVR thrown out by a friend recently, before the latest round of CAS abuse. (He fell for the hype about how great the new decoders are, but secretly he still misses his trusty SD PVR). Even though the abuse he put his decoder through is despicable! The photo is a testimony the quality of the SD PVR!

20171029_214724-1.jpg
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Last edited by Geoff D; 2017-11-20 at 13:53. .
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Old 2017-11-20 , 14:15
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In preparation for a possible further response - we are aware that the EPG itself struggles with the extra data burden with all the additional modern channels.

Also want to add that much of the preparatory work for making the SD PVR so stable and what was desired was made with its older simpler (but still complex enough) sibling, the DualView decoder. There were hundreds of reports going back and forth in those days when MC listened to competent Fieldtrialists.
In my case I mostly moved on from the program when the SD PVR was being launched but still gave some feedback later.

That's all I have to say. It's great that MC have put further interest into feedback in more recent years, long may it continue, for everyone's benefit :-)


EDIT: Now posted in Customer Service: #BlackFriday Specials

Last edited by Optimist; 2017-11-20 at 14:19. .
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  #5  
Old 2017-11-20 , 17:20
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bothafire bothafire is offline
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All of the information provided is well known. The unfortunate state is that when you decided to change to the explora SDPVR subscribers suddenly were confronted with a single view environment with all the problems that creates in house. If the Explora at least had similar capabilities your SDPVR subscribers would probably have accepted maybe reluctantly the change. New technology is supposed to improve the viewing experience. Your one add where the supposed sports fan claims he can see every blade of grass really that is what impresses him about sports coverage. Explora no matter how many Catch-up titles, or Box office titles, Internet, Showmax, enhanced scheduling, or EPG means nothing when I want to watch live sport and the family wants to watch their programs. I must therefore have multiple decoders and all the costs of installation just to get back to what I had before. That means I have multiple devices that could be problematic. We never needed catch-up when the SDPVR was operating in it's environment. We never really used box office that much because we had a world of titles we could access elsewhere. I could go on and on about all the sport we lost over the years or the fact that repeats have become a way of life and so many chanels have B-rated movies.
Suffice it to say I will not go through a massive outlay just so that I can go back to a single view environment and the prospect that Explora itself will in a few years probably become redundant as well and that quantity has trumped quality. Sometimes less is more and after 30 years association with multichoice I will be going to alternative viewing. So I will also be retiring from multichoice after long service.
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Old 2017-11-20 , 17:50
RyanDavid RyanDavid is offline
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We made great use of our SD PVR and its dual view capability, eventually we had to get two Exploras just to replace its basic functionality, so I understand many of the frustrations above. And we've even had issues with our Exploras and the seemingly ever-more intensive authentication checks.

But would like to add that I do appreciate the effort at communication this thread represents.
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  #7  
Old 2017-11-20 , 19:51
Glock26 Glock26 is offline
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Exactly what Geoff and bothafire said.
We accept the fact that the technology is old, and is giving trouble. We accept the fact that eventually it will be unusable.
What we CANNOT accept is an "upgrade" that gets us less than we had before.
I personally don't care about HD or Box office or recording 100 channels.
I have a family member that wants to watch her channel, and I want to watch mine. And we have them all streamed to every tv in the house, via RF, and with remote blasters, can walk from the living room to the kitchen, start cooking, while watching the same channel. And can change channel from any room, on tv1 on tv 2.
What I cannot accept is the amount of effort and money that it will cost me to duplicate that.
Firstly I need to purchase a second decoder. MC wants to offer me a swap out for one, that will take me backwards, and still cost me installation.
Secondly, I now need to trawl the list of installers, and probably find one with my luck that does a terrible installation job, with wires everywhere, and maybe not even a decent solution to the multiple tv situation. And since some tv's are HD, and some are analog...I doubt I'll even find a decent installer who can do the job, and if I did...it would cost thousands. And require lots of cables, where I have limited roof access.
All of this, and thousands of rands...to get me where I am now?
And MC isn't even splitting that cost with me by half. One decoder and a single tv installation voucher? Plus yet another year of access in advance like I used to pay? I'm in for R20K.
So no. I choose option C....I'll source my entertainment elsewhere.
I signed up for a certain service. I expect an offer that includes at least 2 decoders to get me 2 viewing environments. And not being thrown to the installer wolves who will be only to glad to see me coming.

Yes..it was fund while it lasted. Kudos on your decoder. You should work on a modern version. It would be a hit.
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  #8  
Old 2017-11-20 , 23:20
DPA1 DPA1 is offline
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I think you nailed it on the head.:

Geoff quote: 'It IS the Conditional Access System (CAS)that is the root cause of the problems with the decoder as it stands. IF MC is able to create a CAS stream that caters for the older single view decoders, which do not have one eighth of the capacity the SD PVR has, then MC could just as easily create a special CAS stream for the SD PVR ....'

(3 1/2 weeks since I started the price lock option process, not installed yet.)
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Old 2017-11-21 , 06:54
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Luke7777 Luke7777 is offline
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Now waiting for the 'Retirement of the Pace 4P' thread
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  #10  
Old 2017-11-21 , 07:57
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Don't start confusing rumours Luke
The SD PVR is not yet retired.
The UEC 4 tuner will go long before the Pace 4 tuner does

EDIT: We don't call it the "4P" anymore, that's not correct.

Last edited by Optimist; 2017-11-21 at 08:03. .
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