South African Pay TV channel, DStv recently launched the iDrifta, a mobile TV device that allows you watch TV exclusively on iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch devices.
We got our first hands-on experience of the device this week and shared some photos while testing the mobile TV device on an iPhone 4S. In this review, we give you the details you need to know about the iDrifta and let you decide about getting the device or not.
The first thing you’ll notice about the iDrifta is that it is very portable and can fit into your pocket or purse nicely just as a matchbox would. A white-coloured lightweight (about 20 grammes) and ultra portable device (approx. the size of a matchbox), the iDrifta connects to any iOS device via its 30-pin connector on the same slot where you plug your iOS device cable for charging.
It also comes with a USB cable for charging which can be done through its micro-USB port. Next to it is a tiny LED light indicator that turns red when the device is being charged and turns green when it is fully charged. It also has a soft antenna that lets the device receive coverage using the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld (DVB-H) technology.
The design looks nice, although I wished that it had a cover (like a USB flash drive) that protects the 30-pin connector, in case of breakage or liquid damaging the device.
The iDrifta offers up to 15 channels including AfricaMagic Entertainment; AfricaMagic; AfricaMagic Yoruba; Sony Max; Nat Geo Wild; SuperSport Blitz; SuperSport 9; SuperSport 3; Channel O; NTAi; AIT; Disney Junior; SuperSport Select; SoundCity and CNN.
In my opinion, the iDrifta doesn’t really provide you with more viewing options and I wished that it provided all of DStv channels for a particular bouquet and allowed subscribers to choose and perhaps pay for extra channels they want to watch per month.
The iDrifta features a schedule of programmes for most of the channels which is quite useful for information purposes. However, the DStv mobile application doesn’t let you set a reminder for programmes you would like to watch later or let you share them with your friends/family, even on social networks.
It would be nice if DStv makes it possible to share the programme a user is watching on the iDrifta using its mobile app via Facebook or Twitter. The message could simply read: “I’m watching 53 Extra using my iDrifta on DStv Mobile”. This could be a great way to market the device and its mobile decoder ranges on these social platforms.
The iDrifta’s settings menu contains information about the device firmware version (2.0.8), the mobile decoder application version (1.01.09), the network signal strength (which fluctuates between 0% and 100% depending on the network coverage) and the device battery percentage (which at 100% could last up to three hours of TV viewing and may switch to your iOS device battery when used up).
The display of the device is extremely sharp and bright and colours on it appear extremely clear, although this largely depends on the signal strength. Sometimes, the channel you’re watching may appear shaky or blurry and the device may lose signal and require the user to reconnect back to the channel. Yet, connecting to a channel or switching between channels takes around 5 – 10 seconds each time.
In terms of resolution, watching TV via the iDrifta doesn’t look that good on an iPhone 4 or 4S, since DStv Mobile has a screen resolution of 320×240 pixels, while the iPhone 4’s resolution is 640×960 pixels, although this can be tolerated on these devices, but hardly on an iPhone 5 (640×1136 pixels) or iPad which comes with a 1024×768 pixels resolution screen.
Granted, there’s an option to expand the picture to fill the screen of the device, but this may easily result in picture degradation. While this problem would persist due to the fact that the device uses the DVB-H technology, I think that the iDrifta would be best enjoyed on an iPhone 4th generation or iPod Touch device.
(Note: I’m yet to see how it looks on the iPhone 5 and iPad, so I can’t really say much for now).
The iDrifta is currently being sold for N9,500 at any Multichoice centre across the country as long as there is DVB-H coverage. If you’re a DStv subscriber, you won’t need to pay to view any of the channels, as long as you have an active DStv subscription, excluding the DStv Access bouquet.
Once you purchase the device, you would simply link your DStv subscriber account to your iDrifta device, download the DStv mobile decoder application and start watching up to 15 channels on the go.
And if you’re not a DStv subscriber, you can also purchase the iDrifta and pay a monthly access fee of N660 as a DStv Mobile subscriber and start watching on the go with the iDrifta.
I love the iDrifta and always carry it around when I know I’ll be away from my home for hours. The product is easy to use and offers good value. It’s definitely a must-buy for anyone who loves TV-ing on the go.
However, the iDrifta doesn’t allow for multi-tasking, so you can’t switch to another application or read/send an email, take a photo, etc while the mobile TV app is running on the background. Instead, you have to re-established the connection each time you switch between applications.
While I would love to watch my DStv on the iPad, there isn’t a possibility of a better resolution image, so I would just stick to watching on the iPhone 4S, although its painful straining the eyes on such a small screen.
Aside from these concerns, I would recommend the iDrifta to anyone who wishes to watch TV on the go, who owns an iOS mobile device, and who is a DStv subscriber, since it offers extra value for their money.
So would you buy the iDrifta? What other features would you like to have on this innovative DStv Mobile decoder?