My thoughts on the USB DStv Drifta (Review)

Posted on August 8, 2011

Update :  The new iDrifta has been released (iDevice only) – unboxing here. Review to follow.

First reactions from my son :

  • Aww Dad, it’s so cute. Look how tiny it is compared to the old one.
  • Dad, I can’t plug in the memory stick next to the Drifta.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the new USB DStv Drifta. It’s small and cute, not quite the size of a memory stick (just  a tad fatter), so overlaps a second USB slot when plugged in (a cable is supplied to solve this). It works, and well, but doesn’t really cure any of the inherent problems with the first Drifta. That said, in the right scenarios it is a great device.

USB Drifta with Aerial extended

Onto the review proper :

Back on 14 July 2011 DStv announced (officially) the new USB DStv Drifta (release here).  The release and the pictures made the device look interesting. A week later their PR team mailed me and offered me a Drifta to test out and review (well, they just offered to send me one, my assumption it was to test and review).

This review doesn’t intend to rehash all of the detail from my review last year. This in many ways is just a simpler, smaller, cheaper version of the Drifta and it works much in the same way. Go and read that review if you want to understand more about the DStv mobile product as opposed to the USB Drifta itself.

The package arrived a little late last week due to the crazy snowy weather between Durban and Johannesburg and I captured the unboxing here. This really gives you and idea of what is included in the package and how small the device really is.

To summarise for those who haven’t clicked through to the unboxing, in the box you will find :

  • Quick Start guide
  • USB extension cable
  • Installation CD (Client software Version 1.2)
  • The USB Drifta Device

The extras

The box it comes in is squared, about 11cmx11cm.

The Drifta itself is about 8cm long, and about 2.5cm wide.  That is a fair bit smaller than the original Drifta as you can see in the pictures below.

Once unboxed, you simply need to install the software (if you haven’t already). In my case I have the 1.3.1 software already installed. The CD that arrived in the box still had the older 1.2 software. I don’t know what the difference is, but you may as well download and install the newer version (it is going to bug you to once you load the old one anyway) which is available here. It is a bit of an oversight that the old version is still supplied but doesn’t really make too much difference.

The USB Drifta itself comes with the latest firmware preloaded (Drifta2(DVB-H) 2.1.277 2011/05/03-14:09:23).

When plugged in the device is quite sturdy. On my laptop it happily plugged into either the side or rear facing USB port with no problem, on my desktop when connected to the front port it was in danger of being bumped by my knee or the roller chair. The USB extension cable mentioned in the parts list above is useful for just this. You can then plug it in and lie it on top of your PC case out of harms way, not to mention then be able to access the nearby USB ports instead of having them blocked. I suspect that some cases and laptops which have recessed USB ports may also require the extension cable.

Once plugged in you load up the Decoder.exe software and the USB Drifta behaves just the same as the original Drifta did. I really could not tell the difference.

For those who haven’t seen or used a Drifta. Once you have it installed, you need to scan for the available channels (can take up to 3 minutes). This isn’t quite a one off, but you seldom need to redo it. Mainly when new channels have become available or if you move regions (say between Cape Town and Durban).

The main picture windows gives you your tv picture. When you press the channel guide button a windows opens to the right giving you the list of channels. Selecting a channel (single click) lets you see the programme guide. Double click on a channel and it tunes it in, taking about 8 seconds to switch.

There is no ability to record any channels (it seems to be supported by the hardware/software but disabled by DStv), nor is there the option to switch channels when a particular programme comes on (the way the normal DStv decoder / PVR does). The client software really just does the basics.

The channels selection has grown quite nicely since the launch of the original Drifta, and is now up to 15 (lineup here). This would appear to be the maximum that can be supported by the DVB-H protocol with the way ICASA has allocated the frequencies. As it is, 9 were allocated to DStv and 6 to eTV, so it seems DStv have made a deal with eTV for our benefit.

Not all of the channels available are the real deal, in particular Cartoon network and E! entertainment are cut-down mobile only versions which lots of people seem to complain about. Personally, I only use the sports (SS1-3 and Blitz) and news channels (E News and CNNi) so I am not too fussed.

As a sports lover, sometimes I get frustrated at the coverage. Most of the top events are covered between SS1,SS2 and SS3. Sometimes however, you may want to watch something eg. Tour de France or a F1 Grand Prix (or qualifying) only to find that it isn’t on one of the three channels, and instead there is a repeat of some rugby game, some soccer and something else. For the most part, the program schedulers seem to juggle things around to get a decent fit.

If you aren’t a sports lover, check out the channel selection carefully. A service with no channels you like will just be frustrating and disappointing.

 

Summary : 

What is the same?

  • It uses the same software on the PC, with the same restrictions (you can’t make it full screen or expand it bigger than about a quarter of the screen)
  • It uses the same DVB-H transmission, with the same limitations (a 320×240 picture size with a 15fps frame rate).
  • It has the same channels being broadcast (full list here)
  • It has the same style flimsy aerial (though my original one has yet to break despite my misgivings)
  • Same R36 monthly subscription fee (free till April next year for DStv Premium subscribers)
  • Reception seems to be about the same on both (based on VERY rough tests)
  • Coverage is the same (make sure you have coverage in your area, is fairly limited)
  • Time to switch channels stays at +- 8 seconds
  • Rescan for new channels (or when you move region) at up to 3 minutes

What is different?

  • It is much smaller than the original Drifta
  • It is cheaper (R399 vs R599)
  • It has less cables (though you may need use the extension if it blocks your other USB ports)
  • It is intended for use with a Windows PC only (no iPads/iPhones/iPod Touch)
  • It is not a standalone device, doesn’t have a battery, and doesn’t work when not plugged into the PC
  • The angle of the aerial can be changed (a little) and it can be turned (as opposed to only being extended out)
Which one to buy ?
  • If you only want to use it with your PC, then get the USB one.
  • If you have an iDevice and want the mobility, get the original
  • If you have a Blackberry, Nokia or Android phone and want to use the Drifta with it, well, get down on your knees and pray, and buy the original one. Maybe one day DStv will deliver on the promised client software. In the meantime, you can still use it with your PC, you will have paid R200 more for a hope.

Conclusion

The USB DStv Drifta makes a good addition to the Drifta lineup. Few people out there have iDevices (and the other mobile client software may never arrive) so large numbers of people are just using the current Drifta with their PC. This new USB Drifta gives a cheaper, simpler device for people to use. If you have coverage in your area, are a sports fan, and would like to watch while on the move (at work etc) than for R36 a month, you can’t really get a better deal anywhere.
More Information:
First glimpse of the device

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Gadgets, Praise


77 Responses

  1. Schoeman:

    Where do I get the dstv drifter usb softwhere to download

    09.11.2012 18:22 Reply

    • Justin:

      The normal drifta software you download from http://www.dstvmobile.com includes the USB drivers and it uses the same application.

      11.11.2012 01:21 Reply

    • JAIME:

      I have a dstv drifta mobile, is not working on my laptop. What must I do?

      21.09.2016 11:40 Reply

      • Justin:

        Hi Jaime

        What issues are you experiencing, can you shed some light so can see if can do some troubleshooting for you.

        J

        13.10.2016 12:28 Reply

  2. Francois:

    Hi Justin!

    I ran across your post by trying to figure out how to actually get my USB Drifta to work properly. I bought it for one reason, to watch big sporting events at work.

    This has developed into a problem as I really have bad reception – so I thought. I found that if I hold the aerial, I have reception. This of course is not a realistic solution.

    Do you have any advice on how I can manipulate the aerial to get it working at work?

    Thank you very much!

    12.06.2012 13:26 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Francois

      There are some detailed suggestions in the FAQ http://j-j.co.za/gofaq describing how you can use external aerials etc. Give that a read and a try and let us know how it goes.

      Justin

      16.06.2012 11:28 Reply

  3. Bud:

    I enjoy the original drifta. One question though: Why are the contents of the channels some times (,ost of the times) empty. Later on during the day it will populate and I can then see the schedule.

    28.04.2012 08:06 Reply

    • Justin:

      I have only had this problem on the odd occasion and a full channel scan has sorted it out. Give that a go let me know if it works for you.

      28.04.2012 08:59 Reply

  4. matthew:

    DSTV mobile should immediately improve on the picture resolution, screen display size and audio quality if they do not want to be qualified as “technical trickstars” who present toys to fool their teeming African consumers. What is so special about this so-called drifta when various phones can deliver better tv signals without any subscription. Please improve on the reception quality of this usb driifta in the name of God before it turns out to be your financial doom instead of blessing.

    05.04.2012 00:04 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Matthew
      While an improvement in quality would be greatly desired by all unfortunately while DStv mobile continues to use the DVB-H standard for transmissions it will be limited to the current quality. The standard was designed for mobile phones years ago and didnt dream of us having phones with HD or Full HD screens so soon.
      Justin

      06.04.2012 21:30 Reply

  5. warren:

    Hi, Do you know how to enable full screen on the macbook pro?

    02.04.2012 20:10 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Warren

      Sorry, no idea how to do this on a Mac. Does OS X not have a zoom function similar to windows 7 ?

      Justin

      02.04.2012 20:34 Reply

  6. cyril wegner:

    How about giving us golfers more channels that are viewing PGA tour tournaments. Very unfair that cricket and rugby get more channels. us golfers also pay subscription to the channels. not happy

    23.03.2012 23:06 Reply

  7. Richard:

    please send me the decoder.exe full screen patch for the older version, it’s no longer on the net…please!!

    19.03.2012 11:59 Reply

  8. Francois:

    Hi,

    I bought the drifta usb. Even though the signal strength is 100% it keeps on losing the picture. When I try to reconnect it says: Could not detect decoder. The software is 1.3.3 Any suggestions on how I can fix the problem?

    26.02.2012 17:47 Reply

  9. Imran:

    Hi jUSTIN
    I am having a problem with signal. I saw your comment on how to boost the signal. If i use a crocodile clip and attache dthat to my antena and take the cable out side and attache dit to my arial or a metal structure to boost the signal.Will that work? how thick and what type of cable should i use?

    If i run a wire on my DSTV anttena cable which slots to my dstv decoder. Basicly i want to i am going to warp a wire round the Drifta anttena and then wrap it round the DSTV cable anttena which goes into my DSTV Decoder and try boost the signal via the dish cable. Would that work or would i blow my Drifta?

    12.01.2012 14:05 Reply

  10. Paul:

    i have loaded the drifter software three times. twice from disk and once from internet. everything works but no pic or sound. I have now swopped with a friend. his wont work on my laptop but mine works on his. I am running 7. any thoughts

    01.01.2012 00:49 Reply

    • Justin:

      Paul,
      From what you have described it is software on your laptop that is the problem rather than a faulty device. Once you have the software installed and you run the Decoder application does it detect the Drifta as plugged in ? Is it the channels it doesn’t detect? Please provide some more details as to how far you get, what error messages (if any) show, whether you get the channel list etc etc
      Justin

      01.01.2012 07:15 Reply

      • Paul:

        Thanks for the reply, I get all the channel info and it is updated as the time changes. what ever channel I choose it says “connecting to ……” but never connects. I have seen the same question on the dstv website and I have emailed them – no answer.

        01.01.2012 17:31 Reply

        • Justin:

          Hmmm, what is the signal strength looking like? Wonder if a force reinstall of the device drivers (rather than the application) might help? Do you have a non standard firewall installed?

          01.01.2012 18:39 Reply

  11. Alberto:

    The USB Drifta works well on my Laptop. Is there a way to make it work on my Samsung Galaxy 7″
    Thank you.

    07.12.2011 07:50 Reply

    • Justin:

      The USB Driftas only work on PCs not on any of the mobile devices. You need the original wifi device for that, and then it works only on a handful of older android tablets.

      07.12.2011 07:57 Reply

  12. Name...:

    Hiy Jus. 🙂
    im planning to buy a new cellphone (“HTC WILDFIRE S” smartphone)..
    And i’m also planning to buy ‘this’ Drfta Device.
    Can this device work/connect on this phone i’ve mentiond or let me make it simple is it going to be easy for me to WATCH ‘SOME’ Dstv channels.??
    About the signal, i live at Umlazi(Durban) is there any signal around my area???

    21.11.2011 19:31 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Thabulane

      Yes the wildfire S is one the list along with :
      Sony Ericsson Play (R800i)
      LG Optimus Black (LG P970)
      Motorola Defy (MB 525)
      HTC ChaCha
      HTC Desire
      HTC Desire S
      HTC Desire HD
      HTC Wildfire S
      Samsung Galaxy S (GT-I9000)
      Samsung Galaxy Tab 7″ (All Models)
      Samsung Galaxy S II (GT-I9100)

      I am not sure of signal coverage in your area, have you checked the map on the dstv mobile website ?

      Justin

      22.11.2011 20:53 Reply

  13. Neo:

    Hi Justin, I bought the USB drifta a while back and it was working fine, now recently the device only flashes red after I have inserted the device, do you know what the possible reason for this might be?

    21.11.2011 10:21 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Neo

      On the original drifta the Steady red Light meant an Error state – and to solve it needed a reset of the device (use a pin with the pin-hole reset button).

      I don’t have my device with me to see if it has a reset option, take a look maybe you get lucky.

      Justin

      22.11.2011 20:58 Reply

  14. Phelelo:

    Can u pls help on which shop can I get at the usb dstv,I need it urgently,I’m next 2 Groblersdal,limpopo province

    14.11.2011 10:35 Reply

    • Justin:

      Sorry, I am yet to see one in a retail store. Try online at Kalahari.net. also check the coverage map to make sure there signal where you plan to use it.
      Justin

      15.11.2011 01:01 Reply

  15. Pete:

    I don’t mind sharing, e-mail me

    11.11.2011 17:53 Reply

    • Justin:

      Thanks, will do when am back inSA

      15.11.2011 01:02 Reply

  16. Pete:

    There is a way to downgrade the drifta firmware (just did it).

    It involves copying tvnb.bin from 1.1.0 into 1.3.1’s firmware directory.
    Then I copied a .dll I wrote that allows modifying tcp packets into 1.3.1’s directory.
    After starting the Decoder application, this .dll returns 2.1.000 (for programming simplicity) to a FIRMWARE_VERSION request.
    This then makes 1.3.1 ask if you want to upgrade the firmware as normal, but it uses the 2.1.183 tvnb.bin that I previously copied into the firmware directory.
    Once the “upgrade” is complete, uninstall 1.3.1 and re-install 1.1.0.
    QED

    11.11.2011 14:02 Reply

    • Justin:

      That sounds great, and from the description of your method doesn’t sound like it would require the distribution of any of DStv’s proprietary software to get it to work. Are you happy to share your .dll?

      11.11.2011 17:15 Reply

    • Veneshan:

      I will really appreciate it if you could tell me where to obtain firmware v2.1.183 for the Drifta. Been searching for ages and am unable to find it.

      14.03.2012 19:21 Reply

      • Justin:

        This is the version that a lot of the devices were shipped with, you trying to upgrade or downgrade?

        15.03.2012 19:09 Reply

    • Craig:

      Hi Pete…would you mail that .dll u used to downgrade your drifta..thanks..much appreciated

      25.05.2012 10:10 Reply

    • wallace:

      Hi pete can u please tell me how to downgrade the dstv drifta and where I can get the dll u talking about, please take into account I’m pc challenged and am a beginner thanx

      26.10.2013 05:43 Reply

  17. Samantha:

    Hey Justin,
    If you purchase the USB drifta and you already own the original drifta would you have to pay an extra subscription cost for the USB drifta?
    Thanks

    05.11.2011 17:03 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Samantha,
      Yes they charge you a subscription per Drifta. For some reason the insurance fee is only charged once on my bill, but not sure if that means the USB Drifta isn’t covered. But the R36 rand is charged once for each.
      Regards
      Justin

      06.11.2011 09:38 Reply

  18. Mally:

    thanks for the helpful review, i already purchased an idevice with the intent of purchasing the drifta decoder, but now i see that it is really not worthwhile, because it caters more for sportsfans, otherwise there isnt even one single movie channel! Dstv should actually review the channels, if you are not a sports or news junkie then your choice is Africa magic, channel O or Sony Max? Not cool. seems to be catering towards a single demographic.

    04.11.2011 10:36 Reply

  19. richard:

    is there dvbh signal in delmas, it is 30 km from springs . Thanx

    18.10.2011 04:04 Reply

  20. Jeff Pillay:

    I just got the new facelift merc c180 with the command online. Can play dvd and has maps. Will it be possible to use the drifta on this. Tried 2 just plug someone else’s to test but it doess not identify it. did not load software.

    13.10.2011 10:44 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi jeff

      Unless the thing is running Android 2.x, has a permanent Internet connection and you can get a hacked version of the drifta application I doubt you are going to have much luck. Sorry.

      Justin

      13.10.2011 18:15 Reply

  21. benna:

    when will drifta view beable in standerton
    cant aford dstv- pensioner –

    03.10.2011 18:48 Reply

    • Justin:

      If there is no coverage there now it could be a while. It seems DStv want to maximise their subscribers with the currently transmission network before investing in more equipment.

      03.10.2011 19:38 Reply

  22. Allie:

    Justin, I took the laptop outside, 1st about +- 20 metres away and then the picture came on and I was able to see everything, clearly. I then came nearer and nearer to my shop, up to say about +- 5 metres away and there also, I was able to receive a picture. However, as soon as I went into the butchery, the picture disappeared. I need to tell you this though,when I was receiving a picture, the signal strength was still 0% for some reason, and when I came inside it remained 0% without the picture. I did all of this WITHOUT the aerial. So, I definitely think I am losing the picture due to the concrete slabs in my building and the machinery within the butchery. What can I do to boost the signal within the butchery?

    17.09.2011 10:01 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Allie,
      By the sounds of it your are going to need a booster aerial or an external aerial (to the building) that you then run down into the Butchery. Some of the cheap boosted aerials work quite well, but need to be plugged in to power and tuned for the signal you are trying to pick up. They are not too expensive (can be around R100). Take a look around see if you can pick one up. The fact that you get signal outside the butchery gives hope that you should be able to get signal inside with the external aerial. Take a look at Ellies : http://www.ellies.co.za/index.php?id=67 they have a number of indoor boosted aerials there. These may work, try see if you can borrow one from a friend, ask around, see if it will work and if it works for you then buy one. Otherwise if you are going to be using the device permanently in the butchery consider getting an outdoor solution.

      Regards
      Justin

      18.09.2011 19:43 Reply

  23. Allie:

    Hey Justin, I will take my laptop through to work tomorrow and let u know what happens.

    11.09.2011 16:42 Reply

    • Justin:

      Great we can resume the trouble shooting then.

      11.09.2011 16:54 Reply

  24. Allie:

    Well, i went outside of the building with the Drifta about 20 metres away to get the DVBH light to be stable green. I returned and the DVBH light was still steady green. I plugged the drifta into my pc with the USB cord and then waited for the picture to come. What happens is, it searches and picks up the channels but then no pictures appear & then the message “weak signal, Unable to connect to channel”. Now what I don’t is, how is my signal strength 0% but my DVBH light is steady green? And also, when I phoned DSTV call centre, they said I need to get the light to be steady green about 20metres away, where they were picking up signal…

    10.09.2011 11:14 Reply

    • Justin:

      Allie do you know someone with a laptop that you could borrow? You could then at least see what the signal levels are rather than relying on the green lights. That way you can see outside if there is (say) an 80% signal and inside 20%. You would also be able to see if the external aerial makes any difference to the signal strengths and if it falls off at a different place.
      J

      10.09.2011 14:58 Reply

  25. Eben:

    Hi Justin, can u tell me if the drifta will work on a PS3? I`ve got play tv software/firmware loaded and it also uses DVB. Will this be possible to do or any other ideas on how to get this on my ps3? If not with play tv then wifi?

    09.09.2011 00:10 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Eben
      I hadn’t considered this, DSTV certainly haven’t mentioned it anywhere and I would have thought they would have if it worked. That said, they have made it clear they don’t want the device used as a replacement to a normal decoder (hence no full screen and no video out from other devices) so possibly they intentionally neglected to so anything on purpose.

      I will plug it in give it a try over the weekend but don’t have high expectations of success.

      Justin

      09.09.2011 05:31 Reply

  26. Allie:

    Justin, sorry for the late reply to the last post. I tried to boost my signal using a cheap aerial (the old school bunny aerial) but nothing happened. My signal strength is 0%. What else can I do?

    08.09.2011 00:08 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Allie, no problem. Do you get a signal anywhere close to where you want to use it? Outside the building, nearby etc? We first need establish if the issue is signal in the immediate location being poor vs signal in the entire area.
      Justin

      09.09.2011 07:11 Reply

  27. Debbie:

    Hi Justin! You keep mentioning PC and iPads etc, does the Drifta work on a MacBook Pro

    03.09.2011 21:04 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Debbie, until recently there was no sign or mention of MAC software. Last Wednesday when I visited the dstv offices they showed me the MAC software and I played with it a bit. It’s not finalized and no confirmed release date is available, that said, it looked slick and pretty close to finished, so I can’t imagine the release date is too far away.
      Justin

      03.09.2011 21:12 Reply

  28. A (geek) fan preparing for the Rugby World Cup | j-j.co.za:

    […] of Drifta here, USB Drifta here and frequently asked questions […]

    30.08.2011 22:53 Reply

  29. Allie:

    Hi Justin. I have a butchery and I’m on the ground floor of a double story building. I have a lot of machinery in the butchery. I constantly seem to be getting a message saying “Weak signal. Unable to connect to channel” … my DVBH light on the drifta is always a steady green though. Do you have any suggestions on what I can to do to boost my reception/signal in order to receive signal and start getting a picture? I see you mentioned something about external aerials, where can I get this from? Where do I install it if I get it? What type of external aerial would be best?

    24.08.2011 14:35 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Allie
      Most of the people doing aerial extensions just take a normal outdoor tv antenna and then connect it to the end of the Drifta antenna. Some have gone as far as buying boosted remote control aerials, putting them on rooftops and running FM antenna wire from outside the house to indoors. Others have simply touched the Drifta aerial against close by metal (burglar bars, desktop PC cases, metal FAN covers etc). All of these help boost the signal. A lot depends on the signal strength to start with. If it is borderline working then a small boost may make the difference, if there is no signal you will need to do more. It sounds like you have some signal and just need stability. Try maybe getting a cheap aerial at a chinese type shop, or even a Game Dion or Makro. First try just touching the aerial connector against the Drifta aerial. If that helps then make a more permanent connection.
      Hope that helps, keep us posted with your results.
      Justin

      24.08.2011 22:18 Reply

  30. Irfaan:

    Hi can anyone please tell me where I can buy the USB Drifta in Cape Town (which shops)

    19.08.2011 01:32 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Irfaan, I have only seen it online at http://www.kalahari.net. Not sure if it is in any of the shops. It isn’t listed at Makro or any of the other normal retailers. Your best bet would be to phone your closest Multichoice outlet and see if they have stock.
      Justin

      19.08.2011 10:59 Reply

  31. Kagiso:

    I am planning to buy the Usb Drifta next week and I downloaded the Drifta.exe.. I noticed that the application doesn’t support full screen. My laptop is 17,3″ @ 1600*900 and PC is 24″ 1080p will I not be able to make them full screen?

    18.08.2011 10:55 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Kagiso,
      The short answer is no, you can’t make the application full screen. You will be able to watch the video stream in about a quarter of your screen. If you have windows 7, you can zoom the picture by pressing Windows button and +. Earlier versions and you need to download other software to zoom the screen, works for some people, not for others. I have two monitors attached to my pc and would like to have the full screen on one and keep working on the other, but that can’t be done (or DStv won’t allow it).
      Justin

      18.08.2011 11:09 Reply

  32. Dirk:

    hi Justin, I am a premium subscriber. Will I be able to watch normal DSTV on the TV and at the same time be able to watch USB Drifta on my PC?

    15.08.2011 18:52 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Dirk
      The two services are independent so yes you can watch on your PC while watching normal DSTV on the TV. I think a lot of people are going to find this very useful during the World Cup rugby to catch the games at work / while on the move on their laptops / desktops.

      Justin

      15.08.2011 19:08 Reply

  33. Myles:

    I bought the new Drifta USB this week and have installed the software as mentioned in the installation guide. I then inserted the drifta into a vacant USB spot on my PC but the device fails to find a signal. It flashes the slow green but then goes to the slow red flash meaning a signal is not found. I live in Edenglen and on looking at the coverage map the whole has is basically got coverage but there is a small white block just in about the area my complex is. And when I mean small it is a small white block right on my street. I cant see how the whole area around me has coverage including the whole of my street except this one area which seems to be right over my complex. No matter where I position my laptop in my flat I cant get a signal. I therefore brought the unit to work which is in Bruma and it finds a signal in a middle of a office block with no problem. Any ideas how to pick up the signal at home as I dont want to actiavte the device until I know I can get reception.

    12.08.2011 09:31 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Myles
      You can check the signal strength even without activating the subscription. Load the decoder.exe software, click on the settings icon (the little gear looking thing second from right at the bottom). The status tab will then show you the decoder signal strength. I have generally found that 60%+ gives me a reasonable signal. If you are getting a “decoder scrambled” or similar error message when trying to connect (after doing a channel scan) then you should be ok.

      You can also look to boost your signal by attaching external aerials, or as Jacques suggested yesterday, touch the tip of the aerial to the metal part of you pc case and it will then use the PC as an aerial.

      Let me know how you go.
      Justin

      12.08.2011 09:50 Reply

  34. Donn Edwards:

    I guess that’s why the subscription is only R40 per month: you get what you pay for. Thanks for the cricket screen shots in the link.

    11.08.2011 13:06 Reply

    • Justin:

      Sure. If it was R150 a month it wouldn’t even be a consideration but at R40 per month, it’s a whole lot better than radio coverage

      11.08.2011 15:12 Reply

  35. Donn Edwards:

    I’m interested in this device to watch the cricket on my laptop, usually on SS-2. What’s the picture quality like? Can you actually read the scores and stuff, or would I need to have Cricinfo running as well?

    10.08.2011 10:25 Reply

    • Justin:

      You get a picture about a quarter of your laptop screen so can leave it in the corner while carrying on working. The sound quality is good, so that is a plus. Picture quality is fair, some of the smaller text you will battle to read, but the larger writing on the scorecards is legible. Take a look at the screenshots here in the review of the original Drifta I wrote back in December. The picture quality is unchanged. http://j-j.co.za/2010/12/some-thoughts-on-dstv-mobile-and-the-drifta-in/

      10.08.2011 10:43 Reply

  36. DStv USB Drifta Unboxed | j-j.co.za:

    […] DStv USB Drifta Unboxed Justin Posted on July 7, 2011 tweetmeme_url = 'http://j-j.co.za/2011/07/dstv-usb-drifta-unboxed/';tweetmeme_source = 'jjza';DStvs Public Relations company were kind enough to send me a USB Drifta to review. My love/hate relationship with DStv mobile is well documented on this site. I don’t hold back when they mess up, and try to be fair at other times. I am still “banned” on their DStv mobile forums. So kudos to the PR department for moving past all of that and sending through the device for review. After some delays to the courier (snow, roads closed between Jhb and Dbn) the device finally arrived. Below are the unboxing pictures. The detailed review will follow in due course (detailed review available, click here). […]

    08.08.2011 10:45 Reply

  37. Vik:

    Has anybody ever tried plugging one of these Driftas into a TV’s USB slot? Surely the PC software is just an interface. If a TV is DVB capable should it not be able to process the signal? My mother lives in a block of flats where standard signals are poor, no dishes are allowed to be mounted on the exterior walls and there are no connections for a decoder. She is in a DVB area so this could be a solution for her.

    08.08.2011 08:56 Reply

    • Justin:

      Hi Vik

      I haven’t tried it, but will towards the end of the week when I am back home. In theory it could work, if the TV had the correct client software preloaded in the firmware. In practice I don’t think anyone will bother. I don’t think the Drifta uses any standard protocols to communicate with the PC/mobile devices. You would probably have more luck getting a DVB-H compatible TV (if those are available). The second thing to consider is that the resolution of the Drifta is very poor, probably around 1/4 of a standard definition picture and is not made for full screen TV. DStv go out of their way to block their subscribers from using it full screen on a tv or monitor. Lastly, the channel selection is not that great, so unless your mother wants it 99% for sport, she probably wouldn’t enjoy the channels available.

      Still, if she has no other options, watching on an iPad could be your best bet.

      Regards
      Justin

      08.08.2011 10:27 Reply

  38. Kelsey:

    An interesting review – thanks. However for a man on the street – I bought one today (the old one – no-one mentioned to me that a new one had been launched). On phoning to activate they asked me where I lived as there may not be coverage where I lived. When I replied that i bought it as a mobile device therefore where I lived should be irrelevant and besides no-one had asked me this when I purchased it they told me it was covered in the T&C’s (where?) The ad’s on TV don’t really highlight the limited coverage or the lack of a comprehensive boquet and personally I think they would be hard pressed if someone challenged them on these points via the consumer protection act. To boot it seems to drop the signal quite often and doesn’t really operate as seamlessly as ‘the lady on the yoga mat’ purports! All in all it seems that it’s technology that’s not really ready for the man in the street and we appear to be paying for their beta testing. It disappoints.

    06.08.2011 18:45 Reply

    • Justin:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kelsey. I will look to update the review with some explicit comments on the major regions covered. The dstv advertising is a little dodge and there have been complaints to ASA some upheld others overturned. Out of interest which areas did you want to use it in that have no coverage? And which channels would you rather have had?

      07.08.2011 10:48 Reply

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