I’m not sure why the most expensive set top box for digital signal reception goes for Kshs 16,240 as most of the features I have read about it here are similar to features in standard decoders that sell for prices between Kshs 4,000 and Kshs 6,000. I was wondering the same of Thy Word QC-Xplus series V DVB-T2/S2 set top box that is listed in the CCK’s list of approved set top boxes as selling for Kshs 10,000; until I received a decoder from them (Thy Word TV Limited) for review.
As opposed to the other set top boxes that I have handled so far, this decoder is quite big. It is longer and wider but of same height as the others so I thought it must be supporting a lot of inputs e.g. several USB ports; I was wrong.
Going through the manual I realized that the decoder has a slot for two cards, one slot for terrestrial pay TV providers e.g. StarTimes or GoTV and the other for Satellite pay TV providers e.g. DStv. “Wow, with only one decoder I can decide to watch DStv in one month, StarTimes the next, and GoTV the other month or better still watch all of them simultaneously. I simply need to have a card from each Pay TV provider”, I told my wife when going through the manual.
Then I set up the decoder, scanned for free to air channels (more on this below) and inserted my DStv card in the satellite slot- nothing happened. I called Thy Word TV and they clarified that those card slots are not functional as there are no chips to read the cards. They explained that if they included the chip then the decoder would be too costly for free to air television…
Thy Word decoder is a combo receiver
One reason that makes Thy Word set top box be about twice as expensive and twice as big compared to most set top boxes is that it is a two STBs in one. You may think of it as both a GoTV and a DStv decoders all combined into one decoder. GoTV decoder is a DVB-T decoder meaning it is a Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial decoder whereas DStv decoder is a DVB-S decoder meaning it is a Digital Video Broadcasting – Satellite decoder. Thy Word is both but for for the free to air channels only.
Thy Word as a DVB-T2 set top box
As DVB-T2 set top box, Thy Word receives all the digital terrestrial channels in broadcast and allows you to watch all the free to air channels either from Signet or PANG. The channels on Pay TV (StarTimes or GoTV) cannot be watched though they appear in the list of channels.
The other decoder that I have liked for free to air channel is the Smart-Beaver. I took time to compare the two in terms of picture, sound and signal quality and I must say the two are at per in picture and sound. However Smart-Beaver received and maintained signal quality at 90%+ most of the time fluctuating a bit to below 75% on rare occasions but Thy Word had signal (with the similar antenna setting) mostly below 50% but the positive side is that it did not lose picture nor sound quality.
The other plus for Smart-Beaver is that it can maintain good picture quality even at signal levels as low as 20% but Thy Word needs at least 30% Signal quality for reliable pictures. Although Thy Word receives signal mostly at 50%, its signal fluctuates only within +7% whereas fluctuation on Smart-Beaver is mostly more than +15%. It seems that Thy Word has compensated for its minimum signal level for picture stability by ensuring that the signal does not fluctuate widely.
For normal consistent viewing, one cannot really differentiate between Smart-Beaver and Thy Word decoders without checking at signal strength and quality.
Thy Word as DVB-S2 set top box
Thy Word is capable of receiving almost all channels broadcast via satellites too, and that means you can receive channels broadcast by DStv, Zuku, and the other satellite providers out there. Similar to what it does with Terrestrial Broadcast, Thy Word STB won’t allow you to watch Pay TV channels but the free to air channels on that particular Satellite will be viewed e.g. CCTV News being broadcast by DStv is available for viewing on Thy Word STB.
To receive the satellite channels, a satellite antenna (dish) is required in place of the terrestrial antenna. Once you have your satellite dish, you need to install it at an angle that will allow you to receive signals from a specific satellite e.g. you can tune the dish to face 68.5 deg East in order to receive signals from satellite IntelSat 20 that has over 60 free to air channels mostly from Christian TV Stations. If you want to watch the free to air channels by DStv, then you need to tune your dish to face Eutelsat 36B at 35.9 degrees East. This website has the list of available satellites and the angles you need to tune your dish to in order to receive channels from the desired satellites.
What the above implies is that for one to reap the most from Thy Word as a DVB-S2 STB, then he/she should probably invest in an auto-rotating satellites dish that will automatically adjust itself to the direction of a satellite that transmits the signal of a channel selected for viewing.
To view TV on your new Thy Word STB, you need to connect it the TV, ensure that your antennas (both dish and aerial) are tuned to receive strongest signal available. You’ll then press Menu, select DVB-T to search for terrestrial channels, input your password (default password is 0000), and select auto-search. Thy Word will then search for channels and save them in the channel list.
To search for satellite channels, you’ll press the menu button, select DVB-S, input your password, select Service Search, and under Search Mode you select Blind. Then you’ll scroll down and select Start Search. Thy Word will then search for the channels and save them in the channel list.
Since the set top box has saved both free to air and pay TV channels (making the list of the channels be too long), it is important to delete all the pay TV channels as you won’t be able to watch them anyway. To do this, you’ll go to Menu again, Select System Recover, Input your password, and select Delete Scramble Channels. This will delete all pay TV channels and leave you with free to air channels only; both from the terrestrial broadcast and satellite broadcast.
Key features of Thy Word STB
Other than providing you with both terrestrial and satellite free to air channels, Thy Word has a number of interesting features that you may like:
1. PVR – The Personal Video Recording in Thy Word is still via USB as it doesn’t have Internal Storage. The recording however allows you to do your recording either ones, at a future time (scheduled recording) or repeated recording e.g. at the same time every day/week. Scheduled recording and repeated recording are missing in most PVR decoders.
2. Utilities – There are a number of utility features like USB, PVR and OTA. I’ve talked about PVR above and USB is basically to allow you to listen to your MP3 music etc but two nice features that come with Thy Word are the Calender and Calculator. For those like me who find it difficult to use the phone’s calender or calculator, probably a calender/calculator on your TV might come in handy. To access these, Press the Menu button, toggle to Utilities by pressing the right volume button (or right arrow button if you like) to utilities. From there you can choose the Utility you want to use.
Although Digital TV provides the price of Thy Word set top box as Kshs 10,000, Thy Word TV told me that they are currently selling their STB for Kshs 12,000. What is important to note about the box is that it offers you the opportunity to watch not only the locally available free to air channels from Signet and PANG, but also provides you with the opportunity to enjoy top quality International free to air channels available on several satellites as discussed above. Thy Word basically opens your world to both locally available free to air digital TV stations (over 40 currently) and the numerous others available via many satellites from around the world.
Do you want to also watch the International channels available via satellite broadcast, then this is the decoder to buy; it is the only DVB-T2 (for local channels) and DVB-S2 (for International Channels) set top box currently in the market.