Local soccer fans who can't afford to get to the World Cup games in 2010 will be in for a treat, even if they have to make do with watching the action on big screens at one of the many fan parks that will be dotted about the country. Because, if DSTv's fledgling high definition (HD) channel is anything to go by, fans won't have to actually be present in the stadium to feel that they're actually there.
In fact, given the benefits of slowmos, replays and professional commentaries that TV offers, I am sorely tempted to stay at home for the games just so that I don't miss anything. Something that happens quite often in a stadium where one is distracted and can't have an instant replay.
All world cup games will be televised in high definition.
It being my job to keep up with media technology, I had no qualms about hooking up the new DSTV HD PVR. And I must say there is only one word for it. Stunning.
The programme that was on air when I first tuned in to the M-Net HD channel was one of those excellent African wildlife doccies and the first picture on my screen was a rampaging elephant. My spaniel, who very rarely takes any notice of the TV, actually got such a fright she went and hid under my bed.
The next programme was CSI Miami and when it got to the part where a pathologist stuck a needle into the eye of a semi-decomposed corpse, the ultra close-up was so lifelike and gory I headed off to join my dog under the bed. I'm not kidding; it is frighteningly lifelike.
Sport, of course, is outstanding on HD. Watching football live on HD is like being at the stadium and watching the action through a window in one of the hospitality suites. It is more than just a 3D effect - it'sis a "being there" effect.
It takes a bit of getting used to. And the best advice I can give anyone is to be very careful of not having a TV screen that is too big. It seems to me that the trend today is to have bigger and bigger TV screens because the thinking is that the bigger the screen the better the experience. It isn't.
Sitting to close to a screen that is on HD is a bit like sitting too close to a movie screen in the front row of a cinema.
Admittedly, M-Net's HD channel and the DSTv HD PVR are just first steps into a wonderful world. Right now, the HD PVR can work in conjunction with the previous PVR model, which means you can record three programmes at the same time as you are watching two others.
Unlike its predecessor, the HD PVR let's you lump your favourite channels together in a special menu and also allows to you two record programmes that are happening on separate channels at the same time. Now this is great because I have always always found that whenever I found two programmes I wanted to record, by Murphy's Law, they were always at the same time.
Another neat thing about the HD PVR is that when you are looking at menus, the programme you are watching is squeezed back into a corner of the set so you can keep an eye on what is happening.
Another interesting aspect of HD is that for the moment at least I find myself watching a lot more advertising just because of the amazing HD effects. Something for advertisers to remember while South Africans get used to this new way of watching TV.
I am most certainly a convert to HD. And thank heavens that SA won the 2010 World Cup bid because without 2010, I am not sure that high definition would have come to SA quite this soon.