Being a guy and a geek, I tend to be rather gadget prone which can be quite frustrating when working on a limited budget. So when the 5 new pay tv licensees were announced about 3 years ago I rejoiced in the promises of lower cost pay tv and waited, and waited, and waited.

From the start ODM were one of the better sounding choices and they continued to be the leader of the pack until they finally were the first to launch their service publicly at the start of this month.

In the first day it was clear that they had hit a great price point with their offering. In the first few hours of that day they were sold out of their entire month’s stock of 50 000 decoders. At this point in the story opinions differ greatly… Either they are the most useless company in the world, or they have done a great job of dealing with a very sudden and very unexpected influx of customers. I am in the second camp and hopefully this post will explain why.

In only a few days they almost doubled their call centre staff. A few days later it grew again, and a week later it doubled yet again. In just over a week they also increased the number of installers significantly and they brought in extra stock in a few days to help relieve demand.

Systems intended to work with 10 000 subscribers suddenly had to work with 50 000 and I can’t think of many companies who would have handled this better.

All that aside, I prepared myself by looking on forums for information and expecting bad service due to an overwhelmed call centre and overly busy installers.

Last Sunday I decided to get TopTV and it was surprisingly easy. I called 4 stores, found one with stock near me, bought the decoder, came home and called the call centre. A short 15 minutes later and I was signed up and had details for three installers near me.

On Monday I called an installer and 4 hours later I had the dish and decoder installed by a friendly and efficient guy. Another 15 minute call and the decoder activation had begun.

The experience so far has sounded ideal, but it has not been without its problems. Activation of the decoder failed initially and it took a day to sort out. I didn’t get the promised sms to rate the installer’s work and I had to call in to find out how much I owed them. Three failures, but none of them really important.

When it comes to the decoder and service, I have had very few problems. The Electronic Program Guide (EPG) has been improving but has a long way to go before I would call it fully functional. My main gripes are that about 5 channels have no epg information at all, one is 2 hours out if sync and there are no episode numbers on the shows or years of production on the movies.

For now, however the detail has been enough to find whatever I would like to watch quite easily and considering that there are virtually no adverts on any of the channels at the moment I am quite happy with the compromise we currently have.

On the whole I have found it to be good value for money, with lots of potential to become amazing.