Cable VS Satellite

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Stiffy, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. Stiffy

    Stiffy Stunt Coordinator

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    I need some basic help here. I have been a cable user for many years, we have 2 DVRs and HD service. The problem after we just spent a pretty penny on upgrading our modest HT,the cable company can't seem to work out the bugs on our DVR (Scientific Atlanta HD8300) it pixelates on both recorded shows, as well as live feed. They have been out to the house 3 times in 6 weeks they have checked signal and swapped out the DVRs twice and now its doing it again. I am also tired of renting the DVR, but it is my understanding any other DVR needs a cable card and cable cards can result in picture quality issues (just had TV callibrated). We are now considering Dish, or Direct TV. I understand the potential weather issues with a satellite system, but how does the overall quality compare, and can the equipment be used with your own DVR. Open to all information,suggestions, and equipment recommendation.

    Thanks,Chris
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Hey Chris:


    I switched from Time-Warner cable to Dish Network in January 2009 as part of a household budget cut.


    While I am happier to be paying less for TV service than I was under my cable bill (even though I still retain T-W's Roadrunner broadband service) I am less-than-happy with the actualy delivery of the service. The drop-outs and glitches are more-than-unique occurrences. I cannot tell you how many times I have been watching a program only to have the DVR decide it needs to reset (and in doing so re-tune the satellite signals). This is a sometimes lengthy process. I have been out of commission, at times, for a half-hour waiting for the DVR to figure things out. While I have been able to get a minor credit from DN at times like this, it is difficult to explain to the wife who just wants to see the end of her show.

    And, yes, the wind and rain related disruptions are real.

    As far as image quality, I'd say the images on my 32" 1080p Vizio are about the same from service to service.

    I do NOT believe Dish allows you to use your own DVR...although you might be able to attach an external hard drive (but I'm not sure about that either.)

    On the upside, I have found their toll-free tech support people to be decent. They'd be able to answer any tech questions you might have.


    If you go with DishNetwork...just be sure to get the best deal you can ahead of time. There are always some enticing deals out there.
     
  3. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    I have been a fairly happy DirecTv customer for 8 years. I upgraded to the HD-DVR service three years ago, and they have gotten most of the bugs out of the units, and you can add an external eSata drive quite easily.


    There should be a large amount of additional HD channels coming online in the next few months as the new satellite settles into orbit.


    The only downside is the 2-year commitment, but now even Time-Warner is going that route.
     
  4. Phil Taylor

    Phil Taylor Supporting Actor

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    I have had Dish Network for years and love it. I bought the VIP211 with external hard drive and pay no monthly DVR fees - just a one-time activation fee for the external hard drive. There are seldom rain outages and contrary to the above negative post - there is no such thing as a WIND outage for dish ... well unless your dish is not properly installed and is flapping in the wind... I live in Oklahoma = VERY windy most of the time and have no wind issues. The only time I have a brief outage is right before it starts raining like the proverbial cow on a flat rock - and it is a sort of "early warning" heavy rain notification - and the longest that has ever lasted is about 5 mins - usually a rain outage is under a minute.


    No matter the satellite provider -- A properly installed and aligned dish will greatly minimize outages of any kind - I installed mine so I know it was done properly.
     
  5. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I'd venture to say that the vast majority of dropout problems with Sat. service are due to poor dish alignment and/or insufficient rigidity of the dish installation.


    I installed DirecTV myself back in '96 and did all my dish upgrades myself back when this was still possible, cancelled in '09 due to economic considerations. In the 13 years I had it I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I suffered weather related dropouts, and those only lasted a few minutes during severe hail or thunder squalls.


    We have Dish at the Sears store where I work and the pq isn't as good as Direct, especially noticeable on 50"+ sets. Dish is a little cheaper, but very little if you get a decent assortment of channels.
     
  6. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    As stated, the majority of the signal drop-outs are because of poorly aligned dishes. My dish was improperly installed and caused this. I spent 10 minutes realigning and tightening it almost two years ago. I've probably had 2 or 3 signal drop-outs since then. In those cases, I'm usually using my antenna to receive local channels and watching the weather reports for severe storms.


    I was a Dish customer for a year and a week. When my 1 year contract was up, it was raining that weekend and I couldn't switch to DirecTV. I hated Dish. That was the worst 1 year of TV watching. I've been a DirecTV customer for 9 years with very minor issues and nothing to really complain about. My 3 HD DVR's run great.
     
  7. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    Having been a DirecTV customer for 12 years, I agree that most of the dropout issues are the result of a poorly aligned dish or obstacles like trees. I may have had one dropout per year during really bad storms.


    I recently moved to Verizon FIOS and purchased TiVos. I had not heard of cable cards causing bad pictures - they are only there to decode the signal. Even your cable company supplied boxes have cable cards in them. Of course if you are already having problems, changing boxes may not help.


    BTW - The reason I switched from D* was purely financial. Their service was excellent.
     
  8. Stiffy

    Stiffy Stunt Coordinator

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    OK, Thanks guys. It looks like I am going to Direct TV. One of the underlying themes is spending a little extra time to get your dish absolutely peaked will get you less outage and "rain wash". Question, In light of not wanting to have to re-peak my dish after some "here for an hour or two make money buy the number of jobs I do tech",what is the best way to get a "tech" who has some personal sense of doing a good job to install my system. (buy far my research shows lack of time spent on install to be the biggest problem).. If that doesn't' happen what is the best most economical method of peaking your own dish ( I am familiar with and understand azimuth,elevation and skew) meters? TV and receiver on roof?

    Thanks, just hoping for best but planning for worst. Chris
     
  9. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    There is a signal meter built into the D* boxes. Make sure you check all of them before the installer leaves. You are shooting for a signal (on all sats you get) of 90+.


    FWIW, I never had a problem with any of my installs. The only time the dish was touched was when it was replaced with a newer model (we went from 1 to 2 to 3 to 5 LNB's in 12 years). YMMV.
     
  10. Stiffy

    Stiffy Stunt Coordinator

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    Dave, Why 5 LNBs? I have only seen 3 available on the D*. Does it cost more/additional $ to have more LNBs? Or is it dictated by location, package, line of sight?
    Again, thanks for the help, This site has proved invaluable

    Chris
     
  11. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    Chris,


    The 5 LNB dish was needed a few years ago when they launched new sats. I believe it has since been replaced by 3 LNB dishes (the may have decommissioned old sats, not sure). Check over at DBSTalk.com for the complete history.
     
  12. TheBat

    TheBat Producer

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    another vote for direct tv. I hardly ever had a problem with the weather except for a bit of snow. even when it rains it didn't have a problem. I have been with direct tv since 1997 or so.


    Jacob
     
  13. rejjcarlos

    rejjcarlos Auditioning

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  14. rejjcarlos

    rejjcarlos Auditioning

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  15. Stiffy

    Stiffy Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, D* install on Monday. Nobody mentioned the picture would improve 10 fold .....WOW Big difference, this cable company must be really be over processing their signal. I like the satelite features, and the picture is the best I have ever seen!! Thanks again guys, Chris

    P.S. Great installer 90+on signal and he was smooth as silk.
     
  16. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Will be interested to hear more about your DirectTV experience, Chris, as your continue to check things out.


    You guys definitely have me thinking about checking out DirectTV when my Dish contract expires at the end of this year.


    Another heavy rain storm locally tonight during the All-Star game and I got all kinds of glitches and dropouts during the game.
     
  17. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Just switching companies won't eliminate this problem. Both satellite companies broadcast from the same general location 22,000 miles above the equator. DirecTV is even more susceptible to rain fade on the HD channels. The older standard def channels are broadcast in the Ku band using MPEG2 encoding. The newer HD channels use the MPEG4 CODEC over the Ka band. The wavelength of the Ka band is about the size of a raindrop which really interferes with the signal.


    With the band news out of the way, here's the good news. DirecTV uses a large dish to grab these signals. The mounting system also allows very fine aiming to peak the signal. This is your best best to keep rain fade to a minimum. Last night I watched the season premier of The Closer off of my DVR. As soon as I started watching, the receiver popped up a message that there was a problem with the recording due to a loss of signal. As I watched it the only problem I saw was a little macro-blocking during a commercial. Monday night was a very, very rainy night.
     
  18. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Robert:


    Thanks for the info...but there seems to be a mixed message (maybe it was raining on my end! ).


    On the one hand you say that all things being equal, the two companies both have problems with rain issues--with DirectTV even more susceptible. But then, OTOH, you say DirectTV's gear might allow for a better signal to minimize the problem. Can you clarify? Thanks!
     
  19. David Willow

    David Willow Babbling Idiot
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    Mike,


    There's many factors to your signal and rain fade. Proper dish alignment, obstacles (tress, buildings, etc), and where in the country you are located (the further north, the lower the dish points making obstacles more of an issue). I'm not sure that switching from Dish to D* will solve your problems.


    Having said that, I can say that in 12 years of D* service, I lost my signal maybe 8 times. In those times I lost the signal, I had it back within a few minutes. The only time I lost it longer was when snow built up on the dish.
     
  20. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    All satellite systems have rain fade issue. Even the big ones.


    DirecTV does use a band of frequencies that is more susceptible to rain fade. To counteract that, they use a larger dish. They also have a very fine aiming system that will give you even a stronger signal. When there is rain fade with DirecTV it is short. I was trying to relate in my story that even though my DVR stated there was a signal loss, it was quick. Just a matter of seconds.


    Another factor not discussed about rain fade is your location in the US. If you are in south TX, then your dish points almost due south and up at a very steep angle. That means the signal travels through the least amount of atmosphere. If you are in the north east US, then your signal will travel through the most amount of atmosphere. So when a storm heads your way in the proper direction, the signal will travel almost horizontally through the storm.
     

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