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Satellite vs. Digital Cable


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#1 of 28 OFFLINE   MarkMF

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Posted May 01 2003 - 05:38 AM

I recently moved to Chicago and I am debating between getting digital cable or satellite. My primary concern is about picture quality. Does anyone have some general observations, or pros/cons between digital cable and satellite regarding the picture quality I can/should expect. I would be getting digital cable from Comcast in Chicago.

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#2 of 28 OFFLINE   Jon_Welker

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Posted May 01 2003 - 05:52 AM

I switched over from digital cable to satellite about a year ago and haven't looked back. I cannot personally tell any difference between picture quality between the 2. Not to mention the fact that Charter (St. Louis area) was robbing us blind. One day out of the blue they raised our monthly payment by about $13, and they have a tendency to add extra charges onto your bill (kind of like the phone cos.). Also, I'm looking at making a move on either a Samsung or RCE DirecTV satellite receiver box that has component video output and digital audio out (not sure about the RCA, but definitely on the Samsung). We're saving a considerable amount of money/month by going satellite. Cable industry in general is having troubles, and consumers are paying for it.
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#3 of 28 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted May 01 2003 - 06:47 AM

Time Warner Digital Cable in my area has better picture quality than DirecTV and DISH (as viewed on 53" HDTV), plus high-def HBO, SHO, ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. All without having to spend hundreds on an HD settop box.

#4 of 28 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted May 01 2003 - 07:13 AM

Cable quality will vary by company, city and sometimes neighborhood. If you do go with cable you can probably get a better deal by bundling internet acces with it. Remember that with digital cable, channels below 100 are still analog (in most areas).

I tried Time Warner digital out of Memphis and it sucked. I had snow and the analog channels and pixelization on the digital ones. The box had the worst interface I had ever seen. I switched to DirecTV and a DirecTivo. I will NEVER watch TV again without a dual tuner Tivo.

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#5 of 28 OFFLINE   Brian_Dunstan

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Posted May 02 2003 - 03:55 AM

I live in Chicagoland and have had both digital cable and satellite. We had AT&T digital cable for a while (now Comcast) and 21st Century (RCN) and both were very comparable. I now subscribe to DirecTV.

It has been my experience that satellite provides better picture quality, particularly on the local channels. Not real sure why, but NBC and FOX were always terrible, almost unwatchable on cable. I also prefer the service provided by DirecTV. If you have an issue, you pick-up the phone and call.....they do some "voodoo" and the problem is resolved.....no waiting a week for a service call with an 8-hour window.

Hope this helps.

#6 of 28 OFFLINE   Scott Quick

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Posted May 02 2003 - 09:23 AM

Satellite, satellite, satellite!!!

In my experience (Time Warner up in Milwaukee area), digital cable is horribly pixelized... I'm talking huge chunks the size of dimes regularly showing up on my 25" TV. Now I have a Mits 55" HDTV, and DirecTV. I will never go back to cable. I hate it. I do have cable internet though... MUCH MUCH MUCH faster and chaper than the DirecTV internet service through the dish.

Our service went out for the second time on Wednesday night since we got it last June. And it was back up in about 5 minutes after the worst of the thunderstorm passed through. My cable connection used to cut out sometimes daily. I have a friend that sells service for Dish Network. She tells me that the Dish service is better because they require a much stronger signal from the satellite. I guess your dish actually communicates with 2 satellites rather than one to maintain a really strong signal. She swears by dishNetwork, but I have had only these two dropouts in a year from DirecTV... I'm more than satisfied.

I got a special three-room package last year. Two lower end recievers, and one higher end one with digital audio and component outputs - all three for free. Just pay an extra $5 per receiver a month. Also had free installation. It was a great deal, IMO.

Whether dishNetwork or DirecTV, I'd definetly go satellite.

Best of luck,

Scott

#7 of 28 OFFLINE   JeremyFr

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Posted May 02 2003 - 09:50 AM

I wont even say what I think on this hehe I'm a little biased, but truely there are so many factors that would keep me from ever going satellite even if I didn't work for Comcast, one of them being I would never want 3 dish's on my house to get the same amount of channels I get now through my one little cable. I would never pay 100's and or 1000's for equipment the company should outright provide if they want me to use there service. Not to mention if my equipment goe's obsolete or breaks I then have to pay for more equipment. I personally truely think you have to have a hole in your head to go Satellite not to mention s love for wasting money.
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#8 of 28 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted May 02 2003 - 10:11 AM

Quote:
I have a friend that sells service for Dish Network. She tells me that the Dish service is better because they require a much stronger signal from the satellite.
Dish and DirecTV use the same technology. In fact, most of their dishes are interchangable. If there is a difference in power, it is only minimal.

Quote:
I guess your dish actually communicates with 2 satellites rather than one to maintain a really strong signal.
Your dish is receiving only unless you have the two-way satellite internet service offered by DirecTV.

I've had both Dish and DirecTV and they are very close in quality, price and channels. The hardware sets DirecTV apart. Dish designs all of their hardware and does most of their own software development. Whenever they introduce a new receiver it is usually loaded with bugs. Most DirecTV receivers are solid performers. The Hughes HDVR2 (aka DirecTV PVR aka DirecTivo) is the best receiver I have used. The guide is a little slow but the recording management logic more than makes up for it.

Quote:
I would never want 3 dish's on my house to get the same amount of channels I get now through my one little cable
I have a single 18x24 inch dish to get all of my channels. Dish has just introduced their one dish solution.

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#9 of 28 OFFLINE   Steve Phillips

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Posted May 02 2003 - 10:32 AM

If HDTV is an issue, there are more channels on cable than on DirecTV.

My cable system currently offers HBO-HD (East and West), SHOWTIME HD (East and West); DISCOVERY HD THEATER; ESPN-HD, local ABC, PBS and CBS HD channels.

I couldn't get half that with a dish. I gave up on satellite several years ago.

#10 of 28 OFFLINE   Dave Moritz

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Posted May 02 2003 - 10:35 AM

Very interesting Jeremy I have never run into any cable service that offers as many channels as satalite. Every cable company I have delt with has over charged for the service they gave. In the city I live in now Charter Communication is the cable company I would have to deal with. The service is poor at best, analog stations are grainy and even the digital HBO's and Showtimes are pixelated. There are only a few HD channels now and they just recently add them to the Whittier area. So what you are saying is that cable offers all the regular stations plus 7 HBO's, 4 Starz, 8 Encore, 5 Showtime, 2 Movie Channel, 3 Cinimax, 1 Flix, 1 Sundance and HD versions as well. MMMMM I doubt it Posted Image .

I would go satalite all the way! I am tired of being riped of by cable companies. The last time I had cable the installer came out and hooked up the cable and box. The picture was just ok and as soon as I turned on my surround reciever I had a hum! I was told that it was not the cable it must be my equipment. So after hours of troubleshooting I came to the conclusion that my cables where fine. This was comfirmed after disconecting the cable going into the box and the hum disapearing completely. For weeks I arrued with the cable company and after staying home twice because the 1st appointment was not kept by the cable company. The 2nd appointment a installer camout and checked the ground on the cable and redid it. Then he insisted that it was my equipment again. Even after I unpluged the cable showing him that he was wrong. I still got an attitude so about 1 week later I unpluged the converter and walk into the office and said you can keep this pile of S and cancel my substription now!

I dont bout that somewhere someone is getting a decent picture on cable. I have just never seen it for myself and with the overcharging for service that cuts out more that satalite. I say NO THANKS! I have also heard the arument that cable has more bandwith but i doubt that as well. The cable commercials are full of it as well! They state that with cable you dont need a second box to watch a program on a second tv like dish. While that may be true to a point if you are getting digital cable then anything in the digital range you have to have a second box to watch on a second tv. There service can not compete with dish and that is why I feel more and more people are switching to dish and this is what is fueling the anti dish comercials we are now seeing.

Jeremy if you are getting a great picture from Comcast than that is cool. But for most of us cable does not deliver anything more than sub par quality.
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#11 of 28 OFFLINE   Darryl

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Posted May 02 2003 - 11:19 AM

Quote:
If HDTV is an issue, there are more channels on cable than on DirecTV.

That depends on your local cable company. Comcast of Albuquerque offers a grand total of zero HD stations. Last time I asked they had no specific plans to add HD in the foreseeable future.

I'm a Dish subscriber, as I find their 50 channel package enough to keep me happy, and at $25/month it's substantially cheaper than the cheapest cable alternative. Add in free PVR service and it's a no brainer. I'm not entirely satisfied with the picture quality, and a lot of people want more than their 50 channel package has to offer, so Dish isn't for everyone. But I love it!

From what I've heard from people around the country, there is HUGE variation in cable's service, price, options, channels, picture quality, etc between different parts of the country, or even from town to town within the same state.

#12 of 28 OFFLINE   JeremyFr

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Posted May 02 2003 - 11:35 AM

actually as far as number of movie channels go I get 8 Encores 7 starz, 12 HBO's, 4 cinemax, 12 showtimes, 1 flix, and 4 TMC's as well as sundance and others. not to mention the nearly 300 other channels I get and not including the 45 music channels of Music Choice/ and additional 10 DMX channels. and the list goes on.
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#13 of 28 OFFLINE   StevenK

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Posted May 02 2003 - 11:35 AM

I just got digital cable in Sunnyvale.

and I'm going back to Dish! I was hoping cable would provide a better picture than the sometimes heavily pixelated, digitized quality of Dish and DirectTV, but boy was I wrong. The picture quality is abysmal. And to top it off, the tuner box and the interface must have been designed by monkeys missing their opposable thumbs. It is awkward, unintuitive, and just downright bad. Moreover, the tuner performance rivals the speed of a sick turtle. 5 seconds to accept the number punched in, switch over to the other channel, bring up program information, and finally digitize the picture. I was frustrated with the 1 second delay that the PVR functionality caused to my dish receiver....you can only image how much I wanted to throw the remote at the TV.

Last but not least...the much touted "cost differential"....I'm paying $75 a month with digital cable + cable modem. I was previously paying $25/month for Dish plus $40/month for DSL. So much for saving money by going with cable.

and P.S. Most dish equipment are free or damn cheap if you sign up for a one year agreement...so why the complaint about cost to get satellites running? I paid $99 for my Dish with built in PVR which has no monthly service. That's already cheaper than a ReplayTV or Tivo (both of which have a monthly service) if you wanted PVR with your cable? If you didn't, both Dish and DirecTV dealers offer free system (plus extra) if you sign up for 1 year service.

#14 of 28 OFFLINE   Stephen Tu

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Posted May 02 2003 - 11:51 AM

There are huge variations in cable quality, channel selection and pricing depending on where you live. People shouldn't be making blanket statements about the superiority of one or the other. One has to consider what's available in their own area, figure out what channels they want to get, price out equipment depending on how many TVs they want to support, and factor in availability and pricing for advanced features like PVRs and HDTV.

What's a better deal in one area won't necessarily be a better deal somewhere else, and even in the same area it can depend on which channels and features you want to get and how many TVs you are feeding. What's right for you might not be right for your next door neighbor.

#15 of 28 OFFLINE   Ray Kerr

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Posted May 02 2003 - 11:57 AM

Hmm Jeremy... Me thinks you are just a wee bit biased... I've done the cable... satellite... cable... and back to satellite thing and I don't see me EVER going back to cable... BTW I only have ONE dish and get more channles that the cable (AT&T/Comcast). To watch the shows that I like requires a settop box (cable or satellite), so there's no real incentive for cable... As for the equipment, the satellite companies will rent you the boxes (just like cable) or you can buy them. Whenever I have (still have the digital phone/cable ISP) a problem, the cable company ALWAYS wants to setup a service call (because it must be on my end) and I have to cancel it when they fix THEIR problem (hmm, it still must be my end). And the PQ is leaps-n-bounds better on the sat and I'm part of the "new" build as far as the cable goes...
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#16 of 28 OFFLINE   JeremyFr

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Posted May 02 2003 - 12:50 PM

Well every system is run locally and differently, I can tell you from my own experience here in Washington I get more channels better PQ and well before I ever worked here better service. Each market chooses the channels that they want to carry etc and I know that the Seattle Market was leaps ahead of other areas including Colorado in there system.
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#17 of 28 OFFLINE   RobWil

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Posted May 03 2003 - 07:31 AM

Quote:
one of them being I would never want 3 dish's on my house to get the same amount of channels I get now through my one little cable.


Huh! Posted Image

How about ONE 18" dish to get MORE channels at the same price....plus NFL Sunday Ticket....let's see you get THAT on cable. Posted Image
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#18 of 28 OFFLINE   Dave Moritz

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Posted May 03 2003 - 07:53 AM

I will be getting dish again once I am employed and can afford it. I had Dish Network and not once did I loose signal even in a rain storm. I hear that Direct TV has a better picture now and I may just sign up with them because you do not need dual dishes to get HD programing. Charter Comunications cable here in Whittier,CA is horible and does not have nearly as many channels as dish. It cost more and they are one of the cable companies notorious for charging you for things you do not order. They cost more like most cable services and the picture sucks. And I hate trying to argue with cable companies when there is a problem. You would also think that they could have a decent track record with service interuptions, but heck no. For me I would rather have dish and not put up with terible PQ and poorly designed cable boxes. Especially if I break down and get a D-VHS deck?
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#19 of 28 OFFLINE   JaleelK

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Posted May 03 2003 - 08:15 AM

Quote:
Well every system is run locally and differently, I can tell you from my own experience here in Washington I get more channels better PQ and well before I ever worked here better service. Each market chooses the channels that they want to carry etc and I know that the Seattle Market was leaps ahead of other areas including Colorado in there system.


Interesting debate. If you live in San Jose California, then you must know the story about Comcast Cable,which is basically the dark ages. The systems is so old and outdated, they still use coaxil with an A/B wires. They have promised to upgrade the system, but so did their predecessor AT&T and it never happened. The digital cable is horrible in San Jose and they don't even offer cable internet service, so most people here that have digital cable still have to use DSL for high speed internet because Comcast high speed internet is not available, so they don't get the cost benefit of having both digital cable and cable internet. Even DSL is limited in San Jose, so many of us are forced to use dial-up to connect to the internet and with the phone company charging 3 cents per minute, using a dial-up can really run up your phone bill. Hooking a Satellite dish up to a phone line might be a pricy way to go.

I have thought about the going satellite, but its hard to choose between Dish and Direct TV, Direct TV seems to have the better programing, but Dish seems to have the better hardware.

#20 of 28 OFFLINE   jimmy~e

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Posted May 03 2003 - 08:39 AM

Here's my story and I'm sticking to it!Posted Image
I moved literally fifteen houses up the block from my old home and I was in the process of transferring my Direct TV service to my new house via Direct TV's movers program--you leave your old dish and they install a new one for free. I was going to upgrade in the new house to HDTV. The installer came out and said that he couldn't get a signal at my new house due to trees blocking a direct line of sight to the satellite. My new next door neighbor has a "Dish" dish??? but they use a different line of sight to their satellite(s). I am a football fan and was lamenting not having Direct TV's NFL programming. I reluctantly returned to Time Warner Cable of San Diego and got two digital cable boxes without access to the NFL package. I then upgraded to an HDTV box connected to my new NEC HT1000 Digital Light Processing Front Projector.
Well the bottom line is: I love the picture quality and the channel choices of High Def-Digital Cable. It is just fine for my needs with a good front projector giving me an 80inch picture and 3000:1 contrast just being projected onto my white living room wall and I'll learn to get along without access to all the NFL games.I get high def from Showtime, HBO, ABC, PBS, NBC and CBS at this time with more to come plus selected sporting events in high def on a special channel.
I had an installation company come out and take a look at my line of sight and they told me that they COULD get a signal but they wanted close to a thousand dollars to install a HDTV dish and a Thompson HDTV tuner, without local station access to high def--no thanks.


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