Can someone help me out with a couple of DirectTV questions?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Will Cunningham, Mar 4, 2004.

  1. Will Cunningham

    Will Cunningham Stunt Coordinator

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    Howdy, I have been thinking about switching to DirectTV and have had some trouble finding answers to a few questions that have come up. I am hoping that you guys will be able to help me fill in the blanks so I can decide if DirectTV is right for me.

    I am a TV fanatic, I watch lots of TV and I _HATE_ missing shows. The thing that will probably affect my decision the most is all the info about how DirectTV loses it's signal in bad weather. I keep hearing that it happens, but without any quantification. I don't know if it happens EVERY rainstorm or only in the worst ones. Does it happen every few days, few months, or only once every few years? I live in New Hampshire with the crazy weather so it is important to me.

    Picture Quality is also an important issue for me. My research has indicated that as DirectTV add's more and more channels to the line up, the satalites bandwidth does not change so the overall quality has gone down over the years. That is understandable, but I still don't have any idea what the picture quality is comparable too. Is it as good as Digital Cable? Is it as good as analog cable? Do you get the blocky digital artifacts alot, can you tell that the video has been compressed? I have also heard that it varries from channel to channel as they give Pay channels more bandwidth, was that true?

    Aside from getting out from under the cable companies monopolistic hold on my TV viewing life, I am also interested in switching from TiVo to DirectTiVo. I think this question applies to non-dvr receivers as well. I need to really understand what the phone line port is actually used for. I switched to my cell phone and don't have a land line anymore. My research has indicated it is used primarily for pay-per-view and that if I don't order pay-per-view then I don't need to hook up the phone line. For DirectTiVo I suspect it is also used by TiVo to authenicate the TiVo subscription, I know I can get around that by installing an ethernet adapter and making it use my internet connection. Does anyone know if that is accurate, and also if I get the TiVo to use the internet will the pay-per-view stuff work as well?

    If anyone can help me out I will be eternally grateful, this info has been surprizingly hard to find. Thanks for taking the time to read through this!

    Take Care,

    Will
     
  2. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    I'm in sunny Southern California, so I can't tell you how snowstorms affect DirecTV. However, we do get the occasional torrential downpour, and I find that I'll get a blocky or intermittent picture during one of those. Normal rainstorms aren't a problem. Overall, I lose picture much less with DirecTV than I did with cable.

    The picture quality is better than my analog cable picture. Some stations are better than others. It seems to be a pecking order where the pay stations are less compressed and the tinier, less popular stations are more compressed.

    I can't answer your question about the phone line, sorry.

    Jan
     
  3. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Not currently supported by the DirecTivos but you can hack to hardware for this functionality.

    -Robert
     
  4. Will Cunningham

    Will Cunningham Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the info guys, I feel much better about the whole process now. I can handle things getting garbly once in a while, I just don't want to miss large blocks of programming.

    I am still a little nervous about the picture quality though. I have spent an abnormal amount of time staring at screens looking for artifacts at work which has made me extra-sensitive to that stuff. It is a curse, I can't help but notice imperfections now, they jump out at me now and grab my attention. That said, I expect that the compresion still looks pretty good when compared to a stand alone TiVo's compression. I am happy with a normal TiVo's compression so I am thinking that I will probably really like the quality on most DirectTV channels.

    Direct TiVo is definately a large draw. Recording two shows at once would be awesome. I am definately up for modifying the hardware, I have added a larger drive and the ethernet adapter to my stand alone TiVo. I did find some information about a script called fixsub that you can hack into your TiVo that will remove the nag. I don't know how big a hassle it would be to load it up, and new versions of the software might confuse the issue. In any event I can deal with a nag screen so it is sounding pretty viable to me.

    Thanks again for the input, I really do appreciate it.
     
  5. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Are you familiar with the Tivo Community which has a hardware and software upgrade section?

    -Robert
     
  6. Will Cunningham

    Will Cunningham Stunt Coordinator

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    I am familiar with the TiVo Community site, it has been very handy for me in the past. I was involved in a botched Serries 2 hard drive upgrade for a friend and they helped save my bacon. [​IMG] It is an awesome site for anyone looking for TiVo information...which should be anyone who doesn't have one because it will change your TV viewing lifestyle in a major way. I will stop there so I don't become a raving fanboy about TiVo's.

    In fact I am going to head over there now and see if I can find information about switching from the DirectTV grid-style TV Guide listings to the stand alone TiVo style TV Guide listings.
     
  7. Floyd

    Floyd Agent

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    I have had directv for 5 years and have momentarily lost the signal but it is very rare. We took a direct hit from Hurricane Isabel, last year and never lost the signal except for one 10 minute period during the 8 hours of high wionds and torrential downpour. We used to lose cable a lot more!
    Go get it! You will love the better picture quality too.
     
  8. Asalante

    Asalante Agent

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    I live in Northern Minnesota, and we've seen our fair share of snow this year. 100inches or so this year I think. Anyway I only recall loosing picture in the heaviest wet snow. And part of that was because it was a wet snow and it was sticking to the dish. Went out and wiped the broom across it. Back in business. I do recall someone telling me once to spray Pam cooking oil across the dish to help snow and rain slide right off. Can't say that I've actually tried that though. I think part of signal loss in heavy rain or snow has a lot to do with how strong your signal is to begin with. I seem to hang in the mid to low 90s in signal strength, thus I don't seem to lose much. Thats my 2 cents worth anyway.
     
  9. Floyd

    Floyd Agent

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    I have had directv for 5 years and have momentarily lost the signal but it is very rare. We took a direct hit from Hurricane Isabel, last year and never lost the signal except for one 10 minute period during the 8 hours of high wionds and torrential downpour. We used to lose cable a lot more!
    Go get it! You will love the better picture quality too.
     
  10. Grady Hollums

    Grady Hollums Second Unit

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    Hey I am in the same boat and I would just like to say thank you for all your help.

    I think I will be moving from Cable High Speed internet to DSL and cut down on the costs there and I think that will only make my payments about $17 more and I will have the basic Total Choice pkg w/ the HD pkg, and High speed internet. If I can just talk my wife into $17 more a month for this I am going to do it. Thank you all for your help![​IMG]
     
  11. Grady Hollums

    Grady Hollums Second Unit

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    I would love to get TiVo, but I can not see spending that money when I want to watch and record in HD and the HD recorders are so stinking expensive right now. I think I will hold off the TiVo stuff and just wait for HD-DVD recorders and just do what I was used to doing with my VHS tapes, except with the HD-DVD recorder/players.

    Unless by that time the HD TiVos are down to a reasonable price. Then I might have to just get them both, ha ha.
     

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