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HDTV - Better quality with Satellite or Cable?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Mike S., Sep 5, 2005.

  1. Mike S.

    Mike S. Auditioning

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    I searched the forums but couldn't find my answer, so maybe somebody here can help me out.

    I have two HD sets in the house, and my Comcast Digital Cable HD channels I think look pretty good.

    However, when a solicitor called from Dish Network yesterday, he said that Digital Cable HDTV was not "true HDTV" and that satellite has the best quality while providing "true HDTV". He said that with cable, by the time the end user gets the product after miles and miles of cable, the signal quality is much reduced.

    Was this a salesman just trying to get me to try Dish Network or does he have a point? Also, does cable compress the signals more than satellite?

    I'm just trying to get the best quality out my new Samsung plasma I purchased.
    I like my cable, because for no more money up front, I get an HD box that also has a DVR that records HI Def programming.
    To get that equivalent from DTV or Dish Network, you need to put up $$$.

    Thanks for any and all help.

    Mike S.
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Mike.

    I cannot give a true answer to the question because while Dish is consistant in quality, cable companies are not. Very likely, cable is better than Dish in some areas, and worse in others depending upon how old the CATV system is and how old the equipment is.

    Let me ask: Do you have to have a CATV box to convert the coax into Component video or do you plug your CATV signal straight into the TV?

    If you have a converter box, the CATV signal is DIGITAL. This means the signal is very in-sensitive to the coax. As long as you dont notice drop-outs/snow, your CATV company is providing a near-perfect signal.

    I am in the same situation as you. I have Dish for standard-video, but it was much cheeper to get Cable for local High Def.

    I'd love to switch to Dish HD but 2 things stop me:

    - High startup cost
    - Dish only offers CBS in HD

    So if you like network stuff in HD - stick with cable until Dish get's their act together.

    Does the CATV company compress their signal? Yes, and so does Dish. It's kind of a pointless argument.
     
  3. Mike S.

    Mike S. Auditioning

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    Thanks Bob for your reply.

    I have a CATV box for each TV. I don't need one for the plamsa, as I could get a Cable card for it, but I wanted the DVR box to be able to record Hi Def.

    Both TV's are hooked up via their HDMI input, for the best quality possible.

    I probably would never notice the difference, but I just want to know I'm getting the best image possible.

    Actually, I'm imagining the HD quality for both is similiar, I just don't like the quality of SD programming that I get from Comcast. It just looks like crap when watching it on my plasma.

    Also, I've heard that the DVR's with Dish Network, and the Tivo's from DirecTV don't record OTA HD signals. That seems like a major drawback also, IMHO, as we like to timeshift network programming.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    You will have more variation with cable since the transport medium is varied where as Dish/Directv is direct to you.

    Depending on where you are you might get the local HD feed from Dish Directv so you don't need an antenna etc.
    Call the and find out before committing.
    I Emailed comcast to find out how much to get HD since they have one channel I want.
    I could never get a straight answer out of them
     
  5. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    If you have good local reception, OTA will be better than cable or Sattelite for HDTV, and no monthly fee. If you are content with the broadcast networks.
     
  6. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    Just to correct one error in your posts, you CAN record HD and OTA HD on directivo on the HR10-250 dvr. It's a high startup cost for new users as the box runs about $500. But you can record up to 30 hours in HD and 200 hours in SD programming. Existing customers can get the box for less than $200 after rebate.
     
  7. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    You can also record OTA HD with Dishnetwork's HD PVR. The only problem is that it has a single ATSC tuner. If you have two OTA programs you want to record, you will need to find another solution. I watch a lot of network TV and college football so I needed dual OTA tuners. The DirecTV HR10-250 was the obvious choice for me.

    -Robert
     
  8. John S

    John S Producer

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    This is a tough question.

    It can change on a dime too. Even OTA is starting to run SD sub feeds at the same time they run a mian HD feed, all this hit bandwidth hard and the HD feed suffers.

    Cable can start out great then they can start compressing at any time the see fit and the HD will suffer.

    Various sat/dish stuff is way way compressed already and once again HD suffers.


    best of luck
     
  9. Mike S.

    Mike S. Auditioning

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    Does either DTV or DishNetwork have On Demand, like Comcast does?

    I only ask because even though I want to dump Comcast eventually, my wife and kids have really come to enjoy being able to play Sesame Street, Dora, etc. any time of day.

    Okay, I like being able to replay HBO On Demand stuff also.

    I find it hard to believe HBO lets Comcast be the only provider of HBO On Demand.

    Thanks again.
     
  10. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    I'm not a cable subscriber but a lot of my friends watch HBO On Demand via Time Warner.

    -Robert
     
  11. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    Over-the-air HD via antenna is the cheapest, most reliable, and best picture for HD. If you are in range of PBS broadcasts via antenna, there is a 24/7 source of HD programming that, despite repeated programs, has very good picture and sound. NFL and NASCAR races on OTA stations is outstanding, as are programs like 24, CSI, ER, Tonight Show, and others depending on what your tastes are.

    I have DirectTV with a Hughs HD receiver. An attic mounted antenna plugged into the Hughs box gives me six local channels that broadcast HD. I live 60 miles from the nearest station-Green Bay, Wisconsin. The DirectTV HD package is $10.99/mo. for five channels. You don't need it to receive antenna HD, but some of the programming on HD NET, ESPN HD, & Discover HD is very good. I think it's a ripoff at the monthly fee, but keep it anyhow, hoping DirectTV will increase the number of channels. This hope, by the way, is NOT including the "1500 new HD channels" they're advertising. These will be local channels and will require more than just the 3 LNB dish.

    Picture quality over cable, I believe, will be equal to satellite. Remember, the best bargain for HD is OTA.

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Mike S

    How much snow and rain do you get there in Michigan?

    The rain and snow really mess up dish signal reception. That is one major reason people just give up on dish.

    And the rain and snow mess up all your dish signals, not just HD.

    Forget the dish.
     
  13. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    With a properly aimed dish, rain fade should be under one hour for an entire year. In the spring when those nasty, tornado producing storms roll through the South, I will sometimes lose my signal for 5 or 10 minutes.

    I've read that snow is not as bad as rain. In fact, I've seen pictures at satellite forums of ground mounted dishes completely covered in snot and they are still working (according to the poster). If it's a heavy, wet snow then you will get some fade. It's the moisture in the atmosphere that interferes with the signal.

    Finally, if any amount of rain fade is too much then there are other dish based alternatives. Use two or three 1 meter dishes instead of a single multi-sat dish. Channel Master has a high gain multi-sat dish for DirecTV called the GainMaster. I've read postings from a lot of people in Florida who went through small hurricanes without losing a signal.

    -Robert
     
  14. Dick Boneske

    Dick Boneske Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with Robert, the periods of fading for satellite TV, at least here in the Midwest, are few and short. Mostly, in the summer months when bad rainstorms approach from the southwest there will be "no signal" displayed on Direct TV. I can't imagine anyone going through the expense or trouble of having more than one dish to overcome such a minor number of interference events.

    I have had cable for many years, with many, many more outages than Direct TV. As I stated originally, the most reliable source is OTA antenna for either HD or SD TV!!
     
  15. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    I'm with Robert as well on the rain fade/weather issues. It is there but nothing to make your decision different.

    I have Cable right now but mainly because their HD DVR was cheap(free). WHen i can work a deal with Directv, I may switch back. I really don't know yet.
     
  16. Michael Young

    Michael Young Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike Can you receive HD over an antenna?

    I noticed some improvment from the antenna over cable. I think your best test would be to try OTA and compare that to your cable reception if possible.
     
  17. Mike S.

    Mike S. Auditioning

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    Yes, luckily enough, the old house I bought all ready had a hugh anntenna on the roof that even had an electric motor to rotate it! I just have to find a way to extend the coaxial cable (and the 3 wires that hook up to the machine that rotates it) all the way to my basement where my HD set is.

    What I seem to be getting out of all of this is that I might as well keep my Comcast (Dual Tuner HD DVR, less out of pocket, same quality HD signals) and use my OTA antenna for any programming that doesn't look great on the network SD channels.

    Thanks for you help everyone! I'll come back and let you know how the reception is from my rooftop antenna.
     
  18. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Mike,

    That's close to what I do. I have two antennas pointing to two markets and a mechanical switch for which one you want to use.

    I get locals using an antenna and use Dish for NTSC other stuff. There is some non-broadcast HDTV content on HBO, Discovery, ESPN, but for me it's not worth the trouble it when I can get locals for two markets perfectly. I love local PBS and I love bigtime sports like NFL and stuff. GO Eagles!
     
  19. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    I just switched to Cablevision from DirecTV, and Cablevision blows away DirecTV on my 65" set.
    The HD channels are superior- less video noise on some, and color saturation seems better too.
    My reason for switching: I work doing A/V installations, and on a consistent basis the cable feed looked better than DSS. Not to mention, both DirecTV and Dish have less HD available than Cablevision.
    Like discussions of DVD PQ, those with sets under 40" might be hard-pressed to notice a difference. The larger the picture, the easier it is to see flaws.

    HOWEVER, the biggest revelation was the non-HD programming. I can now watch the 'extra' movie channels from HBO, Cinemax, etc. They all look as good as an average DVD(4:3 though...) With DirecTV, I would never even consider looking at those channels. They looked awful.
     

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