HDTV - DirecTV or OTA?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by tom hangler, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. tom hangler

    tom hangler Extra

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    Hello friends,

    Just wanted to get your opinion on this:

    I just got a Panasonic 47wx42 last week (love it, btw)

    And now, I'm ready to take the plunge into HDTV

    I currently have DirecTV

    My question is, should I get an HDTV receiver with built-in DirecTV (~$599, plus ~$150 for new dish antenna) or just get an OTA HDTV receiver (~$350)?


    I believe the ~$599 also receives OTA, in addition to DirecTV.

    Since DirecTV has one free HD channel, plus two premium HD channels, do you think it's worth it (several hundred $$)? Or should I simply go with an OTA HD receiver?


    Many thanks!
     
  2. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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  3. tom hangler

    tom hangler Extra

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    Robert

    Good points.. I'm going to call DirecTV now


    BTW, I was also reading about some RCA DTC-100s being found for $199


    What do you think of that? And is that model an OTA receiver, or also integrated with satellite?


    Thanks again!
     
  4. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Tom,

    You are correct that the DirecTV boxes also receive local OTA HD broadcasts. They also will recieve regular local NTSC analog broadcasts.

    The Hughes E-86 box is commonly available for $499 plus $150 for the oval dish. This is within a couple of hundred dollars of an ota only box.

    The answer to your question is largely dependent on how much local HD programming is available in your area and how you feel about HBO and Showtime programming.

    HDNet, channel 199, the one free HD channel on DirecTV is 100% 16/9 HD and is on 16 hours a day and is consistently demo quality picture with 5.1 sound. From 11pm to 7am Pacific time DirecTV runs PPV HD movies on that channel.

    There is a new 24hr PPV HD movie channel on 198.

    HBOHD and Showtime HD require you to buy the HBO and Showtime packages respectively. Their content is not 100% HD, much of it is upconverted ntsc presented in 4/3 with black bars on the sides. Most newer movies and some of thier original programming is in HD, but it's variable. HBO's The Sopranos and Band of Brothers are in HD, OZ and Six Feet Under aren't. Same thing with Showtime.

    If you have several of your local stations broadcasting in HD at this time, and can receive them with an antenna, you might not want to spend the extra money for a DirecTV capable box, if you're not a big fan of HBO and Showtime.

    Quality of broadcast from local ota stations is in many areas spotty--station engineers sometimes fail to "flip the switch" when an HD broadcast starts, and audio dropouts are more frequent. Satellite HD stations, especially HDNet, are much more reliable in my area.

    You might also look into the cable situation--in many larger markets cable companies are carrying more HD than you could get with a DirecTV/OTA box, and since they provide the necessary cable box there is no big initial investment in an STB.
     
  5. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Tom,

    The DTC-100 is a first-generation box and lacks component video outputs for HD that would be compatible with your tv.
    It will tune local ota.

    It's a decent box overall, and you can buy a converter that will adapt it's output for component video at Radio Shack (think it's about 150).
     
  6. tom hangler

    tom hangler Extra

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    Ahh thanks for the additional info

    Here's my current situation:

    1) I live in Santa Clara (San Francisco Bay Area), so there should be several local stations broadcasting in HD now

    2) I can't really go to DishNetwork, as I just got DirecTV a few months ago, and have a one-year contract with them

    3) I currently do not subscribe to HBO nor Showtime

    4) I already receive local channels via DirecTV programming

    5) I'm really only after the local HD OTA programming, not so enthusiastic about the HD satellite programming, but I just don't want to invest in an OTA box, and then have DirecTV suddenly pump out several new HD channels, and then I'd have to get an HD satellite receiver anyway...


    Thanks!



    P.S.
    I found out Circuit City has the E86 for $499... might just pick that up..


    Question: If I DID get the E86, do I HAVE to get the oval dish right away? Meaning will the E86 be compatible with my round dish? I understand that I won't receive DirecTV HD channels (HDnet199), but will it still work as my current RCA430 does for everything else?

    Also, will I be able to utilize the OTA portion of it, as is?

    if so, perhaps I may just do that, and then when DirecTV offers more HD content, THEN I can change the dish to oval

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  8. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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  9. JeromeS

    JeromeS Stunt Coordinator

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    Check this link for the stations broadcasting in SF Bay Area. Just scroll down and you'll see there is a lot broadcasting in digital right now but not necessarily in HD. Don't know how good your signal is from where you're at but go to antennaweb.org to find the kind you'll need.

    One thing to keep in mind is when you call DirecTv to activate your STB, you'll be required to sign up for another year from that point on. Even if you signed up some time ago, this activation supersedes the previous agreement. I just did this when I activated my Zenith Sat-HD520.
     
  10. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    Tom,
    Keep us updated on what kind of signal you get from OTA HD from Sutro as I am also looking into HD tuners soon and I am also in Santa Clara.
     
  11. JeremyFr

    JeremyFr Supporting Actor

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    hmm I dont get why people would want to spend 400+ dollars on a satelite system that does not give you true 1080i pictures and makes you sign a contract when you can do HDTV on Cable with no contract no box to buy and no extra costs over what normal digital cable cost's.

    I know I'm gonna get flamed for this.
     
  12. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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  13. Darryl

    Darryl Stunt Coordinator

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  14. JeremyFr

    JeremyFr Supporting Actor

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    I can understand in areas where HDTV is not available through cable but in areas where it is the choice would be simple for me.
     
  15. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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  16. RobertSing

    RobertSing Agent

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    A point of clarification - with the DirecTV HD box, do I still need an antenna? I know the DTV box will get OTA channels, but didn't know I still needed rabbit ears. Please clarify.
     
  17. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    The antenna is how you pick up the OTA channels.

    -Robert
     
  18. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    You need a separate antenna for OTA, and rabbit ears probably won't work as they're for VHF and most HD is on UHF.
    The sites mentionned in some previous posts can guide you as far as what type of antenna to get and which direction to aim it.

    Most folks aren't familiar with antennas for tv reception any more but a good rule of thumb is that if you can receive a good signal on the analog version of a particular station, the digital one will come in as well. TV broadcast quality, digital or ntsc, is very dependent on "line of sight" between your antenna and the transmitter, though not nearly as much so as a direcTV dish.
     
  19. Cary P

    Cary P Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeremy,

    I am generally a satisfied DirecTV customer, but recently gave the COX cable HDTV service in Las Vegas a try for one of reasons you mentioned - avoiding the high expense of purchasing a set-top box. Although the quality of the HD channels through Cox was fine, I cancelled the service within thirty days and decided to stick with DirecTV. I did this for a few reasons:

    1) High Cost - COX requires a minimum level of digital service in order to get the HD channels. I wasn't willing to pay all of the ongoing extra monthly fees just to get a few local channels in HD. With a HD DirecTV receiver and an antenna, I can get the local channels here in Vegas for free - no monthly fee to Cox or DirecTV for locals.

    2) Horrible Cable Box - COX uses the Scientific Atlanta 3100 box, and as Mr. Wong states below - that thing sucks! There was no way I was going to ditch my DirecTivo for that rig. To make matters worse, COX charges an extra $10 a month for the use of the 3100 box - big time rip-off.

    3) Bogus Installation fees - COX wants $50 to install the 3100, even though the only difference between installing it and a regular digital cable box is the component video cables. They would not let me pick up the box and install it myself, I was forced to pay $50 so their guy could bring the box to me and watch while I hooked it up to my system.

    When I added up the extra fees for installation, cable box and remote rental fees, and minimum level of digital channels I didn't really want just to get HD locals, I figured in about 8 months it would easily add up to the cost of purchasing a nice HD DirectTV box. So I called COX to cancel and got all of my money back under their 30 day satisfaction guarantee.

    I then called DirecTV and they gave me free installation of a SatC kit, free HBO and Showtime for six months, and a $50 service credit to help offset the cost of an HD DirecTV box.

    I don't want to flame COX, I have to hand it to them for at least offering HD service. But when I added up the pros and cons, it made more sense for me to stick with DirecTV.

    Also, I spend about half my time working in the Bay Area, and there is no chance of the cable company here (AT&T) even offering HD service any time soon. When I called AT&T to inquire about this, the c.s. rep did not have a clue, saying that there are currently no channels in the Bay Area broadcasting in HDTV (a total crock), and then went on to say that DirecTV must have lied when they said I could get HD channels with their service (more B.S.)!

    So for many people these considerations aren't even an option, you are lucky if you can get any HD service at all with most cable companies.

    With the recent announcement of an HD DirecTivo at CES, and with credible rumours of DirecTV offering an HD package including ESPN-HD, three HDNets, Discovery HD, and more by April - DirecTV is still a very attractive option for those looking for HDTV programming.

    Cary
     
  20. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Cary and Man,

    You guys have some very legitimate points and have expressed them very well.

    That said, I think you both may be shortchanging cable HD vs. DBS if you look at things in a slightly longer time frame. The "elephant in the room" is DBS's limited bandwidth. This point is crucial - not so much now but very soon.

    Let's run the scenario forward a year or so. Cable will have 20+ HD channels - all locals, all premiums, all sports. DBS, on the other hand, is crippled by its local-in-local model. It simply CANNOT deploy HD at anywhere near the scale cable can. So, if you're DBS a year from now, you're giving up local HD, some premium HD and probably a good deal of sports HD.

    I'd advise you both look to the future rather than at the situation as it exists currently. I would also counsel you to examine very carefully your local cable operator's physical plant to make a determination whether it can support the large amount of HD content coming in the near future. Cable MAY be able to handle it - DBS certainly will not.

    Austin
     

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