Ok, I know almost nothing about DBS

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Vince Maskeeper, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Despite authoring hundreds, if not thousands of posts to help newbies in this area-- Despite organizing and writing the majority of the FAQ for this forum and contributing to several books and articles on Home Theater-- Despite years as a moderator on this forum...


    I have a dirty secret.

    I know nothing about Satellite TV. Heck, do they even call it DBS anymore?


    I guess to say I know "nothing" is putting it a bit rough-- I have a bit of off-handed and out-of-date knowledge and have watched satellite broadcasts before-- but as I am now considering purchasing a system for my apartment- i realize i need all the help in the world.


    Here's what I know I want/need, and anyone offering any advice on services, equipment or vendors --- or can offer input on pitfalls and caveates - please don't hesitate to pipe up!

    I want multiple rooms. I recall back in the old days you had to get a special dish, "dual LNB" in order to serve 2 rooms with satellite signal. At the time, I think, 2 rooms were the max without a second dish. I would like to have, at minimum, 2 tuners in my config- and if it wouldn't cost much more, I would like to have the option to add a 3rd room if needed. I assume they have quad LNB systems by now, or have gotten a new technology that isn't limited to 2 like the old days?

    I want HD. I would like a tuner/dish/channel package that gives me access to HD programming. I don't plan to have hbo or premium movie channels, but the ability to get HD network feeds (either from the dish or from using the dish as an OTA tuner for local signals) and maybe HD stuff like Discovery would be a big plus. Being able to set a standard output resolution and screen format for SD content would be a bonus too (I assume asking for decent quality scaling sd to hd would be too much to wish for?). I considered voom, but it seems that their customer satisfaction is in the toilet and getting worse everyday...

    I want a basic channel package with locals. I don't really want many/any premium channels: just the normal Cnn, MTV, VH1, Discovery, History, Espn, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network type stuff you get with cable. You know, your entry level package. I would like to be able to get local channels, although I live in LA now, so I assume that shouldn't be too tall an order (I remember the days when Dish carried their "network feeds" that were just local broadcasts from NY and LA piped all over the country...). I'd happily sign a 1 year contract to a channel package to get a deal!

    I'd love PVR. I'd love to have a tuner that featured tivo or other pvr ability- even better if it supports HD pvr! Although I want 2 tuners, only one of them really needs to have pvr (although- is it possible to stream recorded content from a PVR onto another receiver yet? that would be cool.)

    I'd like digital connections. At least the main box will be connected to a plasma that supports DVI-HDCP and HDMI and I'd love to be able to use it. The second box could be analog only (component or better yet VGA) - although if it's cheaper to just by a "set" of boxes, that's fine too.

    I am very critical of clumsy and slow user interfaces. These dish systems seem to take a long time to actually "flip" through the channels like normal analog channel surfing (or they used to, has that improved much??)--- so i always navigate by surfing the channel banners and like to be able to scan up and down channels and forward in time easily without taking up the majority of the screen with a grid. I'd love to find hardware that allows customization of navigation and user profiles for favorites/etc. But i would settle for a system which is known to have solid, well design OSD and is good in terms of speed and responsiveness.


    So guys- where do I start??

    I guess I need to first figure out which service providers are out there (Direct TV? Is Dish still in business or were they bought by Direct TV? Are there other providers worth looking at?) And which one(s) offers the things I'm looking for...

    Then I guess i need to figure out what equipment options exist for that platform. Usually there are well known best-bang-for-a-particular-budget selections... so maybe someone could send me a link to discussions on this matter.

    And then finally, I guess, I'd have to find out where I can buy this service and equipment for the best prices. Again, the internet and forums like this one are excellent for these kinds of tips--- and I'm sure there are satellite-centric discussion forums out there... so someone guide me!

    Anything you have to say is appreciated- i'm completely lost, so fill me in!

    -Vince
     
  2. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Dish was the one that tried to buy D*. Both are still independent companies. Voom is also available. If you pick them it may just turn around their negative subscriber growth.

    As you can tell from my answers, I'm a DirecTV subscriber. I've tried Dish and found their equipment quality to be lacking. A DirecTivo will change the way you watch TV forever. Miss a joke, hit rewind. See a good catch or the winning basket, watch it again in slow-motion. Pick the type of receivers you want (HD, PVR, both) for each TV and the programming package. We can work from there.

    -Robert
     
  3. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    I switched in September from digital cable to DirecTV. Robert is right on the money. I'll add that the one downside to channel surfing is that the digital cable had a feature that would allow you to put a channel banner across the bottom of the screen that you could move forward/back in time or channel to see what else was on. It only covered about 15% of the screen across the bottom, without reducing the size of the picture and was virtually instantaneous. I really miss that feature as the only way I've found to look through the DirecTV guide takes up 85% of the screen and reduces the show you are watching to the left hand corner. I also miss Comcast on Demand. They had a good library of shows you could call up at any time. Finally, the DirecTV $11 a month charge for HD may not be for you. You will still get your local HD channels if you have an HD tuner box *I think*. The $11 month gets you HD for ESPN, Discovery, HDNet, HDNet movies, Bravo, SHO and HBO. To me, it's worth it for the ESPN and HBO. You might think differently.

    I love the switch to DirecTV. The HD for the NFL season ticket is incredible. The things I mentioned above pale in comparison to all of the benefits Robert mentioned above re TiVo, HD equipment, etc. Oh yeah, and the monthly fee for Tivo is $5, a substantial discount off the regular rate, which is I think $12 or 13.
     
  4. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Functionally, HD Tivo is very popular.

    But isn't it, like $1k?

    The Dish 921 has some bugs but rings in at about half the cost.

    I don't know if that matters to you. I find $1k for, essentially, a hard drive with a couple of satellite tuners, to be an outrage.
     
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Hi, Vince, and welcome to the newbies' area!
     
  6. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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  7. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    I'd be a little reluctant to jump on the Voom bandwagon until it resolves the question of whether it will be around much longer.

    As a Dish network subscriber for many years I'm very pleased with the service and the equipment. I do have some issues with Dish (for example, the unwillingness to offer the YES Network even though it's on DirecTV and the cable stations.) I even have a one set subscription to DirecTV specifically to watch the Yankees. Hopefully, I'll be able to ditch this at some time in the future.

    Also it looks that some of the recent legislation that was passed in Washington will eventually allow us to get more Network HD over Dish since I am adamant about never going back to cable based on years of poor performance (Cablevision in my area) and I also don't wish to go OTA for HD. I can wait since I have far more programming to watch in HD than I ever can possibly view. Come to think of it, I could say the same thing about my LDs and DVDs!
    [​IMG]

    Finally, when Dish dropped the price of the 921 to a little over $500 I picked one up and must say that I'm extremely impressed with it. Now I can time shift things HBO, Showtime or other HD offerings without missing a beat. Maybe I just got lucky, but the 921 has performed flawlessly and promises to get even better as the software matures. 158 hours of SD programming or ~25 hours of HD programming is a very nice thing to have. Yes, it's not a Tivo so I can't do some of the menu things that Tivos do (at least not until the software catches up), but the 921 is a very nice machine with a great interface that actually does work.

    Vince, you have many, many HD options and choices out there and I'm sure that number will grow.

    Happy hunting.
     
  8. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    They don't have a DVR. They have announced one but it's still vaporware. Their last SEC filing showed a negative subscriber growth. Currently they have around 25k subscribers compared to 12mil for D*. Voom has announced new satellites will be put into orbit. With their non-existant subscriber growth, they will have to charge around $1,000/month to pay for their plan.

    -Robert
     
  9. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    I can't think of a single time when there have been 2 HD programs I have wanted to watch on air simultaneously. I can barely find ONE, to tell the truth.

    But if you like a lot of the HD programming, and have schedule conflicts, sure, the Tivo dual tuner is a big help.
     
  10. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    I don't have the DTV HD tivo, but it would be a godsend for watching the football package. I do a lot of surfing between games, and if the tivo could record two games at once, I could replay plays that I missed when jumping channels. That might be worth $1000 right there to a diehard football fan!
     
  11. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    You don't miss any plays when jumping between channels. While watching game #1, there is a time out. Pause that tuner. Switch to game #2 on tuner #2. Un-pause it and continue watching. Watch until there is another break in the action. Pause the game and swap tuners. Better yet, watch a game that was recorded in the morning while recording two more games in the afternoon.

    It becomes second nature to pause and swap. I find it difficult to watch "normal" TV any more.

    -Robert
     
  12. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    Robert, thanks for the info. Hurts a little to know I will be paying $11 month essentially for ESPN in HD. I rarely watch the other HD channels, except to demo the HD for guests.
     
  13. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    Hopefully when ESPN2HD starts up early next year, it will be added at no extra cost.

    -Robert
     
  14. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Thanks guys for all the helpful info so far-- feel free to keep it coming. Also- keep posting the side questions- I learn almost as much from other people's questions as I do my own-- so if anyone has any long standing DBS questions or opinions- bring them here!

    Ok, onto my followups:



    See- I am a bit disappointed that they do it this way- since $11 for 5 channels is a little steep. I really wish there was a way to get hdhbo without subscribing to the whole hbo package (since i HATE watching movies on cable- i much prefer DVD- but i would make an exception for HD material here and there).

    By the way- I think I read HDHbo crops 2.35:1 films to 16x9-- is this still the case? How about DirectTV HDPay-per-view movies? Do they also crop?

    I was also wondering about the need for a phone line. Does the DirectTv/Dish systems still require a phone line for operation? I only recently added phone service to the apt (and even then it was only because it was required for DSL) and the jack is not in a good location for connecting the dish. I know they have those little 900 mhz phone outlets for this purpose-- but figured I should find out if a phone line was necessary and if not, what I lose for not having the box connected to one.

    Thanks again for the help- please keep the discussion going!
     
  15. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Last time I looked, the only network feed Dish made available was CBS.

    I had to go with Adelephia and the dual-tunner HD CATV box to get networks in HD. (Yes, it is a HD-PVR). While the HD channels look great, as do the network channels after 8pm, the other channels look like crap. Most of my non-network viewing is on my Dish PVR.
     
  16. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    My E86 has never been plugged in and it's been 618 days since my Tivo has called in. I can't order PPV via the remote but eveything else still works. When they put out a Tivo software upgrade that I want, I'll plug that box in with a long cord.

    -Robert
     
  17. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I want to thank everyone again for your help, input and discussion: Especially Robert for taking the time to answer my many mounting questions...

    And, so, here's a few more, lol.



    Does the HD movie network that DirectTv offers with their Hd package do this also?


    I'm really trying to get away with using the existing single run of coax for the livingroom to get the basic package of channels and HD and then would be willing to do a TIVO setup for the bedroom ONLY if they make a box that does HD tuning with SD tivo function.

    Is either of these things even possible?
     
  18. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    HD Net Movies shows them in OAR. If you have any questions about them, the owner of the channel posts at AVS under the screen name mcuban (Mark Cuban).

    -Robert
     
  19. Corey-Reid

    Corey-Reid Stunt Coordinator

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    Vince,

    We got tivo service 5 months or so ago. My wife is...... well, like many wives, she can do with or without most of this HT stuff that we get so excited about. The tivo though is a different story. After having the tivo and getting used to the way it works, I find myself in my bedroom at night a little upset I dont have tivo in my bedroom in addition to the one we have in the LR.

    My wife LOVES the tivo. She tapes the little ones shows and now has Dora the Explorer on deman for my 2 year old. If there is a way to make it happen, id make it happen. Having a Tivo is simply that good.

    Like suggested above, running the 2 coax cables through an attic and dropping them down through the wall wouldnt be all that difficult to do yourself.

    The ability to change your programing online and have those changes taken effect in less than 5 minutes is great. Pay your bill, and essentially never have to deal with a person and accomplish all you need to makes directv a great product.
    I simply cant imagine ever switching from directv.

    Good luck,
    Corey
     
  20. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i have nothing to add...except that tivo is the best thing since sliced bread.

    you...will...love...it...
     

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