View Full Version : Satellite TV choices

Eddie Horton
04-14-2005, 06:35 AM
OK, here's the deal. My wife and I have decided on our house plans and are going this afternoon to choose between a couple of lots that have made the cut. We now live right in the middle of the greater Birmingham area, but the new house will be about 20 miles north in a little town called Hayden. It's a new subdivision out in the sticks, so we're going to have to get satellite TV. I've been doing a little reading on other forums and see a lot of abbreviations like D* and E*. I don't know what these mean. Could anyone who has Dish Network, Direct TV, or another company tell me some of the pros and cons for each. I want the most hi-def that can be had, and don't care as much about all the movie channels. An HD Tivo-like device would also be nice. I'm really excited about the move. It's been in the works since last fall and seems like it's taking forever. My better half will have (mostly) full control over the 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room, and kitchen area upstairs and I will have (mostly) full control over the 2 car garage, lobby area, full bathroom, theater, and equipment area downstairs. Woooohooooo!!!

04-14-2005, 07:15 AM
I have Dish (non-HD) and can only comment on that. I picked it up because it was the best deal for what I wanted (pretty basic package). I like the menu on my DVR box (508) although I have been through a couple of them. One big difference between Dish and Direct is that a lot of companies make boxes for Direct, but only Dish 'makes' hardware for their service. That means fewer options with Dish, but the HD DVR is definitely cheaper ($550-650 vs $1000 for a Direct one). Overall I have been happy with Dish, although they annoy me with their 'new subscriber only' specials, but I think all of the companies do this.

Eddie Horton
04-14-2005, 07:24 AM
Thanks, Brad. This is going to be fun to research, because the 2 areas of home entertainment that I know nothing about are satellite TV and digital music servers and streamers or whatever you call them, and I want both of these things in the new house. I'm going to have coax and phone lines and cat5e run all over the place. For now, it's Dish Network vs. DirecTV. Next comes Roku vs. Squeezebox vs. Airport vs. Turtle Beach or Bay or whatever that name is vs. whatever else I find.

04-14-2005, 09:48 AM
Eddie, I was in your boat about 2 months ago. Just made a move to the sticks myself (between Mobile and Pensacola) and debated between Direct, Dish, and Voom. I'm glad I didn't go with Voom! I went with DirectTV because I have had their service before and my father is currently using them and has the HDDVR. It's definitely expensive, but he says it's worth it. For the record, it was a close decision between the two and I don't think you'll go wrong either way. As you're reading up, D* is DirectTV and E* is Dish (actually Echostar). Hope that helps!


04-14-2005, 10:11 AM
One thing that I'm hoping gives Dish some better HD coverage is that they bought the Voom satellites whereas Direct has a plan to launch their own. This might put Dish on a faster timetable to get local HD out, but we'll see.

04-14-2005, 11:25 AM
I just went through something similar to this a couple of months ago.

I recently got a HDTV. I was a VERY happy DirecTV user for over two years.....DirecTiVo to be specific. Prior to that, I was a cable user with a standalone TiVo for about three years.

When getting the HDTV and knowing that I wanted a HD DVR, I could have stayed with DirecTV and pay about $900 for the HD DirecTiVo and OTH antenna for local HD channels; go with Dish and pay about $550 for their HD DVR and antenna; or go with my cable company and pay nothing upfront for additional equipment, $12.90/mo for their HD DVR, no need for an antenna, and get a $400 credit spread out over 15 months.

The programming between the three was comparable.

I went with the cable company, which is Adelphia. I had also been getting my internet service from them....so that even got lowered in a package deal.

Downside: The DVR (Moxi) is nice, but not nearly as far along in its development as TiVo, and lacks one major function that makes it painful at times IMO. SD channels are not very good.

The DVR boxes for Dish and DirecTV will be obsolete in a year or two when both companies move to MPEG4 decoding. In fact, DirecTV is going to be making a new DVR without TiVo software...so that is going to be interesting.

If money was not an issue, I would have stayed with DirecTV and shelled out the extra cash. The looming changed to MPEG4 makes that cost extremely tough to justify. I am still thinking about giving Dish a try.

04-14-2005, 11:28 AM
I've been a DirecTV subscriber for almost 5 years now. I've been very happy with their service. I now have HD with the HD DVR and wouldn't live without it. It has 2 HD OTA tuners and 2 DirecTV tuners. You can record two programs at once, either OTA or off DTV and watch another you've previously recorded. I put up a decent OTA antenna and receive all locals in HD. The cost for the DVR is variable. I contacted customer retention, and they gave me enough credits and free programming to make my net cost $500.

I think Dish has some advantages in the lower cost packages, but once you get to the mid-priced packages and multi-room setups, it's really a wash IMO. I prefer DTV because of NFL Sunday Ticket and Tivo.

That said, DirecTV's contract with Tivo runs out in '07 and they aren't planning on renewing it. They will come out with their own DVR. Also, the HD Tivo doesn't do Mpeg4 streams, which is the wave of the future for local channels via DirecTV. That said, DirecTV isn't rolling out Mpeg4 channels until mid-late '06, and I believe only for new local channel markets. I won't be affected until sometime later in '07.

There have also been some bugs with the HD DVR such as flaky HDMI ports and other issues. I haven't had any problems to date, but even if I did, I'd take the box warts and all. The convenience it offers is amazing. We end up watching more programs in less time and when we want to than ever before. We avoid comercials at all costs and get more enjoyment out of watching TV.

I'd spend some time researching on the Tivocommunity forum specific to DirecTV DVRs if you're interested in that route.

Good luck...

04-14-2005, 11:36 AM
or go with my cable company and pay nothing upfront for additional equipment, $12.90/mo for their HD DVR, no need for an antenna, and get a $400 credit spread out over 15 months.

The programming between the three was comparable.

I would have considered this route as well, as it's a no brainer if the required features all line up. In our area, Comcast Cable and our CBS affiliate are in a pissing match, and CBS HD is not available on cable. 75% of our TV watching is network television, so we couldn't live without CBS. We could get it with an OTA antenna, but the cable DVR wouldn't record OTA signals. I don't want to build a HTPC for one OTA channel. :rolleyes: Combine that with the fact that cable in our area still has a lot of channels running in analog SD (read poor quality compared to D* or E*) and the sports packages don't include NFL Sunday Ticket... cable just wasn't in the cards for me.

Eddie Horton
04-14-2005, 11:48 AM
Wow, thanks for all the responses. It looks like D* is the way that I will go. Reading on some other forums, it looks like you can get some older LG boxes that will do HD for cheaper than the new ones. Most folks are claiming that they are also superior to the newer units as well. We'll probably wait a bit before springing for a $900 HD Tivo. This is our first house, so in addition to all the toys I'll be getting for the theater, we've also got to get the obligatory lawn mowers, trimmers, edgers, leaf blowers, etc.

04-14-2005, 11:50 AM
Well....I just looked at the Dish Network's site, it seems they have a new HD DVR and the older one. The newer one can handle TWO TVs....one HDTV and one SDTV, in seperate rooms.

I might have to investigate this more.

04-14-2005, 12:58 PM
Funny....I just realized, that since I have had the HDTV, I have become increasingly critical of my video.

oh no, help me!

04-14-2005, 01:10 PM

Yeah, they JUST released that new HD DVR and I have already given them a hard time about it being only for new subscribers. Except for the two TV thing and HDMI instead of DVI, it doesn't really seem to be different than the old one (except that it is also about half as tall).

Having had a DVR for a couple of years, I really want a two tuner one and have just been waiting to move to HD at the same time.

The MPEG4 thing is certainly a concern and I would look at leasing/renting a unit instead of buyign one for that reason. Once they make the switch, I hope the PQ improves as well. I could definitely be better.

04-14-2005, 01:30 PM

When I was looking around, Dish Network didn't have any specials going on for new subscribers wanting the HD DVR......the cost for the hardware was the same for new and old.

The two tuner thing is a must have for me after owning the DirecTiVo.

04-14-2005, 04:08 PM

I just went to the Dish site to look at the offers and run through the online sign-up.

Right now, for new users, the cost of the new HD DVR amounts to about $250. I've got to say.....it is looking VERY tempting!

04-14-2005, 07:01 PM
$250 for HD DVR? I think I paid more than that for my single tuner SD DVR when I got it a couple of years ago. Oh well, that's progress for ya. :)

04-30-2005, 02:36 PM
OK....I made the switch to Dish and their new 942 DVR this week. After three days I am very happy. I still like the TiVo interface and functionality more, but that might be because I used it for 5 years.

Also, it has been announced that Dish will add 10 new HD channels that used to belong to the demised Voom begining May 1 at no additional charge to current HD subscribers. Downside is that they will be broadcast from a lesser used satellite and many subscribers will need an additional dish to receive the signals, also, that satellite is difficult to reach from the west coast. The signals will be mirrored on another satellite later.

05-01-2005, 08:07 AM
Curtis, I'm glad to hear that your 942 is not having any problems. I have just ordered E* along with the 942 DVR (to be installed tomorrow). While researching, I spoke with a local installer who said for the month of April he had only dealt with two of these units and both were not operational right out of the box. But, price being a large consideration (WAF) I just couldn't pass up a two TV HDDVR. So, I sit here with my fingers crossed waiting for tomorrow.

05-01-2005, 09:45 AM
I was the second for my particular installer.

If you haven't found it already, http://www.dbstalk.com seems to be a great support forum.

Let me know how it goes for you.

05-02-2005, 07:22 AM
I will check that out and report back after installation, thanks Curtis.