Is satellite TV any good?

Recently, my mother has been thinking about switching to a satellite TV service instead of using Comcast…unfortunately, neither of us knows anyone who has a dish, so we don’t know if it’s problematic or not. So, surely some of you have dishes or at one point had dishes, what are your thoughts? Specifically, how was the picture, did the weather really interfere with the signal…things of that nature…

Thanks for your replies

Uh…yeah. Especially if you have TiVO. :slight_smile:

Very satisfied Sat TV customer here.

We bought Dish because our local cable supplier was just awful, $40/mo for about 25 basic nothing channels, we now have a PVR + 150 channels from Dish. It’s been great, we couldn’t be happier.

Another very satisfied satellite TV customer (I’m of the DirecTV persuasion).

The special features (sports packages, pay-per-view, etc) sound like they won’t matter to your mother. In my experience, DTV has been cheaper than cable for the channels provided.

As for reception, I have only had problems when the largest of the large Texas summer thunderstorms parks itself between my dish and it’s satellite. A few weeks ago we got a lot of snow (for Dallas) - two inches at once. I walked into my backyard and looked at my dish with two inches of wet snow on it, came inside and turned on the TV: perfect reception.

Other people have different experiences of course, but I’ve been nothing but impressed with DirecTV.

I used to sell DishNetwork and DirecTv, so I might be able to offer some advice. There are a couple of factors to consider before you think about switching to satellite:

  1. Do you have a lot of trees around your house? Is anything blocking the view of the horizon? If the answer is yes, you may have reception problems, or not be able to get a signal at all.

  2. Do you own your home? Most places will not install without permission of the landlord.

  3. Do you want to commit to haveing the satellite for a year or more? Many of the package deals come with the stipulation that you must keep it for a certain amount of time. Many companies require a credit card for this reason-- and they will charge you if you break the contract. (IIRC it was around $240 when I sold them.)

  4. Is your mother a person who works well with technology? I can remember calls from frustrated owners who simply weren’t used to having so many buttons, and had trouble using the system.

  5. She may have to have an antenna to get local channels and the networks, depending on what area she lives in. IIRC, both Dish and Direct have a section on their website where you can check to see if they’re are offered in your region.
    When I worked selling the satellites, we had many set up in the shop. Even during the most violent thunderstorms, we rarely lost signal, and even then, interruption was usually only for a few moments.

When it comes to snow and ice, we never had a problem with it, but my installer recomended spraying the dish surface with Pam once a season if it seemed like it would be a problem.

Just from what I saw in the shop, DishNetwork seemed to have fewer customer complaints and maintenance issues than the DirecTv customers. I was told by a few people that the Customer Service reps for DishNetwork were better than those for DirecTv-- I actially had a lot of complaints about DirecTv’s customer service, but this was years ago, and things may be different now.

1 - not really
2 - yes
3 - something to consider
4 - absolutely not, but not hopeless
5 - I’m not sure what the deal is for that, something else to consider

I’ve had DishNetwork for over 5 years now, with hardly a problem - far fewer than with cable. Once the dish lost its lock, and the customer service line (which answered on the second ring with a real person!) walked me through resetting it. It happened again, once, and I could fix it myself.

I don’t think there are really any more buttons than with cable. My 88 year old father in law has no trouble with it.

We have two dishes, the second originally for Montreal TV to help our daughter in French. When she went to college we got local service to allow us to dump cable entirely. This required me to repoint the dish, which I did with no problems. Dish Network has the best customer service of any company I’ve dealt with in decades.

Only negative - you don’t get local forecasts on the Weather Channel, but since we live in California, which has no weather, it is no problem. Oh, and it is cheaper too.

I have been a Dish customer for over 8 years and am happy as a clam. Would NEVER EVER EVER go back to cable tv.

My mom and dad who are 76 and 80 respectively don’t have any problem with working the buttons on the Dish and neither can use a computer.

Another thing is I am in pst and alot of the shows are 3 hrs earlier than they would be if I had cable.

Satellite is amazing. I personally use Bell Expressvu.

Especailly the time zone thing, for example since I have satellite I can watch a show hours, even days earlier than I would normally through cable or ‘peasant vision’.

The guide is fast, and easy to use
The Remote is FREAKING durable. Like, none of the buttons have quit working, and we’ve dropped it 20 times on a hard wood floor. :eek:

You get tons of channels for a reasonable price, and they always have money saving promotions. ITs great.

The only time it could be bad is during heavy rain or snow storms. when the reception dies.

I’ve had Directv for 4 years and although it’s better than the cable service here it does have drawbacks like…

When we have a wet snow it sticks to the dish and I have a special long-handled broom I use to clean it. What a pain.

It rains a lot here and the signal drops out during heavy rain.

You need a “box” for every TV that you want on the dish. With cable I ran a splitter and had 4 sets on cable for the same price. Each additional box costs 5 bucks a month with Directv

Every few years they send out a new access card that has to be installed in every box. It only takes a few minutes once you get the hang of it but might be hard for a technically challenged person. It’s just a pain.

Every “box” has to have it’s own phone line connection and they don’t wire it for you.

I’ve had it for about the same amount of time, and I have a few clarifications here:

Have you tried spraying Pam on it? That helps the snow not stick to it.

I’ll agree to this. Although you may want to try and have someone double check the connections, and dish alignment. I found that for a while, I’d loose the signal in the living room, but not the bedroom, turned out to be a bad connector.

Yes, you do have to do this. And right now it’s that extra $5 a month. But for cable, if you have any of the “Pay” channels, you have to have an extra box as well, and I can remmeber not that long ago being charged for the box. With the new “digital” cable, you have to pay a set top rental fee as well. And as I understand it, going digital is going to be mandatory soon.

I’ve never had to do this. Not once in 4 years.

No, actually you don’t. The recievers in our bedroom, and upstairs guest room don’t have phone lines, and the one in the living room hasn’t been hooked up in years. So you really don’t need to have them. I think that if you order a lot of pay movies, and don’t let it download, the box will eventually shut itself off, but if you’re just watching normal tv, you don’t need a phone line. And really , that’s the exact same way cable is too.

Doesn’t happen to me often, but has happened at very undesireable times.

I was able to do this during a commercial break during The O.C. the other night.

None of mine are.

I love my DirecTV, couldn’t live without it. When deciding whether to go with Dish or DirecTV, had to go with the one that offered the NFL Sunday Ticket. Greatest thing since The Sopranos.

I happen to have both digital cable and DishNetwork right now, since I live in two houses.

I prefer the Dish. We get more channels, and I really like getting the East Coast feeds. I live in California, and sometimes the feeds are timed just right so that if I was watching something and stepped out, I can pick up right where I was when I come back.

We don’t have a snow problem, so we don’t lose the signal. I’ve had the Dish longer than the digital cable, but I’ve lost the cable signal many more times.

The price was about comparable, although we have different packages. There are more channels available on the Dish. I don’t get the Food Network and some other things on my cable. Fortunately, we were able to get the local channels on the Dish after a year. Watching them with the antenna was a big pain.

I was in the same position as squeegee, hardly any cable channels for the price they were charging. So we got Dish, and we’re very happy with it. We occassionally lose signal during a heavy storm, but there have been times where we didn’t during a bad rainstorm. Plus we got some movie channels included in the package…Love Stories, True Stories, Mysteries, Western, as well as a couple of Encore channels. Our local channels are included as well…it depends on the area.

I’ve had DISH for over 5 years and love it. I lose the signal every so often when a severe storm is approaching. It actually is nice to have a warning before it hits. I absolutely love PVR and also the feature of being able to see the program schedules without interferring with what you’re watching is great. Another good feature is hitting a button and switching to the previous channel is outstanding, especially for checking on a game while watching something else. The customer service with DISH is outstanding and it is so easy to remember 1-800-333-DISH (which I believe you could also use to order their service).

You can use Pam like Atrael said, or you can use a silicone spray which lasts much longer. (A local satellite store may have it. Call around.) BUT, if your signal is “iffy” it may give you more problems. Only use it if you have a very strong singal.
About phone lines:

With DishNetwork, it is not required. It’s recommended, but not necessary to make the system work. Even Pay-Per-View doesn’t require it: it can be downloaded through the dish. (Or, it could be when I worked there. I don’t know if anything has changed.)

Channel additions, though, are handled through the phone lines. When I worked there, we suggested that if you didn’t want to hook up additional phone lines, whenever there was a channel addition, you could unhook the additional box from its TV, and carry them to wherever a phone line was located before going to bed. Hook it up to the phone line, and let it call in overnight while you slept.
About additional boxes:

Some of the satellite retailers are running fabulous deals right now. I recently saw one which came with four aditional boxes for free. (Meaning that you don’t have to buy the boxes, just pay the monthly fee.) Installation on a package deal should also be free, but if you’re just buying one in addition to regular service, you may have to pay for it.

Many retailers run the same promotional deals, which you can find on the satellite company’s website, but some of the bigger retailers run their own deals. Call around and see what you can get. Generally, though, you can’t bargain with them.
About repair service:

Your contract should specify how long you’ll get free repair service. (IIRC, it was six months or a year.) Usually, if something is going to go wrong, it will probably happen within the first three months. I suggest calling the satellite company first. Their customer service should be able to walk you through some troubleshooting options which may fix it. If not, the retailer who did your installation should send someone out to fix it. Sometimes, they’ll have to switch out your box (and, again, if the thing is going to fry, it’ll probably happen within 90 days). It’s only very rarely that something is wrong with the dish itself.

I was a somewhat early adopter of Directv and their agent absolutely insisted that I had to have a phone line to each box. They told me it had to dial out every so often or it would be shut off. I should call them and see what they say now.

My point is… I never had to climb a ladder and spray my cable with Pam. I never had cable go out due to snow or rain. I never had to change the access card in my cable box. I got local channels included with no additional charge. I use an antenna (gasp !) rather than pay the 5 extra bucks but IMHO regular network TV sucks so I don’t care about a snowy picture. My analogy for a high quality network TV picture is like using a telescope to view your garbage bags at the curb. The view is better, but it’s still garbage.

My dish doesn’t suffer from horrible ghosting like the cable video. That’s the only reason for me to keep it.

I’ve never, ever lost a signal during a storm, even during the real big rainstorms we sometimes get in the winter. When we painted our trim I clean all the spiderwebs off the dish, but never had a reception problem even with them.

I’ve never connected a phone line up to my DishNetwork box. I understand you can order movies by phone not connected to the box, if you want to, but we’ve never ordered pay per view, so I’ve never done it.

I want to take back one thing I said earlier: I’m no longer a satisfied customer of Dish because of this idiocy. I’ll be pulling the plug and getting DirecTV ASAP.