Tell me about satellite TV

The Dvl household is fed up with the cable company, and is considering switching to satellite. But which one? We’re inundated with various offers—are these all independent contractors licensed by the two providers? Are the threats of the cable company’s advertising department valid (i.e., if a butterfly farts in China, you’ll lose signal)? We don’t watch any sports or have any premium channels, so if a network has the channels we do watch (SciFi, BBC, Comedy, and a few other extended cable channels), does it make a difference which service we use? Is the customer service dependent on the installer? Is hi-def the same as we get via cable? And probably most importantly (at the root of our vexation), what is the DVR like? We want two features that we lost when “upgrading” to a Hi-Def box. One, a DVR that can record two (any two) channels simultaneously and let us watch something we previously recorded at the same time, and two, the ability to set priority of the series/programs we set to record.

While there are factual/GQ questions above, I’m also interested in anecdotes and opinions, so I’m placing this here. Also, I’m sure this has been done before, so feel free to point to links I missed.



I have Dish Network with a 625 receiver. They probably offer newer ones now. We can record two programs at the same time. Searches and timers are not based on time, but on the program guide. You can set it to begin early and end late.
I’m not sure of the relationship between the installer and DN. We had two different ones. The first guy was afraid of retribution from DN if his install didn’t work; we are in the woods with lots of trees to the South.
Rain fade causes a loss of signal, from heavy rain between the dish and the satellite. It is probably exacerbated by trees.
I believe Direct TV has more sports features.
I do not have HD.

When we switched from cable, we called Dish Network first. The guy who showed up said no go – he couldn’t get a signal without going to the roof, and we didn’t want that. Our house is a high two-story.

So we called DirecTV and we’ve been very happy. We got a signal by putting the dish on the side of the garage, close to the roof. After about five years, the neighbor’s trees were interfering with the signal, so the dish was moved to a pole in the yard, near the garden.

We haven’t had a single minute of interference, despite heavy rain and snow. Yeah, I’m surprised too.

Customer service is great. When the DVR acted funny (after about three years), they sent a new one immediately. When they mistakenly billed us for the NFL package (twice), they gave us a month’s free service (in addition to the refund, of course).

Well, I hate Dish (its the only option in the middle of nowhere) because you pay for 200 channels and get to watch ONE! (unless you want to pay a whole bunch extra :rolleyes: )

With cable, if you have 100 TVs (and I got about that many), you can watch 100 channels at the same time.

Yeah, I know. I can get the DVR and extra boxes and all that crap, but why should I? I pay enough for access to the content already. Why should I have to pay extra?

When we had cable, I could watch college football all day long in the garage, the wife could watch her “Mutilation Makeover” shows in the house, I could set the VCR to record PBS shows to watch at a later time and the kid could catch Noggin in his room. Thats what I paid for with cable.

Thats not what you get with Dish.

I’ve had DirecTv for the 2 years I’ve been in my house (vs. apartment project Time-Warper cable) and I love it. I can get several hundred channels including many pay-per-view that I’ve never used but I’ve narrowed my onscreen directory down to about 55 favorites so scroll only thru them when searching for what’s on for next 24 hours or so.

I watch a lot of movies and hate commercials and am happy with TCM, FMC (Fox Movie Channel), and ifc (independent film) that have NO ads except for upcoming flicks and TCM dvd sets.

I also have the $5/mo upgrade package that includes among others BIOG, FUEL, GACountry music, GOLF, HISTORY International, LOGO (in case you want to see a CBS-owned gay-friendly channel), & MILITARY viewable channels plus 6 (or more) XM audio channels with music from the decades 40’s thru 90’s, I didn,t get their dvr but have gone thru 4 dvd recorders recording (to dvd) movies, news, etc. for my own storage and maybe use someday for viewing.

I am bundled with the phone company for my DSL and little-used wired phone and get a big deal $5/mo discount on the DTV for that.

Now if I could just figure out how to do timer programming overnight on more than one different channel. Right now I have to set the tv to the one channel that I want to record by timer. My Panasonic dvr has to be turned off before it will record at a future time but my new Toshiba must stay “on”. And all the key buttons are in different places on the respective remotes and the Toshiba labels are grey on black. AARRGH.

BTW, I detest Time Warper/A OL. Oh, storms have interrupted service but may be due to some trees near the dish sightline.

Regarding DVRs: In addition to the Dish Network DVRs, I have a DVR/DVD recorder used mostly for C Band satellite. I’m on the second one. I use it because I can edit out commercials and burn a program to DVD. It has failed, especially when the disc becomes nearly full. The Dish DVRs have never failed, and I’m sure the Direct TV DVRs are just as reliable. It’s also nice to pause a program and fast forward through the commercials. :slight_smile:

When we grew tired of the cable company, we first went to Dish Network. We had a lot of problems with rain fade that I never heard my brother complain about with DirecTv. We dropped Dish after a while because of that problem & went over to DirecTv. Much, much improved situation. Occassionally we have the rain / snow fade in a major storm, but nothing like before. It could just be the area of the world I am in vs where the satellites are orbiting.

Oh - and the DVR thing - best thing ever. I should have done it when you could get the Tivo lifetime thing with DirecTv. But the box they supply now is still great. The only hazard is that I think the skip ahead button on the remote will fail long before anything else. I do love skipping the commercials. (I find it does not work on live TV for some reason, despite pushing that button out of habit! :))

I can’t say enough bad shit about Dish Network. PM me or e-mail for details if you want, but consider them as a very last resort.

I shouldn’t think so. They both have satellites at 110 and 119 degrees. Echostar is Dish Network. I would guess the ability of the Direct TV installer to aim the dish made the difference.

I highly recommend DirecTV, for all the reasons stated above.


Ditto the rain, also snow build up on the dish, have a broom handy for the Winter.

I will take that as a personal compliment as I did the DTV dish myself vs paying the Dish people the first time. :slight_smile:

We had Dish for about five years, and lost signal every time it looked like it was going to rain. One of my employee benefits is free cable and free high speed internet, so it was a no brainer to switch.

Outstanding! How hard was it? Was there a delay between moving the dish and seeing a signal change? I have a 90 cm torodial dish I want to use with Dish Network. So far I only have Galaxy 25 working on it. The plan is that rain fade will happen much less often with a meter instead of eighteen inch dish.

I may be a little late to the game, here, but are you in the US or Canada?
I"ll be honest and say that I know pretty much nothing about American satellite, but if you’re in Canada, the two main choices are Bell ExpressVu, and Starchoice.
Of these two, I’d recommend Starchoice, for at least two reasons; programming cost, and customer service. Their call center reps know what they’re talking about, which is more than I can say for many of the ExpressVu repsI’ve dealt with in the past couple of years.


It was not that hard really. It would have been a lot easier if I had a meter to show signal strength as I aligned the dish. I was operating with rather crude tools of someone yelling at me what strength was shown on the TV screen as I was on the roof. I hear they run about $40. It would have been a good investment.

We have Dish and like it a lot. Never had trouble with reception except once when there was a hardware failure. Dish sent out a guy and he replaced a switch or something, no charge. We have the DVR and love it. We only pay about $40 a month for 3 tv’s and DVR. We can watch different things on each tv at the same time, and record 2 shows with DVR while watching something else.

I think a lot depends on your local installer and how good they are when it comes to customer service. Ask people in your area who have them and if they have an installer they recommend.

Hm. I got Dish about six months ago, and I’ve been quite happy with it. Most of the oddball advertisements you see are just for “installers”, people who belong to the Dish Network family of technical folks, not Dish Network itself. Instead of picking a particular installer, I just called Dish directly to subscribe, and they sent out a dude from a local installation outfit to do the work. The installer was very professional and did a great job at hiding the wires.

The current Dish Network DVR is the 722, and it does what you want: you can record two channels, plus watch a pre-recorded program, at the same time. The 722 can record somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 hours of high def and 350 hours of standard def programming, which takes a while to fill up; even so, the box has the capability to accept an external USB 2.0 hard drive if you need more space. And you can indeed set series recording priority. My only complaint is that the interface for recurring timers is kinda clunky.

Another kinda neat feature of the 722 is that it can send its programming to another TV in the house, such as your bedroom. So, you can lie in bed and watch all the channels and the same recordings that you can access in the living room, without a converter box in your bedroom. The downside of that is, the second room is “tuner 2” for the DVR, so if your DVR starts recording something, the second room will either have to watch what’s recording or watch something off the DVR. I try to schedule my recordings around that, so it doesn’t become an issue.

Also, I installed an antenna in the attic and hooked it up to the back of the 722, so now I can record local over-the-air high-def broadcasts. In fact, the antenna is a separate tuner, which means that I can record three programs at once (if one of them is off the antenna) and watch a fourth off the drive. That’s pretty darn cool. Haven’t tried to stretch it to five yet (three recordings, plus watching recorded programs on both tuners at once).

My parents have DirecTV, and one issue I haven’t seen discussed above is that there’s about a half-second pause of black screen each time you change the channel before it actually displays the new program. This makes me crazy every time I watch my father channel surf, as the whole thing takes about twice as long as it did with an equivalent number of cable channels, although he doesn’t seem to mind. I don’t channel surf myself (I use the DVR’s program guide as to what’s on, and go directly to that, on the rare occasion I’m using their television) but if I did, I’d find it very annoying.

GilaB: We have DirecTV and don’t have that problem, so it may be related to their particular receiver.

We’ve had DirecTV for about four years and we love it. We rarely lose reception except for in the hardest of hard rains, and then it’s usually only for a few minutes. Since we moved to our house 18 months ago, the dish has a better view of the sky, so I think we’ve only been affected once or twice during that time, and very briefly each time.

Their installers have been very competent and helpful, and they made moving a breeze. Customer Service has been good on the few occasions we’ve needed to call. They replaced a bad receiver overnight once.