I had digital cable and it had problems with the picture breaking up. So much for less problems than satellite. I went to satellite and got a much better picture and had no problems relating to weather. I like my satellite. But there is also free tv out there with a lot of hdtv, so I am perched on the brink of getting an old fashioned antenna as well.
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From what I read,cable companys vary greatly. Their pq, their hd content;whether or not they have locals in hd. Most say Directv has better pq;compared to Dish.---
So, you need some input from users your area.--- You know;walk up and down the streets and ask your neighbors--jus kidin--
Then you have to figure what your monthly will be after the come-on deals end.---- Cable is usually higher. Direct and Dish usually want a 1 year deal commitment.With cable--nothing to buy Tough choices.
There is a hood or cover that can be placed over your dish that does not interfer with reception, but keeps the rain and snow off the dish and reduces the artifacts caused by the weather.
Also, If you go the cable company route, and the cable box they supply you with is equipped with a digital out to hook up to your surround sound processor's digital in, you might not get any sound unless the channel you are watching is showing a movie that is recorded and transmitted in dolby digital. You will need the analog output from the cable box to an analog input on SSP to get sound from the rest of the programing.
Cable = premium station (HBO SHOWTIME)broadcast in dolby digital, sound will be 5.1DD output to your SSP
Cable= regular station Might not get any sound because no DD signal is present at the digital output of the cable box
With Sat. Dishes you will get a digital feed from Sat box to SSP on all stations. On premium station broadcasting in 5.1 DD you will get the 5.1DD feed
On stations that are not broadcasting in 5.1DD, Like local channels and news station you will get a DSP'ed signal, still out of the Sat Box's digital out.
This seems to be the situation here in CT. Check with your local content provider before committing.
I would lean towards the Sat Dish because you can get digital feed from Sat box on all stations.
And again they do make a rain coat or booty for the Sat. Dishes, check with whom ever you are buying the hardware from.
From my readings I understand that the old style conventional antenna gives a better HDTV picture than the Dishes or cable, and once you have the hardware, there are no subsciption fees, its FREE. Again you need to research this depending upon which part of the country you call home
AVGuy is right--there is no universal answer here. I've actually used both DirecTV and digital CATV, and am now a digital CATV subscriber, but what works for me may not work for you. Here are some factors to consider:
1. Picture Quality. For CATV, your PQ will vary depending upon who your CATV provider is and how strong a CATV signal ends up at your doorstep. Some houses are served by plant with a lot a wire and step-up amps between them and the CATV co. That isn't good. CATV can also go out, depending upon whether they use buried lines, etc. For satellite services, your PQ will vary depending upon how well you can tune in the satellites they use--do you have a clear shot to geosync orbit over the equator in the latitudinal slots your satellite company uses? Is there foliage in the way?
As an aside, I hate to say it, but putting an umbrella over your dish isn't going to impact your service quality when it rains and the atmospheric conditions cause signal degradation. Think about it--there is a path between your dish and the satellite. You may cover a foot in front of your dish, but there are *miles* of sky between your dish and the bird. Most people's satellite rain issues, in fact, aren't when its raining on their house--its when the weather front is south of you between your dish and the satellite.
2. Compatibility with Over-the-Air (OTA) broadcasts. Many HDTV satellite tuners incorporate tuners that permit you to attach a UHF antenna and decode OTA broadcasts in HD. You should check http://www.antennaweb.org and see what is available in your area OTA and what kind of antenna you would need to pick up those broadcasts. In contrast, most CATV set top boxes (STBs) do not, at present, permit connection of an external antenna, so to receive OTA HD material, you would need a separate decoder.
3. DVR Services. DirecTV has just introduced an HDTV version of their box with TiVo support. Then again, my CATV company has also introduced, in the market adjacent to me, a CATV STB with HD DVR functionality. Given the relatively little amount of HD content available, being able to use DVRs compatible with HD seems, well, a bonus. Then again, the retail on the hard to get DirecTV HD Tivos is about a grand. I can rent my STB from my CATV Co. at $5--and keep swapping it out for upgraded versions--for almost 16 years for that amount.
4. HD Content. My CATV company has more HD channels than DirecTV. Your CATV company may not. The HD channels your CATV company chooses to carry may not be the ones you want to see. Again, this is going to vary with your local CATV company. I think ultimately CATV will win this one vis-a-vis satellites, simply because the have the capacity on their plant to carry a lot more HD, as more HD channels are available.
5. Broadband. I get my broadband internet via a CATV modem. I find its faster and more reliable than the DSL service I previously had. Actually, when I was looking, I couldn't get DSL at my new place. But, packaged with digital CATV service, you get a bit of a discount on broadband internet services. That you really can't do with DirecTV, although they used to have a DirecPC service.
6. Digital Audio. Dave, with all due respect, your point about digital audio is STB dependent. My STB converts all the analog stations "low" on the channel tier to digital and passes that through the coax. I get sound via digital coax no matter where I am in the channel line-up. This is manifestly not the case with all STBs, however. Since the low end material isn't digital to begin with, however, you probably get a better audio signal through the analog outputs of your STB than you get out of a satellite box that has converted the analog to digital. For regular TV, I just don't care enough about sound quality.
7. Channel Switching Latency. I seriously dislike the latency of channel switching on DirecTV. Due to the encoding and the odd/even transponder issues, the boxes have to wait until a full frame gets transmitted (as opposed to updates) before they can display a picture. I found that annoying--my CATV switches channels a *lot* faster.
8. Coax Runs. My CATV comes into my garage, goes into a 1:8 splitter, with one of those going into my CATV modem. The other seven runs provide CATV to the various rooms of my house. Satellite generally isn't that easy, and may require multiple coax runs. This is something to think about unless you have easy access to wire rooms. For the new HDTV Tivos with DirecTV, I gather, you ideally want *four* runs of coax. Splitting the signal to other rooms, in addition, also requires multiswitches, not just a signal splitter.
9. On-Demand Services. One feature of my CATV service that I really like is on-demand. I can call up any of the movies currently making the circuit on the premium channels I subscribe to and start/pause/stop/ffd/rew to my heart's content--all for free. Not available from satellite...
10. Ugly Dishes. Satellite requires satellite dishes. I think they are ugly, you may not. While your HOA can't really prohibit you from putting one up, they can also make it difficult.
If your only concern is losing the picture during a heavy rain, invest in a larger dish. You can use up to a 30" dish for digital satellite which (in theory) gives you 177% more signal than the 18" dish. Still, don't expect more than about 300 lines of resolution from Dish or DirecTv. Both services have had to use severe compression due to carrying of local broadcasts.
Eh, sadly, at this stage, on demand is SD only. I expect the DVR HD boxes relatively soon--I'm in Northern Virginia and they have launched in DC. Given the content available in HD, being able to timeshift would be nice indeed.
HRcapers, DirecTV does have HD feeds, and its true HD--720p or 1080i. There is also another satellite service being launched--Voom!--which is HD only...
Wish Comcast would have bought my DirecTV HD box. Sold it on Videogon instead, but I didn't get $400 for it...
Ttrph;you should have a coax or toslinc-out, that goes to your receiver. Then you may have to go into the menu and select/activate. Just keep in mind chs 01 -to 99 are all analog;all the time. For that to go to the receiver,you need a set of analog ics to another input on the receiver. If you get local HD, that is digital all the time.
Re. Voom---No it ain't all HD all the time. They carry many SD chsnnels--But 40 HD stations ain't bad huh?
My 2 cents is that here in Miami there is so much more value associated with Satelite. The cost is a couple dollars more however you get much more. HDTV for one plus Dolby Digital too. Cable doesn't give either. Don't be fooled with that issue about the Satelite going out... it just doesn't happen much at all. Since 11/15/03 it happened once for a few minutes. And South Florida can really rain!
However... if I was really on a tight budget I'd just have a really good outside anttena coupled to a HDTV tuner and get it (t.v. reception & dolby digital on the network broadcasts) for free. I've a digital t.v. and was floored with the reception over the air from my outside antenna. Plus there are 20 or so channels I could watch. Of course, the HEAT are only on ESPN or TNT now...