The best I've seen by far is Hi-Def DirecTV into an HDTV (especially plasma). DirecTV offers better value for roughly 225 channels than cable generally does for 240 channels or so.
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I would suggest Dish Network. THe best thing you can do is go to a few Satellite dealers/ installers and ask about package prices and to see the pictures. If HDTV is your focus, then DishNetwork will most likely be your choice. If just non-HDTV, then their PVRs are great, they record in the original compression rate and with Dolby Digital. I have no faith in Cable TV providers' video. Like you, I also use cable for my high speed internet. I even use it for telephony w/ three lines. ...But I would never have it for my video choice, their cost to performance ratio is terrible here. AaronM
In rochester NY the time warner seems pretty good for the price, I can get a PVR and HD receivers (hbo and show) for about $60-80 a month. THe local channels are still analog though. The picture is the same as satellite(have both) for the rest of the channels. Coax connections for DD. Need to have cable to get the broadband.
The only thing, Aaron, is that Dish Network (at least for many years) did not give nearly as many options for out of town sports as DirecTV. If that's important to BlueSwan, it's something worth looking into. I wish my damn friends at the Justice Department would just let the stupid merger go through, anyway. (Actually, they're right...it *would* kill competition and create a mammoth manopoly).
Hmmm... I'll offer a different opinion than seemingly everyone else. At my old house (I moved in June), I had Comcast digital cable and did not like the service--lots of drop outs and service problems. When I moved, my intent was to switch to DirecTV, but I still needed CATV for broadband, so I got that hooked up first. The digital was *significantly* better at my new house--signal stronger, less reliability problems. Because I wanted HDTV, I still ended up laying out roughly $600 for an HDTV SAT STB, and subscribed to DirecTV. (As an aside, I thought I'd done the right thing by getting multiple RG6--2--runs to each room, but I still don't have enough inside wiring to support TiVo DirecTV.) I don't think the DirecTV picture is as good as Comcast's digital cable, but whoa! the HDTV looked *good*! I did lose a bunch of movie channels, however. Just when I thought I was happy, I find out that Comcast in my area is rolling out (has rolled out) HDTV over CATV--including the local OTA affiliates. I find both services cost-competitive. Having had both, if I was starting over right now, I'd definitely go back to Comcast for digital w/HDTV and lose the ugly 3 LNB dish on my terrace.
Moral of the story, might want to talk to your CATV provider about their upgrade plans. Also might want to check signal strength in your area before subscribing.
Sound is what most of the people on this forum would be after. I've had both cable, and now Dish network. I have one of the receivers that puts out dolby digital via toslink, that I have run into an MSB link. It's better than any tuner that I've ever heard, and no commercials to boot. Also many, many music channels to choose from.
I switched to DirectTV from Comcast and will never look back. My reasons for switching had less to do with HDTV as it did with other basic service issues. Comcast seems to have a reliability of signal problem in some service areas with respect to those channels in the lower bands (2-10).
DirectTV is a better deal for the money than Comcast as I now pay about $2.00 less per month for more channels and MUCH better picture and audio. I still use Comcast for my broadband Inet connection - but that is subject to change as Comcast has informed me that they are going to punish me for buying Internet service from them and buying TV service from DirecTV, by doubling my monthly fee.
But -most important- with DirectTV NFL Sunday Ticket, I get to see my beloved Buffalo Bills every week!
As far as Direct vs Dish-- Dish lacks HDNet / Direct lacks Discovery HD.--(Free during the day--PPV HD at night) HDNET is free with your subscripton./ Discovery HD is about 7/8 bucks extra per mo. Dish doesn't have FOX local sports.---AND--- HD Discovery channel reruns the same material. It is eaiser to tape HD content from Dish.(using a HD capable vcr)------Cable catches up eventually.They are always a year or two behind.
You're a Bills fan? Cool. I grew up in WNY and have been a fan since the early '60s. I've moved around a lot, and currently reside in the Phila. area. I remain a die hard Bills fan, through all the broken hearted Super Bowls, lame salary cap decimation of the roster, terrible way they treated Doug Flutie (went to college in Boston at the same time Flutie won the Heisman at BC) in favor of Rob Johnson...
Blueswan- Sorry about hijacking your post.
With a Sony HDTV I receive signals 3 ways: cable, used with RoadRunner, DirectTV and antenna reception over the air. The best signal by far is over the air, A Bugs Life last night was just plain spectacular, next best is DirectTV, HD Net, HBO and Showtime HD is glorious and the usual non-HD channels vary but usually are very good. In comparison cable is so poor as to be pathetic. I have had the cable serviced and replaced by Time Warner at least 3 times, even replacing the cable service to the house- it made no difference.
Bills fans... I like the turnaround Drew Bledsoe has made and I think he will take them to the playoffs! Also, if Doug Flutie starts that Tennessee game, the Homerun Throwback would have been just a footnote to a Bills victory, and I am a diehard Titans fan!
Elsewhere, thanks for all the comments on DirecTV.
I understand your situation, I was in an identical situation a few months ago and this is what I did -
I had the Time-Warner "Analog" cable replaced with Dish Network in my house. I was disgusted with the quality of cable and their frequent underhanded price increases. In a previous house I had a full size (10') satellite dish which was an enormous improvement over cable.
Much to my surprise I found that the quality of the signal from Dish Network was not significantly better than the analog signal I received from my cable provider. Even the installers who came repeatedly to "fix" the Dish Network signal agreed and eventually gave up. The quality was apparent in all the televisions in my house but most obvious on the 100" Stewart screen/ CRT projector I own. The problems are typically greater degree of color bleed, loss of sharpness, signal strength, black level etc.
I am still living with the satellite system because of the variety of programming it offers. Just few of the channels make it worthwhile to go the Dish Network route such as National Geographic Channel, Worldlink TV, History Channel etc. but don't expect a tremendous improvement in quality. I, for one, did not get it.
FYI, I have four separate receivers (including a PVR) wired with high quality Belden video cable. There are no splitters in my system.
IMO, yes Dishnetwork is better than cable but a full size satellite dish beats the pants off both. I should know, I have had all three at one time or another.
Remember to fine tune your system using the largest tv you have in the house because it magnifies every nuance of the video signal.
DUDE! Beef on Weck - you make me homesick!
Good comments on Bledsoe. I'm thinking the Bills may be the real deal this year. They were written off early, but I think people are sitting up and taking notice. Living in Phila. with Eagles fans, football has a weird take here. I mean, all the pundits are calling them the best team in the NFC. Look at their division. God, that game with the Gints (Giants) last night was not worthy of MNF. It was sloppy. More like a street fight. I'll put the Bills on a good day up against anything the NFC can throw at them. AFC baby!
One issue that I've yet to see addressed in this thread is compression. Dish and DirecTV may not, in some cases, look as good as a CATV signal if the level of compression is high for the digital signal and the analog/CATV signal is of high quality and you're close to the source. I recently upgraded to a high-def RPTV and I use Dish network. The signal is nowhere near "DVD quality" as many of the DSS salesman will pitch. You may not have the interference and ghosting issues w/ a digital signal like w/ CATV, but the compression makes for a poor signal when the image is viewed on high resolutions TVs (and more so if the set is large -- kind of like zooming/blowing up a compressed digital camera picture). Just my 2 cents. Many others in other home theater forums say the same. I didn't know this when I got Dish. I fell for the DSS "all digital" rhetoric. The issues here are similar to the old "analog vs. digital" audio debates (trade off lack of noise vs. compression issues).