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01-19-2006, 05:32 AM
Neuroslicer Neuroslicer is offline
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This February the satellite retailers in Memphis are switching over to more expansive HDTV systems. This will include a much larger satellite dish (almost 3 feet in diameter) which will pull in over 80 HDTV channels (compared to about a dozen now). Both the receiver and the DVDR unit that will be available have video and audio output signals that can go into a DVD recorder if you want to save the shows onto disc.

My present cable reception just isn't that great... there are a lot of channels with too much signal loss, with the result being a noisy picture. And I'm only getting about 15 HDTV channels on cable, not very impressive.

My question to the board: for those of you who have satellite already, have you found that signal outtages due to severe weather are rare, occasional or common. I'm worried that everytime it storms I'll loose signal.
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01-19-2006, 05:40 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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I've had analog cable for more than 20 years now. It has always had problems on at least half of the stations, regardless of who I use or where I live.

I had satellite for about 5 years, and I miss it. When my career situation (and income!) improves, I'll get it again. The signal was always clean, more or less. There were some macroblock issues when they upgraded hardware, and they do still overstuff the transponders, but it's still better than cable.

Many cable companies these days digitally serve their analog stations. They use a large digital dish from a Ku band bird and get your SciFi channel and others.

I find that cable and satellite both go out when the weather gets really bad. Why? Because cable gets their signals from space too, from a bird. So the issue of satellite being worse is horsepuckey.

If you use a squatty little dish and try to get reception through a treeline, and it's not 100% aimed in the right direction, sure, you'll see signal loss. Mount the dish good, get a larger one if you can (27" inch dish, for example, not just a 18" one), and have a clean shot to the heavens. You'll be fine.

The only exception may be people living near antennas that emit in the Ku band. Cell phone towers in your back yard can interfere, so as long as you've not got a 100-foot cell tower camped out in your back yard, you'll be fine.

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01-19-2006, 06:28 AM
padre2 padre2 is offline
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I had satellite since 97, but recently switched back to cable. Every rainstorm, I'd have signal breakup. For me, the real killer was the receivers were resetting themselves on a regular basis (3 out of the 4 I own). They would lose their channel lineup, and other problems. The straw that broke the back was they failed to make 4 different attempts to upgrade my service to the new local channels in HD (requires a new dish and receiver).

So far, I'm quite happy with the digital cable service, although my 2 HDTV set-top boxes are on backorder. My signal is very strong, since it's a new neighborhood, clean cables.

I really want to see what Verizon does with their fiber TV service. They are trying to offer it in New Jersey first, then maybe PA.
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01-19-2006, 07:53 AM
debwalsh debwalsh is offline
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My location in PA (near Philly - Jay knows where I live!) is supposed to open up competition for the local cable operator. We'll see - I heard the same thing about 10 years ago when I was still living outside Boston, and it never happened.

I have DISH Network for myself, and analog cable for my Mom (she likes using one remote control and doesn't want to deal with a box). I have rare problems with my DISH. I do have problems, though, so I won't say it's foolproof. Overall, the signal quality is nicer than the analog cable - I don't have digital cable, so I can't compare. The cable goes out on occasion, too. A couple of nights a week, I have no choice but to record using cable, because I have so many shows on at the same time (9 p.m. Wedneday leaps to mind - Lost, Bones, and Veronica Mars). I pick which channels I'll do on analog cable, as some are better than others - as is true with satellite channels. I find my local channels are less prone to macroblocking on the analog cable than through DISH, so those are the channels I'm more likely to record through the cable system.

I had problems with one receiver, and it turned out to be linked to a chewing problem one of my cats had - she'd put so many holes in the outer surface of the coax, the connection was constantly bouncing. I put that flexible conduit over the lines now, and don't have that problem any longer. My older receiver seems to resent the fact I no longer have a landline available for it, and I will have problems periodically with it getting stuck in diagnostic mode. But I will eventually upgrade that for an HD-capable unit, so I'm not too worried about it.

One thing I recommend when you run into problems with the DVR - and you just might, especially if it's recording during really bad weather - is periodically do a full reboot. Turn off the power at the power strip, leave it off for about 30 seconds. I've had apparently fried recordings that resolved themselves after a reboot. Just turning it off doesn't do it, because it's still on standby. Go cold. The other thing is you really do need to turn the DVR off every so often - program guide updates are downloaded when the system is off, and so are software updates. And sometimes it's a good idea to reboot after a software update, too.
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