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Cable TV Versus Satellite TV?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the the-eternal-question dept.

Television 1218

rufey writes "In the next few weeks I'll be moving and am thinking about getting either cable TV or satellite. I don't need broadband Internet (I use DSL), so getting cable TV bundled with broadband is not an option I'm considering. Comcast is the local cable provider in my area, and are playing TV spots about how satellite TV signals can be lost when it rains, when the wind blows, and even when the dog sneezes (I'm sure the dog sneezing excuse in the commercials are more for humor than fact). What has been Slashdot readers' experience with cable and satellite TV? I'm looking at trying to balance cost versus quality of signal and picture. How much does the weather affect the signal quality of satellite TV reception? Some satellite packages include a DVR (Comcast doesn't offer one yet in my area). Is it worth getting the DVR supplied by the satellite company (DirectTV, DishNetwork), or is buying a separate TiVo a better option? As a geek, I'm also interested in getting NASA TV."

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Satellite has one big advantage (5, Informative)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160508)

I've only had experience with the DVR Time/Warner cable was offering and it wouldn't let you time-shift anything but PPV content, but I don't know if that applies to Comcast as well. If it does, you could stick a TiVO or your own DVR into the equation, but then what you're doing is decoding the MPEG from your cable provider, then reencoding it back into MPEG when it gets saved to the hard disk, which sucks. This is assuming you're getting digital cable of course.

The satellite DVR packages on the other hand will save the MPEG stream directly to the hard disk, so you can view it later without loss of image quality.

This is all the more important if you're thinking about going with HDTV. DirecTV is about to come out with a HD-DVR made in conjunction with TiVO. DishNetwork's HD-DVR is already out [dishnetwork.com] , but it will set you back a cool thousand.

If there was actually something worth watching on TV beside porn, I'd get the latter, if for no other reason than that DirecTV won't carry porn [dishnetwork.com] , but seeing as how Murdoch has bought DirecTV from Hughes that's probably about to change.

The consensus on rec.video.satellite.dbs seems to be that weather really doesn't affect image quality (though this may not be true for HD content) but that airplanes, helicopters, birds and people falling off of your roof can and do. That said, it supposedly causes only minor artifacting (which you're going to get anyways given the aggressive compression the providers use... watch Star Trek: TNG on Spike TV sometime and watch the signal lose sync everytime somebody fires a phaser.)

Re:Satellite has one big advantage (3, Informative)

Algan (20532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160539)

A friend of mine has the Comcast DVR and they let him timeshift everything...

Re:Satellite has one big advantage (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160557)

DirecTV does carry porn -- and some of the channels are the same as Dish Network. They have Playboy, Spice, and three hardcore channels. From what I hear, Dish will show more (namely: anal), but DirecTV does carry porn (channels 594 - 598)

DirecTV *does* have pr0n (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160560)

Uhhhh.....

One major problem with that. DirecTV most certainly *does* have PORN. Something like 6 or so channels, plus it's offered on a few of the PPV channels in addition to Spice, Hot Network, Playboy, etc. Good stuff too. Not just the HBO/Skinimax R rated soft-core crap, but real honest PORN.

And yeah, I posted this anonymously for a reason. :)

Re:Satellite has one big advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160571)

DirecTV won't carry porn

Funny, cuz there's been porn channels (playboy, spice, PPV porn) on the DirecTV on screen guide for at least a couple years.

Re:Satellite has one big advantage (4, Informative)

prell (584580) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160574)

I had a Time Warner PVR when they were still testing them, and it worked out wonderfully, for me: I scheduled recordings; I could rewind live TV (and fast-forward up until the "live point"); I could pause for up to two hours or something (whatever the length of the "live cache" was); I could record two things at once, while playing something off the hard drive; I could record something, and watch something else, with full RW/FF/Pause capabilities.

ATTENTION: Trolls (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160603)

Please respond to this post with any porn stories you might have involving Slashdot editors. Thanks.

Re:Satellite has one big advantage (5, Informative)

PD (9577) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160630)

The PVR that comes with a service is not an advantage for either. The reason being that you REALLY want to get a TiVo. Everything sucks in comparison (mileage may vary).

TiVo will work with either your satellite or cable, without any trouble. As far as the other issues, I've had both DirectTV and Dish Network (currently have Dish). You will lose the signal when it rains hard. I live in Texas, the land of flash floods, and the most I've lost my signal for is an hour. More typical is 3-4 minutes. It takes a hell of a storm to block the signal for longer than that.

Birds, airplanes, people, etc. will not block the signal. Anyone who claims that they will is on crack.

Re:Satellite has one big advantage (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160653)

I have comcast cable and internet,
we lost it during hurricane elizabeth and it
was the last service to be restored by nearly a
week (we also lost power and telephones). Phones
were back first, power second.

Having had both... (2, Informative)

danuary (748394) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160665)

Used to live in a house where I had Dish Network. It was fine, carried NASA-TV, etc. EXPENSIVE though - my bill for 'most everything was more than $100/mo. It would rarely go out -- usually not -during- storms, but just before -- anywhere from 30 sec to 30 min. It'd have to be a pretty good sized storm coming in, though. Moved to the city and now I have Time Warner Cable. It's cheaper (about $80) for everything, AND YOU CAN GET A DIGITAL CABLE BOX WITH A BUILT-IN DVR. Very very useful. Works in all respects similar to TiVo except for the automatic taping of things it thinks you'd be interested in. There's an additional $6/mo charge to use it... That being said, channel choices are not as good - no NASA TV. All in all, I'm impressed with TW. Their customer service is pretty good, the installer was plesant and on-time when the service was set up, and in six months of service (knock wood), I've not had a single outage on my cablemodem or TV service. Cablemodem is FAST too - 3mbps down, 384kbps up.

Re:Satellite has one big advantage (2, Funny)

jdaily (35368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160684)

> ...but that airplanes, helicopters, birds and people falling off of your roof can and do.

Fortunately, I've never had an airplane or helicopter fall off my roof. Dodged a bullet on that one!

fp..... (-1, Offtopic)

vonsneerderhooten (254776) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160514)

fp

Cable is great (2, Informative)

tcgwebs (737923) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160516)

I use DVR with Time Warner Cable, which has always been just great for me. It has an 80GB HD and most features that you'd find in a Tivo.

Re:Cable is great (1)

nearlygod (641860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160545)

What features does it have that a Tivo or ReplayTv doesn't have?

DSL is not broadband? (1, Informative)

unigeek (663856) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160519)

I don't need broadband Internet (I use DSL),???

I thought DSL was broadband?

Re:DSL is not broadband? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160589)

How in the hell is the parent Flamebait? Looks like mods haven't had their coffee.

Re:DSL is not broadband? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160641)

How in the hell is the parent Funny? Looks like mods haven't had their coffee.

Directv beats cable (5, Informative)

eyegor (148503) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160522)

I've had Directv for about 4 years and overall I'm very happy. Around here (Northern Virginia) our cable provider sucks and I don't have to give them a cent for providing their usually lousy service.

Directv signal is usually very good but I have had problems with loss of signal during severe thunderstorms and when snow covers the dish.

Other than that, I'm pretty happy with my satellite service.

Re:Directv beats cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160640)

Yeah, with my parents dish it's rare to have it go out more than once or twice a year (due to severe thunderstorms, and I mean SEVERE and when it gets covered with snow during a nasty blizzard). Hell, the Comcast cable tv and cable internet at my apartment go out more often than that!

Snow not a problem up north... (1)

sbowles (602816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160668)

"I have had problems with loss of signal ... when snow covers the dish"

In Canada, our dishes have to be pointed so close to the horizon that snow never stays on them.

die tv die (-1, Flamebait)

joejg (633973) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160525)

TV is the work of the devil.

Re:die tv die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160554)

I guess you haven't looked too much at that whole "internet" thing then, huh...

I'M BACK, SLASH-BITCHES (-1)

Can it run Linux (664464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160526)

Can your TiVO run Linux?

Re:I'M BACK, SLASH-BITCHES (0, Flamebait)

solefald (314751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160618)

TiVO _IS_ running linux...

Re:I'M BACK, SLASH-BITCHES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160637)

(I know this is a troll... but I'll bite.)

uh, yeah -- Tivo runs *on* linux...

how about: Kill Your TV. (5, Interesting)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160527)

Come on slashbots, and set yourself free - Kill your TV! [turnoffyourtv.com]

I've been tv free for 4 years now - and would never consider going back.

there is much more to life than watching a piece of furniture.

Re:how about: Kill Your TV. (3, Insightful)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160572)

there is much more to life than watching a piece of furniture.
What, like that CRT you're stareing at right now? (Don't TELL me Slashdot is more intellectually stimulating than Must See T.V.)

Re:how about: Kill Your TV. (1)

jon787 (512497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160616)

Nah, like any true geek he has an LCD :)

Re:how about: Kill Your TV. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160596)

Lose the internet connection and we'll ALL [slashdot.org] be happy

Re:how about: Kill Your TV. (1)

Subotai (34761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160605)

"there is much more to life than watching a piece of furniture".

Cruising the internet, for instance.

Re:how about: Kill Your TV. (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160656)

"there is much more to life than watching a piece of furniture."

Why isn't life interesting enough for you to distract you from stupid posts like this?

how about... (3, Interesting)

xtermz (234073) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160530)

...neither? Sell the TV, and where your entertainment center would be, put a bookcase. I cut back to basic cable and though i "miss" some shows, I dont miss wasting countless hours on the couch .....i cant even tell you what "reality shows" are on these days....

Re:how about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160644)

"Did you notice I called it television and not TV. TV is a nickname. Nicknames are for friends, and television is no friend of mine." - Mr. Show

Re:how about... (5, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160685)

Wasting countless hours on the couch is as much TV's fault as an open mail relay is the Sendmail team's fault. A tool is just a tool; whether or not it's used appropriately is up to its owner. It's possible to have both a TV and a bookcase and get plenty of enjoyment out of both.

DirectTivo (2, Informative)

solefald (314751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160531)

Get yourself DirecTV with Tivo built-in. I bought one nearly 2 years ago, added another hard drive and
truly enjoing it. Plus DirecTV is better then cable..... Thats my 2c...

It's a marketing hype (Cable) (5, Informative)

ScooterBill (599835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160532)

As long as your dish is secure and the transmission is working, you will have virtually no problems from weather. This is BS from the Cable companies.

I've never had a problem due to inclement weather although we don't get fierce lightning storms where I live so I don't know if that makes a difference.

I would choose the service based on the programming.

M

Re:It's a marketing hype (Cable) (2, Informative)

Wall,_The (202041) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160626)

I agree that the signal "problems" are marketing bull from cable companies. I've lived in places where there was snowing for 5 months out of the year. And raining the rest. Never had any problems. The dish doesn't even collect snow like old C-Band dishes did. Check who offers what channels and at what price. For me, the Sat wins every time!

Re:It's a marketing hype (Cable) (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160680)

my folks have satelite t.v. through, who knows, DirectTV I think? They *definately* have problems with cloudy weather and rain. The fun of it all is trying to hear the severe weather warnings during something like a tornado watch/warning and you can't, no signal. Hmm, 3 tornados have touched down 7 miles away and we don't know where they are heading? Time to go to the basement...

you don't need fierce lightening storms, just cloud cover and a decent amount of rain it seems. tornado type weather will definately hose your transmission.

Tech TV (4, Informative)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160537)

I have comcast, and they took Tech TV (ZDTV) out of their lineup about a year ago. If you like that channel, you better call and see if they have it. Since then, I've got 3 telemundos, 4 'womens' channels, the golf channel, etc. They don't even have tech tv on digital cable here either. I'm interested in seeing what other people post about this, because I would like to get tech tv again!

Re:Tech TV (1)

nearlygod (641860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160593)

I couldn't live without my daily fill of Sarah Lane & Morgan Webb!

Re:Tech TV (1)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160666)

Tech TV is still carried by Comcast where I'm at, but they have juggled it in the new package lineups to a special digital package.

Re:Tech TV (1)

CRYPTOFREQ (735273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160669)

I live in new jersey and we get techtv. In fact its about all I watch. My 2 year old son loves the screensavers!

don't watch tv. read slashdot instead! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160543)

If you're a real geek you don't have time to watch tv. all your time should be spent reading slashdot!

I hate losing my sat. (5, Informative)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160546)

I have dish and I love the fact that they cost so much less than Time Warner cable in the Austin area. I recently moved into an apartment and unfortunately it faces the wrong way apparently and I can't get reception. I wish the dish could point somewhere other than southwest because then I'd be golden. And for about the same service dish costs half what cable does.

DVR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160547)

Some cable systems are offering DVR as well ("soon") but have been extremely quiet regarding what the features will be and how much they will cost - no differently than "Showtime on Demand" - will it cost as much as the ~$10/month Showtime costs, etc.

I like satellite (5, Informative)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160549)

I'm a student living in an area with Comcast.. For the first two years we had Comcast because we're all used to having cable. It was okay, nothing special.. Eventually, I got fed up with Comcast not carrying some channels I wanted (Food Network and TechTV) and they kept inching the price up. I found DirecTV had a deal for three free months and a monthly fee less than that of cable.

Installation was a slight pain because we live in an apartment and couldn't mount the dish onto the building.. I bought a $25 tripod and a $3 piece of pipe (as the installer suggested, since it's cheaper than buying it from them). The reception is clear but you do notice some artifacts once in a while (similar to what a DivX looks like) in the picture due to the compression. The local channels are actually clearer than they were with cable and we get a lot more good channels. We've only lost the signal twice from two bad storms when our tripod literally tipped over. None of this "vanishing signal" like the cable commercials imply. Heck, we lost the cable signal at least once or twice a year during a bad storm. It doesn't degregate during storms, but we don't get snow, which I hear really kills the signal.

Overall, I'm glad we switched.. If you're happy with basic extended cable channels, I'd stick with comcast. If you want some of the extra channels, go satellite. I'm not sure which has NASAtv or if it's an add-on channel or something.. I see now that you can get a Tivo for cheap if you sign up for satellite and I think the Tivo monthly service fee is less also.

Go with Satellite (3, Informative)

Chaos1 (466833) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160550)

I've only had one outage in the year and half that I have had Dish Network, and that was only during a bad snow storm. I've heard other complaints about losing signal during rain, or cloudy days, but have not experienced them myself.

My parents have Comcast and it glitches out all the time, with the screen pulsating with lines across the screen. They've also had random outages for no apparent reason. Comcast just replaces the reciever hoping to fix the problem, but it never does. I've also been told by Comcast installers that most of the equipment they're using is refurb and they have troubles all the time.

DirecTV with TIVO is good (5, Informative)

CasaDelGato (701438) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160552)

I've had DirecTV in the Seattle area for years. LOTS of rain and clouds. The only times I've lost signal is when the rain and clouds were so thick that it was dark at noon. Usually I had other problems occupying my attention at those times... :-\ I recently added a DirecTIVO (HDRV3) and added a 160GB drive to it. This makes a GREAT setup. Anytime I sit down, there is something that I WANT to see on. I do get NASA TV as well.

Satellite all the way (3, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160553)

I only keep my cable TV service (also Comcast) as an emergency backup in case my DirecTV receiver goes on the blink, and because I use a cable modem for my Internet access. The picture quality is much better on DirecTV than on my cable system, and I've never had reception drop out due to rain. The only thing that's knocked out my satellite reception has been a couple days of really strong winds, which knocked my dish out of alignment a few degrees. Five minutes on my rooftop afterwards fixed that.

I'll put it this way: my cable modem has had more downtime than my satellite TV over the last two years, and every time I've checked, the cable TV feed has also been messed up whenever the cable modem has had trouble.

Plus, if you get an integrated DirecTV/TiVo receiver, you get to time-shift your shows with zero quality loss. With a standalone TiVo there's an extra D/A conversion between the satellite receiver and the video cable, then an A/D conversion and a lossy compression step to get from the cable onto the TiVo's hard disk. I quite enjoy being able to make pristine archive DVDs of my favorite shows without any re-encoding at all.

seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160555)

nix the tv and get a girlfriend. you won't regret it. you coming on slashdot and whining about your confusion makes you look like a loser.

commercials? (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160556)

I was looking at this too - but mostly because I wanted HD. Comcast doesn't offer high definition everywhere yet. As I keep hearing, it'll be "by the end of this year" (three years and counting). Satellite appears to offer HD much sooner, but for much more money. I stuck with cable for the price - which is awfully sad, considering how expensive it is. Look at the commercials: cable says that satellite is crappy and satellite says that cable is crappy. That should be enough evidence for this conclusion: don't judge based on commercials.

Get a larger dish for satellite TV (5, Informative)

RickyRay (73033) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160566)

Weather doesn't necessarily cause problems for satellite channels. I paid a little extra to install oversized dishes (30" - 36"), and during the worst rain or snow my reception is always good.

In the unlikely event (0)

nil5 (538942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160569)

... of a pre-emptive nuclear strike, the enemy would likely destroy any broadcast satellites. They can't get your coax so easily...

The Russkies have had anti-satellite tech. since the 60's.

Just a thought.

It's amazing the satellite companies haven't sued. (1)

raam (206445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160570)


I've had a DirecTV DVR for about a year now and have never lost a signal through multiple windstorms, heavy rain, etc. On top of that, I live in the rainy northwest...

Sat is good if.... (1)

sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160575)

you can get your locals. (or any locals). Get a Direct Tivo. Align your dish properly and you wont lose signal unless the storm is so bad that cable would be out also. Sat is up 99% of the time. Only during the worst rain or snow does it go down. Now if you mount you dish like they show them in the cable commerical expect trouble....do it right the first time and never screw with it in Lets see 6 years and counting..... There are lots of PVR and DVR's but there is still only one TIVO!

Satellite nono (0)

0x54524F4C4C (712971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160578)


Satellite data links have huge latencies, so dont count on them to play counterstirke. Also, if you get a storm, go do something else, your link is dead. Otherwise it is good - in particular in these fucked up places in the world where you and me get sent by our nice companies.

Slow news day? (0, Offtopic)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160579)

Ask Slashdot: Burger and fries vs. fish and chips? Jesus. It's not that slow a news day.

blAH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160581)

BLAH

Tivo! (4, Informative)

apoplectic (711437) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160582)

I've got DirecTV with a DirecTivo that was provided in a package deal (Sony T60). It has been a wonderful combination. I have yet to be unhappy in any way, shape, or form. At the time, I got the DVR for $99 as I was a first time DirecTV subscriber. I would encourage you to get some similar deal. I had digital cable before and couldn't stand it after sampling DirecTV at a friends house. You will NOT be disappointed. Now, I understand that the HD Tivos will be coming out soon (the current Tivos do not support High Def)...you might want to wait until one of these hits the market (quite possibly combined with the rather new feature of being able to burn your shows to DVD). I'd guess this happens in the 2 to 6 month range, though I'm not sure how long (if ever) the combo HD/DVD/DirecTV units will be in coming.

DirecTV for me (4, Informative)

mbadolato (105588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160594)

About two years ago, I got extremly pissed off with Cox Digital Cable (Every day for an hour or so, all the premium movie channels would go black; they kept sending techs, no one could find a problem)

I switched to DirecTV and haven't looked back since. Now, granted I'm in Phoenix so weather isn't exactly a factor here. But, even with the monsoons in the summer, i've only lost picture about 1 or 2 times, and that was only for a short duration.

When I saw that Best Buy was selling a DirecTV receiver/Tivo unit for $99, I jumped on it. We had a Tivo already but this was one unit, smaller, bigger drive, two inputs, and dolby built it.

I couldn't be any happier, and i'm glad i went this route.

Trent (0)

tljohnsn (32689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160600)

If your dish is aimed properly, it will prolly cut out less than your cable will be down for technical diffuculties.

Aiming the dish optimally is essential.

Signal loss... (1, Funny)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160601)

The only time I loose satellite signal is when a tree grows in the way (happened last year, cut down the tree no problem) or when there is *very* heavy rain on the way. Mostly when it is still dry at the house, but the BIIG storm front is between the dish and hte satellite. Knocks out reception for a moment, and then all is fine.

Cable isn't an option where I am - no cables.

direcTV (1, Informative)

morelife (213920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160606)

If the sun is out, and the weather's beautiful, dish works beautifully. Under these conditions you probably won't be inside watching tv.

I switched to cable from direcTV. The rain, snow, wind, vibration, installation limitations due to authorized "line of sight", distant tree limbs, and plain bad luck, all caused bad, horrible or no reception. After a rainstorm, my signal would stay at 60% or less because of heavy cloud cover.

I switched to cable, all problems disappeared. Also I noticed the bandwidth on the audio portion was much improved quality and intensity. In retrospect I was not happy with direcTV at all. Couldn't imagine having an Internet connection on it.

Local Channels (1)

manganese4 (726568) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160609)

If you happen to be in the hinterlands (more than 60 miles from a > 500,000 population area) you may not get local channels with directv or dish. You can get a separate antennae and switch back and forth between noraml and sat tv. The only annoying things is you have to turn off you sat receiver because of RF interference. This is a real problem if you get TIVO with your sat dish since the TIVO device has no off switch (why would you ever need to turn TIVO off??). Since the TIVO is integrated in with the Sat received, you cannot turn off the sat receiver and then have trouble seeing local channels 2 to 6.

Phillies/Flyers/Sixers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160611)

You'll be missing a lot of games if you go with the dish. If you don't follow those teams, don't mind this consideration.

DirecTV is good (3, Informative)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160613)

No I'm not a paid endoreser of them, nor do I wish to Spam, but in my experience, for $45/month for 150 channels (including NASA TV, all the basic channels but no premiums like HBO) amongst other wonderful channels with real content, I stay happy. Good value for my $ if you ask me.

Adelphia is the local cable company in my area, and while they have a promo rate of $19/month for 3 months I'm awfully suspicous of that rate after my 3 months are up and they are not willingly disclosing it. They seem kinda scummy to me.

Near as I can tell, weather conditions don't affect Satellites much either. My Satellite was doing just fine in big rainstorms here (I was a bit nervous about turning on my equipment in a big thunderstorm here not too long ago tho so I can't vouch for thunderstorms). My Dad who lives up in the mountains and has had many snowstorms has never complained about any issues with his Satellites (tho in all Fairness he's a DISH subscriber).

DVR? Can't help you there, people have been telling me to get one but they're appeal to me is limited.

Internet access? I've been told it's ok if not quite a bit laggy, but no firsthand experience myself either. For my high speed Internet I use DSL quite happily (again avoiding Adelphia like the plaque).

In short Satellite I think is a good value for the $. However your experiences may vary.

Boycott comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160615)

Just do a few web searches on comcast and you will quickly conclude that they aren't a company you want to be dealing with.

Problems with the signal on satillite dishes usually aren't the rain or snow in the air, it's the collection of it on the dish. If you wipe the dish with a rag greased with baby oil rain will sheet of it quickly even in the heaviest downfall. If you absolutely can't miss one minute, run one of the those heating elements that you can use to keep pipes from freezing up there, and have a switch on the inside of the house, so you can melt off accumulated ice if you need to.

My real, heart-to-heart advice, however ? Sell your TV. There's nothing on.

Cable (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160617)

Cable has a better chance of having local channels, most of the time. Sattelite does indeed go out during bad weather, both Direct TV and Dish have that problem. Otherwise, the dishes were slightly cheaper...

Satellite all the way (5, Informative)

slpalmer (6337) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160620)

My personal experiance on this (DirecTV Subscriber 7 years, Time Warner Analog and Digital for 5 years) is that Digital Satellite beats Digital Cable hands down.

Everything that the cable companies say (with the exception of the dog sneezing) may be true, but it's exaggerated to the point of borderline lies.

If your dish is aimed to achieve a signal in the "85%" range, which is quite easy to do, you won't have much of any problem with rain or weather fades. With mine, a 90% signal, I was able to watch TV reliable during a tropical storm in Houston. The few times I have lost signal, it was back up within minutes.

With Digital Cable, I discover that I lose signal anytime they're working on a line, construction hits a cable, flooding at their office, you name it. *At Least* a full day outage every month or two.

As for channels, Who has what depends on what day of the week it is. I believe NASA TV is carried by DirecTV. I'm not sure about Comcast, as they don't sell in my area.

Cable touts how owning your own equipment is bad. This reminds me of the old AT&T / BellSouth argument that they should own the phones and lease them to you. Guess what, Cable companies aren't supplying that digital converter for free. It costs more to rent that box than the extra that local channels cost on Satellite.

As for DVR, the DVR's supplied by either cable or satellite companies are low end models. If they fit your needs, go for it. If you want the latest and greatest, buy or build your own.

I say DirectTV is the way to go.

I have both (1)

PenguinRadio (69089) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160621)

I have DishNetwork and Comcast (long story). I find that the picture is (usually) clearer on the dish, and the sound is much better (from the major broadcast networks). On cable stations, it's about the same, though sometimes certain channels will lose a bit of a color late in the day or for some reason on the Dish (I have a 56' inch widescreen so I'm a bit picky about my picture quality).

I should note that there is a good three second delay on the Dish, which is kind of annoying when you are on the phone talking to someone about a football game and they know the result before you. I'll talk to my father about a 4th and goal and he'll say "Touchdown!" before the ball even snaps on my Dish feed. A few seconds later I see the play.

Yes, rain messes things up, but we're talking big time thunderstorms (not just your normal USA rain). If it is really bad, you can lose the signal for a while (it comes and goes).

My dish also offeres both the East and West Showtimes/HBOs which is nice when you miss something you can see it three hours later (not sure if your comcast does that).

My reason for Dish was Fox Sports World, which my local comcast didn't get. I never would have gotten the dish if the local guys offered that channel, but they didn't so tough.

Whatever you chose, get a TIVO like PVR. It rocks.

Cable is way cheaper for us. (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160624)

We have Charter Cable in Long Beach, Ca. Basic cable tv for us costs $16/month, and includes History Channel, Learning Channel, Discovery Channel, Court TV, Tech TV, Spike, ESPN, and many more. Cable internet service through them costs us $40/month, for 2mb downstream. So far, I've been extremely happy with them. We were paying for the 756k down, but a few months ago they bumped all current subscribers to 2mb down free for 6 months.

My only complain is that they limit newsgroup download speed to 256k, and block port 80.

Over all, their downtime has been minimal over the past year, and service has been excellent.

We use them with Vonage for our phone service. For what our POTS cost at our last apartment, we now get the phone, Cable TV, and broadband, and it is still a little cheaper than the POTS was.

ahhh, the joys of renting... (2, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160627)

In some apartments (in what I feel is a violation of FCC rules but what the FCC feels isn't) they require that you place large amounts of money down on a "deposit" just to put the dish on the porch (regardless of the fact that it might be free standing).

See here [condolawyers.com] for a quick link I found. Note: (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use, or

Forcing me to pay $350 deposit (of which only $75 is refunded at the END of your renting) seems to push the FREE installation costs over "reasonable".

So, Comcast is prewired into the building and I have no choice but to use the good 'ol rabbit ears.

Anonymous for a reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160628)

In a nutshell - it doesn't matter which you get. Sat TV or digital cable, it's all the same in the end. Cable has the advantage with Video on Demand, which let's you rent movies for 24 hours or so and gives you the ability to fast forward, rewind, pause, play, stop etc and all of it's streamed from the cable company.

But, let me tell you, if you wanna steal something - it's sat tv. a few hundred dollars on ebay to buy a dish + DVR/Tuner combo, couple bucks via friends for the smart card and BAM, next thing ya know free TV.

I've had it free for quite sometime, and it's FINALLY worth more then I paid hehe. It's pretty cool being able to watch a dozen diffrent FOX/ABC/CBS/NBC channels all across the nation, having all the pay channels open, and getting virtually every football, baseball, hockey, basketball game aired.

Indeed, it is truly the 8th wonder of the world.

Chance of being caught: NIL - if you don't A) Plug in the phone jack and B) Go through proper channels to secure the card

Enjoy!

Dish Network (3, Informative)

btgarner (238001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160632)

I have been a Dish Network customer for over 6 years, and prefer it over cable. I have an 80 Gb PVR with my system, and get 180 channels for under $45/month. The signal used to go out (but only during HEAVY rain) with the older systems, but since I upgraded to their 500 network, I cannot recall a single outage.

The only drawback with the DSS systems is that local channels may not be available (or if they are available, will run you an extra $5 per month)

From what I have seen, the DSS and cable companies offerings are pretty much equal. it really will boil down to what channels you want, at what price each service offers that selection, and then the service of those companies. Dish had soem serious growing pains a few years ago, but they seem to mostly be over them (or I have just gotten used to them).

My local cable company (TWC - who provides my internet access at home) has a terrible track record for billing issues, and if DSL were available where I live, I would dump TWC in a heardbeat soi that I don't give them any more money.

Had both, would prefer a dish, but Comcast is fine (1)

vjlen (187941) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160634)

I'm currently living in an apartment, and a dish is not an option, due to my unit's facing/location.

I used to have DirecTV when I was a homeowner and married, and was very happy with it (the service, not the marriage part *grin*) I can only remember one time where a severe thunderstorm temporarily knocked out service as the storm passed.

I've never had a problem with Comcast re: video programming or service, and currently using them as my ISP as well.

If I move and it became an issue again on which to pick, I would go with DirecTV again, only because NHL Center Ice reruns games overnight and in the morning, whereas Comcast's version of Center Ice does not.

Seriously, my advice is to look at the price and programming. Everyone has their horror stories which will make either cable or dish service look bad, but it's usually not the norm.

South Florida resident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160638)

I only get weather related issues when there is a big storm cell in direct LOS of the satellite. And I mean a big, shaking the pictures off the wall thunder, storm. We had 48 hours of non-stop drizzly type rain this weekend and didn't loose my signal.

Cable.. (2, Interesting)

JayPee (4090) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160642)

I'm pretty happy with cable and now that a friend who workd for AOL/Time Warner pointed out a little secret, I'll be even more so.

Cable companies make money by selling those pre-configured 'packages' of channel choices. With digital cable, however, it's quite simple for them to control which channels your receiver displays. By law, the cable companies MUST allow you to pick and choose which channels you wish to pay for.

Finally, being able to get all the Discovery channels whilst avoiding the shite like AMC or other such ilk.

another option (1)

squarefish (561836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160645)

is here [turnoffyourtv.com]

seriously though, a friend of mine used to have tv smashing parties every fourth of july (independence day) for about 10 years. He just stopped having the last year which totally sucked because so many people always looked forward to that particular party.

personally, I don't watch tv unless I'm at a bar or someone's house that has one on. I have an eyetv [elgato.com] hooked up to my mac, but only use it as a device to play vcr tapes.

Hardly ever lose Sat signal (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160646)

As a prime example, last weekend we had the mother of all blizzards blow through south Saskatchewan. (I had to spend 2 hours shovelling out the next morning, almost couldn't get the front door open). However, I never once lost the satellite signal. From my experience, the only time I have lost signal, is when there are electrical storms overhead, or in the direction your dish points. Aside from that, I've watched TV in most weather conditions that the praries can throw at you.

DirecTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160647)

I have used it for years and I have not noticed anything really annoying. It goes out during very bad rainstorms and sometimes the snow has to be dusted off but that is about it. If you can get a TIVO combo then I say go for it.

Truth vs myth (1)

Steepe (114037) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160649)

Sat is MUCH cheaper compared to cable, especially digital cable. you can get everything for about $75/month from either company where it would cost me around $120 to get everything on comcast, and its not as many channels.

YES you WILL lose signal when it rains hard, but I keep a signal strength in the 93 range in clear weather, and it has to be coming down pretty hard to take it out. a light rain won't mess with your signal at all, nor will wind as long as you have a solid mount point for the dish.

I'd get the dvr that comes from the comapny, you can get them free if you sign up for a year of service, so why not. If you just want to get one to geek out then set up a linux box and run mythtv. :)

Hope this helps.

This is something I've been considering lately too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160650)

Recently, my cable company moved the PPV channel off the analog cable, and replaced it with something called OneTV. At the same time, they had the nerve to raise their rates. So, to get that channel back (so I can order the occasional event), I need to upgrade to digital cable. My nearly $50 bill will become a nearly $65 bill in the process.

I looked at DirecTV, and I can get their system with two receivers for $45 a month. Not only would it be cheaper than what I pay now, but I'd get more channels, and I suspect a better quality picture. My only real concerns are that I live in an apartment, although it seems the FCC made a ruling allowing me to use a small dish. I'm also fortunate that I have a primarily southern view, so I should be able to aim the dish easily.

The major downside to the dish and digital cable, though, is that I lose the ability to use my TV tuner card for channel changing. I'd need to use the box, and possibly something to communicate between my computer and the box to change channels (when I'm not around). It's really unfortunate they haven't come up with a standard way of externally changing channels on these boxes. Would it be that hard to have some sort of serial interface?

Antenna (1)

skedastik (742241) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160651)

I use an antenna on my tv, so I won't be too much help. But, comparing packages in my area (comcast vs. dish network vs. direcTv) dish network and directv are the best. Basically w/ 1 premium channel and w/ a comparable lineup the dish averages out to $15 - $20 cheaper a month, includes multiple rooms, and DVR. Cable doesn't require a contract though which is a huge plus. So basically if you get the dish and it sucks you are stuck with it for 12 months. Or you can use this new invention called an antenna and you can watch TV for free!

Depends... (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160652)

Since you already have DSL, you're kinda set. However, you may not have local stations with your satellite service -- I know one service here in Maryland/DC area doesn't carry a DC area station, and was advertised as such on that station.

However, cable is comming back though. Most service providers use "digital cable" which means the signal from the provider's regional HQ to the localized distribution node is digital. That also means HDTV signals can come in, as well as more channels and Internet service. Comcast is advertizing that now. So, there's a bit of a match.

The only difference is if you do not have broadband access. A good amount of customers can't get DSL (including me). We have to use cable or dialup. Thus, cable it is.

DirecTv (1)

hague (557186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160654)

I dropped cable many years ago and have four DirecTv boxes in the house so I can record multiple things at the same time and watch different channels in different rooms. Channel lineup is important to me. My favorite channel, Tech TV (with The Screen Savers [thescreensavers.com] show), is only available on DirecTv in Indianapolis. A heavy, wet snow will sometimes pack in the dish and I have to sweep it out. A heavy thunderstorm can sometimes black the signal out for a few minutes. The picture is typically better than cable. The DVR version required a dual-LNB dish and two cables routed from the dish to the box. Enjoy!

I've had both. (2, Interesting)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160655)

I've used both satellite (dish network) and comcast cable. Let me tell you, I've had more outages with comcast than with dish. The dish only went out when it was an ice storm. And let me tell you, I didn't even have power half the time. Every time it rains here, literally my cable goes out. Don't believe the ads saying they lost the "pitcha".

I've had both (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160657)

Cheaper more channels with Sattalite

Better quality with digital cable.

But it was fun with satalite to use the reception as a weather predictor. It didn't go out every time it rained or snowed, only 5-7 minutes before a big thunderstorm or blizzard. So it gave me enough warning to check my car windows. Insight cable is just now starting to offer some channels that I loved on satalite, but I think this is more due to the historical reasons in my area (rockford, IL).

Been a suscriber for a few years (4, Informative)

Str8Dog (240982) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160658)

I don't know much about digital cable but I can tell you a few things about DirecTV having been a subscriber for several years. I live in the Seattle area and it rains here a lot. We have never had a problem with rain fade. The only time my signal drops to a unwatchable level, it is due to someone bumping it on the way up the stairs (dish is in a bad location and easy to bump if you are carting stuff up the stairs.).

The down side is the year long contact you must agree to for service. If you want to cancel early they charge your something like $12/month left on the contact. There is a $5/month charge for equipment per room. And finally DirecTV has had great problems getting me a bill in the mail each month. I don't really know why, but I had to start paying my bills online just to make sure they didn't try to ding me for late fees.

Finally, I would like to point out DirecTV's private war on piracy. You might want to check out sites like Freedom Fight [freedomfight.ca] and make sure you morally agree with DirecTV's methods of (IMHO) extortion.

Satellite Outtages are Completely Overrated (1)

ZaMoose (24734) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160664)

In the year that I've had DirecTV, the only outtages that I've experienced have been during the strongest of electrical storms. This winter's snow systems haven't even slightly affected our signal.

Of course, YMMV.

Dish vs. Cable (1)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160667)

I've got Dish Network and I'm generally happy with it: the picture is a lot better than cable in my area, and the HD channels are nice.

During bad snowstorms, the snow piles up on the dish, which can cause outtages. During heavy rain, I tend to not watch TV anyhow, but I do get some rain losses.

As for DVRs, with DirectTV, you are in luck, since they have Tivo as a partner. However, Dish uses their own PVR, which is not nearly as nice as Tivo. However, Dish does have their HDTV PVR shipping, but Tivo doesn't have its offering available yet.

I use a standalone Tivo with my Dish receiver, though, and it works just fine. However, in general, getting the built in PVR is better for picture quality: the DirecTivo can save the satellite signal digitally, while a standalone Tivo would have conversions in between.

I just went through this myself (1)

elcid73 (599126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160670)

I would have chosen DirecTv with Tivo, but my landlord would not have allowed me to put a dish up. So I'm stuck with analog cable and my awesome replayTV.

My research shows that if cost is your concern, you should get a dish or directv system. If you are a new customer, you can get the DVR or Tivo for free, and you pay 5.95 or so per mo for the service. It is a great deal compared to what I pay now for standard cable.

I'm in Central New York, and my cable provider is Time Warner. I also have Cable modem with them as well. I recive no discount for having both. I pay 42 for the CM, and 42 for the standard analog cable (under a 100 channels). For 34 per month, you can get a comprable digital package with the sat. companies. Add the 5 bucks or so for the DVR/Tivo service and maybe another 5 bucks for another reciever and you are just barely above what my cable company charges me for analog cable.

In central New York, we have weather that is not very desirable. From what I hear of Sat. owners, it has not been a problem getting reception, although the installer who came to my house spend a half hour looking at trees and trying to predict where the trees will bloom in spring so that I could get a decent line of sight with the SW skies. Seemed really picky. (Of course, as I mentioned, I never got it installed, so I don't how it would have worked)

Directv (1)

ViceClown (39698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160672)

I've been a very satisfied directv customer for 2 years now. The signal has never gone out even in heavy snow. Customer service is very good and their web site allows you to change your programing on the fly. As well, the Directv Tivo ROCKS because it is an all digital signal AND has two tuners. HD is rolling out now and the HD tivo is going to be available shortly. Seriously, it's a great value and a great service, IMHO. Never had reception issues and I live in Philadelphia where we get plenty of snow!

DTV (1)

1gkn1ght (742286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160674)

I have had DirecTV for over 4 years and am verry happy with it. I also have a Tivo DTV receiver. I have not had any problems with either service (unless you have heavy cloud cover). I am able to record anything that I want from the dish (including PPV).

For the price, I think dish is much better. I have 4 receivers in my house, the Tivo, and Direct Plus programming (NASA TV, Local Chans, everything but the movie chans) and I'm paying a tad under $50.

No cable! (1)

Jeff Hartmann (14034) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160675)

I live in Idaho so it doesn't rain that often here, but it has rained hard before and it does get windy. When I did have cable I had to have the Cable Guy come out at least 3 times (about once a month) to fix my cable because it was fuzzy. With the DirecTV I've had for about 2 years I have only had it have problems about 2 times and it only lasted about 15 minutes each time. (Bonus is I didn't need the "DirecTV Guy" come out to fix it) I'd go DirecTV again without a thought.

I've also got a standalone Tivo and a Replay. I think I would prefer the DirecTivo over the standalone. The MPEG from the reciever is saved right to the HD instead of being reencoded, so it saves space and gives a better picture. Also I don't like the IR Blaster method of changing the channels and the Guide data in the standalone doesn't include the PPV channels. Using a serial connection (which is how my Replay is setup) actually works well, but still the same guide problems.

I just wish I could pick which channels I got, as I only really watch Discovery, Sci-Fi and I'd watch a few of the network stations if I could get them here.

I Have Comcast (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160679)

The local provider has changed hands too many times to count. Time/Warner was okay. MediaOne was Okay. AT&T was terrible -- so bad it renewed my vow to never go with their services in ANYTHING again. It was so bad, I was planning on moving to satellite as soon as I had time to deal with it (and change my Internet, but even though I'm in Richmond, the capital of VA, I can't get DSL in my neighborhood from the local phone companies -- only Covad).

Comcast and AT&T Cable merged and, basically, Comcast took over. I noticed a difference soon. Whereas AT&T seemed to push giving us as little as possible, Comcast seems to do more (that's why the stories about limits on "unlimited use" surprised me). Comcast offers video on demand --- not just for Pay-Per-View. I've watched most of "Jeremiah" through on demand. I like picking a movie and watching it when I want, instead of when HBO or Showtime schedules it. (I also like being able to sit down whenever I want and having a choice of something like 8 Monty Python eps to watch!)

While Comcast may not offer DVR yet (they're promising them in our area soon), my experience is that when Comcast starts adertising, the service isn't far behind. Their techs seem to know what they're doing and phone support is pretty good (and I know Comcast treats the employees much better than AT&T did). (AT&T is so bad, some cities passed resolutions and were about to yank their franshise rights unless AT&T fixed things!)

One last note about Comcast: Richmond got cable in 1985 (or so) and had a local call center for billing and tech support from the beginning. AT&T came in and suddenly my calls went to Newfoundland -- not even on the same continent! Comcast came in and one of the first things they did was bring back the local call center for billing. I still get Toronto or Newfoundland for tech support, but I can get local help on billing and other questions.

I'm sorry that I have no experience with any kind of dish, so I can't speak to that, but my brother in law said when he used a dish (forgot if it was DishTV or DirecTV), he hardly ever lost the picture.

DirectTV and DTivo (1)

John Fulmer (5840) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160681)

Since I moved to the boondocks a year ago, and no cable available, I recently signed up for DirectTV and got a DTivo unit ($75 installed with a one year contract).

Overall, I'm quite pleased. Satellite is NOT the same quality as normal (analog) cable, and I can see a difference between the two (then again, I do a lot of video editing, so MPEG artifacts are very obvious to me), but the image quality is quite watchable on my 26" TV at close range. Note that most cable companies are moving/have moved to 'digital cable' as well, which should be comparable image quality to DirectTV.

What I'm REALLY happy with is the DirectTivo unit. I got the Phillips DSR 7000 model, which is a Series 2 model, and I'm overjoyed with it. Does everything it's supposed to, is very hackable, and once you enable the USB ports, for $20 you can get a decent ethernet adaptor for it.

As far as losing picture, I've only lost it once, and that was for an hour during an ice storm which was covering the dish with ice. It cleared up on it's own, however.

DirecTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8160686)

I live in one of the most notorious bad-weather spots in the U.S., Seattle, and I have DirecTV. I hardly ever notice any problems with the signal, and compared to Comcast I'm getting one heck of a deal for cable in my area. Right now, thanks to some specials, I'm only paying around $35 a month or so for full cable (w/ local channels) and about 8 HBO channels. Once the promotion ends I'll be paying around $50/mo. which is still about $15 less than what Comcast charges a month.

That added with the fact that you can get a TiVo receiver along with your DirecTV for something like $4 extra a month (this is what DirecTV told me when I asked them about it) makes the decision a no-brainer in my mind. If your only reservation about getting DirecTV is the signal, fuhgettaboutit and sign up. You'll thank me later.

Just a data point (2, Informative)

kvigor (66615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160690)

I've had satellite service for about five years. I get one or two outages a year due to heavy snowfall. These are easily resolved with the high-tech dish-snow-removal tool (the Mk.I broom duct-taped to a pipe). No other weather-related outages ever.

Judging from neighbourhood heresay, this is orders of magnitude more reliable than Comcast's cable service (I'm in Salt Lake City).

DirecTiVo is the only way to go (1)

KenCrandall (13860) | more than 10 years ago | (#8160691)

I've had plain DirecTV, Comcast digital cable, Comcast digital cable + TiVo, DirecTV + TiVo, and now an integrated DirecTV + TiVo (Sometimes called "DirecTiVo"). I have to say that nothing/ out there compares to having the TiVo and the DirecTV receiver combined.

We had Comcast digital cable for 1 yr, as it was "free" when we moved into our new house. It was a horrible experience for us. The quality was terrible, the UI was slow as hell (even when compared to satellite recievers). It was always going down, and there was noticable blockiness in their MPEG-2 streams even for HBO and other pay channels (meaning they chose low-bitrate streams.) They even have the gall to run "TV Guide" adverts in the UI -- FOR SOMETHING THAT I ALREADY PAY FOR. Captive-audience advertising is easily in my top-10 pet peeves, and that alone would have been enough to make us switch, had the quality not sucked.

Before Comcast, we had DirecTV for 3 years, in two states (NC and CA). Their service has always been wonderful, and I have always liked the thought of being able to comparison-shop for my equipment (you lucky people in Europe with your DBS standards!) We went back to DirecTV once we realized what we had been missing.

TiVo (I only have limited experience with other PVR's, but I consider TiVo to truly be different than PVR -- think PVR++) completely changes the way you watch TV. Other than watching live sports broadcasts (ice hockey, mostly) my wife and I watch TV when we want it, often even waiting 1 hour until it's completely recorded, just so we can skip the commercials.

Overall, I'd recommend DirecTV w/ integrated TiVo (they're cheap now) if you watch a lot of TV, and just a plain DirecTV system (they're even cheaper) if you just watch TV occasionally.

Cheers,
Ken
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