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DirecTV's 1st MPEG4 Satellite Launch Successful

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the final-frontier-seems-a-little-boring-lately dept.

Television 291

tivoKlr writes "Looks like the 1st Spaceway satellite to provide "1500 channels of HD" has made it successfully into space. MPEG4 compression and local HD channels, something that the cable company can't offer in my area." Unfortunately the new satellite obsoletes the HD Tivo, and there's no word on when there will be a new one.

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291 comments

Yes, but does it play DOOM? (-1, Offtopic)

gevmage (213603) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358323)

Hey, I wonder if you could run Linux on those...

er...no...how about a Beowulf cluster of...

er...no...how about the world's best Myth-TV setup? Yeah, that'd be good!

Re:Yes, but does it play DOOM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358436)

My old DishPlayer 7100 had Doom and You Don't Know Jack on it. With the wireless keyboard, they weren't half bad.

Full HDTV Finally (5, Interesting)

blackmesh.com (853255) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358343)

Finally something that can compete with Comcast's 15 HD channels. This might actually push local cable providers to finally offer HD service for all of the channels.

Of course the content will have to be in HD as well. But this always has been the chicken and the egg problem, without a network to broadcast HD content, why create it?

jason

Re:Full HDTV Finally (1)

RocketRay (13092) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358648)

I have 40 HD channels available on Voom. It's sweet! But just for three more days until it goes out of business May 1st. :(

Who does the sky belong to? (-1, Troll)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358352)

Is the sky open for littering to only those corporations with the deepest pockets? I suppose that's a rhetorical question because the only answer thus far is Yes.

I don't begrudge them of their money, nor do I begrudge them of their ability to send up satellites on their whim. However, I wonder what the general public is going to benefit from all this private space "littering". Is the benefit from space travel and those little bits of metal flying around the planet only available to those who pay a fee to private companies?

If it were up to me, I think satellites would only be owned by government bodies so that the services that were provided by these planetary companions would be made available to all citizens.

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358612)

If only the UN regulated orbital paths and governments collected huge sums of money from the people using such paths, presumably for the public good -- oh wait, that already happens.

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (3, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358670)

yeah, lets all become commies too and have our government own everything!!

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358773)

Just buy some of their stock and you too can own a piece of the litter in the sky.

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (3, Funny)

kcurtis (311610) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358902)

If it were up to me, I think satellites would only be owned by government bodies so that the services that were provided by these planetary companions would be made available to all citizens.

Of course, given the previous slashdot article [slashdot.org] about the Bush adminstration's policy on IATC meeting attendees, only Republicans will be allowed to watch HD satellite tv. And only if they donate $1000 to the GOP.

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (1)

Casca (4032) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358942)

If it were up to me, I think satellites would only be owned by government bodies so that the services that were provided by these planetary companions would be made available to all citizens.

I honestly just don't even know where to start with this comment. Other than maybe, who let the troll in?

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (1)

JayWalkin (761212) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358964)

Well, since we are all already in a cynical mood about this. Think about how much more money it would cost for the government to launch and manage the satellites vs. a private company. Private companies always has to answer to the bottom line. Would you really want your tax dollars going to this? The debt from the Iraq war is a leading example of how the government really sees the bottom line as merely a starting point. And on top of that, it would still be the largest corporations who would lobby for control of the satellites. Think how much time and money would be spent on the sessions of congress dedicated to this. I mean, I see your point and I'm a little bit discouraged to look into my crystal ball and see the future where space is lined with flying garbage, but really some the alternatives discourage me more.

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (3, Interesting)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#12359060)



Say a satellite is 10 feet wide, you could fit over 11,000,000 in a straight line from the earth to orbit and still probably wouldn't be able to see the line.

You can only fit under 8,000 1/64 inch pieces of lint in a straight line on a 10 foot bed sheet

Re:Who does the sky belong to? (4, Insightful)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 8 years ago | (#12359115)

I don't begrudge them of their money, nor do I begrudge them of their ability to send up satellites on their whim. However, I wonder what the general public is going to benefit from all this private space "littering". Is the benefit from space travel and those little bits of metal flying around the planet only available to those who pay a fee to private companies?

If it were up to me, I think satellites would only be owned by government bodies so that the services that were provided by these planetary companions would be made available to all citizens.

You make an interesting point, but after considering it carefully, I respectfully disagree with everything you just said.

They provide a service that I'm willing to pay for -- media content delivery. If you don't want it, don't pay for it. I don't want the government launching these satellites, because I don't want the government controlling the content. Furthermore, since governments don't own satellite airspace, governments don't get to license it. This leads me to some other questions for you: Because airplanes fly over your airspace, should they be made available to all citizens? It's really only wealthy citizens, businesses, and governments who can own and operate these vehicles -- very similar to satellites. What's the ultimate difference between a company launching a dozen satellites in geosynchronous orbit versus building a vast terrestrial distribution network? Should only governments be allowed to build these networks? In both cases (satellite and wired), the businesses own the infrastructure, and the consumer simply pays for service. It covers both media licensing and distribution costs. This way, the networks are able to get around government censorship of what they broadcast -- terrestrial television and radio broadcasts are still subject to this censorship. I generally do not patronize those services due to this censorship. Personally, I find the censorship far more obscene than the content they are trying to protect me from.

As far as the service rendered, it's entertainment. Does it benefit us? It depends on how much you value entertainment. One man's junk is another man's gold. When we buy it, it's a choice. When the government provides it, we're all paying for it whether we like it or not.

Finally, as far as I know, the sky is open to anyone who wants to put something up there (providing that they acquire the necessary licenses from whatever applicable aerospace governing administration for their launch vehicle). There are two problems: building these communication devices is very expensive and putting them in place is extremely expensive. The only groups who seem to have the cash to do such a thing are goverments and businesses. It sounds an awful lot like you're begrudging them of their money and their ability to send up satellites on their whim.

For someone not hip on the lingo (3, Interesting)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358375)

Why does it obsolete the HD TiVo?

-Jesse

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (4, Informative)

Dios (83038) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358399)


I believe the High Def Tivo uses MPEG2 for its data streams, won't be capable of decoding the MPEG4 streams.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (1)

Silwenae (514138) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358412)

HD TiVo's can't decode the MPEG 4 streams, which is what the new satellites will be broacasting (I believe the current HD stream is MPEG 2).

You can read more here @ PVRBlog [pvrblog.com]

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358703)

That's what I've heard as well. The thing I keep wondering is exactly how underpowered is the MIPS cpu in the HD Tivo? If it had a powerful enough CPU (highly unlikely) it could do it in software. :(

Anyhoo, pipedream anyway. FYI, I believe it is "this obsolesces the HD Tivo". Then again, my spelling is probably wrong. :P

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (0, Redundant)

er824 (307205) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358415)

I beleive it is because the new sattelites are going to use MPEG4, the existing ones use MPEG2. You are going to need a new receiver to receive channels from the new sattelites.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (0, Redundant)

peterd11 (800684) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358440)

The HD Tivo only does MPEG-2, and the new local channels are supposed to be encoded using MPEG-4. However, I've wondered about this too. DirecTV has sent several updates to the HD Tivos since they came out. Can someone confirm that a software update could not be used to add MPEG-4 support to the HD Tivo?

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (1, Redundant)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358509)

"Can someone confirm that a software update could not be used to add MPEG-4 support to the HD Tivo?"

MPEG decoding in the DTivo boxes is done in hardware, so a software update isn't possible.
There are plently of $1000 HD Tivo owners pissed off about it.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358562)

(raises hand)

FIRST PISSED!

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (1)

mmeister (862972) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358668)

IF DirecTV were smart, they'd offer some relatively inexpensive (less than $100? + discount on HDTV for a few months) trade-in program, preferably to a newer MPEG4 capable Tivo.

What is it with these customer-oriented companies that forget where their money is coming from?

Comcast, TimeWarner, DirecTV, Qwest, SBC (and there are many more) -- all think that it is acceptable to offer horrible service/options and charge a premium for it. All are theoretically dependent on keeping their customers happy (since losing them would result in future revenue losses) -- but apparently are so arrogant as to not care anymore.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (2, Informative)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358754)

DirecTV doesn't want to use TiVo anymore, they are developing their own "Home Media System" or something like that to replace the HDDirecTiVos. It is of course not released yet.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (3, Insightful)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358920)

"What is it with these customer-oriented companies that forget where their money is coming from?"

Look up the words "Monopoly" and "Oligopoly"

Short answer is, they dont *have* to care. You want them more than they need you.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (2, Informative)

skaeight (653904) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358511)

I will confirm that a software update will not allow an HDTiVo to decode MPEG-4. TiVos are very low powered devices, and thus use hardware decoder chips, not software decoding. So they have an MPEG-2 decoder chip to complement a comparibly underpowered CPU. They can't simply push a new codec down to the TiVo to decode MPEG-4.

HD DirecTiVos will be obsolete next year.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358522)

The HD Directivos replay the stream to the video section of the receiver, which uses a chipset to generate the video from the bitstream (which isn't quite MPEG2 either, DirecTV uses a proprietary video transmission format). The directivo processors likely don't have the processing power to transcode mpeg4 into a stream the chipset can handle.

DirecTV subscribers will likely be happiest with this new bird if they get better picture quality rather than more channels. Subscribers have be complaining for a long time about resolution downsampling, low bitrates and heavy muxing of the current datastream, leading to "much less than HD-quality" HD. Search the forums at http://www.avsforum.com/ for more info than you'll ever want to know about HD on DirecTV.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358792)

What my mother wants to know is "does this obsolete my first-generation DSS receiver if she doesn't use HDTV?"

If so, she's not interested in buying a new receiver. If DirecTV wants to keep her as a customer they can send her an upgrade for free.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358835)

it's a different codec (compress/decompress), this satellite sends mpeg4 as opposed to the older mpeg2 that the old HD Tivo uses.

hope that helps.

Re:For someone not hip on the lingo (1)

davestar (680893) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358845)

Don't worry. To be "hip on the lingo", just use adjectives as verbs.

"Renders the Tivo obsolete" becomes "obsoletes the Tivo". See, it's easy!

In this kind of setup... (2, Insightful)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358401)

Do they encode regular NTSC signals as HD even though there's no visual benefit, to simplify production, operation, and tuning at the client end?

Re:In this kind of setup... (4, Informative)

gevmage (213603) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358446)

Digital TV has 18 different formats (resolutions), 6 of which are considered "HD". A couple of them are equivalent to NTSC resolution; 640x480 pixels. So NTSC stuff would presumably be broadcast in the standard appropriate digital format, taking up less bandwidth than one of the HD formats.

Re:In this kind of setup... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358569)

Hell no. They need every bit of bandwidth they can squeeze out of their transponders, which is part of the reason for moving to MPEG4 encoding from their proprietary (and heavily over-compressed) quasi-mpeg2 datastream.

Re:In this kind of setup... (1)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358610)

This is just for local broadcast HDTV - current service both HD and NTSC will continue being sent on existing birds using mpeg2. While they havent said anything about future plans for using H.264 for non hd feeds, one can easily assume that if/when they do that they will tune the encoding of each channel to an appropriate bitrate and resolution. Saving bandwidth is their primary driving factor in launching H.264 service - not simplifying production or easing client side requirements.

Re:In this kind of setup... (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358651)

NTSC still has nasty color artifacts. In theory, a SD ATSC stream, given a high enough bitrate, looks as good as a DVD. But most broadcasters starve their SD streams, either because they multicast several SD channels, or because they insist on simulcasting in both High and Standard definition. Hmm, shall I watch the fuzzy, washed out version, or the sharp, high resolution version? Decisions, decisions....

Satellites are linear not digital (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358417)

Note that comm satellites are just 'bent pipes'. This keeps them simple and independent of changing technology. So, there likely isn't any MPEG4 technology on board the satellite. Rather, the technology will be in the ground station. Therefore, DirecTV could have used an existing satellite in orbit, or even shared space with someone else on a satellite...

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (5, Informative)

skaeight (653904) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358577)

Actually, no they couldn't have. For one reason. Bandwidth. They are completely maxed out right now. They couldn't have added 1 more HD channel, let alone 1500 additional HD channels. Each HD channel is something like 15 SD channel.

The only reason they are able to do this is because they are going to be transmitting using a different band - KA. The current DirecTV sattelites transmit in the KU band. So they'll be using their existing orbital slots 101, 110, & 119 to broadcast on a different wavelenght.

Unfortunately this is going to be mean a larger dish will be required. Google dish network superdish for an idea of how big it is. Dish Network already does broadcast some local channels in KA band.

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (1)

TGK (262438) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358662)

I used to work for Dish.... if memory serves the SuperDish was about 3 feet wide at its widest point and somewhat football shaped.

The real problem with them (and DirecTV is going to have this problem as well) is that they're a royal pain in the ass to point.

Realisticly, the consumer won't be able to realign his system anymore.

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (1)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358735)

I have a SuperDish pointed at 105, 110 and 119. Aiming it without a signal reader would be near impossible. I guess you could take your receiver and tv out by the dish and use the "Point Dish" screen ;)

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (1)

kryptkpr (180196) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358917)

Uhm.. isn't that how you're supposed to do it anyway? I don't think I woulda got my (normal, little) sattelite up without the Point Dish screen..

Or are there some people with uber-dish-skillz that just "know" exactly where in the sky they're pointing?

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (4, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358935)

I find that a beer helps. No, really, patience is required in pointing these multi-bird dishes, and I find a cold beer helps calm the nerves and give you somehting to do during the process.

I've re-mounted my 3LNB D* dish several times, and I always take out a receiver and an old 13" TV with me to do the job. It may take 30 minuts or so to get it just right, but hey, I' mostly sitting on my butt drinking a beer and watching TV (well, the set upscreen).

Besides, nothing gives the new neighbors a first impression like seeing the "new guy" sitting on his roof watching TV and drinking a beer.

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12359054)

The good news about Spaceway is that it uses Ka-band, which has a higher gain for the same sized dish.

But Ka is more sensitive to rain fade than Ku...

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (2, Interesting)

Casca (4032) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358831)

I think a full HD MPEG2 stream takes up 18Mb/s, however many cable companies and definitely satellite companies compress it down from that.

What I do know, is that analog channels on cable, look like utter and complete crap on an HD monitor. That, and the Sci-Atlanta box that COX uses upconverts about as well as a OU plays in the Orange Bowl... Digital cable is such a misnomer, I can't believe they get away with selling it as digital.

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (3, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358940)

19 Mpbs is the standard (ATSC) for US digital terrestrial HD broadcasts. But trust me, HD looks a lot better at 270 Mbps (HDCAM) rates...

Re:Satellites are linear not digital (2, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358900)

Spaceway uses digital regenerative switching, so it is not at all like typical geosync comm satellites. But you are right, there is nothing about MPEG-4 on the satellite, it could very well be switching MPEG-2 coded video or even IP (its original mission).

The funny thing is that MPEG-4 streams are carried within the same 188-byte packet MPEG-2 transport stream that normal MPEG-2 live video streams use.

What about receivers? (1)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358427)

Well, I'm not sure if I'm simply uninformed or what, but I'd say today's receivers don't support MPEG4 by default. What are DIRECTV's plans on giving their consumers new receivers? Are they going to upgrade everyone or charge big bucks for HDTV?

Re:What about receivers? (2, Funny)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358469)

What are DIRECTV's plans on giving their consumers new receivers?

Bwahahahahahahahaha! Bwahahahahahaha!

You're a funny guy kusanagi374 (776658)!

Re:What about receivers? (1)

kusanagi374 (776658) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358507)

Nice way of telling me they'll be charging a premium for this one. How couldn't I see that coming ;)

Re:What about receivers? (1)

TommydCat (791543) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358544)

How couldn't I see that coming ;)

As they see me going...

I just slapped down $1k for mine right before all of this came to light. That would definitely have affected my purchase decision and DTV better keep right by me or I'm going to walk and not look back.

At least I will when the cablecard HD tivo comes out ;)

Re:What about receivers? (3, Insightful)

hollismb (817357) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358704)

I believe they have an upgrade/replacement plan where they pay a nominal amount to replace your current TiVo, reciever, or HD TiVo when you exchange it for a new one. The way I read it (which was somewhere else on Slashdot in another TiVo story) was that they obviously won't pay you waht you paid for the HD TiVo, but the newer receivers would be significantly lower in price, and that 'new ' price would pretty much match what they give you for the exchange. Surely they don't want to alienate customers, especially those that are obviously willing to pay for premium hardware/content.

Quality of MPEG4 signals? (5, Interesting)

jfmerryman (670236) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358456)

Has anyone had a chance to personally see MPEG4-encoded HD? Is the quality acceptable compared to the original MPEG2 stream?

I have to imagine that by recompressing into MPEG4 from MPEG2 (the format the signals are provided in, at least currently), some quality would be lost. The question is, how much quality is DirectTV prepared to sacrifice in order to say that they have the entire country covered with HD locals?

Personally, I'm sticking with cable because I want the original MPEG2 stream passed through without any recompression, and I don't want to watch TV without DVR features.

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (1)

RawDigits (456594) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358525)

I would imagine an operation as large as DirecTV is probably not going to be re-encoding an MPEG2 signal, but using a more raw format for HD and compressing it from the 'master' copy just as they do when they convert to mpeg2 now ..

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (1)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358530)

"and I don't want to watch TV without DVR features"

Do you think that DVR features are unique to Cable only? I have a Dish Network DVR522 and love my dual tuner Satelite DVR fun. They also have the DVR942 now which gives you all the power of 522 with the addition of HD.

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (1)

jfmerryman (670236) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358779)

Didn't mean to state that - but DVR features are not available for DirectTV's MPEG4-encoded channels yet.

I'm going to wait until the quality has been determined (I still think that satellite providers have more of a financial incentive to reduce bitrates than cable providers do), and HD-DVRs are available (preferably TiVo-based, but I'm not holding my breath on that one)

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (1)

mecro (597901) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358553)

Doubtful that any quality will be lost, it will be gained if anything. Take Over-The-Air transmissions for instance.

The FCC only gave broadcasters a small chunk of the spectrum to broadcast, which means the MPEG2 signal is compressed somewhere between 49-55:1.. That's insane, and MPEG 4 will hopefully lessen the compression ratio.

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (2, Informative)

jchapman16 (300859) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358558)

Note that cable providers recompress the original MPEG2 streams themselves to reduce bandwidth used by HD channels.

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358712)

Note that cable providers recompress the original MPEG2 streams themselves to reduce bandwidth used by HD channels.

All this talk of HDTV taking up more bandwidth than SD signals is confusing me. I thought the FCC was requiring the move to HD signals to free up the spectrum???

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (4, Informative)

flimflam (21332) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358594)

Yes, though not at the specific data rates used for broadcast. In general MPEG4 is vastly superior to MPEG2, however. Also, an MPEG2 stream would never be recompressed as MPEG4, the broadcaster would feed the uncompressed signal into the MPEG4 compressor. All in all this is a move to increase quality at the same bandwidth.

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (1)

jfmerryman (670236) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358888)

I still have my doubts about this - who is going to pay for all those realtime MPEG4 compressors that would need to be placed throughout the country at each local affiliate? I would imagine that it would need to be compressed there (as it is now, into MPEG2), rather than transmitted uncompressed to DirecTV's uplink facility - which I doubt anyone would do/want to pay for.

In the short term, I'm betting that they will just recompress the existing MPEG2 they currently receive.

I'm all for competition (especially to keep the cable companies in check), but I think the bandwidth limitations that satellite companies face are going to result in poor quality low-bitrate signals being marketed as "high definition".

Re:Quality of MPEG4 signals? (2, Interesting)

TheSync (5291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358825)

It has not been proven to me (and my job includes me looking at this) that MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) encoders can do a better job today at the same bitrate as the highest quality MPEG-2 encoders (i.e. the ones that cost $50,000).

I expect that, like MPEG-2, we will see MPEG-4 encoders doing a better job over time, and I suspect that eventually the best MPEG-4 encoders will be doing a similar quality to the best MPEG-2 encoders at half the bitrate. But that is in the future, especially for HD!

49,391,337 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358485)

49,391,337

Before:1-0 to Elch. Now: 1-1 (-1, Offtopic)

picz (264520) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358491)

The story made it to Slashdot
Elch's webserver is gone
Mission accomplished for 'bitchecker' /picz

Sat better than cable? Whatever... (1)

DaveOke (598243) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358588)

"something that the cable company can't offer"...

We have had both cable and sat. to compare the quialty difference on a HD television set. Sat. is very pixelated and generally quite bad quality...even the PPV channels which are supposed to have better quality. Cable is quite clear all the time (except for some lower number channels 70) - not to mention, in my area, cable is alot cheaper than sat service.

Also with cable, I can have interactive (On-Demand) service that's impossible for sat. to provide.

Re:Sat better than cable? Whatever... (1)

skaeight (653904) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358621)

I agree with this. Cable is going to kill satellite when it comes to HD. Satellite in the end might have more total capacity, but most if it is going to be wasted in the replication of the same content around 300 times (1500 local channels).

Cable doesn't have to provide 1500 local channels, they have to provide around 6. This leaves them plenty of room for actual HD content. My local cable company already offers me all of my locals in HD plus about 10 more HD channels than either sat company offers.

Re:Sat better than cable? Whatever... (1)

SweetsGreen (879364) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358683)

I live in the NY/NJ area, cablevision is out of control. I pay close to $130 for cable and a cable modem, those scumbags don't even offer any package discounts. Not to mention the other day I get a letter from cablevision saying that I have been getting an introductory rate and I was going to have to pay an extra $25 a month. But I have to disagree about cable having better quality pictures. From what I've seen sat has a much better picture, the only downside is the 20 minutes you have to wait when changing channels and having to pray for clear skys during the mets game.

Re:Sat better than cable? Whatever... (2, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358774)

Man, I'd like to have your cable company. SD D* was superior to all the cable channels on my old network, and about the same cost as D*, if you count the TiVo service.

I've seen my (new) local Adelphia service, and SD looks about the same. I can't say how reliable it is vs D*, as I don't subscribe to cable (a friend has it). If it's anything like the cablemodem sevice, I can live without it. I probably lose 10% of my surf time in any given month to cable outages. In five years with D*, I've lost signal four times - twice due to monstor thunderstorms, and twice with the local feeds died in CO.

I haven't seen HD yet to compare, as I'm not up for dropping money on an HD D* set right now. Adelphia wants about $45/mo for basic cable service and $55 for digital cable (not including HD). Real TiVo is $13/mo extra and I don't get multi-channel capability. I've got two DTiVos with service for $55/mo from D*.

Cable can kiss my scrawny white ass already. If the rumors are correct about the new D* system, I'm staying with satellite. 4 tuner headend recorder plus HD or SD set top boxes for the TVs? I'm there, no question. THough I hope that TiVo will have a hand in the interface, it sounds like I'km going to lose that feature, but then it will be no worse than Adelphia's home-grown ungly-child DVR, so the prize still goes to D*.

Ka spot beams (5, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358595)

The "killer technology" on the Spaceway birds are their ability to form tight "spot beams" using Ka band (~20 Ghz) downlink signals.

The spot beams are formed using a 1500 element phased array. The array can form as many as 780 downlink spot beams and 112 uplink spot beams across the US. Compare this with a typical Ku-band (~12 GHz) satellite which has a single beam over the entire US.

Spaceway uses digital regenerative switching of up to 10 Gbps, as opposed to the analog transponders of most geosynchronous communications satellites (despite the fact that most of those transponders are used with digital services these days).

Spaceway was originally supposed to provide satellite point-to-point and point-to-multipoint IP connectivity, but that was dropped in favor of providing massive localized HDTV capacity using spot beams.

Unfortunately, Ka band is more sensitive to rain fade outages than Ku band.

Re:Ka spot beams (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358899)

You sound like the kind of guy that can help me. I took apart a LNB for fun. I'm wondering who makes the transistors in the gain chain. I've looked at NEC, RF Nitro (or whatever they are called now), etc...

If you could just take a look at the devices [dfpresource.org], if you have any pointers, it would be awesome. They are 2mm on a side (80 mils).

Yeah, but what about high speed internet? (1)

Jeremiah Stoddard (876771) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358625)

Cable companies still have the advantage in the fact that they tend to offer broadband internet service in addition to TV channels -- I know you can get satellite-based internet service, but they all seem to be from separate companies like StarBand, as far as I can tell. And they suck compared to cable internet, at least where I live, though I'll admit I've seen some pretty crappy cable internet providers as well...

Re:Yeah, but what about high speed internet? (1)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358709)

Dish + SBC [2wire.com] It is what I have. All on one bill and all the beatiful features I need.

Re:Yeah, but what about high speed internet? (1)

Jeremiah Stoddard (876771) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358944)

That's good to know, b/c Dish Network is actually what I was thinking about when I said they don't offer high speed internet. Now the main obstacle is their notoriously bad support - at least for Spanish-speaking customers. I've seen them go for a week without TV before someone came to fix their dish and charge them $40 in addition to their full, monthly bill.

Anyway my cable company's broadband internet is 5Mbps for less than $30/mo... That's hard to beat, so it's all a moot point for me anyway.

Re:Yeah, but what about high speed internet? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358795)

I buy cable internet separately. When they tell me my $30 intro price is over, I offer to cancel and get DSL. I haven't been denied a price extension yet. Heck, I'm paying less than their "bundled" customers.

the more HD, the merrier (2, Interesting)

PureCreditor (300490) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358659)

I would love the concept of hundreds or even thousands of HD content. But time warner can't even give me 15 without the "HDXtra" package that's another $9 a month.

With HD "supposedly" defined to be 16:9, I sincerely despise all those major networks - CBS ABC and NBC that broadcost most of their HD content in 4:3. Only Discover and PBS has true 16:9 HD around the clock.

Watching Olympics opening ceremony on HD is simply gorgeous. The only thing I need now is CNN HD.

Re:the more HD, the merrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358759)

"The only thing I need now is CNN HD"

I guess you have a morbid fascination with looking at the wrinkles and zits on Soledad O'Brien.

Re:the more HD, the merrier (2, Informative)

Satan Dumpling (656239) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358987)

Most of what they have was filmed in 4x3. The major networks are not going to suddenly limit themselves to only 16x9 and change their whole schedule. As more and more new episodes are filmed in 16x9 you'll see more.
Comcast near Atlanta just added TNT in HD. For some reason they are stretching all 4x3 into 16x9. Now that's REALLY annoying.

156 deg West? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358681)

This thing is over Hawaii I wonder if it will be viable in Australia. If so it would be nice to be able to get shows a bit early. Most new sats have a huge number of spot beams which makes it tricky to pick them up outside of their transmit pattern. Does anyone know where to find the details?

Re:156 deg West? (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358762)

The launch was from 154 degrees W, but my understanding from the Hughes Network Systems site is that the geosynchronous orbital slot will be 103 degrees W. Sorry, these will be North American birds only.

Re:156 deg West? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358793)

The transponders point to the northern hemisphere. You'll also need a subscription, which they won't sell you without a credit card number from an American card issuer and a US mailing address.

Krusty blew up Courtesy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358738)

DTR is going to be pissed.

H.264 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358739)

Would I be correct in assuming that it's H.264 [wikipedia.org] that will be utilized?

Who asked for higher resolution? (4, Insightful)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358772)

Who actually asked for higher resolution? Are they acting on customer demand or have they just decided that we should have it? The reason I say this is that I would rather have higher bandwidth channels than higher resolution ones. Compression artifacts annoy me much more than a low resolution picture does. They don't seem to be able to transmit TV in the current resolution without severely degrading the picture. Any "visualphile" will know that a decent analogue signal usually looks a lot better than it's digital equivalent (ref: I'm comparing Digital Terrestrial to Digital Satellite and Cable services available in the UK).

Perhaps I'm biassed because I'm in the UK and therefore have 625 lines instead of the appauling 480 line TVs the poor Americans have to put up with (no wonder they're screaming for HDTV!).

My worry is that even with MPEG 4 (which will probably be recompressed MPEG 2 sources anyway for quite a while) they may not have enough bandwith to send me a 1080 line picture without artifacts...

Maybe with Fiber To The Home we might actually get enough bandwidth to watch the channels we want at the resolution we want, without thinking that it looks like your TV has gone though 4 copes of RealPlayer...

digital market (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358796)

"These markets represent nearly 36 million homes or 32.8 percent of all U.S. TV households."
"DIRECTV, Inc. is the nation's leading and fastest-growing digital multichannel television service provider with more than 13.9 million customers."
Okay that means that DirecTV has (3x36) / (13.9) = 7.77% of the market. I wonder how much that will increase with this new HD satellite? I don't know if the price for DirecTV will go down, but I will assume it will temporarily so they can increase their market share.
Now excuse me, I am going to climb up to my roof and manually adjust my dish so I can watch 'the Simple Life' in HD.

Uh can I have my analog back please. (1)

Sark666 (756464) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358818)

I know all this new tech is really exciting, but I haven't taken this plunge yet and I'm on basic ole cable with my basic old tv. But yet, just about every channel these days suffers from macro blocks at any given time. It's really damn annoying. Analog didn't suffer from this. So I assume it all has already switched to digital and just being sent the last mile as analog, but still, you'd think if they were sending it as analog you wouldn't see this crap.

Oh and btw, the animated logos are bad enough, but the volume changing from the actual show to commericals is just plain evil. For years I've fallen asleep to tv using it's timer but the volume difference has made that impossible now.

Re:Uh can I have my analog back please. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358991)

For years I've fallen asleep to tv using it's timer but the volume difference has made that impossible now.

Quick fix..Goto to a store like musician's friend and buy a two channel compressor/limiter. Sense its the basic ole TV I'm assuming your not using surround sound, anyway.... Plug the audio output of your TV/Cable box into the input of the compressor and then from those outputs to your amp or whatever. You can addressed increases in audio to level it all out. This is off topic. Take your moderator, strike me down with it.

Re:Uh can I have my analog back please. (1)

Monoman (8745) | more than 8 years ago | (#12359164)

It is like when cell phones went digital. The providers swear everything will be better and I swear it sounds worse.

I think the REAL motivation was to get more cell users on a cell.

goa7 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12358867)

roots and gets on of HIV 4nd other

footprint (2, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 8 years ago | (#12358910)

Judging by the area of coverage that satellite claims, it seems to me that even when the 2nd satellite is launched most of the US heartland won't be covered.

Since I live in the US heartland, I find this very disheartening...

DirecTV already has some HD channels (1)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 8 years ago | (#12359067)

...and I've been using my HD TiVo [robert.to] to receive both DirecTV and OTA HD for the past year.

This satellite will be great--when there's a good HD PVR solution to replace TiVo for DirectTV customers....

Let's see... (3, Insightful)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 8 years ago | (#12359084)

1. I can and do get HD locals already on my cable system in addition to a dozen other HD offerings.PROBLEM: Neither I nor over 75% of my neighnors can afford HD televisions currently and those who can are only getting the same content as the SD people just sharper picture. FURTHER PROBLEM: Lossy compression whether MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 especially when done repeatedly in line from content originator to my television means HD gives me excellent viewing of MPEG artifacting. EVEN FURTHER PROBLEM: This only plays into the retail equivalent of crack addiction in poorer areas: rent-to-own stores. In the name of getting what the Joneses have now we spend two to three times the retail cost in the long run and finish paying just in time for the thing to crap out at its normal end-of-life.

2. Satellite cannot give me high speed internet or phone service. In fact, I can get phone over cable or voice over IP or both simultaneously.

3. Satellite cannot give me interactive video-on-demand including gaming and information services such as those being rolled out now in various systems which will become the normal across the US in a few years.

Yeah, I really need Murdoch to give me DiVX-style video over satellite loaded ongoing with DRM and compatibility issues and on top of it I have to buy a box that I will need to replace at my cost when they change the technology; and that's going to make me just drop everything else that cable has to offer that DBS doesn't, right? I don't think so.

I'm a DBS and cable installer as well as support tech and after over a thousand installs, would never switch to DBS so it isn't as though I don't have direct exposure to the technology. It just doesn't appeal to me. I'll wait till we see the fabled LEO constellation of birds giving me high bandwidth and lower latency to portable devices wherever I go, but I won't hold my breath.

IT's ALL LOCAL TV !!! -- WHO CARES! (1)

TheRonbo (725216) | more than 8 years ago | (#12359106)

This is just insane... This sat. will _only_ be broadcasting... or re-broadcasting Local Network Channels. They are already available with an antenna - there has to be some great irony in this... Would not it have been cheaper to simple purchase and install antenna's for every customer? DirectTV is a competent company... I have to assume they have done their marketing... Local channels direct to the sat. must be an important marketing point. I have an off air antenna with a DircectTV HD tuner... It works great, it's like the off air channels are part of the sat. channel line-up. My recepetion is awsome... I get multi-channels from almost every station in town, and even pick up some digital channels from out-lying towns I could _never_ pick up with analog reception. People, buy an antenna, buy a digital receiver, even if you dont have HD TV ... You'll get awsome reception.
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