I'm not sure if this belongs in the HD forum, but its got so many different topics, I figured I'd post it here. I'm a college student, and my parents are considering (I'm convincing them to switch) switching from our god-awful analog Comcast with a Series 2 TiVo to Dish Network. My dad wants to get an HDTV, and Comcast doesn't offer much of any HD in our area, regardless of monthly cost or up-front cost (Series 3 TiVo/ Cablecard). Our area is ex AT&T Broadband, and so they just don't have the capacity for more than a dozen HD channels, and they don't have the two heavy hitters of the HD world, Discovery and History, or A&E or Comedy Central. Its going to be a while until they upgrade the system to digital/ DOCSIS 3, and AT&T VRAD'ed up the next town over, but we're not getting any refrigerator-sized-lawn-ornament love. So that means if we want HD, it's going to be coming down from the heavens. We were looking at DirecTV because of SWiM, MRV, and the AT&T bundle discount, but it turns out they are $20 more with a $5 discount, and now, if I understand correctly, Dish can effectively stack the two tuners and diplex a backfeed for the second room on the existing RG-6 (installed new with the house in 1999-2000, compression connectors, home run)? Plus, Dish has Travel and MSNBC, DirecTV somehow doesn't. The other issue is that DirecTV probably can't hit 119, since we have a serious tree problem, so Eastern Arc should help us out a LOT, plus making the DVR's hard drive effectively bigger is a great bonus. We are in Hartford-New Haven. I have a few questions about Dish Network, the installation, the hardware, etc. 1. Is the Eastern Arc as reliable as the Western Arc or DirecTV? In theory it should be better, since its closer and higher up for us, but I read a few posts about one of the satellites being a bit weak? 2. What if our tree problem is so bad that we're just plain screwed? Do we still get charged for a failed install? 3. Will the installer use existing coax? There is no way to drop new wiring to the location without a probably pretty expensive install charge (it involves a lot of attic crawling and drilling down to fish the wire down through an inside wall). 4. We need to drop about 110 feet of new coax to get from the roof to where the cable lines are in the basement, and where the TV 2 de-diplexer will be. We have a reel of RG-6 coax from Home Depot, how do we know if it good enough for Dish? We would get a compression crimping tool to do the ends right, our last crimping jobs with regular crimpers were not so hot. 5. How long can the coax be on a Dish 1000.4 setup? By the time it goes from the roof to the basement and back upstairs to where the TV will be/ old TV is now, it's going to be close to 200' of RG6 with a splice and a de-diplexer for TV 2 in the middle. If that's too long is the 1000.4 compatible with a multiswitch to stick in the middle even though we would only get one box? 6. Would the installer bring all three lines from the Dish into the attic so that we would be able to add more receivers down the line without having to call the installer again? It would be a lot less cabling than most installs, as we will drop coax within 20 feet of where the Dish will be mounted, as thankfully we have a wiring conduit that goes from the basement to the attic that's already got RG-6 and a bunch of ethernet in it. 7. How do we know the installer knows what the heck he/she is doing? I've heard of a lot of rain fade horror stories from installers who don't know how to aim the things properly. We're not worried about occasional rain fade, since it will be an improvement over our Comcast service which has some sort of nasty ice/water fade that lasts like a week after a bad storm. Good job Comcast. 8. Approximately how much would the hidden charges on a Top 120, HD package in Hartford-New Haven with a 722 be? 9. Is it at all possible to get out-of-market locals? We are legally eligible for NYC locals, Comcast carries them all, and DirecTV grants access to 3 of the 4 networks. PBS 13 WNET would be great, is there a procedure for getting that channel? 10. Are you allowed to switch packages for $5 as much as you want? We would only need Top 120 when baseball isn't on, but Top 120 plus, or maybe even Top 250 for a couple of months to get Planet Green and National Geographic when I am home in the summer. 11. If we were on Top 250 for two months and sucked down a bunch of Nat. Geo stuff, would it still play back when we were back on Top 120 Plus, or would it magically disappear? 12. Is Dish planning on ever offering MRV like DirecTV? If we got a second HDTV and wanted to add a 612 to that TV and keep the 722 on the main one, it would be nice to have them share recordings over Ethernet, but I know they don't have the software to do that as of now. 13. Is the second tuner in the first 722 really a "freebie" in terms of monthly mirroring fees? It seems too good to be true. We can cover the entire house with one box and not pay any mirroring fees? 14. We *might* use OTA at some point, although getting CBS and NBC up to real HD is probably not worth the hassle of doing some ghetto baseboard wiring for the second RG-6, and losing a bunch of recording space to MPEG-2. How does the 722 handle OTA? Does it require a tuner module or are both tuners already in the new 722s? 15. Is it possible to combine the modulated TV 2 signal with the OTA signal, as long as they are using different channels? 16. Can anyone even tell the difference between Dish's pseudo-HD NBC and CBS feeds and an OTA feed? Are Fox and ABC broadcast at full resolution? 17. How does it handle the two tuners and the two different rooms? Are they dynamically assigned? Is there any differentiation between what TV1 and TV2 have recorded, or is it just one big bucket? 18. How hard would it be to upgrade the internal hard drive when the unit is new? Is it even possible? Is the software on a solid state chip (like D*), or on the hard drive (like TiVo)? How big of a drive could it handle? Is it worth violating the equipment agreement? 19. I read that it only officially supports 1TB external, can it handle a 1.5? Will they upgrade the software to support 2 or 4TB drives? It seems stupid to not be able to handle at least 6TB of external storage, considering Drobo and other sorts of things are out there that could handle that much. I wouldn't want more than a single drive, but the price difference between 1.5TB and 2TB is pretty small. 20. Can TV1 be controlled with an additional RF remote? How much would one cost? Can TV1 be output on a separate agile modulated channel? If it does, is it just always downconverting, so that if I, say, paused a show that was going out over HDMI, walked downstairs to a third TV and unpaused it, it would be a seamless switch to SD? 21. Is it possible, with the help of an amp, to split the de-diplexed agile modulated signal among three TVs? We're ending up with some extra TVs, and it would be nice to hook them all up, even though we wouldn't pay for a box for them. 22. How bad is the learning curve on a 722? My mom can probably pick it up pretty quick, but my dad's never even used the TiVo, and is pretty bad at electronics in general. How does it compare to the real TiVo? Since D* is getting TiVo soon, and Comcast already supports TiVo with CableCard (would be nice if they had HD channels for it record, but that's a different problem), E* is the only provider without an authentic HD TiVo solution. How fast is the box? 16. What would the cost be to add a 612 later for a second HDTV? 17. Does anyone know how much energy a 722 sucks? Does it record a buffer or two 24/7 and pound the disk like TiVo does? Our TiVo uses about 35W, and has been pounding 24/7 at its 80GB hard drive for almost 6 years now. Yeah, it seriously needs a replacement. 18. What's the availability for a 922 looking like? Is there anything that a 922 can do that a 722 with a USB SlingThing can't do other than have extra disk space? I'm interested in Sling, since it would allow HD on my laptop anywhere in the house. How many clients will it be able to support simultaneously? How much will it cost to trade up to a 922? How much will the USB SlingThing cost? Or does no one know any of this stuff yet? 19. How do the contracts work? Do you have to sign a contract to get the equipment for free? Although I suspect its a moot point since D* isn't getting any cheaper and Comcast is on the slooooooow road to upgrades. Is there anything else we should know coming from the world of fuzzy analog cable? Sorry for the super loooong post, and thanks in advance for any input you have. EDIT: I just noticed that MSNBC is bizarrely in the Top 200 package (from the Olympics thread), so the fact that they actually carry it is a moot point. Oh well.