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Advice on switching to DBS?


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12 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   mirak

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 10:56 AM

I'm considering switching from cable to either DirecTV or Dish, but I'm a complete novice when it comes to satellite. Does anyone here have any advice about things to watch out for, ways to save money, etc. before signing up for a 24-month contract?

In addition to your general advice, here are a few specific questions:
1. DVRs: I've got 3 TVs. I want to be able to watch recorded HD programming on 2 of them. I'd like to have at least 3 streams, preferably 4, so that I can watch 1 live show upstairs, a different live show downstairs, and also record 1 or 2 entirely different shows all at the same time. For the third TV, DVR would be nice, but isn't necessary. It's just a SD TV in the basement for the kids. What's the most economical way to accomplish this with DirecTV and Dish?

2. Is paying extra for a "protection plan" a good idea? What's it do?

3. I hate how clunky and slow the my DVR menu system and channel guide is with Time Warner. Are folks generally satisfied with the speed of DirecTV and Dish's menus? Does one have noticeably better performance?

4. How about channel lag? Are there long black spaces when switching channels? Is DirecTV or Dish noticeably better in this regard?

Finally, I've heard Dish is cheaper, but the 2-yr average price for DirecTV's "Choice" package, with HBO and DVRs (assuming I picked the right units), only seems to be about $1.50 more per month than Dish's "Top 200" package with the same extras. I've got neighbors with both services, so I'm working referral credits ($100 for DirecTV, $50 for Diish) into those prices.

AND, comparing those packages, DirecTV has a few more channels, plus 3D programming like ESPN 3D, which Dish doesn't have. This would seem to make DirecTV a better choice. The only significant advantage to Dish is the Hopper thing that I hear allows you to easily skip commercials. Am I missing something?

Thanks for your advice!

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#2 OFFLINE   RasputinAXP

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 07:47 AM

I'm considering switching from cable to either DirecTV or Dish, but I'm a complete novice when it comes to satellite. Does anyone here have any advice about things to watch out for, ways to save money, etc. before signing up for a 24-month contract?

In addition to your general advice, here are a few specific questions:
1. DVRs: I've got 3 TVs. I want to be able to watch recorded HD programming on 2 of them. I'd like to have at least 3 streams, preferably 4, so that I can watch 1 live show upstairs, a different live show downstairs, and also record 1 or 2 entirely different shows all at the same time. For the third TV, DVR would be nice, but isn't necessary. It's just a SD TV in the basement for the kids. What's the most economical way to accomplish this with DirecTV and Dish?


For Dish, it's the Hopper. You could go with either two Hoppers and a Joey and get 6 tuners, but pay an extra up front fee for the second Hopper. $7 each per month for the 2nd Hopper and the Joey. That fee's the same for a Hopepr and two Joeys, too.

2. Is paying extra for a "protection plan" a good idea? What's it do?


In Dish's case drops the truck roll fee to $15. It's only worth adding it, placing the service call, then dropping it when it's done.

3. I hate how clunky and slow the my DVR menu system and channel guide is with Time Warner. Are folks generally satisfied with the speed of DirecTV and Dish's menus? Does one have noticeably better performance?


The Hopper is the most responsive DVR ever. Direct people have actually switched because they grew frustrated with their DVRs. They're not awful, but the Hopper's very tempting.

4. How about channel lag? Are there long black spaces when switching channels? Is DirecTV or Dish noticeably better in this regard?


My neighbor has Direct. I don't notice a long pause on either his system or my Dish system.

DirecTV has a few more channels, plus 3D programming like ESPN 3D, which Dish doesn't have. This would seem to make DirecTV a better choice. The only significant advantage to Dish is the Hopper thing that I hear allows you to easily skip commercials. Am I missing something?


Dish has more national HD channels than Direct. Direct has more HD sports than Dish. They both have whole home DVR, but vary in how they do it.

AutoHop is pretty bad-ass. That's about it.

"Belligerent and numerous."

Sometimes I update the Dish Network FAQ

AT200, Hopper & 360 via HDMI to Onkyo 505 to basement 42" Westy, Hopper via Comp-over-Cat5 to living room 42" Vizio with a Roku 3, Joey to Toshiba 32" LCD with a Logitech Revue. You want fries with that? Pull up to the 2nd window.


#3 OFFLINE   mirak

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 01:42 PM

For Dish, it's the Hopper. You could go with either two Hoppers and a Joey and get 6 tuners, but pay an extra up front fee for the second Hopper. $7 each per month for the 2nd Hopper and the Joey. That fee's the same for a Hopepr and two Joeys, too.


Ok, so if I get 1 Hopper and 2 Joeys, what does that mean? Let's say I'm recording 2 shows at the same time on the Hopper. Can I watch a 3rd channel? Can somebody upstairs watch a different channel? How does it work?

In Dish's case drops the truck roll fee to $15. It's only worth adding it, placing the service call, then dropping it when it's done.


I don't understand what this means. Please explain.

Any advice from anybody with DirecTV?

#4 OFFLINE   RasputinAXP

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 08:38 PM

Ok, so if I get 1 Hopper and 2 Joeys, what does that mean? Let's say I'm recording 2 shows at the same time on the Hopper. Can I watch a 3rd channel? Can somebody upstairs watch a different channel? How does it work?


The Hopper has 3 tuners. You can occupy those tuners however you'd like. The Joeys have no tuner at all, so if you're recording two things, and watching another on the Hopper, the Joey has to watch a recording. During prime time, if you have PTAT enabled, then one tuner is occupied recording your 4 locals in HD and the other two are still available for watching live TV or recording something else.

Two Hoppers would give you six tuners, and 5 during PTAT recording. The Hoppers don't share recordings yet, but will soonish.

The 'truck roll fee' I was referring to was the fact that if you have to have them come out for a service call, it's $99. With the protection plan (free for the first six months) it's reduced to $15. Usually people add it when they have a problem, make the call, and when the service is done, drop the protection plan.

"Belligerent and numerous."

Sometimes I update the Dish Network FAQ

AT200, Hopper & 360 via HDMI to Onkyo 505 to basement 42" Westy, Hopper via Comp-over-Cat5 to living room 42" Vizio with a Roku 3, Joey to Toshiba 32" LCD with a Logitech Revue. You want fries with that? Pull up to the 2nd window.


#5 OFFLINE   mirak

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 07:27 AM

The Hopper has 3 tuners. You can occupy those tuners however you'd like. The Joeys have no tuner at all, so if you're recording two things, and watching another on the Hopper, the Joey has to watch a recording. During prime time, if you have PTAT enabled, then one tuner is occupied recording your 4 locals in HD and the other two are still available for watching live TV or recording something else.

Two Hoppers would give you six tuners, and 5 during PTAT recording. The Hoppers don't share recordings yet, but will soonish.


Nice to know that the Hopper has 3 tuners. That might be enough. Usually, if my wife is watching a show upstairs while I watch one downstairs, it is unlikely that we'd also want to be recording more than 1 other show at the same time.

Does watching a recorded program (no longer recording) occupy a tuner? Or, could we watch a recorded show upstairs while using all three tuners downstairs for recording shows and/or watching live?

#6 OFFLINE   RasputinAXP

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 04:55 PM

Tuners are for watching live or recording. Playing back from the DVR is independent of that. There have been a few times that we've occupied all of the tuners recording 6 things at once and 'resorted' to watching DVR'd stuff.

"Belligerent and numerous."

Sometimes I update the Dish Network FAQ

AT200, Hopper & 360 via HDMI to Onkyo 505 to basement 42" Westy, Hopper via Comp-over-Cat5 to living room 42" Vizio with a Roku 3, Joey to Toshiba 32" LCD with a Logitech Revue. You want fries with that? Pull up to the 2nd window.


#7 OFFLINE   mirak

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 02:55 PM

Thanks for all the information. It looks like DirecTV is going to be a better option right now based on channels and price.

DirecTV's "Choice" package gets me all the channels I want, including several that aren't even available in Dish's "Top 200" package, namely: Disney, ESPN 3D, ESPNU, HDNet, and n3D (more DirecTV 3D programming).

While Dish's Top 200 package provides many more channels overall, especially in standard-definition, it's nothing I care about and I try to avoid SD anyway.

The one significant advantage Dish has is the Hopper/Joey DVR system, which is supposed to be better than DirecTV's DVRs. Plus, I don't need to pay any extra equipment fee for what I need from Dish, but it will cost me a $99 upgrade to get the DVR equipment I need from DirecTV.

Even with the extra equipment fee, DirecTV's monthly average price (over 2 years) for what I want ends up at $62.12 (including tax) versus $74.20 for Dish.

This $12 savings is mostly due to the fact that I can get what I want from DirecTV with a cheaper channel package ("Choice" as opposed to Dish's "Top 200"), and DirecTV also has more generous discounts, such as $10x10 months referral credit (only $50 for Dish), and $10x20 discount for signing up through AAA (Dish does not appear to offer this discount).

Based on the savings and channels, I guess I can live with a clunkier DVR. DirecTV's HR34 seems to get pretty good reviews, and should improve as it is tweaked over time.

#8 OFFLINE   dpeters11

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:25 PM

If you don't mostly record the networks during Primetime, the HR34 may be the better option. The Hopper has three actual tuners, but can record everything on all the networks during Primetime at once. The HR34 can record 5 things at once from any channel and any time.

if you got one HR34 and two regular receivers, you could record 5 things on the DVR and watch live TV or recorded content on the DVR at the same time. In this setup, the non DVRs can be used to set something to record on the 34. You would not be able to pause or rewind on the receivers though. You'd have to hit record then start playback from the it's and hit pause.

if you got a HR34 and a second regular DVR, you'd have trickplay on both, but a DVR can't set something to record on another DVR. You would need to set it up locally, or use a computer/mobile app etc.

Edited by dpeters11, 25 June 2012 - 09:36 PM.


#9 OFFLINE   mirak

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:44 PM

if you got one HR34 and two regular receivers, you could record 5 things on the DVR and watch live TV or recorded content on the DVR at the same time. In this setup, the non DVRs can be used to set something to record on the 34. You would not be able to pause or rewind on the receivers though. You'd have to hit record then start playback from the it's and hit pause.


Thanks for this information. That limitation seems pretty silly. If you can use a receiver (H25?) to set a recording on the HR34, then it would seem you should also be able to pause live TV on the receiver. Not a deal breaker, but I would hope they can fix this down the road with firmware updates.

Ultimately, I think I am probably better off getting one HR34 and two H25s, rather than getting two HR24s and one H25. Either way, it will cost me a $99 fee, but I don't want to be limited to just 2 tuners on each of the DVRs.

#10 OFFLINE   dpeters11

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 02:38 PM

It's a limitation in one way, but not in another. The H25 doesn't have any storage space, so it can't buffer onto itself. The Hopper's Joey can pause live, but it uses a tuner from the Hopper.

The HR34 does support the same sort of technology, called RVU. Right now it's just built into some Samsung TVs (and I think mostly big ones that aren't normally used as a bedroom or auxillary set). There is a device called the C31 that will allow pausing live TV but again it uses a tuner on the HR34 as does the Samsung implementation. The C31 isn't available yet.

So there are pros and cons to both. It would be nice to have some flash memory to allow 15-30 minutes of pausing, but that's not available.

#11 OFFLINE   satcrazy

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 02:57 PM

I had TWC, direct, now dish.

RUN don't walk to a sat of your choice. TWC was the worst, you won't be sorry.

I had a direct sd box when I was with them, and it worked fine. I've read complaints about their hd boxes[ dvr's?] now though, read the forums, it helps.

Whatever you choose, you'll wonder why you waited so long:)

#12 OFFLINE   mirak

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 03:28 PM

It's a limitation in one way, but not in another. The H25 doesn't have any storage space, so it can't buffer onto itself. The Hopper's Joey can pause live, but it uses a tuner from the Hopper.

The HR34 does support the same sort of technology, called RVU. Right now it's just built into some Samsung TVs (and I think mostly big ones that aren't normally used as a bedroom or auxillary set). There is a device called the C31 that will allow pausing live TV but again it uses a tuner on the HR34 as does the Samsung implementation. The C31 isn't available yet.

So there are pros and cons to both. It would be nice to have some flash memory to allow 15-30 minutes of pausing, but that's not available.


Oh, so you mean the H25 has its own tuner? I just assumed it used one of the HR34's. With that being the case, seems like 5 tuners on the HR34 is a bit of overkill. Still, I think I'd rather have 1 HR34 instead of 2 HR24s if the price is the same.

#13 OFFLINE   dpeters11

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 05:03 PM

Yes, the H25 has its own tuner. I like the HR34 just for management of the series links and everything. An HR24 and under can only have 50 series setup at once. The HR34 can have 100.




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