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E* --> D* Advice

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Java, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. Java

    Java Cool Member

    Sep 14, 2009

    I've been lurking in the E* and D* forums for a while and I'm interested in your advice.

    I'm currently an E* customer (out of contract) and I need to upgrade my home plan. I'm currently at 4 tuners (two Duo boxes) and need to grow to 11 tuners. I was all set to drop E* and go to Comcast, but the HD lineup and guide are so poor in our area (former Adelphia) that I started exploring a switch to D* instead.

    From when I've gleaned from my lurking here, D* is more geared toward large accounts than E*. I'm prepared (within reason) to pay for the switch and additional boxes. A couple of questions:
    • For a complex install like this, is it better to start with D* or go through a contractor?
    • Zinwell 6x16 Multiswitch. Is this the best option for my 11 tuner needs?
    • Buy all at once? I'm still finishing my theater and have other purchase before I buy all boxes. Can I add these later?
    • Any other advice?

    Thanks much for your advice and all the info you all share here.

  2. say-what

    say-what Active Member

    Dec 14, 2006
    New Orleans
    Tuners do not equal receivers

    A DVR = 2 tuners, but only outputs signal for one tuner at a time
    A non-DVR = 1 tuner

    DVR's do not have separate outputs for each tuner

    Guess you first need to better define the setup as that will dictate how many receivers you need.
  3. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

    Nov 13, 2007
    It would be best to know what your plans are as far as receivers. You only have 4 choices with DirecTV:

    SD receiver
    HD receiver

    DirecTV will lease you 4 SD receivers for free, and currently has a promotion (if you qualify) to also lease you your first "advanced" receiver for free. Beyond that, expect to pay the up-front lease fee for any additional/upgraded receivers. SD-DVRs and HD receivers are $99; HD-DVRs are $199. Also, you have to pay installation for receivers beyond 4, and DirecTV will limit a new customer to a max of 6 to start with.
  4. PokerJoker

    PokerJoker Godfather

    Apr 12, 2008
    Las Vegas
    D* vs. E*, eh? The one major difference is that E* boxes are frequently set up to use one box to feed two TVs. It's actually one of their major selling points. D* has no such feature, it is strictly one box per TV set. It sounds like you understand this but I thought it was worth pointing out.

    11 tuners? or 11 boxes? DVRs count as two tuners. Either way that's a large system. A WB616 would do the job, but they are starting to get scarce. You can also use 4 splitters and 2 WB68s, which would be cheaper, but the WB616 would be a much cleaner and better install. This would be a "legacy" hookup, in which each DVR needs two cable runs to it. (One cable per tuner.) The dish will be a "slimline" 5-LNB or 3-LNB type, and there will be 4 cables from the dish to the switch. This sort of legacy install is what you will get if you go for the "free" D* install. It will work but may not be pretty.

    A newer way is a SWM hookup, Single Wire Multiplex, i.e. one cable per box. There are special SWM-equipped one-cable dishes but they only serve up to 8 tuners, so that is out for you unless you want to use multiple dishes. The only real SWM option for you is to use a standard 4-wire dish feeding two SWM-8 switches. That would work well but is considered a "commercial" install, and D* will not install or support it themselves. You would have to pay a local specialist to both install and maintain it, or do it yourself. (It is also possible to have a "mixed" system with some SWM and some legacy; again, that's strictly custom work.)

    In either case, if you also want Over-the-air (antenna) reception as well, you would "officially" need a separate cable for that to each location, since diplexing is not supported either, again "officially". (Actually it works OK if you do it right.) You would also need separate tuner add-on boxes since the current D* boxes do not have OTA tuners in them.

    There are some other issues like getting used to the differences in DVR and remote operation, differences in channel lineups, etc., but they are fairly minor. You should check and see which local stations each service carries in your area, and whether they are in HD, if local stations are important to you.

    Oh, and if it really matters to you, with D* you almost never actually own any of the boxes, they are leased. Even if you pay $200 each up front, they don't belong to you. You can't resell them, give them away, or transfer them to a different account. And when you sign up, you are agreeing to a two year service commitment to D*, with, as they say, "substantial penalties for early withdrawal". For most people these are not big issues, since it makes no financial sense to buy the boxes. But it's something you should know up front.

    You know, if you really like E*, it's not at all difficult to build a system big enought to feed that many boxes. Two or three cascaded DPP44 switches would do it. The main limitation is that I believe E* will not lease that many boxes to a customer, so you would have to actually buy ($$$) most of your equipment. Current E* boxes are all single-wire and diplex-capable so that's not an issue.

    So, you do have a choice. (Unless you want NFL Season Ticket, in which case D* is the one.:D)

    Good luck with whatever choice you make.

  5. Shades228

    Shades228 DaBears

    Mar 18, 2008
    How many TV's do you have and how many of those are you wanting the ability to record and watch recorded programming on. Also how many are HD tv's.
  6. carl6

    carl6 Moderator Staff Member DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Single Wire Multiswitch. There are also external SWM multiswitches (not integrated into the dish LNB), so it is possible to run 2 or more SWM8's in parallel, permitting SWM feeds to as many tuners as needed with only one dish. However, this is not a configuration that falls within DirecTV's free standard installation (but as someone else noted, nothing over 4 receivers is).

    If this is residential, you need to find a separate contractor to buy from and have the install done. If this is commercial, call DirecTV and discuss the options with them. In either case, there will be some significant up front costs, both for hardware and installation.
  7. Java

    Java Cool Member

    Sep 14, 2009

    Thanks for your input.

    My desired set up is:

    [TABLE]Box Qty Tuners
    HD DVR 3 6
    HD Receiver 1 1
    SD DVR 1 2
    SD Receiver 2 2
    Total 7 11

    On the 4 box limit, I was assuming that. I figure I'll be paying around $600 for the extra upfront lease. That's easily the minimum I'd be spending for the additional boxes with Comcast and TiVo boxes (2x Tivo HD).

    I know I will have to pick up a $5.00 mirroring cost for the additional boxes. That would be the same whether with E* or Comcast. Also, I'm planning on getting the HD DVR Package. Am I correct in assuming that the DVR fee is covered for the whole house? At first, I didn't think so, but playing around with the ordering tool, it wasn't picking up the monthly DVR fees for the additional DVRs.

    You mention the extra install cost for the incremental boxes. Is that beyond the switch cost? If so, how much per box. All the wiring is in place and home run RG6. As far as switch cost, any sense for that (material & labor)?

    Thanks, again
  8. Movieman

    Movieman Hall Of Fame

    May 8, 2009
    Your HD and DVR are costs are per household not per box.
  9. carl6

    carl6 Moderator Staff Member DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    You will probably have to pay a flat rate for the additional 3 boxes, but perhpas not given that the wiring is already in place. Just guessing, based on posts here, I would expect somewhere between $40 and $80 per unit.

    The switches should be included, but a pair of WB68's would run you about $40 each, plus 4 splitters to hook them in parallel. In the case of parallel WB68's, I would also run a Sonora power inserter/phase locker (another $60 or so), as the WB68 is not a powered switch. A pair of SWM8's would be quite a bit more, roughly $150 each, but that won't work with most of the SD equipment out there.

    Except for some reduced up front cost, you might consider putting HD equipment at all locations. HD cost (like DVR cost) is per account, not per receiver.
  10. Java

    Java Cool Member

    Sep 14, 2009
    Yep. I actually have two those today (622 and 625). It works fine with the 625, but I hate it on the 622. Mainly because it is between the family room and master bedroom and we are always having "Tuner Conflicts" where someone is watching and recording which blocks the other. Also, the PQ on TV2 is very bad (had E* out many times to fix). Bottom line is that I need a separate dedicated DVR in each location.

    Yes. I need 11 tuners, per my reply to Battlezone. From what I found, going with two SWM-8 switches and expander would run over $400 just for the equipment. It would take only one WB616 and that runs around $140. Is the WB616, an "approved" switch? Any quality or control trade offs? For example, can you still use a single coax to DVRs like with SWM? Last, no need for OTA (I'm in the boonies).

    Yep. Understood on the lease issue. I ran into the same thing with Comcast when I moved. I had Comcast at the last house and they were going to charge me a ton of "set up" costs and, again, I wouldn't own the equipment. I went with E* instead.

    I don't really have a beef with E*. The PQ is good and overall service is pretty good. I went to them a while back about getting additional boxes and didn't get much support since I was at my "limit". I suppose when I approach to leave, I'll get attention. You did get me think again, that I need to "do the math" for a similar setup with E*. I am looking forward to D*'s DVR (100 HR vs 30 HR), but then again, E*'s 922 is around the corner...

    Thanks, again
  11. Java

    Java Cool Member

    Sep 14, 2009
    Cool. That's a strong reason for D*. HD is on a household level with E*, but per box on DVR.
  12. Movieman

    Movieman Hall Of Fame

    May 8, 2009
    I was happy when I heard the same thing because both Dish and Comcast, when I had them, charged me per box for HD and DVR, respectively. Dish's argument was that 2 room box but then limited me on viewing 2 HD at the same time in different rooms. When D* cleared it up for me it was good that I paid no HD or DVR separately because the package included it and covered the household. Just had to pay that lease fee for the second box.
  13. Java

    Java Cool Member

    Sep 14, 2009
    Thanks, Carl6

    Is SWM the only way to go with D* to get single coax runs for DVRs? I may have misread some of the story around SWM, but it seems like that is D*'s answer to a single coax like E* has. If so, that limits me to SWM given my single coax set up.

    Also, where do I find out the potential costs? Work directly with D* or through a deal/contractor?

    Good advice on the HD boxes. I'm actually pretty aggressive already on my "plans", but given the small increase ($30) it would make sense to "future proof".
  14. ThomasM

    ThomasM RF Engineer

    Jul 20, 2007
    Milwaukee, WI
    The customer agreement with DISH Network (it's not "Echostar" anymore) states that you can only have 4 TUNERS per account. And if DVR's aren't all plugged into a wireline phone line they actually charge you an additional fee.
  15. coldsteel

    coldsteel Hall Of Fame

    Mar 29, 2007
    Well, Dish has a hard limit of 6 receivers on an account, whether dual or single tuner. You could get 5 solo-TV receivers, and one duo. Looking at your chart above, you could go with 3 vip612, a vip211, a 625 and a 322. Set the 625 in single mode.

    Since you have a 622 and 625, replace the 622 with 2 leased 612, buy a 612, 211 and 322. You'd need 2 DPP44 or 2 DPP33 switches.
  16. Movieman

    Movieman Hall Of Fame

    May 8, 2009
    Java based on the amount of tuners you would be getting SWM installation would be the standard for you at no charge. Someone posted the rules on this SWM step in another thread. Your setup qualifies.

    EDIT: SWM Rules
  17. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    With 11 tuners, he does not qualify.
  18. Movieman

    Movieman Hall Of Fame

    May 8, 2009
    Damn your right. I just saw 5-8 tuners total. I thought it stated more than 5. My apologize. But as we have discussed plenty these rules have been known to be bent. ;). That will have to be up to the installer and work order you get.
  19. JoeTheDragon

    JoeTheDragon Hall Of Fame

    Jul 21, 2008
    it better to go all HD even for non HD tv and the hd boxes have e-net with VOD, pc play back and (MRV comeing soon)
  20. Movieman

    Movieman Hall Of Fame

    May 8, 2009
    Now your talking. You really are going to get the most of out Directv arent ya! :D

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