Picture quality: Cable vs. Dish vs. DirecTV

Discussion in 'General DISH™ Discussion' started by rsuch, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Mar 12, 2014 #1 of 100

    rsuch New Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    It has been years since I have visited this forum, so please forgive me if I am seeking information that might seem repetitive to the rest of you. I have been with DirecTV for nearly ten years and I am at a crossroads. My contract has expired with them so I am no longer obligated to remain a customer, but I have also seen the price jump dramatically now that my contract has expired. I contacted customer retention hoping for some kind of offer to retain me as a customer by making my monthly subscription more palatable, but they were only willing to drop the price ten dollars per month. A couple of years ago, they lowered my monthly by $40 and threw in some movie channels for a six month period. With that said, I am seeking a new service provider. My choices in my area are:

    Dish Network
    AT&T U-Verse

    Aside from sheer cost, I am mainly concerned with picture quality. Several members of my family have U-Verse and I am not impressed at all, so they're eliminated. That leaves me with Dish Network and Brighthouse. I can only assume that Dish will be similar in quality to DirecTV. I have no experience with Brighthouse, so it's difficult for me to compare. In terms of cost, Brighthouse would probably be the least expensive way to go, as I would save money by bundling TV and internet.

    Would any of you have any advice or insight about these two services? Or perhaps any other suggestions?

  2. Mar 12, 2014 #2 of 100
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

    Jul 25, 2002
    W.Mdtrn Sea
    for get a PQ (exactly) you should use BR player, not the boxes

    when you will be ready to accept occasional blotches, halo, macro-blocking, mosquito noise effect, etc then you could take dish, DTV and cable PQ

    Also better PQ you could get from OTA stations, if programming is adequate for you
  3. Mar 12, 2014 #3 of 100

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

    Jun 14, 2003
    Salem, OR
    True always this isn't. ;)

    Sometimes the carrier gets the feed by means other than OTA reception so they may provide better PQ than the broadcast version. With stations having up to seven channels (or in quite a few cases, two HD channels), it can make a difference. My local PBS has five channels riding on one frequency. Regrettably, DISH and DIRECTV use the OTA feed in my market.

    I would also caution that PQ is not consistent across the board. There are channels that look better on one service than they do on the others. Whether it is the multiplex grouping or just dedicating more bandwidth, PQ can vary widely; even within the same carrier.
  4. Mar 12, 2014 #4 of 100
    Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    DirecTV vs Dish Network: Overall, a wash. On average, DirecTV has slightly better HD PQ, and Dish Network has noticeably better SD PQ. But as harsh points out, it varies a bit from channel to channel.

    Brighthouse generally has a pretty good reputation for technical quality, but as always with cable, you are subject to the vagaries of your particular head end and distribution network.

    In most markets, assuming you get a decent signal level, broadcast will provide the best PQ for the major broadcast networks, but again, your market might be one of the outliers.

    Bottom line, in this age of digital delievery, PQ is generally good across the board (again, stressing that there are no absolutes). I would leave PQ concerns to be the last issue considered, useful mostly to break a tie between two services.
  5. Mar 12, 2014 #5 of 100
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    U-Verse, as you already crossed off your list, tends to suffer because it is sharing your internet and TV bandwidth... Many markets have only enough bandwidth for 1 or 2 HD channels anyway via U-Verse... so any internet usage and your picture quality suffers.

    Outside of that... I would expect most cable and satellite comparisons to be close enough that the primary factor would be cost of service OR channels carried by one and not the other OR features of the cable/satellite equipment.
  6. Mar 12, 2014 #6 of 100
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

    Jul 25, 2002
    W.Mdtrn Sea
    adding some technicality: 1920x1080 vs 1440x1080; 10-15 Mbps/ch vs 8-12 Mbps/ch

    I recall last years I did make plots of one HD channel from the two providers same evening/same material
  7. Mar 12, 2014 #7 of 100

    RAD Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2002
    I though that the SD PQ on Dish western arc was close to DIRECTV's since it's still MPEG2 while eastern arc is MPEG4.

    Sent from my iPad using DBSTalk
  8. Mar 13, 2014 #8 of 100

    mwdxer Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2013
    Seaside Oregon
    The PQ on the Western Arc has improved on the SD channels. At least many of them. It looks like some may be using MPEG4. Just a guess, but they do look better than a few years back
  9. Mar 13, 2014 #9 of 100
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Apr 17, 2003
    DISH is using MPEG4 on Eastern Arc, MPEG2 on Western Arc. The older receivers can't handle MPEG4 so they need to maintain the MPEG2 feeds until the old receivers are gone (lest SD subscribers lose channels). PQ is a personal opinion. Some have tried to define PQ using numbers but big numbers do not always lead to good PQ. One can have big numbers and still use bad encoder setups.
  10. Mar 13, 2014 #10 of 100
    Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    Yep... that's the problem with the 1920x1080 vs 1440x1080 arguments.

    IF all other things were equal, we could say that the higher resolution is better.

    But... we see instances where 720p looks better than 1080i because the 720p signal fits better in the available bandwidth and often 1080i channels are overcompressed to the point of not looking as good.

    I can't directly (see what I did there?) compare to DirecTV... so I can't say if their HD looks better than Dish HD.

    I can say that current Dish HD does not look as good as I remember Dish HD looking back when they first added HD years ago... so it's a fair point to realize that Dish has done something over the years to reduce that quality, probably in the interest of bringing us more channels.

    But I can definitely imagine scenarios where a 1920x1080 signal would not look as good as a 1440x1080 signal IF the 1920 signal was overcompressed OR starved for bitrate... in which case it would be unfair to claim better HD just on that one number alone.
  11. Mar 13, 2014 #11 of 100
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

    Jul 25, 2002
    W.Mdtrn Sea
    again speculating ?
    I did the measure (some of our member ask specifically for that channel) ... why not bring facts here about bandwidth - it will clearly shows "over-compression" is not the point for speculation.
    We have the facts, what kind of twisting need to be done to ignore ?
  12. Mar 13, 2014 #12 of 100
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Apr 17, 2003
    Bandwidth is not the entire story. Channels per transponder is not the entire story.

    While some have hitched their wagons and rode off into the sunset using only numbers to "prove" some HD is better than another the answer lies in the perception of the individual viewer and all of the equipment in the chain from camera to screen. All things being equal ... they are not.

    That being said, better numbers give a better chance that the image will pass through in a higher quality ... but there is no guarantee.
  13. Mar 13, 2014 #13 of 100

    sregener Godfather

    Apr 17, 2012
    If HD PQ is your primary concern, you should stick with DirecTV. I would expect satellite to have better PQ than cable, simply because satellite has dedicated space they're not stealing for telephone and Internet services. Meaning 100% of the satellite bandwidth available is being used to deliver television programming. Satellite also typically has more channels, and more channels in HD than cable at a given price. But these are generalities, and some cable systems may be exceptional.

    I find the HD PQ of Dish to be more than adequate for national channels, and I am a very fussy viewer. My OTA locals beat Dish's, but I live in a small market.
  14. Mar 13, 2014 #14 of 100

    damondlt New Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    You guys are seriously going to argue with P Smith over facts he produced with your pro dishnetwork opinions.

    Sent from my PantechP8010 using DBSTalk mobile app
    1 person likes this.
  15. Mar 13, 2014 #15 of 100

    david_jr Godfather

    Dec 10, 2006
    Unless you are extremely fussy, DISH HD quality is very good overall when viewed from a reasonable distance. If you obsess over PQ (there is nothing wrong with that - you paid your money), you might be happier staying with DTV. If it really comes down to dollars for you and you are willing to accept high quality HD as opposed to ultimate HD quality you should really look into DISH. I would avoid cable as all of the cable I have seen anywhere I have seen it is noticably inferior to what I get on DISH. MY MIL has U-Verse and I could not live with its PQ and I am not all that fussy.
  16. Mar 13, 2014 #16 of 100

    camo Godfather

    Apr 15, 2010
    We had a side by side comparison last football season on 70" sharp and 60" LG. I just happen to add Dish with my own equipment, (no contract) just for Pac12 network.
    I can tell you HD quality for NFL football games was substantially better on Directv. I was actually surprised at the difference. We get the Phoenix network feeds for NFL football games, but also have Sunday Ticket. Local game would go on the Dish receiver and ST on Directv receiver. I had some rather large (fantasy league) groups over several times and everyone agreed Directv looked much better. We switched the HDMI cables back and forth checking the different Tv's with same results. For NFL football in HD Directv is the way to go.
  17. Mar 13, 2014 #17 of 100

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

    Mar 4, 2006
    Herrin, IL
    sure, why not?

    If the viewer can't see the difference, then the difference doesn't exist for him/her. Quite simple.

    That's why I can switch around and not give the HD quality any part of the decision to do so. :)
  18. Mar 13, 2014 #18 of 100
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

    Jul 25, 2002
    W.Mdtrn Sea
    that's the root of endless discussion about PQ between providers, mfgs, devices,etc HERE (!)

    Opposite thing is engineers, who MUST operate measured qualified aspects of PQ.

    While anyone here adhere to personal perception, we will NEVER find common ground :(
    1 person likes this.
  19. Mar 13, 2014 #19 of 100
    Paul Secic

    Paul Secic Hall Of Fame

    Dec 16, 2003
    With U-Verse you have to be close to VAR box. One day we [SIZE=12.152777671813965px]didm't service from 4AM to 6AM until a tech came. We went back to Dish the next Monday.. So be aware.[/SIZE]
  20. Mar 13, 2014 #20 of 100

    Orion9 Legend

    Jan 31, 2011
    Common ground can be hard to find when it comes to picture quality. Back in the 80s and 90s, manufacturers sold resolution as the prime determinant of quality, and many of my friends agreed but I kept finding that signal to noise and accurate color reproduction and things like time base errors tended to bother me much more than resolution. The in the mid 90s I spent a little time working on a video device and I read a document (from the NAB I think) about video quality and I found that they had around 20 measurements - some I had never heard of and they listed signal to noise first and resolution was down around 5 or 6. So I felt vindicated - though many of my friends continued to pursue resolution at all costs.

    On the question of cable, I would check the local situation. In my parent's (very small) town, the majority of the cable channels are AWFUL. A few are very good. It's amazing how many resolutions and aspect ratios and incorrectly stretched out formats that that particular cable system has.

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