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· AllStar
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As a 10-year DirecTV customer, I'm finally making the move to HD and am going to give the HR20 a shot :scratchin. I have a mid-January installation scheduled.

Lately I read that DirecTV was sued over their hdtv signal, which allegedly isn't up to the true hdtv standard.

My girlfriend recently got hdtv through Comcast cable, and her picture looks pretty impressive. I'm sure I'll know soon enough but, how good (or bad) is the hdtv picture quality through DirecTV? --Thanks
 

· Hall Of Fame
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1,308 Posts
PeeWee10 said:
As a 10-year DirecTV customer, I'm finally making the move to HD and am going to give the HR20 a shot :scratchin. I have a mid-January installation scheduled.

Lately I read that DirecTV was sued over their hdtv signal, which allegedly isn't up to the true hdtv standard.

My girlfriend recently got hdtv through Comcast cable, and her picture looks pretty impressive. I'm sure I'll know soon enough but, how good (or bad) is the hdtv picture quality through DirecTV? --Thanks
I think it depends on who you talk too, and what channel you are watching. It is my understanding that the local channels in each city have a different quality. I am in the Detroit market and I have no complaints about the signal. (If you get good OTA reception, this point is moot.)

I am sure that a discerning eye could pick apart the quality of the HD feed. For me: On my LCD - it looks great, and simply blows away the SD stuff. I can't wait for the onslaught of HD content that has been promised down the line from D* in 2007.
 

· The Shadow Knows!
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36,634 Posts
Welcome, PeeWee10!

I did a quick Google search on your TV and it looks like it's a 720p 32" LCD.

All I can do is use my own experience as a guide, with a similar sized LCD TV. That being said, I can find almost no difference between the HD feed from the antenna and the same feed coming down from the satellite. In other words, if I switch from my local CBS affiliate, coming down in HD from the satellite, and the same signal gotten from my off-air antenna, both watched from about 5 feet away, it's near impossible to tell the difference. When I first got HD I saw some "block noise" and "mosquito noise" but I was surprised that it was there just as strongly in the broadcast feeds.

A lot of people here take issue with the picture quality of DirecTV's HD signals. I'm sure I'd be one of them if I had a much larger set. You'll hear the term "HD Lite" here, and it refers to the fact that DirecTV downsamples their 1080i signals (which should be 1920x1080) to 1280x1080 and sometimes by recompressing them, they deliberately decrease the detail level to save "space". All this is true.

However, with a 720p television, which is what you and I have, the maximum resolution of the set is 1366x768. Anything more than that is discarded before you see it, simple as that. Different TVs have different ways of discarding that extra detail, but dollars to donuts, you are not seeing it on the screen.

I've read numerous posts over at AVSforum.com and other places that try to determine if there is any real viewable difference between 1080p resolution and 720p resolution on "medium" sized sets like ours. The fact that it's hotly debated should tell you something - if there is any difference, it's pretty small.

Probably more than you were asking, so here's the bottom line - I seriously doubt, with the TV you have, that you'll be any less impressed with DirecTV's offering than Comcast's.
 

· Registered
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5,952 Posts
PeeWee10 said:
As a 10-year DirecTV customer, I'm finally making the move to HD and am going to give the HR20 a shot :scratchin. I have a mid-January installation scheduled.

Lately I read that DirecTV was sued over their hdtv signal, which allegedly isn't up to the true hdtv standard.

My girlfriend recently got hdtv through Comcast cable, and her picture looks pretty impressive. I'm sure I'll know soon enough but, how good (or bad) is the hdtv picture quality through DirecTV? --Thanks
If you are used to SD, HD as delivered by D* will be quite impressive. It should be equal or better than most cable HD.

The comments you get about HD quality via D* (many from me), compare HD on MPEG-2 via D* to OTA-HD (also MPEG-2). OTA (Over-The-Air) HD is definitely superior in video quality to D*. OTA, while using the same compression scheme, doesn't "bit-starve" to the extent that D* has to, for the HD channels they do have, to fit in their available bandwidth from the satellites. This should improve this year as D* is launching more birds.

MPEG-4/HD-Locals via D* can be quite good. Reports from people vary (as there are some real startup issues with the MPEG-4/HD-Locals). Some report little to no difference compared to OTA. All HD will eventually move to MPEG-4 (hence the need for either the H20 or HR20 sat receivers from D*), and if the potential for even better quality is realized, you won't be disappointed.

As it stands right now, anyone with a discerning eye (or not so discerning in the case of ESPN-HD, which is nowhere near as good as it should be...yet clearly superior to SD (standard def via sat)), will see the 'defects' in the HD picture.

Some channels are typically better than others, some vary by day of the week (Sunday during football season is not the best), some vary randomly in quality. A few are particularly good nearly all the time...Discovery HD Theater comes to mind. It can be downright stunning. (some of which is due to program material).

So, it would be unfair to say HD via D* is "bad"...that just isn't true. I think it's fair to call a lot of it "HD-Lite" when compared to OTA-HD, because of bandwidth limitations on the satellite. Will you be happy....I would think so...even HD-Lite looks really good.

For videophiles, it's a balancing act. We don't want to "overlook" the deficiencies, but going off the deep end and calling it bad is a gross exaggeration. I wouldn't let fears of poor HD quality stop me from getting either the H20 or HR20 for HD from D*.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: I would advise that you think VERY carefully as to what your real needs are. If all you want is viewing HD and don't have a major need for recording HD, then I would stick with the H20. If you just "must" have HD recording, then your only choice is the HR20...and it is in its early stages of development. The boxes that are good, are really nice....like mine. I have had very few, and only minor problems with it in the 16 weeks I've had it. The boxes that don't work well, drive their users NUTS! D* is working on the issues, but it is going to require patience. There is a very significant minority of users (perhaps 15 to 25 percent as a guess) who are having major issues.

If you have as an option to get an H20 receiver and use it for a while (maybe six months or so), and then move up to the HR20 (moving the H20 to somewhere else, or maybe D* will take the H20 back and only charge an upgrade price), then that would be a safe way to go. You get HD, just not recording, until the HR20 is "ready for prime time".

Hope this helps ya.
 

· AllStar
Joined
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58 Posts
I feel that DirecTV HD is 'good enough'. But it could be better. It doesn't have that crispness that OTA HD (often) does.

I appreciate that an HD signal allows me to have a 56" set with a quality picture and much more room in my viewing area since I can push the couch back to 12 feet.
 

· Icon
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694 Posts
hasan said:
If you are used to SD, HD as delivered by D* will be quite impressive. It should be equal or better than most cable HD.

The comments you get about HD quality via D* (many from me), compare HD on MPEG-2 via D* to OTA-HD (also MPEG-2). OTA (Over-The-Air) HD is definitely superior in video quality to D*. OTA, while using the same compression scheme, doesn't "bit-starve" to the extent that D* has to, for the HD channels they do have, to fit in their available bandwidth from the satellites. This should improve this year as D* is launching more birds.

MPEG-4/HD-Locals via D* can be quite good. Reports from people vary (as there are some real startup issues with the MPEG-4/HD-Locals). Some report little to no difference compared to OTA. All HD will eventually move to MPEG-4 (hence the need for either the H20 or HR20 sat receivers from D*), and if the potential for even better quality is realized, you won't be disappointed.

As it stands right now, anyone with a discerning eye (or not so discerning in the case of ESPN-HD, which is nowhere near as good as it should be...yet clearly superior to SD (standard def via sat)), will see the 'defects' in the HD picture.

Some channels are typically better than others, some vary by day of the week (Sunday during football season is not the best), some vary randomly in quality. A few are particularly good nearly all the time...Discovery HD Theater comes to mind. It can be downright stunning. (some of which is due to program material).

So, it would be unfair to say HD via D* is "bad"...that just isn't true. I think it's fair to call a lot of it "HD-Lite" when compared to OTA-HD, because of bandwidth limitations on the satellite. Will you be happy....I would think so...even HD-Lite looks really good.

For videophiles, it's a balancing act. We don't want to "overlook" the deficiencies, but going off the deep end and calling it bad is a gross exaggeration. I wouldn't let fears of poor HD quality stop me from getting either the H20 or HR20 for HD from D*.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: I would advise that you think VERY carefully as to what your real needs are. If all you want is viewing HD and don't have a major need for recording HD, then I would stick with the H20. If you just "must" have HD recording, then your only choice is the HR20...and it is in its early stages of development. The boxes that are good, are really nice....like mine. I have had very few, and only minor problems with it in the 16 weeks I've had it. The boxes that don't work well, drive their users NUTS! D* is working on the issues, but it is going to require patience. There is a very significant minority of users (perhaps 15 to 25 percent as a guess) who are having major issues.

If you have as an option to get an H20 receiver and use it for a while (maybe six months or so), and then move up to the HR20 (moving the H20 to somewhere else, or maybe D* will take the H20 back and only charge an upgrade price), then that would be a safe way to go. You get HD, just not recording, until the HR20 is "ready for prime time".

Hope this helps ya.
Hasan, even though I am "stuck" out here in Barbados with my blackberry. I want to thank you for this and your other insights I find them concise and very valuable. It's been very helpful.
 

· Impossible Dreamer
Joined
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5,525 Posts
lamontcranston said:
I did a quick Google search on your TV and it looks like it's a 720p 32" LCD.

[snip]

...here's the bottom line - I seriously doubt, with the TV you have, that you'll be any less impressed with DirecTV's offering than Comcast's.
I agree -- with that 32" 720p TV, you aren't going to notice the resolution difference nor (at a reasonable viewing distance) the compression artifacts in the DirecTV HD signal. If you were to sit 2 feet away and watch a football game on ESPN/2...well, that's a bit of a different story :)
 

· Legend
Joined
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220 Posts
hasan said:
If you are used to SD, HD as delivered by D* will be quite impressive. It should be equal or better than most cable HD.

The comments you get about HD quality via D* (many from me), compare HD on MPEG-2 via D* to OTA-HD (also MPEG-2). OTA (Over-The-Air) HD is definitely superior in video quality to D*. OTA, while using the same compression scheme, doesn't "bit-starve" to the extent that D* has to, for the HD channels they do have, to fit in their available bandwidth from the satellites. This should improve this year as D* is launching more birds.

MPEG-4/HD-Locals via D* can be quite good. Reports from people vary (as there are some real startup issues with the MPEG-4/HD-Locals). Some report little to no difference compared to OTA. All HD will eventually move to MPEG-4 (hence the need for either the H20 or HR20 sat receivers from D*), and if the potential for even better quality is realized, you won't be disappointed.

As it stands right now, anyone with a discerning eye (or not so discerning in the case of ESPN-HD, which is nowhere near as good as it should be...yet clearly superior to SD (standard def via sat)), will see the 'defects' in the HD picture.

Some channels are typically better than others, some vary by day of the week (Sunday during football season is not the best), some vary randomly in quality. A few are particularly good nearly all the time...Discovery HD Theater comes to mind. It can be downright stunning. (some of which is due to program material).

So, it would be unfair to say HD via D* is "bad"...that just isn't true. I think it's fair to call a lot of it "HD-Lite" when compared to OTA-HD, because of bandwidth limitations on the satellite. Will you be happy....I would think so...even HD-Lite looks really good.

For videophiles, it's a balancing act. We don't want to "overlook" the deficiencies, but going off the deep end and calling it bad is a gross exaggeration. I wouldn't let fears of poor HD quality stop me from getting either the H20 or HR20 for HD from D*.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: I would advise that you think VERY carefully as to what your real needs are. If all you want is viewing HD and don't have a major need for recording HD, then I would stick with the H20. If you just "must" have HD recording, then your only choice is the HR20...and it is in its early stages of development. The boxes that are good, are really nice....like mine. I have had very few, and only minor problems with it in the 16 weeks I've had it. The boxes that don't work well, drive their users NUTS! D* is working on the issues, but it is going to require patience. There is a very significant minority of users (perhaps 15 to 25 percent as a guess) who are having major issues.

If you have as an option to get an H20 receiver and use it for a while (maybe six months or so), and then move up to the HR20 (moving the H20 to somewhere else, or maybe D* will take the H20 back and only charge an upgrade price), then that would be a safe way to go. You get HD, just not recording, until the HR20 is "ready for prime time".

Hope this helps ya.
I think hasan has summed it up nicely. Just to add a couple of points - I was never an HD aficionado - as I nor any of my friends had HD for me to compare VS SD (and I never could get an accurate feel for how it would transpose from the Electronics stores to my living room).

With that said, I decided to get into the HD Game by building a media room and installing an HD projector with 106" screen. So, if there are any PQ issues I certainly deal with them. However, I realize that this "HD Thing" is still like the "Wild West" as it relates to Quantity and Quality of Programming - as well as "deliverability (Cable VS Sat VS OTA). Point is... a little patience will take you a long way.

I was very impressed when I pulled in my first HD signal ( A Football game on ESPN HD at 720P). I thought the PQ was amazing. I didn't think a projector could deliver that kind of quality HD. So, when the cameras cut from the action on the field to the announcers and I saw a significant lip-synch issue - I pretty much over looked it and saw it as a "trade-off" for the fabulous picture (and knowing that "talking heads" for Football games constitutes a very small percentage of the broadcast.) And I guess that's how I view this whole HR20 /HD Content situation. I use it for what it does really well. For example, I now watch shows on HDNET and Discovery that I never would have in the past - solely because of the HD PQ. Conversely - I find myself watching the NFL Sunday Ticket outside of the media room on a TIVO/ 53" CRT - because the SD games on NFST are downright deplorable on a 106" screen (believe me - it hurts not to watching the Bills in the media room I built specifically for Sunday football...or maybe it just hurts watching the Bills:hurah:

In any event, I've learned to optimize my viewing around the strengths of what my system and carrier can deliver. The introduction of OTA on the HR20 was another breakthrough in this "HD Journey". As amazed as I was with the first ESPN HD football game - I was equally if not more amazed when OTA HD came beaming in. The richness of colors and depth of field was incredible. It almost appeared as if someone was holding a piece of glass in front of the field and I was looking right through it onto the filed. It was that vibrant. Like the way TIVO changed the way I watched TV - High Definition has change what I watch to a certain degree.

I think the time to get in on HD is here and you won't be disappointed. Good luck with your choice.

NOW FOR A NOTE TO D*:::::::::::::::::::::::::::
As a guy who works in advertising for some of the country's top brands, I believe D* built it's brand on outstanding signal quality, and customer service. However, these forums highlight significant issues in both areas. I'd like to focus on the signal quality for the moment.

When you talk about "Crystal Clear" 100 digital programming, customers expect superior PQ (especially relative to cable). The "Bit Starving" situation with satellite broadcasts has clearly opened the door for services such as FIOS to overtake your position as the Premiere provider of high quality broadcasting. As a marketer, D* should have fought like hell to hold onto this position. When you look at what people are spending on TV's - whether it's Plasma, LCD, DLP, or projector - they are signaling they are investing in having the best possible PQ available. To provide anything less as a carrier undermines the brand in the audiences' "eyes" - and will send them elsewhere for higher quality and more reliable services.

People are already watching highly compressed videos on a "pocket-sized" screens via IPod or cell phone or listening to highly compressed music on their coveted MP3 players, but they are willing to make that quality sacrifice for the freedom to "be mobile". That's a different situation. When you sit down in the comfort of your living room or better yet a well designed home theater you deserve the high quality experience you paid for (equipment and broadcast quality). I'm not sure that D* is delivering on that proposition. I do realize that with two new satellites going up next year some of these PQ issues will be addressed. However, other decisions could have been made (i.e fewer channels to increase the bandwidth for what customers are really watching - especially premium pay channels and packages). Failing to do this has created a race for customers that should never had started had D* remained true to it's original value proposition to the customer.

There...my final rant of the year...

Happy New Year Everyone
 

· Godfather
Joined
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280 Posts
(Sort of a rant here...sorry)

From a long-time D* user.....

thought I'd point out that the issues folks describe here with HDTV on D* are exactly the same as the issues folks have had with SD on D* for years. When I first started using D* (I think sometime around 1999), the SD pictures were perfect. (Of course, I had cable for local channels....) After the locals went up, the signals degraded measurably. On my 36" SD TV, I can see noticeable pixelization on most channels most of the time. I find NFL (non locals) tends to be clearest, followed by HBO when they're showing a primetime show. After that things get ugly. Ever try to watch Comedy Central and actually pay attention to the signal quality? Horrible.

So.....

I know the issues are magnified with HDTV (probably because most people who buy it are really TV geeks who pay more attention to the PQ), but keep in mind that this isn't new for D* at all. This is common practice for it. Until D* gets up enough birds that it can easily carry all the signals it wants at full bandwidth, it will have some PQ issues.....and I frankly doubt they'll ever spend the money to get more birds up than it needs at current bandwidth-per-channel levels.

I'm not close enough to the technology to know whether MPEG-4 will solve these issues....but my guess is they'll just load more QVC channels (etc) and the quality will stay about the same.
 

· Impossible Dreamer
Joined
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5,525 Posts
marlen said:
When you talk about "Crystal Clear" 100 digital programming, customers expect superior PQ (especially relative to cable). The "Bit Starving" situation with satellite broadcasts has clearly opened the door for services such as FIOS to overtake your position as the Premiere provider of high quality broadcasting. As a marketer, D* should have fought like hell to hold onto this position. When you look at what people are spending on TV's - whether it's Plasma, LCD, DLP, or projector - they are signaling they are investing in having the best possible PQ available. To provide anything less as a carrier undermines the brand in the audiences' "eyes" - and will send them elsewhere for higher quality and more reliable services.

People are already watching highly compressed videos on a "pocket-sized" screens via IPod or cell phone or listening to highly compressed music on their coveted MP3 players, but they are willing to make that quality sacrifice for the freedom to "be mobile". That's a different situation. When you sit down in the comfort of your living room or better yet a well designed home theater you deserve the high quality experience you paid for (equipment and broadcast quality). I'm not sure that D* is delivering on that proposition. I do realize that with two new satellites going up next year some of these PQ issues will be addressed. However, other decisions could have been made (i.e fewer channels to increase the bandwidth for what customers are really watching - especially premium pay channels and packages). Failing to do this has created a race for customers that should never had started had D* remained true to it's original value proposition to the customer.
Amen to that!

I am a major sports fan who pays each year for most of the pro & college "league passes." As I have continued to upgrade my televisions and D* has continued to increase compression, we've reached a point where I am considering dropping that programming. The SD quality of most games has gotten so bad that I often just watch them on my PC in another room via my Slingbox.
 

· Impossible Dreamer
Joined
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5,525 Posts
You are correct, the issue is not new.

However, with more and more folks buying large HDTV screens, I think that PQ is going to become a competitive issue among providers. At least I hope so!

oenophile said:
(Sort of a rant here...sorry)

From a long-time D* user.....

thought I'd point out that the issues folks describe here with HDTV on D* are exactly the same as the issues folks have had with SD on D* for years. When I first started using D* (I think sometime around 1999), the SD pictures were perfect. (Of course, I had cable for local channels....) After the locals went up, the signals degraded measurably. On my 36" SD TV, I can see noticeable pixelization on most channels most of the time. I find NFL (non locals) tends to be clearest, followed by HBO when they're showing a primetime show. After that things get ugly. Ever try to watch Comedy Central and actually pay attention to the signal quality? Horrible.

So.....

I know the issues are magnified with HDTV (probably because most people who buy it are really TV geeks who pay more attention to the PQ), but keep in mind that this isn't new for D* at all. This is common practice for it. Until D* gets up enough birds that it can easily carry all the signals it wants at full bandwidth, it will have some PQ issues.....and I frankly doubt they'll ever spend the money to get more birds up than it needs at current bandwidth-per-channel levels.

I'm not close enough to the technology to know whether MPEG-4 will solve these issues....but my guess is they'll just load more QVC channels (etc) and the quality will stay about the same.
 

· ke6cdn
Joined
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424 Posts
I'll take my D* HD over my brother-in-laws Cox HD.

Had a chance to compare over the holidays and although we have the same TV model, I thought our picture quality was better.

(Could I be a bit biased? Nah.)
 

· Cool Member
Joined
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28 Posts
When exactly are the new Satellites going to be put into service. Also, what new channels will we get on D* (by the way, how did that become the symbol for Directv?)?

I've noticed that they drop the TNT in HD when the Sunday Ticket games are on so this is clearly a capacity issue. So when the increased capacity happens, what do we get?
 

· The Shadow Knows!
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36,634 Posts
SmittyLax6 said:
When exactly are the new Satellites going to be put into service. Also, what new channels will we get on D* (by the way, how did that become the symbol for Directv?)?
I'm guessing that it comes from Dish Network's parent, Echostar, being referred to as E*.
 

· Read Only
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211 Posts
lamontcranston said:
I'm guessing that it comes from Dish Network's parent, Echostar, being referred to as E*.
Actually, it's a remnant from Echostar, Alphastar and Primestar being around back in the day. If they were referred to as E*, A* and P* it only made sense to call DirecTV D*.

Man, hard to believe there was once a lot of satellite competition, isn' t it?
 

· ke6cdn
Joined
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424 Posts
Also avoids confusion with digital television abv.=DTV
 

· Legend
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146 Posts
jcricket said:
Actually, it's a remnant from Echostar, Alphastar and Primestar being around back in the day. If they were referred to as E*, A* and P* it only made sense to call DirecTV D*.

Man, hard to believe there was once a lot of satellite competition, isn' t it?
We'll be saying the same thing after XM and Sirius merge, too!
 

· Hall Of Fame
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1,237 Posts
At times D*'s HD is good, at times it's bad. It was really good 4 years ago. Now its so-so. On a scale of 1 - 10, I'd give it a 6. But without knowing what your local Comcast is like I can't compare. I'd advise to go to the AVS Local Reception forum.
 
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