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post #91 of 12525 Old 08-01-2003, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally posted by illumin8
...Overall, SD picture quality is slightly worse than watching on a non-HD digital cable box.

The A/D/A conversions in the STB probably degrade the PQ.
Other AVS Forum members have reported getting better picture quality on the analog channel tier by splitting the cable and running a leg of it to your TV, and using the TV's tuner for the analog tier. Of course then you lose the wonderful ad-filled guide.....



... The two local stations (ABC(?) affiliate and KTHV CBS affiliate) seem to be pass-through of the exact same signal you get from an OTA receiver. Of course KTHV is probably the best quality. I've always been very impressed with the HD programming on CBS.

ABC (as well as ESPN & eventually FOX) is 720p and CBS is 1080i. If your STB must convert 720p to 1080i for your set, there's may be some PQ lost in that conversion, too.



... ESPN-HD is really lousy. They are simply stretching SD material to a HD resolution (not sure if they're using 1080i, 720p, or 480p). Eventually they may broadcast some games in HD...


ESPN is 720p and has been broadcasting some games in HD. But they are stretching all 4:3 material to 16:9, which is a total joke. They're even stretching commercials during true HD game broadcasts. The true HD is rare for ESPN so far, but they will increase programming a lot as time goes on. The price may go up, too. Comcast told me ESPN-hd was a "free preview" right now. Others in the forum have been told the same thing.

...If you're already receiving digital cable it's especially a good deal because it won't cost you anything more per-month to swap your existing digital box for a Motorola 5100. If you're not getting digital cable there is a $5 a month box rental fee.

These are not the prices I was given. I was also told if I had cable, I could just come in, pickup the STB, and do a self-install. Just like DirecTV, if I called comcast back and got a different CSR, I would probably be told a different story.

I was told if you already had digital cable, the HD box was another $5 a month (in addition to the digital tier charge and additional STB charges for each TV). And if you only had analog cable and wanted to add the box just for High Def channels, the HD box was $10 more per month.

For 1 HD box, 2 additional SD boxes and the digital tier, comcast quoted me $32 a month more than D* charges, for less programming than I'm currently getting. That difference would pay for my D* system in less than 18 months.

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post #92 of 12525 Old 08-02-2003, 11:15 AM
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These are not the prices I was given. I was also told if I had cable, I could just come in, pickup the STB, and do a self-install. Just like DirecTV, if I called comcast back and got a different CSR, I would probably be told a different story.

I was told if you already had digital cable, the HD box was another $5 a month (in addition to the digital tier charge and additional STB charges for each TV). And if you only had analog cable and wanted to add the box just for High Def channels, the HD box was $10 more per month.

For 1 HD box, 2 additional SD boxes and the digital tier, comcast quoted me $32 a month more than D* charges, for less programming than I'm currently getting. That difference would pay for my D* system in less than 18 months.

Yes, the price of digital cable sucks. It is much more expensive than DirecTV and Dish for inferior quality (non-digital channels are inferior due to the A/D/A conversion). But, there are a couple of other things you have to take into account. I live in an apartment that won't let me put a dish up so that's out. Also, my internet service is through them, and it's only $40 a month with digital cable, but they charge $60 a month if you're not a cable customer (I thought bundling services like that was illegal in most countries, but this is the U.S. and large corporations get away with murder here). I was going to get rid of digital cable completely before they came out with HD service. Now I guess I'll probably keep it.

Anyhow, the bottom line is that DirecTV and Dish give you more better quality channels at a lower price, but if you can't get DirecTV or Dish for some reason, HD over cable is a viable alternative.
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post #93 of 12525 Old 08-02-2003, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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If I lived in a north facing apartment, I probably get cable HD if they carried all the locals.

I assume you do not have a south-facing balcony. If you do, your apartment can not prevent you from putting a dish on your patio. See the FCC fact sheet.

Cable modem service is awful where I live. The speed can be good, but reliability is not as good as DSL, and often slows to near dialup speeds in the evening. And when it goes down, there's no dialup backup, at least there wasn't when I inquired about it. Perhaps there are too many cable modem customers in my neighborhood. I also needed dialup access when traveling.

Anyway, I have DSL, which is only $29.95/month, and includes free nationwide/backup dialup access.
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post #94 of 12525 Old 08-04-2003, 08:25 AM
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arxaw,
I have the Channel Master 3016 Suburban Range Antenna mounted in my attic. My zip code is 72227-6462. I posted before and you helped me with which way to point the antenna. I guess I need to get a rotor. Thanks.
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post #95 of 12525 Old 08-04-2003, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
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mjw1755,
Which channels can you get with your antenna? And when you re-aim it, what channels are added, and what channels do you lose?
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post #96 of 12525 Old 08-04-2003, 09:30 PM
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Did anyone notice that ESPNHD was out on Comcast today? I checked around 7:30 pm to see if the baseball game would be broadcast in HD and the feed was dead. Just a blank screen and the Dolby Digital audio feed from the STB went shut off as well.

They're not turning it into Pay-per-view for certain events are they? I would have expected a message from the STB asking me to order if that was the case.
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post #97 of 12525 Old 08-05-2003, 04:18 AM
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arxaw,
I get CBS, NBC, and FOX pointing it at Shinall Mt, and ABC and UPN pointing toward Redfield. I found a spot about in the middle where I can pick up all the channnels, but experience dropouts. It's not too bad, just annoying. At the moment I have it pointed at Shinall Mt., because I primarily watch CBS and FOX right now. This will change with football season approaching.
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post #98 of 12525 Old 08-05-2003, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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illumin8,

ESPN is not a PPV channel. It sounds like your subscription got hosed. Call comcast and have them turn it on again.

A friend of mine with an HDTV and analog basic cable just called comcast to ask about HD & ESPN-HD availability. Comcast told him if he paid $5 a month, he could get an HD box that would pickup two local channels KTHV & KATV, and that other stations (fox, UPN, NBC, WB) would be added in the future, IF they ever go HD.

They also said ESPN is available right now as a "free preview". So it sounds like it will become a pay channel on comcast before long.

WRT your somewhat blurry SD channels, there may be an RF Loop through on the back of the HD box. IF it's there, you can connect the cable directly to your TV's Ant. input from the back of the box, without splitting it again. This will allow analog chanel viewing on the TV when the STB is turned off. According to other threads in this forum, some of these STBs have this feature enabled, but others do not.
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post #99 of 12525 Old 08-05-2003, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


Originally posted by mjw1755
arxaw,
I get CBS, NBC, and FOX pointing it at Shinall Mt, and ABC and UPN pointing toward Redfield. I found a spot about in the middle where I can pick up all the channnels, but experience dropouts. It's not too bad, just annoying. At the moment I have it pointed at Shinall Mt., because I primarily watch CBS and FOX right now. This will change with football season approaching.

mjw1755,
You might have better luck with a less directional antenna, like the CM 4221. The CM 4221 is a good one for aiming "in the middle" of two towers, or towards a hill. Although designed as a UHF-only antenna, it often works well for VHF channels 7-13. It will probably pick up channel 11-1 (really ch 12) with no problem. But when PBS channel 2 goes digital (on lowband VHF channel 5) this fall, you'd need to add a separate VHF antenna, or you can add your existing antenna to the mix (see next paragraph).

Since your reception is weak, adding LOW NOISE preamp may help you. The CM 7777 is a good one. It has 2 coax inputs and an internal combined/separate switch option for connecting a single VHF/UHF antenna on one coax, or separate VHF & UHF antennas.

If I were you, I would try a CM 4221 aimed at the sweet spot and connected to the UHF input of a CM 7777 preamp. Then, aim your existing combo antenna at Redfield and connected to the VHF input of the preamp.

The CM 4221 is ~$30. The CM 7777 is ~$65, but definitely worth more than discount store amps, due to its very low noise rating. Noise kills digital signals.
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post #100 of 12525 Old 08-05-2003, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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(NBC) KARK-DT, channel 32 (aka 4-1) is having problems with their digital channel. The MCO is aware of the problem and said someone was "on their way to the transmitter" to fix it.

It's been pixelating for several days now....

I really wish they would add the equipment needed to pass NBC network HD programs. Maybe the fact that comcast refuses to carry non-HD OTA digital stations will make KARK (and other foot-dragging local stations) speed up their HD conversion.
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post #101 of 12525 Old 08-05-2003, 04:19 PM
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After receiving Kark's email response about Hd, I would say that they have done all they plan to as far as digital/hd is concerned. They had to put up a digital feed...they did...low power and antenna height. They have a monopoly as to Nbc broadcasting/viewing in central AR..."It's good to be King"
I receive Nbc from LA and NYC via directv so I don't have to rely on Kark. Hopefully this won't change when Directv adds our locals near the end of the year!
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post #102 of 12525 Old 08-06-2003, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I solved the KARK pixelization problem.
I quit watching them
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post #103 of 12525 Old 08-13-2003, 08:49 AM - Thread Starter
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A buddy of mine with an HDTV and basic analog cable recently heard about comcast's HD service here in LR, so he gave 'em a call. They told him he could just come in, pick up the HD box and take it home. It only raised his bill $5 a month, so he thought he'd give it a try.

He picked up a box, brought it home and promptly called me to connect it for him (he is not tech-savvy at all). When I looked at the box, the first thing I noticed was it had no component output jacks, so I knew they gave him the wrong STB.

When he called comcast about this, they said "oh, you can't pick up an HD box - we'll have to install it", so he set up an appointment for a particular morning. They showed up right on time (~5pm that afternoon) and connected a Moto DCT5100 HD STB. The installer did not leave my friend a STB user manual or even a "quick check" guide.

Shortly after the install, friend calls to tell me that the picture looked no better than his analog cable. I asked him what input he was using and he said "CH 3 - that's what the guy told me to watch it on" (comcast repair also told him to use CH 3, when he called to complain about the picture). I told him, "No, you need to switch to component HD input". So he tried that, but the picture was severly off-color and there was NO SOUND. So I go over to his house to see WTF was wrong.

When I checked the back of the STB, I found the component video OUT was connected there correctly. But the L+R AUDIO cables were connected to the Audio IN Jacks on the STB, instead of Audio OUT!. I grumbled and moved the cables to the correct jacks. This fixed the lack of audio, but the the video color still looked horrible.

On the back of the TV, I found that the Pr video component cable was connected to an unused AUDIO-IN jack! No wonder the picture looked off-color! I cussed comcast again and moved the plug over to the Pr IN jack.

That fixed the picture, but he still couldn't control the sound using the comcast-supplied remote. He had to use his TV's remote for that. I realized that the installer didn't program the STB universal remote to control his TV. I did a quick Google and found the setup info & codes for the DCT5100 remote. Finally, everything worked.

After all these problems, and after seeing the slow, primitive ad-filled guide on the DCT5100, I have no desire to ever try HDTV from comcast in Little Rock.

(The only upside to this story is my friend is also getting all the non-premium digital cable channels including HD for only $5 a month. He's supposed to just get the 3 HD channels for his $5. Normally, SD digital cable without HD is ~$15/mo extra, including SD box rental. )
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post #104 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 04:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone else having audio problems with KATV-DT 7-1?
I get audio on all the digital locals (including 7-2) except 7-1. It's been out for over a week.

I called the station, but they're clueless. They don't even have a way to monitor the OTA audio from the studio!
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post #105 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 04:55 AM
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arxaw- Just checked and the audio is working on 7-1 for me here at home.

Allen
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post #106 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 05:05 AM - Thread Starter
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allen,
I can't get it to work on my TS160? It worked fine until a week or so ago.

I've checked all my STB audio settings, rebooted/reset the receiver, etc. but nothing helps.

Any ideas as to what might be causing this problem only on 7-1?
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post #107 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 07:40 AM
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Sam- Just looked at KATV's transport stream here at work. Looks like everything is in order on their end. Only problem I see is their average PCR jitter is towards the high end of acceptable. As a point of reference, KARK-DT average PCR jitter is much higher. I did a full rescan with a spare Samsung 150 and it found KATV 7-1 & 7-2 with no problems and was playing audio. The box was receiving 7-1 audio before the rescan. Mainly wanted to make sure things would come back preoperly after a rescan. Only thing I can think of is to do a rescan with no antenna hooked up followed by a rescan with your antenna/s.

Allen
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post #108 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions.
I've tried the "no antenna" scan/rescan, but that didn't help.

I suspect it's something in the data stream that's changed that's affecting the TS160. There are other threads in the forum about lost audio on the TS160, and it's often been with ABC affiliates.

KATV is clueless; they don't even have an DTV OTA monitor in the studio. My next step is to contact Steve Samsung support.

WRT KARK problems, they've been SNAFU off & on for over a month. Pitiful.
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post #109 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 08:31 AM
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Sam- If you find out the cause of the ABC issue and the 160, I'd be interested to know the cause. I don't see any issue with the transport stream. If there is some subtle thing I'm missing, I'll put it in my bag of tricks for future use. I never pass up an opportunity to gather knowledge!

Allen

Allen
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post #110 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Allen,

I called Samsung Tech Support. They said the problem was with the station. Even after telling them that friends of mine with other brands of STBs could pick up the audio, they refused to budge on their diagnosis. I guess I've reached a dead-end.

Any more ideas?
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post #111 of 12525 Old 08-18-2003, 08:44 PM
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Well i have new widescreen HDTV on the way and I need some help deciding what HDTV reception method is best for me. I live in West Little Rock on Cherry Crest Cove, zip 72211-5437.

Ok here's where i stand if i went Satellite/OTA: - I dont own a receiver so i'd need to buy one like that zenith for 400 bucks from circuit city. I also dont have either an antenna or a dish. I am NOT mechnically inclined at all so the antenna, pole, .... everything would need to be both purchased and professionally installed. Same goes for the dish. And one final concern I have is if there is any chance upper-middle class WLR homeowners communities have anything against "archaic" OTA antennas on your house (please dont laugh, i'm not really sure and haven't actually noticed one, though I i'm not the most observant person sometimes).

My other option of course is Comcast HDTV/Digital cable. Less upfront costs (no need for a 400 dollar HDTV OTA receiver, no need for professionally installed and purchased OTA antenna, and DirectTV dish/service install), but more month to month costs.

Help me decide on what will make me happiest.

Thanks,

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post #112 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 05:16 AM
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Quote:


everything would need to be both purchased and professionally installed

Free installation is usually included since you would be a new customer.

Quote:


And one final concern I have is if there is any chance upper-middle class WLR homeowners communities have anything against "archaic" OTA antennas on your house

They can't do anything about it. The FCC protects your right to receive television signals in any manner you see fit. Or you could just install the antenna in the attic and no one would see it. The only problem is if you live in one of the valley's in your neighborhood. I lived at the bottom of the hill on Cherry Bend and had pretty bad reception of the analog LR stations. On the other hand, I hadn't found this forum and learned about quality antennas.

Quote:


Help me decide on what will make me happiest.

It's really up to you to weigh the pros and cons and make the decision. I switched to satellite 10 years ago because of the crappy cable company in Sheridan. I never tried LR cable but I know people who did and hated it. When I moved to the Memphis area, I took Time Warner's 30 day free trial of digital cable. I kept it 29 days and went back to satellite.

-Robert
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post #113 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 05:23 AM
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Free installation is usually included since you would be a new customer.

I was referring to the OTA antenna. I know DirectTV would install the dish, but i'm assuming they arn't going to bother with my OTA antenna. I know you can buy one of those OTA antennas that attach to the dish, but I think i'm going to need one that's separate since half the stations are on shinnal mountain and the other half are SE of me.

I'm actually pretty far up the mountain, but not all the way at the top. The mountain i'm on continues to rise West of me and there's a 3 story house at the top of that mountain.

Azanon
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post #114 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 05:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Azanon, and welcome to AVSForum.

Your decision should be based on what HD channels you want, as well as long term cost.

Comcast HD package offers:
One brand and type of SetTopBox. No choice. No DVI or RGB outputs. No VCR control via program guide. One set of audio jacks on the box. An Ad-cluttered program guide.
CHANNELS:
HBOHD & ShowtimeHD (with subscription to the standard definition channels of those channels)
A *lot* of HBO & Showtime HD programming is upconverted - not true HD
ESPNHD (occasional HD - mostly games)
KATV-DT 7-1 (ABC)(HD primetime & sports)
KTHV-DT 11-1 (CBS)(HD primetime & sports)

Choosing DirecTV gives you:
Choice of STBs from several manufacturers. Most have DVI outputs and component outputs, and some have RGB out. All have multiple audio out jacks and one button VCR recording via the D* program guide. NO advertising in the channel guide.
DirecTV CHANNELS:
HBOHD & ShowtimeHD (with subscription to the standard definition channels of those channels)
ESPNHD (occasional HD - mostly games)
DiscoveryHD (HD 24/7 - no upconverts)
HDnet (various HD programming 24/7)
HDnet Movies (movies in HD 24/7)
HD PPV ($5 per movie)
With the DirecTV box and antenna you would also get:
KATV-DT 7-1 (ABC)(HD primetime & sports)
KATV-DT 7-2 (480i)
KTHV-DT 11-1 (CBS)(HD primetime & sports)
KTHV-DT 11-2 (local live view radar)
KARK-DT 4-1 (NBC)(KARK is not yet HD)
KLRT-DT 16-1 (FOX)(HD sometime in 2004)
KASN-DT 38-1 (UPN)(HD when UPN begins....?)

You can get a standard multi-sat DirecTV system installed at no charge. Your extra costs would be the HD STB, and installation of an antenna, if you want an outdoor/attic antenna professionally installed. Antennaweb.org shows that in your zip code you could probably get all the channels with only an indoor VHF/UHF antenna. This one from Radio Shack would probably work at your zip code. It you can get all the stations without rotating it, you could just put it up in the attic. Outdoor antennas may also be installed in the attic, but better results are usually obtained outdoors. Your HOA can NOT prevent you from installing a dish or outdoor antenna. See:
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

With the difference in costs for comparable programming & digital cable STB rental vs DirecTV, my 3 room DirecTV system paid for itself in less than 18 months. Now I'm saving ~30 bucks a month and I get more HD channels.

If you have an outdoor/attic antenna installed, your costs will be higher of course, but you still eventually come out ahead cost-wise with DirecTV.
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post #115 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 06:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


Originally posted by Azanon
I was referring to the OTA antenna. I know DirectTV would install the dish, but i'm assuming they arn't going to bother with my OTA antenna. I know you can buy one of those OTA antennas that attach to the dish, but I think i'm going to need one that's separate since half the stations are on shinnal mountain and the other half are SE of me.

I'm actually pretty far up the mountain, but not all the way at the top. The mountain i'm on continues to rise West of me and there's a 3 story house at the top of that mountain.

Azanon,

If you go with DirecTV, call Broadway Satellite at
501 945-3553 to set up installation of a BASIC standard definition "multi-sat satellite" system and OTA antenna. A basic system costs a DOLLAR, if you agree to keep TotalChoice basic programming for a year.

The OTA attic/outdoor antenna, if needed, will cost more of course. Broadway Satellite use multi-sat dishes exclusively, which is what you need for HD.

AFTER the system is installed, purchase a DirecTV HD receiver (Zenith & Sony, both made by LG Electronics, currently have the best OTA tuners). Circuit City carries these STBs. Buy locally, in case the box has problems, so you can return it with no hassles.

Replace the standard def. box with your new HD box. Call DirecTV to have the HD box activated and the SD box deactivated. Also tell DirecTV to activate the "HD programming package", or add it youself at the DirecTV web site. Sell the old box on eBay or keep it for a spare. THERE IS NO 12 MONTH COMMITMENT to keep any specific SET TOP BOX connected, as long as you keep your TotalChoice basic programming for a year.
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post #116 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 09:17 AM
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Thanks for the help Arxaw!

I do have one more question. As i'm sure you know, DirectTV intends to offer local channels as an add-on option shortly. Do you know if these channels will include the HD versions, or not?

That would eliminiate the need for an OTA antenna, but of course would add to the cost.
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post #117 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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No HD-locals are planned anywhere by DirecTV. They currently don't have the satellite capacity to carry them. They could, if they changed to a newer encoding method, but that would require changing out every existing D* set top box!

The OTA digitals are so good, I have no intention of paying $5 more a month for the locals on D* which will be heavily compressed and much lower picture quality than OTA.
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post #118 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 09:51 AM
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Ok Arxaw, you convined me..... i'm going DirecTV. I'll work with Broadway Satellite too. I'm assuming you want me to have them install the basic set first since i'll get a free set-top box out of it. The channel i really want is discoveryHD. I'm a biologist and all, and that really appeals to me.... amonst the other advantages.

I'll research HD receivers tonight. I was originally just going to go with the 600 dollar samsung that had the DVI port, and supports both OTA and DirectTV. I'll check into those other models though. A quick glance at Best Buy and Circuit City's websites only showed the cheaper HD receivers that dont support Direct TV (only OTA). But if you say they have one at their stores, i'll stop buy and check it out on my way home.

I guess the only thing i'm really nervous about going this route is the possiblity i wont be able to get abc or cbs in. I watch the main networks quite a bit, so i'll be disappointed if i cant get a solid signal. I guess i will try having broadway satellite just installed an OTA directly onto the dish or whatever else they recommend when i call them. As i said before, my house is pretty high up the mountain and i have a tall, two-story, though i'm not at the pinnacle. But i'm really nervous because my dish/antenna will be static when the half the antenna towers are one direction, and half of them are in the other direction, per antennaweb.com.

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post #119 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
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How far are you from Shinall (not chenal) mountain? That's where CBS is located. I easily get CBS and ABC, with an attic antenna pointed toward Redfield.

Being so close to Shinall, you could likely just aim a VHF/UHF antenna S/SE toward Redfield (towards ABC) and get all the Redfield and Shinall stations.

If you're really concerned with OTA reception, I would get one of the Zenith/Sony (both made by LG) DirecTV boxes. They have the best OTA tuners. I have a Samsung, BTW.

The reason I suggested ordering a basic D* system, is Broadway Satellite may not do a free install on an HD system, since most of those customers have more money than sense

You can always call and ask them if they'll do a basic HD install for free. If not, just order the basic free SD setup + antenna, and then later, swap out the box for the HD box you buy on your own.

The "Insectia" series on DiscoveryHD is fantastic.
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post #120 of 12525 Old 08-19-2003, 10:52 AM
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I'm approximately 6.25 miles from Shinall Mountain. The only downside is the mountain continues upward to the NW, in the direction of Shinall.
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