If you are a new customer to Dish, you can get a promotional package that includes the 811 (HD, but not a DVR) for nothing. If you want a 942, they are $250. The Dish web page for Alaska is out of date, as it discusses the 921, not the 942.http://www.dishnetwork.com/content/g...er/index.shtml
You might be able to get a better deal from one of the local installers, such as MicroCom.
Most of the channels are on the 119 satellite. Some people in town use a 24", a 1 meter dish is more common, I put up a 48" for it. The "119" means that it is located at the 119 degree orbital location.
The HD is carried on two satellites right now, 110 and 129. 110 has the most important (HBO, Showtimes, Discovery, HDNet TNT and ESPN) 129 has 10 channels of what used to be the Voom satellite service. I tried a 48" dish for 110, but due to the low angle, heavy rain clouds (snow does not seem to effect it as much) over the mountains caused the signal to drop out for an hour or so. I switched to a 6' dish and have not had any dropouts since. I have a 36" dish that I am going to put up to get 129, but have not gotten around to it yet.
Dish has a new satellite going to the 110 slot that should be operational by April 06. There probably will be major changes then. The rumor mill has it that this satellite has a lot spot beams that will be used for the local TV stations in HD. There are 7 transponders dedicated for Alaska, meaning that we should have between 14 and 21 HD channels. The satellite is higher powered than what is there now, so a smaller dish is possible. This is very speculative, as Dish has not made any announcements.
FYI, I have no connections to any of the Dish installers, I am just a customer.