I have the HD200 and it works great, but it's hard to argue with the Hughes unit for $300 less. The Sony will be a little spiffier when it comes to the graphics/menus/guides, but the E86 is a reliable machine and ultimately we didn't purchase HDTV televisions to stare at program guides.
The newer HD STBs like the Sony and its Zenith counterpart as well as the Samsung have more sensitive OTA HD tuners, so that may be a plus for some. I'm in a primary reception area, so I was pretty confident that an older generation box like the E86 would be fine for me. The thing that tipped the scales for me in my decision between the HD200 and the E86 was two features I really wanted -- an IR blaster to allow the STB to control my vcr and an RF remote so I could control the STB from another room. The E86 has both of these features. The Sony has neither. This difference along with the price difference made the E86 an easy choice for me. It's a solid little box and a great value.
I haven't checked recently, but I bought my E86 last November at Best Buy for $499. Best Buy requires a one-year commitment for both new and existing subscribers. At the time it was the best price I could fine locally and online, factoring my state & local sales tax vs. shipping charges for the online retailers.
You will need a 18" x 20" 3 LNB Phase III or 18" x 24" 2 LNB Phase II oval dish. The 3rd LNB is optional on the Phase II style dish. It's called a SAT C kit. Directv's main SD channels and the HD PPV channel are on SAT A (101 degrees). HBO HD and HDNet are on SAT B (119 degrees) and Showtime HD is on SAT C (110 degrees). Chances are whatever new HD channels Directv adds in the future will be SAT C.
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