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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today my D* installer came and installed my new dish and a Samsung T-160. I already have Charter HD cable, but only get NBC and Fox through that. Since D* is adding CBS, I decided to upgrade from my old round dish to the HD one so I can get the SuperBowl. Having both cable and D* allowed me to do an informal A-B comparison between the two.


My initial impresssions are of disappointment at the picture quality of HD over D* and the T-160 compared to Charter and the SA 3100HD cable box. The picture of HD channels such as HDnet and Discovery HD are noticably sharper on cable than via DirecTV. The picture on D* does look like HD, but it's not as crisp and clean and generally lacks the sharpness of my cable HD feed. I'm extremely surprised, because I expected the satellite picture to actually surpass or at least be identical to Charter's picture.


My TV is the new Sony Grand Wega III, XBR950 model. I initially hooked up the T-160 via the supplied DVI cable but immediately noticed that the blacks were absolutely crushed and anything in the shadows was just black. A hockey game on HDNet showed a big difference between the T-160 and my cable box. The dark uniforms were completely black on the T-160's DVI port. Turning brightness all the way up didn't help the problem much, because the finer details and wrinkles in the uniform just weren't being outputted from the tuner. On cable, I could see creases and texture on the uniforms, and the picture was noticably sharper.


I then switched the T-160 to a component connection and the blacks from the T-160 were quite a bit better, but still somewhat crushed. I'm not really sure if this problem is coming from DirecTV or from the T-160.


Note that this is just after 1 evening of viewing, but so far I'd have to say I'm a little disappointed in DirecTV's HD picture quality. Not that it looks bad, or that it's not HD quality, but it's not quite up to the same level of my cable picture - and that really shocked me because I'm not a big cable fan. It's most disappointing because of the HD DirecTivo coming out and CBS being on D*, which I can't get via the cable company. I'm really interested in trying another D* HD receiver and seeing if perhaps it's just a Samsung issue.


I would love to hear reactions to my impressions, and also the impressions of others who have compared the HD from their cable company and D*. Also, any info on the black level issue between the T-160 and Hughes HD receiver would be very helpful.
 

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I also have BOTH HD through my Cable Company and from DirecTV.


I have COMCAST HD (Alexandria, VA) via my SA 3100HD and DirecTV HD via my SONY HD-200. I am running both via Component outputs. My monitor is SONY 34XBR2 34" HDTV.


From Comcast I get:

- HBOHD

- SHOHD

- CINEMAXHD

- STARZHD

- COMCAST SPORTSNET HD (WASHINGTON DC)

- ESPNHD

- INHD1

- INHD2

- WETA (PBS-HD)

- FOXHD

- ABCHD

- CBSHD

- NBCHD


From DirecTV I get:

- HBOHD

- SHOHD

- HDnet

- HDnet Movies

- DiscoveryHD

- ESPNHD

- WBHD (OTA)


Generally what I notice is that the Colors and Detail seems to be much clearer from D* via the HD200 and I usually watch this HD with the STANDARD or MOVIE filter on my TV. By constrast the Comcast HD feeds seem to be generally washed out. I can correct this by switching the filter on my TV to VIVID. When I do that the Comcast feed seems to be just as clear and vibrant as the D* feed. While the detail and colors seems to be sharper on the D*, the compression is MUCH better on COMCAST. Lately most of the HD feeds on D* seem much more compressed and I see alot more pixelation and blochiness. This is NOT present on COMCAST.


So as you can see - there is a reason I have BOTH. Comcast obviously offers MORE HD content, but DirecTV offers a somewhat better picture. I usually watch the HBO, SHO and ESPN feeds (the 3 HD channels I have on BOTH) from D*. My wife also agrees they are clearer. I am not sure if this is a result of the SA 3100HD box or Comcast's feed itself. Sometimes my HD200 can pick up the locals with an OTA antenna and this feed tends to be clearer and the colors brighter than the Comcast feed. But since my OTA coverage is spotty, I always watch the locals via comcast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow, I wish my cable company offered that many HD channels.


I have the same cable box as you and, while I do notice a slightly washed out picture, it's still much better with not crushing the blacks than my new Samsung T-160 is. Some people prefer a more contrasty (vivid) picture, but I like to be as close to spec as possible, and I like to be able to see as much detail in dark areas as possible. I'm already running a rear projection LCD (Sony Grand Wega) so I need to preserve as much detail as I can.


The picture from Charter cable is noticably sharper than D*. The fact that you observed the opposite leads me to wonder if the Samsung is indeed just not that good of a decoder, or if my cable signal really is that good.
 
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