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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been looking around at my options for getting satellite HDTV, and I thought I'd share what I have learned for the benefits of newbies and so that the more knowledgeable folks can correct me if I am wrong. I'll edit this message to change anything known to be wrong.

DirecTV has three HDTV channels: HBO (509), HDNet (199), and starting April 30, 2002, Showtime (543). Channel 199 also shows pay per view stuff latenight, after 2AM EST. Showtime will be on the 110 WL satellite while HBO and HDNet are on 119WL satellite.



To receive all DirecTV channels, you need a three-LNB oval dish 18x24 which you will point at satellites 101 (Sat A), 110 (Sat C), and 119 (Sat B). Most DirecTV non-HDTV programming and most non-HDTV locals are on 101.

Dish Network has two different satellites for HDTV: the 148 WL satellite is for the West Coast and has HBO, Showtime, Pay Per View, and CBS LA. The 61.5WL satellite is for the east coast and has HBO, Showtime, Pay Per View, a Demo channel, and CBS NY. You would choose one and only point at one of the two. Dish Network non-HDTV programming is primarily on 119, with some on 110 (The Dish500 dish receives those two satellites).


To receive all the Dish Net channels you need two dishes:

1. A "Dish 500" which is ovalized and has 2 LNBs to receive 110 and 119 WL.

2. An 18" dish with a single LNB to receive either 61.5 (east coast), or 148 (west coast)

These numbers (61.5, 101, 110 WL, etc) are number of degrees West Longitude. This tells how far west of Greenwich the Satellites are. They are all on the equator. San Francisco Bay Area where I live is 122 WL, which means that the 119WL satellites are just a little bit east of due south for me. Don't make the mistake of thinking these numbers are the azimuth (compass direction) that you point the satellite.

So just to summarize the different satellite positions:

101: with regular LNB:primary DirecTV channels including most locals

110: with regular LNB: Secondary Dish channels

110: with DirecTV "Sat C" LNB: DirecTV HDTV Showtime and probably more in the future.

119: with regular LNB: Primary Dish channels, DirecTV HDTV HBO & HDNET, a few DirecTV locals.

61.5 with regular LNB: East Coast Dish locals and HDTV

148 with regular LNB: West Coast Dish locals and HDTV

For me it turns out that since the direcTV satellite is obstructed from my condo patio, I'm probably going to have to go with Dish.

As far as Dish Network receivers, there is only one receiver currently available for HDTV, the 6000. It is sometimes branded "JVC" and sometimes "Echostar" but it is the same unit in both cases. There was an earlier 5000 unit which required an outboard modulator, but the 6000 combines both into one unit, with the caveat that the raw compressed digital signal is no longer available as it was on the 5000. The 5000 along with an HD VCR was the only way to record HDTV. The 5000 isn't available anymore, and might be obsoleted by a change to a new more compressed transmission format, for which the broadcom-based chipset will likely be available as a free upgrade for the 6000 but not the 5000.

The 6000 is currently sold alone or in two packages:

1. The 6022 which has the Dish 500 antenna. That package is not generally suitable for getting HDTV.

2. The 6023 package contains the Dish 500 and an 18" single LNB dish to point at 61.5 or 148. That is the package to get for HDTV.

There are two new Dish HDTV receivers rumored to be on the horizon but not yet available. The 9000 will have digital outputs so that it can be connected to an external recorder such as the new JVC D-theater D-VHS VCR HM-DH30000. The 921 will be a PVR with its own hard disk for recording, rumored to be 160 Gigs. It is rumored that neither will have RGB outputs, which I personally need, so they will require a $300 component to RGB transcoder from Key Digital to work with my RGB projector. I have decided not to wait, since these devices will cost more than twice the 6000's price once the transcoder is added on. I'll just get a 6000 if I go with Dish.

I have heard many people say they have had good experiences with www.dishdepot.com so I may buy mine there.

There is talk these days that Dish and DirecTV could merge into one company. If that were the case, it is not completely clear what would happen to the 61.5, 148 birds. But it is almost assured that the 101, 110 and 119 birds would stay in place.

I live in a condo where my patio has visibility to the 148 bird only, but the roof has visibility to all the birds. I am currently deciding whether it makes sense to try and get my HOA to allow me to put a dish on the roof (it's a lot of work getting all the committees to approve it, believe me), or just to point a dish at 148 on my patio and get HDTV but not other programming from Dish. Under the FCC ruling, they can't stop me from adding the 148WL dish on my patio, but the HOA has complete authority to prevent it from going on the roof because that is a common area of the condo.

Software upgrades and program listings will still work fine even if the only bird I point to is 148.

If I go with Dish for HDTV on 148 only, I'll pay $22.99 per month for HBO and Showtime, plus $5 for not having a normal package, and $1.50 for CBS LA.

A "Switch" is a device that takes 2 coax inputs from LNBs and combines them into one coax cable for the trip to the STB.

A "Multiswitch" is a device that lets several receivers share a single dish. They are generally made to serve 4 or 8 receivers. They can sometimes be cascaded, but not always. The reason it is called a multiswitch rather than a multiplexer is because it actually does switch each STB between the different dishes and LNBs, connecting each receiver to only one LNB at a time based on signals transmitted from the receivers. www.18inch.com or http://www.geocities.com/dbs_tech/ are great sources for learning about various ways of hooking all this stuff up. Using Multiswitches, I could potentially place 1-2 dishes with 3 LNBs on the roof of our place and serve all 12 condos in my building. That might please my condo association.

A "Diplexer" combines an analog TV antenna feed with a satellite feed into one coax. Then another diplexer at the other end splits the antenna and satellite signals back apart just before the STB. Many switches and multiswitches have diplexers built in.

There is a glossary of satellite TV words at:

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