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Discussion Starter #1
I want a Satellite based HDTV PVR! I have researched the only two possibilities that I know of – DirecTV DVR-250 and the Dish Network 921. After hoping for a 921 I found out that there is NO OTA guide information. I'm not sure how they can claim OTA PVR without this! I then set my sites on a DVR-250 but it doesn't have the HD quality I want or a UHF remote. Here is my totally biased comparison of my two possible choices for HD PVR Satellite receivers.


The * items are the ones I consider to be the most important.

The ** items are the ones that could be the deal killers for me.


Why can’t I have both or even better why can’t someone make an HD PVR that does all that I want it to do.

What am I not considering?

Which one should I get?

DirecTV Hughes HD DVR-250


The Good:

*Guide for most Over-The-Air Channels

*Better hardware track record than Dish Network

*Tivo Features – Season Pass, Wishlist etc.

2 OTA tuners

HDMI Output (DVI Compatible) and Component Outputs

May be possible to upgrade HD (if past policy continues)

The Bad:

**HDTV Picture Quality not as good as unadulterated Dish Network HDTV

*No UHF Remote – IR only

*No Analog RGB Output

*No chance of Fire Wire for archiving

No Caller Id.


Dish Network 921

The Good:

**HDTV Picture Quality as good as the source – no ‘extra’ compression

*UHF Remote – IR capable but supplied remote UHF Only

*Analog RGB Output, DVI and Component Outputs

*Analog RGB out and Component out Simultaneously

*A chance that it will have Fire Wire for archiving someday.

Picture-In-Picture SD only

Extra set of SD Composite Video/Audio Outputs

Caller Id.

Channel 3 and 4 output for SD

The Bad:

**No Over-The-Air Guide – possibly someday, possibly never – What the hell?

*Bug infested – OTA not currently usable – hopefully will be fixed

*Dish Network track record – i.e. The 6000 still has OTA issues

*No Tivo – simple timer based PVR no Seasons Pass etc.

Only 1 OTA tuner


The Common Good:

*2 Satellite Tuners

*PVR Functions FF REW PAUSE SKIP etc.

*Record two watch a third recorded program at the same time

*Dolby Digital Output

250 Gig Hard Drive

Format HD output to fit your screen – 4:3, 16:9 zoom / stretch

USB ports for ‘something’ in the future

S-Video Output for SD

Composite Video/Right and Left Audio Output

The Common Bad:

*Can’t output SD and HD simultaneously

*Availability – 921 is practically impossible to find and Hughes ETA is March

Won’t just pass source HD format. Can only Output one mode at a time (1080i, 720p, 480p etc.)

Requires 2 Satellite Inputs, 1 for each tuner
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike greer
**HDTV Picture Quality not as good as unadulterated Dish Network HDTV
Can you please elaborate on this comparison or point me to references where it notes that the DVR-250 compresses HD signal? Is it for both OTA and SAT? I know that the regular SD DTivos record the actual SAT datastream with no compression from DTV but was unaware that this is changing with HD signal...
 

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(1) I hardly think that any quality advantage for either DirecTV or Dish has been firmly established. See this thread over in HDTV programming for example. I don't think you can dismiss either on PQ issues.


(2) Lack of RF remote is easily remedied with a decent 3rd party universal RF remote. I never decide on equipment based on the remote, since I will just program them into my universal.
 

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Also remember that the amount of bandwith given to a specific HD channel has not, and will probably not stay static with either provider.


Dan Collins made an interesting comment over at his dbsforums:

http://www.dbsforums.com/vbulletin/s...5&pagenumber=2


"DirecTV delivers 2 HD channels per QPSK transponders with 35Mbits/sec of usable bandwidth.


Dish Network goal is to deliver 3 HD channels per 8PSK transponder with 45Mbits/sec of usable bandwidth.


You do the math."



So, expect Dish network to be providing "extra compression" for your HD channels in the future too.


(BTW, I believe that with current StatMux equipment, both DirecTV and Dish will be providing excellent quality HD programming, even with "extra compression")


But to the point directly - I have not noticed any HD compression issues on DirecTV for many months - nor have I heard any other complaints on the forums. There definitely was a period where HDNet and HBO were being messed with, but that only lasted a few weeks. I am not projecting the image to 12ft diagonal, nor standing 6" from the screen to check minute detail, so a 'real' videophile might disagree, but I believe DirecTV's current HD video quality to be excellent.
 

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I see... The comment regarding the HDTV signal compression was based on actual signal source and not by the HD DTivo hardare/software.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Tu
(1) I hardly think that any quality advantage for either DirecTV or Dish has been firmly established. See this thread over in HDTV programming for example. I don't think you can dismiss either on PQ issues.


(2) Lack of RF remote is easily remedied with a decent 3rd party universal RF remote. I never decide on equipment based on the remote, since I will just program them into my universal.
I think you are right - from reading the links it looks like Dish will probably start messing with the stream also. That stinks! I would pay more to just have them leave it alone!


The RF remote could be fixed with a universal it just gets to me when they have such a nice receiver and leave something so basic out!


-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #7
FourDoor - yep the trouble is with the original stream being compressed more to cram more channels not with the receiver itself.


JDK - Thanks for the link - No doubt Dish as soon as Dish figures they can get away with screwing with the HD Picture quality - they will...


Maybe Voom will have the answer with their future PVR.


I think many people in the HD market would be with me and pay more per month to get the best picture quality possible.
 

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Quote:
The RF remote could be fixed with a universal it just gets to me when they have such a nice receiver and leave something so basic out
I don't see it as so basic. I think a very large (>90% at least?) percentage of users have absolutely no need for RF, as the receiver is in the same vicinity of the TV and there's not much need to control it from another room. And out of those who do need RF, a large chunk of those would prefer to use a better universal anyway.


So why make everyone pay extra for capabilities that only a few need?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Tu
I don't see it as so basic. I think a very large (>90% at least?) percentage of users have absolutely no need for RF, as the receiver is in the same vicinity of the TV and there's not much need to control it from another room. And out of those who do need RF, a large chunk of those would prefer to use a better universal anyway.


So why make everyone pay extra for capabilities that only a few need?
I wouldn't expect it on a low-end receiver but for the 'best' receiver made for DirecTV I would consider a UHF remote to basic. I'm not sure how many people have a use for it but it is standard on many other high end satellite receivers. It can't add more than a few bucks to the price - nothing hi-tech about it!


Do you have a suggestion for a UHF replacement?
 

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Home Theater Master MX-600, MX-800, or perhaps their upcoming URC-200 or URC-300 with optional RF base station. Which is best depends on your particular needs in terms of number of components to control, and how extensive macro capabilities you need. Check reviews, user reviews, and forum discussion over at www.remotecentral.com
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike greer
I wouldn't expect it on a low-end receiver but for the 'best' receiver made for DirecTV I would consider a UHF remote to basic. I'm not sure how many people have a use for it but it is standard on many other high end satellite receivers.
I'm suprised that anyone buying a "high end" receiver would use the supplied remote at all. Most people with a decent HT have a single universal remote to control all their equipment. IMO a RF remote would not help most people especially since it only controls the stb itself (via RF).


Jay
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Quote:
Originally posted by jerndl
I'm suprised that anyone buying a "high end" receiver would use the supplied remote at all. Most people with a decent HT have a single universal remote to control all their equipment. IMO a RF remote would not help most people especially since it only controls the stb itself (via RF).


Jay
Well - you're right - I have a Pronto remote that has everything I own programmed into it - Macros and all - but it is not a UHF remote - If I want to watch something upstairs I just take my Toshiba UHF Remote with me and I'm set.


It just seems strange that POS Dish Network Receivers like the 4000, 5000, 4700, 5XX series, 721 and the 921 all have UHF remotes - why not the DirecTv receivers?


I have an old junker C-band receiver from 1990 in a box somewhere that has a UHF remote. What is the big deal?


Sorry I didn't mean to step on anyone's toes - having a UHF remote or not is not going to save or destroy the world!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike greer
If I want to watch something upstairs I just take my Toshiba UHF Remote with me and I'm set.
I agree that this is a handy feature for this purpose. I was just suprised that someone would consider the lack of a RF remote a "deal killer" in the choice between the 2 PVRs. It's too bad that Directv is going to "standardizing" all their future stbs. With different brands competing they could offerr different feature sets at different price points rather that the one size fits all approach Directv has taken.


Jay
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike greer
DirecTV Hughes HD DVR-250

The Bad:

**HDTV Picture Quality not as good as unadulterated Dish Network HDTV

**No UHF Remote – IR only

*No Analog RGB Output

*No chance of Fire Wire for archiving

No Caller Id.


The Common Bad:

Requires 2 Satellite Inputs, 1 for each tuner
The HDTV stream is recorded exactly as received. So while DirecTV may be re-encoding stuff today (as others have pointed out, this will change - maybe better, maybe worse, in the future), anything received OTA would be identical between these two units, and would be identical to "live OTA".


The UHF remote is easily fixed with the
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jautor
And the "requires 2 satellite inputs" is not exactly correct. You'd need two inputs for both tuners to operate. But the current DirecTiVo's can be configured to only use one tuner, and therefore one cable. I assume that both units can operate in this mode.
See this thread: HD-DirectTivo- Needs 2 SATs In To Work! What?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Foxbat
See this thread: HD-DirectTivo- Needs 2 SATs In To Work! What?
Sorry, what's in this thread that's different from what I said? I looked to see if someone had posted something contradictory, but I couldn't find anything. My point was that 2 feeds are not REQUIRED for the units to operate (since they both should be able to operate in a "single tuner" mode), but of course you'd be much better off having two feeds so that both tuners are active. And regardless, this is a satellite (Dish/DirecTV) limitation, not a limitation with either of these two products... I mean, they both need a phone line, too, but that's a common "issue" with all satellite receivers...


Jeff
 

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I think that what DirecTV is doing to the signal is sometimes very noticeable. I was watching Eyes Wide Shut tonight and it looked very soft and overly filtered compared to what I remember seeing last year. While not a great film in my opinion, I remember seeing it on HBO before and it looking stunning. I wish all of the movies on DirecTV would be as "stunning" as they used to be, but I think that the best quality days are behind us.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Quote:
Originally posted by jerndl
I agree that this is a handy feature for this purpose. I was just suprised that someone would consider the lack of a RF remote a "deal killer" in the choice between the 2 PVRs. It's too bad that Directv is going to "standardizing" all their future stbs. With different brands competing they could offerr different feature sets at different price points rather that the one size fits all approach Directv has taken.


Jay
Jay - you are right - I have changed the ** to *... I don't think the lack of an UHF remote is a 'deal killer' but I still will need one.


The more I think about it the fact that the 921 has RGB out and that it will output HD RGB and Component at the same time may be my 'deal killer'. That is if Dish Network actually make the thing work. With the two outputs I can run the RGB to my CRT projector and then run the component straight upstairs to the bedroom. This would allow me to watch HD in two rooms with one 921. This is definitely more important than the UHF remote - not sure if it is a deal killer for me...
 
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