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I just renewed my C band analog programming subscription for the year and it looks like analog C band will be coming to an end in the near future. My system (General Intruments 450i) is about 10 years old now along with the decoder module which has a lithium battery that when it dies erases you decoder module ID. I have been looking around and reading up on 4D-TV/MPEG-2 and Dish TV. I am undecided as to which is the best system to go with. On the one hand Dish TV offers free equipment and installation but the programming is high. 4D-TV/MPEG-2 I have to pay for the equipment but get about 4500 channels of which many are free. I hate to trash my 10.5 ft. dish and the equipment if I can still use it but then again, I don't want to throw good money after bad. Any of you guys have any experiences with this stuff? Any comments and suggestions would be a great help. Thanks.
 

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I have had Cable TV, Direct TV DSS and now Dish Network DSS and prefer the latter hands down. No ugly dish in your front yard only a small 20" one on the roof. They just came out and replaced my receiver, satellite switch and cabling for free as part of the service which improved my reception noticeably. Satellite receivers are like computers, they make significant improvements about every 3 years which is when you should replace them. Programming is the cheapest on Dish compared with the other two but not as cheap as what you have mentioned. My wife and I watch a lot of movies so we get our money's worth out of satellite and the programming is all digitial. I am holding out for HDTV before I make any further investments in TVs or surround sound systems. I believe it becomes the standard after 2006 or 2007 when all broadcasts have to be available in HDTV. The price of the HD equipment will be a lot less then than now also so it doesn't pay to be the first one on the block to get it like I did with the previous generation equipment.
 

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Yeah was looking at going with the free HDTV package with Dish Network for TV ---- but dunno, someone told me that included the cheaper version of the HDTV receiver or something. I have been keeping up the new Voom service (sold at Sears -- www.voom.com) launching with the most HD channels anywhere --- something like 39 HD channels plus all local HD off-air programming etc for $39.50 a month --- free until 2/29/04 --- but a hefty installation for the equipment etc of $817.00 including local sales tax etc. Seems nice but kinda pricey upfront especially with Dish free package but then again they only have like 4 or 6 HD channels and until Voom they will not hook up any local channels for off-air reception. So, more upfront and you get a ton of programming and HDTV offerings --- less, and you well get less.

Andy
 

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Since the mid 1980's I set up & installed C & KU band dish systems (back when all Sat viewing was FREE). When they first started scrambling the Sats I switched to Dishnetwork.
I wouldn't go back to the 10ft dish.
The only thing i don't like about the 18" dish is that rain bothers it more then it did with the 10 footer.
On the other hand, the small dish isn't bothered by sunspot activity and I don't have to move the dish to change programming.
There have been major advancements in satellites also.
I probably won't buy the Hi-Def converter box until about 2005 or 2006, depending on price and how many programs have actually gone Hi-Def. Just my $0.02 worth.
Toolman.
 

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I have an RCA DTC-100 connected to my Sony XBR 65 RPT. Along with an antenna in the attic, I pull in HDTV over the air for FREE. I still use cable for all the other junk channels, but use HD for many shows.
 

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T,

Can you provide a little more insight on your antenna (assuming attic antenna) and setup? Are all of your local broadcast stations from the same area? Mine are from two seperate directions? How far are you from these broadcast towers? Please provide more details and pricing on this as an option.

Thanks alot.
Andy
 

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Well, I guess I need to fix the "free" aspect of this first. The DTC-100 cost me about $400.00 about 3 to 4 years ago. I have been doing HD for a while. Many TV's now-a-days come with HD receivers built into them, so this cost might not be an issue. If your TV is HD "ready", you probably don't have a receiver/tuner. If your TV has a tuner and the tuner has an antenna-in that is for HD reception, all you need is RG-59 and an antenna. Reasonably good antenna's will run you $100.00. At my old house, I had TERK antennas on the side of the house. The house had aluminum siding and it still worked great believe it or not. The TERK's are nice because you can put them on the outside of your house and they don't standout. Draw back is they are very directional... so I had 2.

As for my distances, as the crow flies, 20 to 30 miles from house to broadcasting tower. I have towers east, north and west... nothing on the south. NBC, ABC and CBS are clustered in the same area, but with slightly different offsets. FOX is more northeast than east. I have a few other no-name HD feeds from other areas of the compass coming in too.

I have to remember the specific antenna I have... probably will have to look at the box later.

Basically, HD reception comes in on UHF, and the antenna I have does both UHF and VHF. I get all the analog (VHF 2-13) several HD feeds on UHF (14 - 69).

Now, they sell antennas for different ranges and purposes. You must first figure out what stations you want to bring in, location of the towers and distances. Once you know that, you can figure out what type of antenna you need. The antenna's are color coded to make it easier.

Use the link below to figure out what towers are in your area, what they are broadcasting. This will give you an idea on what antenna you need.
http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx

Here is a nice FAQ on HDTV too.
http://www.avsforum.com/hdtvfaq/HDTV-FAQ.htm

They make antenna's that are very directional, but awesome working. I have two TERK's that I am not using at this point. A TV55 and a TV50. Since the RCA DTC-100 has two external antenna inputs, I would point one oneway and the other the anotherway. I am now using one of those standard antennas with something like 110 elements on it. These type of not so directional dependant, but don't have the distance of some of the others.

Some antennas cover a perfect circle for say.... 30 miles. Others cover a fat oval area say... 50 miles, but remember... OVAL coverage. Draw an oval around your house covering the towers that are clustered. Others have a skinnier oval coverage, but they cover out say... 70 miles. I am making up number to give you an idea on how they work. Use the antennaweb link to figure out the color code you need, then go get the color coded one from BestBuy, CircuitCity, RadioShaft, Lowes, HD even the web.

http://www.avsforum.org is the best place for any and all HD questions. I would be more than happy to discuss HD with anyone as it is yet another of my hobbies.

And lastly.... antenna ampliphiers. Sometimes they help you, sometimes they cause more problems than they are worth. A buddy of mine needed the ampliphier to get a bunch of channels, but for FOX, he was too close to the tower and when he had the amp on, his reception was crap. If he turned the amp off, it was fine. Just food for thought.

Antenna pointing requires PATIENCE. You either get the station or you don't. No such thing as getting "snow" on an HDTV feed.

If you have questions, let me know and I'll try and answer the one's I can.
 

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It did -- I am just a little overwhelmed right now at work with projects for the new year.. Thanks for all of the fine info there, T.

Andy
 

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Just got a 61" Sony big screen this fall, but we have just gotten ESPN HD on our cable provider. It is unbelievable!! They also have HBO and others, but ESPN is great!!

The TV has a built in HD Tuner which the cable guy hooked up for us and it works awesome. No lines, etc. Just crystal clear images.
 

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HD is also brighter than the standard cable feeds. The Sony line has excellent line doublers in them and generally very nice power systems.

Now you need to go the next step.... PRONTO. Not as in do it pronto, as in buy a PRONTO. I bought a Pronto TSU-2000 a couple of years ago. My wife thought I was nuts paying $200.00 for a freak'in remote... yes, I am crazy. This is the best remote control in the WORLD!!! There are others that are similiar, but not in the same ball park. You may think it is wacky, but you plug the remote into your computer and program it. It comes with all the preset codes and you design your own touch screen menus.

My Pronto's initial screen is three buttons. Mine, my wifes and my daugthers. My son and foster daughter are old enough yet. When my daugher presses her name it goes to the next menu. There is one "ON" button. When she presses it, it turns on...

receiver,
vcr,
dvd,
laserdisc
tv
DTC-100

It then flips the TV to video 1, changes the receiver to sound input 1 and sets the initial zoom mode of video 1. I even programmed delays between codes.

It next shows here icon types of pictures. I have the standard logo's of Nic, NicJr, Disney, Discovery, etc. She presses the picture and it changes to the proper channel.

In my old house I had a remote controlled ceiling fan and fireplace... of course, they were on the remote too. Friends of mine even put in lighting controls.

You can go nuts with these things.

Now, after all of that... my wife LOVES IT. She even makes requests. I show her on the laptop, she tries it out and when I get the screens right, I put the codes behind it and download it to the remote and go through the QA process. It takes time, but it's enjoyable.
 
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