Exactly what's going on with HD and DirecTV?

Discussion in 'DirecTV TiVo Powered PVRs & Receivers' started by crawdad62, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. Jan 6, 2006 #1 of 20

    crawdad62 New Member

    Jun 9, 2004


    I'm sort of at a cross roads here. Our cable company sucks. I would never go back to them. I've had DirecTV for quite a while now. Everything I have is rather old and outdated. I do have a SD DTivo though which I enjoy very much. I also bought a HD TV a year ago. At that time I was on the verge of buying the HD Tivo but really couldn't justify the grand it took to get it then.

    As the price dropped I re-evaluated it and was ready to get it but was somewhat unsure exactly what I needed. Run more cable from the dish? New dish?

    Then I hear they're coming out with a whole new deal that's pretty much making the current HD Tivo not exactly obsolete but close. However as far as I can tell it's not available yet. This is months (actually close to a year since I first heard about it) ago and there's still nothing concrete. I'm very confused.

    My power company is coming out with broadband, phone and cable (including HD PVR's with locals) and have been laying fiber directly to the home. Sounds like a pretty decent deal. Cost to hook up with basically the same as I have now but with HD and HD PVR.

    Only problem is I screwed up once and dropped satellite for cable when they went to digital and it was pure crap. I don't want to make the same mistake now. But I also don't want to wait forever for whatever DTV decides to do "whenever."

    Honestly I don't keep up on it much anymore because I just kind of kept what I have and figured I'd wait. Well now I have what seems to be a real choice.

    Can someone fill me in on DTV's plan? What would I have to lay out for equipment? What would I have to install?

    I just don't want to jump for the power companies offer and find out later I should've stayed with my dish.

    Any insight would greatly be appreciated.

  2. Jan 6, 2006 #2 of 20

    flmgrip New Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    los angeles, CA
    no one knows for sure. either take a leap or wait. but you will hear all predictions and rumors. but until you see it happen, nothing is for sure.

    you can wait, but that's just like waiting for a computer price or TV price to drop. it will never stop moving and the moment you by it it will be obsolete.

    you can drive yourself nuts and read until your eyes pop out and even know less afterwards or say "i want HD now" and go with it (cable or D*) or you say i can wait six months and then see where everything is then... and then wait another six months... and another... just make sure you decide before you die. because then it's too late and that's the only fact.
  3. Jan 6, 2006 #3 of 20

    mikehoff99 New Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    New Jersey
    Technology changes every single day.
    If you buy something that is "top of the line" today....it will be obsolete tomorrow.
    I treat every purchase i make with the attitude "i want it". If it is obsolete the next day, then so be it.
    I made the same mistake switching from D* to digital cable and back again 2 months later, all i have to say is I am extremely glad i did not give away or sell my d* equipment!
  4. Jan 6, 2006 #4 of 20

    crawdad62 New Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Thanks guys. I'm not really on the fence because I'm waiting of the latest, greatest and don't want to get left behind. I'm on the fence because I'm unsure what DTV direction even is.

    As I said I've heard of this "Media Center" deal almost a year ago and haven't heard anymore about it. The price of a HD DTV Tivo is reasonable now but is DTV moving away from Tivo? I believe they are.

    I would make my choice if I knew what DirecTV was doing. At this point I really can't compare the two. Well I guess I can compare them to what's currently available from DirecTV in which case I would go with the power company reluctantly.
  5. Jan 6, 2006 #5 of 20

    ebonovic has gone his way...

    Jul 24, 2001


    Dig into some of the newest release from CES.

    DirecTV is going away from TiVo.
    There new line of DVRs are going to have features that only run on those units.(like connecting to Windows Media Center, Portable Video players, Interactivity)

    The new HR20 (the next HD-DVR from DirecTV) is expected in Q2-2006 with free upgrades for those that qualify (earlier reports are "weird" on who qualifys though...)

    I would expect we will see some press releases soon regarding the HR20 and the MPEG-4 very soon.

    The "Media Center" for last year, is still far off. There have only been modest mentions of it this CES... the only thing close is an product from NDS (Sister company of DirecTV).
  6. Jan 6, 2006 #6 of 20

    katleman New Member

    Mar 11, 2005
    I too am in the same position, almost exactly, as the original poster.

    I want HD content, but D* has just a handful of channels, otherwise I have to go OTA. Is there a timetable for when the locals will be HD on D*? Specifically in my case the SF bayarea.
  7. Jan 6, 2006 #7 of 20

    TyroneShoes HD evangelist

    Sep 6, 2004
    Basically, it is driven by 3 things: not enough bandwidth on DBS vs cable putting them behind the 8-ball on VOD and HD and making them do a wholesale change to MPEG-4 and Ka sats to remedy that, Tivo licensing becoming too steep for them driving them to go in house for a PVR platform, and convergence, meaning they don't want to be left behind without a media center approach to their role as a content vendor.

    Change is hard, and it takes time, and it can get bumpy. Fasten your seatbelts.
  8. Jan 6, 2006 #8 of 20

    KoG New Member

    Apr 20, 2002
    You can get local HD via DirecTV's MPEG-4 receiver now in the SF Bay Area. However their HD PVR that can record MPEG-4 is not yet out and it will NOT be a Tivo. It'll probably be just like the R15 except it can handle MPEG-4. Rumors seem to indicate it will be released in the next few months.
  9. Jan 6, 2006 #9 of 20

    ssandhoops New Member

    Feb 23, 2002
    Shiloh, Il
    I believe D* is offering the local channels in HD in the SF Bay area now.
  10. Runch Machine

    Runch Machine New Member

    Feb 7, 2002
    The answer to the question depends on what you watch on TV and your options for getting it. If don't watch the local network stations, then there isn't much HD on Directv. If you mostly watch the local network stations AND can get them from a TV antenna and like the Tivo interface and feature set, then you better act now and get an HD-Tivo before they are discontinued. After HD Tivo is discontinued, it will still work and be supported by Directv, so there is no risk in getting one now.

    In my case 99% of what I watch are the dramas and sitcoms on CBS, NBC and ABC, all of which I receive over the air from my TV antenna. I like the Tivo interface a lot and even bought a second one for $99 after rebate just so I can have a spare. The whole MPEG4 issue won't affect me since most or all of the HD shows I watch are from the local network channels.

    The question comes back to what to YOU watch on TV.
  11. crawdad62

    crawdad62 New Member

    Jun 9, 2004

    Well that's the rub. I want my locals. I'm not exactly a sports guy but I enjoy the Olympics and want them in HD. I just got my HD set during the last summer Olympics and it was breathtaking.

    I'm getting my HD OTA but I live 40 miles away from Indy and the reception is good on the major three but spotty on any of the other locals. So local HD is important. I'd also like HBO's HD offering.

    I just got off the phone with D* and the Indy locals are scheduled to be online "sometime this spring/early summer." They offered me a HD PVR with the dish for $599 and $49 installation minus a $200 rebate. So it looks like D* would cost me $350 to get switched over.

    The power company is charging $12.95 a month for the HD PVR. Their programming is all digital if you use the set top. Locals in HD and the price between them and D* is a wash basically.

    I hate to drop D* but I'm not a stock holder so I'm not that loyal. :)

    But as I said earlier I jumped at our cable's offering of "digital" cable the last time and it was one of the biggest entertainment mistakes I've ever made.
  12. BeanMeScot

    BeanMeScot Sci-Fi Junkie

    Apr 17, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    One thing to keep in mind is that even when you can get your locals through the satellite, you will be getting a compressed signal. Read: not as good as OTA or cable.
  13. sbuxlvr76

    sbuxlvr76 New Member

    Mar 14, 2004
    I live in the SF Bay area and see that the local NBC/ABC/CBS are now available in HD. Can I use the HR10-250 Tivo unit to receive them in HD? I have heard that I would not be able to record anything on these channels? Does this apply to the HD Locals? I'm assumng I need the upgraded Dish?

    Thanks for any information. It is frusterating since I just purchased this unit last may for $999. I do not want to give up the Tivo for a non Tivo version.


  14. Innerloop

    Innerloop New Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    I called DTV when I found out our locals are available in HD and then found out the awful news -- No TIVO DVR for them, no DVR at all. After thinking it over I decided to drop-kick DTV for Comcast which has all the HD locals and significantly more HD programming overall. Not an easy decision.

    After that, and possibly because my monthly DTV bill was like $150 with all the boxes and channels, I got three separate calls from DTV asking if I wanted some new MPEG4 hardware (not really, no DVR) or what it would take to stay.

    The upside was the cable installer (notoriously mis-informed, granted) said the Tivo-powered Comcast DVR was due out in April 2006. Press releases confirm that such a unit has been announced, but this was the first rumor I had in terms of a date. Cable guy said it was going to be Tivo software running on the existing Motorola hardware, essentially a "port" of the software to a new platform. Could be true.

    Happy to drop DTV, Tivo was the only thing keeping me there anyway, and I told them as much. The Comcast hardware is fine but the DVR software is vile. Licenisng a port of the TIVO software is/was a very smart move. Can't wait till April.
  15. TyroneShoes

    TyroneShoes HD evangelist

    Sep 6, 2004
    To be precise, OTA and cable DT signals are compressed too. Compression is not inherently bad, in fact we would not have HD available to the consumer without it.

    The question of PQ arises when the amount or type of compression begins to manifest artifacts, and generally speaking, the more severe the compression, the lower the PQ. Compression on SD locals on DBS is pretty bad. Compression on DT can be anywhere from fair to excellent on OTA HD. Cable and DBS can never improve on that original signal quality, and though they may not be quite as good as OTA HD, they are usually not noticeably worse.

    Bottom line, concerns about PQ should not really enter in to a decision between cable, OTA, or DBS when considering DT or HD signals.
  16. JaserLet

    JaserLet New Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    As others have explained, picture quality is influenced by many factors. There is compression at all levels of the broadcasting workflow, from the original cameras used, editing, broadcasting your TV channel to DirecTV headquarters, and DirecTV broadcasting the channel to us.

    More compression = more channels per satellite = lower picture quality.

    When the engineers have control of the compression knob, they turn it down to show off the better picture quality.

    When the accountants have control of the compression knob, they turn it up to cram in more channels on the same satellite.

    The trick is to find a happy medium between picture quality and number of channels.
  17. CarlRx

    CarlRx New Member

    Feb 21, 2005
    ...Or change compression algorithms to MPEG4/H.264, etc to achieve equal quality at lower bandwith and allow for more channels. Oh yeah, and launch a few sats too (which D* has done) as another mechanism for more bandwith.

    As for MPEG4 we will have to see how long the initial reports of great quality compared to OTA MPEG2 locals will last. I am pleased with the D* HD quality, but perhaps I will find more faults when I upgrade to the ~60 inch DLP I want.

  18. nrc

    nrc Cracker Soul

    Nov 17, 1999
    Living in a...
    I haven't got any HD source to compare DirecTV's signals to OTA, but based on their current SD locals I have to say that I'm skeptical that they won't go the same way. DirecTV SD locals are horrible. I've tolerated them to be able to record locals on my DTivo, but I've always been annoyed that the DirecTV system that I bought originally because of it's great picture provided such a terrible picture on the channels I watch the most.
  19. Texceo

    Texceo New Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Dallas, Texas
    Want to send me your HR10-250 unit?
  20. tedkunich

    tedkunich New Member

    Sep 9, 2005

    You do realize that for most locals, DTV uses an OTA antenna to receive them, and then compresses and uplinks for distribution? Depending on the market, it may be a while before DTV is able to uplink the unadulterated digital feed coming from the local stations.

    Found this out a few years ago when construction near the antenna tower was causing interference and was evident by severe ghosting on the DTV feed - D confirmed that there was a construction crane causing interference with the station feed coming off of Suttro tower. Problem lasted for a few months.


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