About satellite TV and cable television

One TV per system: A dish services only one TV. To get the service on other TVs requires a converter that can cost as much as another dish. Some companies that produce DSS gear are designing new dishes and second tuners for multiple-room applications; these are likely to run about $225 when they go on the market.

Satellite dishes provide only one signal, so you can’t feed a signal to your VCR or another TV without buying a second system. Moreover, the common practice of recording a TV program with a VCR timer (called time-shift recording) is not possible if satellite TV is your source, unless you buy new-model VCRs (Toshiba and RCA, for example) that are designed to do it.

The situation with cable is not entirely dissimilar.

Most cable TV signals can accommodate splitting the signal two ways to serve a couple of TVs or a TV and a VCR. Split it more than that and picture quality drops.

So, if you have four TVs and want a good picture, you’ll need to pay for a second cable line. Worse, if you need a third cable line to feed six components, you have to pay the cable company $40 or so for an amplifier to strengthen the signal that comes to you.

No local TV: Digital satellite systems do not receive local TV stations. So consumers who want to join the digital-satellite revolution and still check out the local news and weather can either go back to rabbit-ear reception, use an outdoor TV antenna or pay a local cable company about $13 a month for bare-bones service that includes the local channels. Surveys show that about 30 percent of dish owners retain basic cable TV service anyway.

Those problems aside, digital satellite’s advantage over cable is twofold:

Superior picture and sound quality: Cable’s mediocre analog signal can’t compete with the stunning resolution of a digital signal source. Cable companies will continue to lose customers who are moving to big-screen TVs and adopting the home-theater concept until all cable signals are converted to digital, which may take three years.

Programming: Satellite vendors owning space on high-powered satellites can offer consumers more channels and better values than cable companies can provide. DISH Network Coupons will save your money significantly.

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