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DirecTV promises 100 HD channels and satellite to go

DirecTV announced it would carry 100 HD channels by the end of the year.

In a major announcement at CES this year, DirecTV said it would expand its national HD channel offering to 100 channels by the end of the year, far surpassing the HD channel offerings of satellite rival Dish Network and of cable providers. The "100" number sounds suspiciously round to me, but the company's press release mentions it has "signed agreements, or agreements in principle, with more than 70 major networks including: A&E, National Geographic, Bravo, NFL Network, Cartoon Network, SciFi Channel, CNN, Speed, Food Network, TBS, FX, the History Channel, HGTV, the Weather Channel, MTV, [and] USA Network." It also mentioned it would offer high-def games from numerous regional sports networks, including YES Network, Comcast SportsNet, New England Sports Network, and Fox Sports, and that it would expand its offering of HD movie channels.


Dish Network currently offers many of those networks (more info), but the majority, including SciFi Channel, CNN, FX, Cartoon Network, and the History Channel, don't currently have HD channels. I expect once these channels become available that Dish and cable networks will selectively pick them up, but DirecTV is claiming up to four times the bandwidth of cable channels in commercials, and its press release claimed it had bandwidth for 1,500 local HD channels and 150 nationals after the launch of two new satellites this year. No matter what, this announcement is great news for HD fans who've been wanting more content.

DirecTV also released availability on its SatGo portable satellite system (pictured). The system will come out in April, but DirecTV still didn't give an official price. The system consists of a box with a 17-inch LCD that can receive DirecTV programming anywhere. A small antenna that comes with the unit needs to be set up within line of sight to the company's satellites (that is, the sky). Specs include a remote control; component and composite A/V inputs for the TV; a composite A/V-out; a satellite-in connection; a phone jack; a USB connection; an included cigarette lighter adapter; and a rechargeable, replaceable, laptop-style battery (battery life was not specified). The unit can also be connected to a customer's existing in-home satellite dish when not being used in a portable capacity. A subscriptiion for the SatGo receiver tacks an extra $4.99 onto the monthly bill.