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Which is better, digital cable or satellite?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / June 27, 2005 8:24 AM PDT

Which is better, digital cable or satellite?

Digital cable (why?)
Satellite (why?)
Both are equally good (why?)
Depends on the vendor, but cable has the edge (why?)
Depends on the vendor, but satellite has the edge (why?)
Who cares? TV rots your brain

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Satellite is better
by dbb4u / June 28, 2005 7:52 AM PDT

Satellite is all digital (picture & Sound) on all channels, Cable is not 100% digital.

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Satellite Rainouts
by jmsattler / June 28, 2005 10:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Satellite is better

I tried satellite, but lost my signal everytime we had a thunderstorm. I got tired of loosing my signal so frequently, so I returned to cable.

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Cable costs too much
by clsmith / June 28, 2005 10:25 PM PDT
In reply to: Satellite Rainouts

I have digital satellite service now. Rainouts do not bother me, they give me a reason to put in a DVD or get away from the TV for a while. In my METRO area, the cable provider charges 10% more for all the channels I have with satellite. They offer an On Demand service which stinks because the signal somehow gets scrambled and you lose half the movie. Cable is trying too hard and in my opinion, not doing a very good job.

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Cable vs. digital satellite
by riteon / June 29, 2005 1:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Cable costs too much

I agree. I had cable for years. I get more from the satellite & Hi Def is much better on satellite than cable Rainouts are few & far between. You get more for the money from Satellite.

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thanks for all the info from everyone!
by ufo13 / July 10, 2005 1:50 AM PDT

thanks to all for the good info and insights. i agree wiith "riteon" - sat. is better! had cable many years in NJ. customer service and billing with my cable co. had gotten terrible. they don't have a clue! asked them when they were going to get channels that are standard on sat. they just give you the run-around and PR balony. had dish network in salt lake city, and las vegas-both professionally installed & the job was always done very well and the service was always great!!! i am back in the tri-state area again for awhile and i brought my equipment with me and installed it here myself.
QUESTION TO ANY OF YOU GREAT INSTALLERS OUT THERE: my wife and i set up everything ok and the service is great, however i only get the 119 sat. when i fool with the elevation etc. to get the 110 sat i loose the 119, can't seem to get both. i have a sat. finder. are there any tricks of the trade i can try or info you can give me so i can get both sat 110 and 119? i have the dish 500. any help will be greatly appreciated!!!

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by CrawDish / December 21, 2012 6:45 AM PST

On the Dish 500, if you are only picking up the 119 and Not the 110, I'd try a few things.

1) Verify the 119 with the verify key on the sat buddy to see if you really have the 119.

2) Check your line of site, if there is any blockage to it could knock out the 110. You can download an app on a smartphone and it will give you a great estimate of where the satellites are located.

3) Run a test on the check switch with your receiver. (Menu - 6 - 1- 1, test) Maybe the receiver has not accepted it on the check switch.

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satellite availability
by budgetman1 / July 9, 2008 10:51 PM PDT

Are there limitations with availability of satellite hook up due to natural obstructions such as trees?

How frequently can you count on weather related problems when you have satellite?

Do most satellite companies provide various options and if so, what would be some that are worth getting or are they generally all inclusive?

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Satellite Rainouts
by PCurry / June 29, 2005 12:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite Rainouts

I used to have Herritage cable which became TCI and is now ComCast in Dallas. I have neighbors with ComCast also, digital and basic. My Apartment includes Free Basic.

I will not give up my DirecTV though, because the cable signal is garbage. During the worst of a storm sure I lose my sat signal briefly. The cable signal is usually gone at the same time as well, not to mention it stays off for LONGER! Sat comes right back when worst of storm passes, cable well when they decide the rain has slowed enough to get wet and I'm less than 5 miles from downtown Dallas...

Quality of picture cable can not even compete. My Cable delivered FOX and NBC local brodcast are UNWATCHABLE for the static and 80+% noise in the picture. Its is so bad, one might as well just use a radio with a TV band. Actually that would deliver better audio. Even rabbit ears would be better.

All digital all the time satelite smokes cable in oh so many ways.

Then only thing that I use my free basic cable for TXCN-Texas Cable News which refuses to license for Sat broadcast. Far to many cable channels are cluttered with noise (video and audio) in the signal.

Anyone with Cable should be getting paid not paying for service

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cable vs satellite
by jaybyrd3 / July 1, 2005 5:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite Rainouts

I live in Reno and the cable connection is excellent most of the time. I think that your area company has technical problems that thery aren't taking care of. When the cable does collapse, I use AOL dial up which allows 15 free hours a month. When I do have problems I call for tech support and sometimes simple solutions like unplugging the modem temporarily and a few other steps solved the problem. Then they gave a chargeback credit for my trouble...

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Sattelite Sucks
by whizkid / June 29, 2005 2:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite Rainouts

Been there, done that!

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Satellite Rainouts
by jesmarie / July 1, 2005 9:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite Rainouts

I've never lost my satellite signal through rain, lightening, etc. This past winter we had some pretty bad thunderstorms and I didn't lose the signal once. On the other hand, when I had cable, it went out on a regular basis and it didn't have to be raining for that to happen.

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by stonelady27 / September 5, 2012 7:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite Rainouts

dish lost another customer do to rain and not being able to keep local channels,Sorry i got have my tv here i come cable tv comcast help me

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professionally installed satellite
by nardo1224 / June 28, 2005 11:55 PM PDT
In reply to: Satellite is better

I have satellite and it was professionally installed instead of do it yourself, and i rarely if ever have outages, and in the event of a major thundertorm, if it does go out, it doesn't last long, and i still have my tivo shows i can watch while i wait.

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by CSEwing / September 6, 2011 2:43 AM PDT

I know this is an old post, but if you happen to read this ...

Can you still have Tivo with Satellite? I didn't think it was possible.


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I've had both Reasons Cable is superior
by Trogor / June 29, 2005 3:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite is better

I have had both Sat and Cable. I switched to cable mainly for 2 purposes.

1. Sat is NOT reliable during storms both rain and snow. Went out a lot.

2. Sat network access was delayed, and being a gamer I could not stand being left behind. With Cable, I can run with big guys, and keep up.

Other reasons:

1. Cost is smiliar.
2. Cable is digital and not as related is not always digital.
3. Cable has HDTV. I haave that, and it is awesome.
4. Cable Networking is far far far superior in accessing the net.
5. Cable has ON DEMAND movies etc, and that feature is unbeatable. SAT cannot over On Demand.

There is no comparison between SAT and Cable.

SAT is unreliable, had No OnDemand, No HDTV and cannnot compete with the speed you get with cable.

SAT cannot compete with superior Tech.

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I disagree....
by kellumrw / July 5, 2005 12:53 AM PDT

I recently dropped Adelphia as my cable service.
We had Adelphia's service for 16 years total and their overpriced digital system for three years along with cable internet. It was costing me 110.00 a month for two TV's and internet.
The digital service was better than regular cable, but it does not compare with satellite.

We installed Dish Network (180 package) on four TV's for 75.00 a month with one premium package included. Sure I don't have internet added, I know that. We went back to dial-up.
The service has been great. A few equipment troubles but all was fixed quickly. We did have a problem with signal loss, but a realignment cured that. So far, the only time we loose signal is during a severe thunderstorm. In Florida it's best to turn everything off during storms like that anyhow.
We have a 13 year old Philips projection TV and satellite has provided the best picture I've seen yet. Better than cable/digital cable ever could.

And yes, we can get HDTV, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, any PayPer View, and a DVR for free.
On-Demand programming is not offered. So?

When I get the funds I'll looking to insatall a DirectWay satellite internet system. Monthly cost is comparable to cable.

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It all depends..
by CursedDragon / July 6, 2005 2:07 AM PDT
In reply to: I disagree....

Ok look. It all depends on the companie, and where you live.. I for one live in Quebec(Canada). We have the best cable services for television AND internet from Vid

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Audio problems with TIme Warner Cable
by jonxx / July 21, 2005 11:10 AM PDT

Several channels exhibit variations in volume that is very annoying. No, not the kind when a commercial comes on, I mean a low frequency modulation in a short period of time, like one or two spoken sentences. The cable company says that's what they get for a feed. They don't care. I am getting ready to switch.

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Turn on your cable
by bigmodern / May 14, 2007 4:58 AM PDT
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These People love to lie about what satellite is really like
by archcustoms / July 4, 2006 3:48 AM PDT

Its weird how alot of these people say you loose your signal in satellite. I mean think about it, if that were true would 50 million americans really have it? I have had it rain and snow like crazy and my pic is fine. I lost my pic. with cable way more than i did with dish network. About that cost being similar thats funny too, satellite tv is WAY and i mean WAY cheaper than cable. I have 100% Digital tv with dvr and its STILL cheaper then my old basic cable. Dishnetwork is the leading provider in HD as well. And dish-network just came out with movies on demand so you can get movies ANYTIME you want and they are constantly adding new programming to it. And about cable internet, you can get 5 meg dsl-1 meg slower than cable (BIG DEAL)however it wont go down every 5 min. like cable does and unlike cable it stays the same speed ALL THE TIME!!! Satellite tv is 1000 times superior to cable. You can tell the cable boys are getting desperate. And by the way, you can get up to four rooms free with dishnetwork with a measly one year contract, and on all four rooms get dvr. Half of these people who lose there signal are the ones that try to install the system themselves, LET THE INSTALLERS DO IT THATS WHAT THERE, THERE FOR!!! and it doesn't cost anything for them to install it either. Overall, satellite tv is way superior to digital cable.

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HD channels
by whopper1016 / October 29, 2006 1:13 PM PST

I used to have Dish years back when HD first came out and you had to buy your HD recivers and individual recievers. My question is what actual channels in HD are free ?

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Or Satellite Users are dillusional
by Tricketts7 / July 13, 2015 1:04 PM PDT

This is an amazing message, even though it was written 10 years ago. I travel around our country, usually 40 to 50 different cities in the past 12 years. The one constant is most hotels have satellite, and all satellites go out in cloudy, much less stormy weather. I've had cable in different forms for the past 30 years and I can count on one hand the number of times it's gone out in a storm. No wait, two fingers, and that was almost 30 years ago. I'm sitting in a high end hotel in Miami right now and it is cloudy, the satellite has been out for 45 minutes. It just started raining and it's not a big storm. This always happens no matter the city or satellite provider. They are all digital now, no difference. At home we have extreme high speed internet, phone and digital cable. It just works. We had a major storm two weeks ago where I couldn't see 50 feet, it was raining sideways, but the cable haut worked. My daughters satellite was out for an hour. Give me centralized vs distributed satellite anytime. BTW, I don't think any cable or satellite company is great, but the technology of cable is proven and that's the fact. Just because you have a commercial stating satellite is more reliable doesn't make it so. Show me a place with clouds and rain and I'll show you a down satellite system.

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Amazingly better design
by blues-harp / July 2, 2005 4:55 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite is better

Rather than relying on some centrally-maintained and distributed system, each home's satellite system is self-contained, and therefore not subject to central server outages. There's a certain elegance in having no physical connection to the outside world - you have a dish on your own roof and a short coax cable leading from it to your TV receiver ... and that's it. The signals are fully digital. The availabe DVRs are truly phenomenonal because they do not record the digital signal, they *COPY* the pre-compressed signal untouched as it comes off the satellite feed, meaning your recordings are not very good copies but are instead *identical* time-shifted duplicates of the original broadcast, and commpletely indistinguishable from a live feed. Anyone with DirecTV who does has not purchased a $100 DirecTV DVR is entirely missing the point - the synergism between the two is beyond belief, and not to be missed. With the ''Pause Live TV'' feature, tune into your favorite live show 15 minutes late, and you never have to watch another Zelnorm commercial again - it's TV paradise! My only compaint - and it's a big one - is that the satelle system cuts out completely in a rain storm. If you live in a stormy area, cable may be your better choice.

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Amazingly better design????/ Really
by Grandriver / July 2, 2005 9:32 AM PDT

Our Cable provider (and we have satellite and digital cable so we can make a direct comparison on a 50 inch DLP Panasonic) provides every feature you have mentioned PLUS some. Its PVR (DVR) can record TWO (2) channels at the same time while you watch something previously recorded. Or, watch one channel live while recording it and at the same time record another that you don't want to miss.

All I can say is try doing that with Satellite without 2 receivers.

I've concluded that if we didn't have a motorhome we wouldn't have a dish. I tried to do without a dish but ran out of coax before we got to the end of our driveway. Wink

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Cable is better where I live
by BearcatBirkley / June 29, 2006 12:07 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite is better

I live in South Jersey and there is no way Directv is better than Comcast, unless you talking their NFL package. I have 19 HD channels and I don't think Directv can match that anywhere!

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satellite is only better in one aspect
by keyes24 / July 31, 2008 8:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Satellite is better

i have had hdtv thru cable and i currently have it thru direct tv. I must say, Charter HD service is way better than satellite. The picture is so much brighter and clearer thru cable than it is satellite. theres only 2 things that got me to go to satellite. NFL sunday ticket and the price. Yes, charter is very expensive but there tv service as far as picture quality is way better than satellite. For all of you that said that you lose your cable when it rains then you guys have a serious problem, because i am in that line of work with fiber optics and the rain has absolutely nothing to do with cable. Your all going overboard on that. oh, and anyone who believes that satellite provides over 90 hd channels is crazy. Its up to the cable broadcasting companies to broadcast in HD, not the tv provider.

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satellite vs. cable
by ru4latin / June 28, 2005 8:10 AM PDT

satellite is much better but apartment complexes wont let you set up a satellite antenna. i think they are in bed with the local cable companies, so to speak. plus satellite is much cheaper.

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RE: satellite vs. cable
by JBbons / June 28, 2005 8:16 AM PDT
In reply to: satellite vs. cable

Actually you can get satelite on apartment complexes. Two of my neighbors have them instatlled along with other apartments I see in California.

As for the poll, I can't really say anything cause I have regular antenna. Plus all the commercials from both sides talking about about this not being all digital is just confusing. Maybe this board may clear things up for me.

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Satellite Dishes
by vrmsr / June 28, 2005 12:55 PM PDT
In reply to: satellite vs. cable

FCC ruled years ago that condos and apartment buildings cannot refuse the instalation of satellite dishes.
As for quality of picture satellite wins as for customer service.. well they still win over Comcast but DirecTv is slipping because of the maze of extentions needed to reach a live operator.

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Satellite is better than cable.
by raulp66 / June 28, 2005 8:10 AM PDT

The reason that I believe satellite is better than cable is because I look of latin programing. Both Direct Tv and Dish offer great packages for the latin communtiy. The digital cable doesn't offer much as far as latin programming.

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