Satellite, Space Age VS Stone Age
Written: Aug 15, 2000 (Updated Aug 16, 2000)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
I love my satellite TV!! I never thought anything could be better than cable, TV is TV right? Wrong!! Not only the picture quality, the music "stations" are incredible as well. The choice is almost overwhelming! Thank You Dish Network for finally giving us a choice!
The main reason for us switching to satellite was the constantly rising price of cable coupled with the constant "down-time" we experienced in our area. Since the "de-regulation" of cable, the only loser has been the consumer. My particular cable company has raised the monthly fee 2+ dollars per year, every year, for the last few years. We do not carry any "special" pay networks such as HBO and the like. We just carried what is the expanded-basic package (plain basic had very few channels). We were paying 35.00 per month for that service. We also experienced constant "down-time" here, our cable company is based about 40 miles from here, though there is a local one much closer. I assume there were territory wars at one time or another, so we have no choice. If it even thought about raining in our area we were out. If it rained 40 miles from here we were out. There of course is no compensation for us, even if we were out for days. We were always the first out last fixed here.
I looked into satellite after a few of my relatives in the area decided to switch. I asked Dish Network (here after called DN)when their last increase was. They had just had their first increase in 3 years, it was 1.00. The smallest package they offer is 19.99 called the top 40, we chose the top 100 at 29.99. That had all the channels we enjoyed previously and then some. The cool bonus are the music channels, NO not MTV or VH1 (though they are carried on DN), you can choose a music "venue", as if you were turning on a radio, such as classic rock, new age, contemporary Christian, country and more. Then you can listen 24 hours a day, uninterrupted to cd quality music! The screen is black except for the words giving the title, artist etc. moving on the screen. It is great! I am told you can even hook it up to your stereo for even better sound. We happen to have a stereo TV, so it sounds pretty darn good right where it is!
DN is always running some type of promotion. I hit them during a "Cable Bounty" promotion. Basically, if I could provide a current cable bill, I received the system and installation on one TV for free. Normally that my particular system would be 199.00 installed + shipping. You can pick up the units at sears as well. My end of the bargain was to carry 39.98 in programming for one year. I did the math, and weighing one against the other, including what I projected for the increases that would come along over the years, it made sense. I could get into this with no cash outlay. I also decided to join their credit card billing program which waived the shipping on the unit. So my initial outlay was truly 0.00.
You need to choose your programming carefully. Once it is programmed, any item you drop has a 5.00 "drop charge", though adding programming is free. You need to choose a "network" package, if you want networks that is. I am talking about the big 4 ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. They are extra, I said earlier for the first year I needed to have 39.98 in programming, so to make that up, I chose a network/superstation bundle at 9.99. That gave me 2 sets of networks (philly and NYC, I am smack between both of them) and more superstations than I can even name, out of Atlanta-Denver-LA and more. A plain set of 1 group of the big 4 would only be 4.99 which would be in line with my current cable bill. PBS is also 1.00 more, we are not big PBS watchers, so I did not opt for that.
Be aware, DN claims to be able to give you "appointments" with a local installer. In my rural area, they really cannot. I saw what my Mom went through with bogus appointment after appointment. It turns out they subcontract to a subcontractor who subcontracts and so on and so on. Push to be able to get a phone number for one of the subs, I luckily had one from my poor Mom's fiasco. I actually set up my own appointment, but I made sure by calling back and forth that it was in sync with DN, if not you can lose your "free" installation.
The service has been great, even with all the rain we have had this summer. When the clouds get really thick and heavy, we have lost signal for a few moments, other than that, an incredible picture is what we enjoy.
There are a few things to consider, you need to determine if you can "live" without. I was not aware of these items right away, but they are things I can personally live without.
1. You will no longer get Local weather from The Weather Channel, during that span of time you give a brief video (no audio) synopsis of 1/4 of the country at a time. Thanks to the internet, I can get my current weather that way.
2. For each TV you add, you pay an additional 4.99 per month. Right now my bill is 45.00 per month for 2 TVs and programming, after the one year of 39.98 programming, I will be dropping the extra networks I chose to make up the 39.98 and my bill will drop back to 39.95. There is no way to get around this extra charge, due to the "smart-card" system. It is too lengthy to explain, so ask DN about that.
3. For each TV you add, you need to buy another receiver. I did not pay for the first one, so my cash outlay was for the hookup and purchase of the second receiver. You can have other TVs hooked up to the one receiver, but then you have to watch the same channel as the set with the receiver on it, pointless to me. Unless you buy an expensive receiver, which comes with a remote that enables you to change channels from any room in your house.Save time and money pre-arrange for the installer to at least wire you up for a second TV, if you think you will ever purchase another receiver while he is there. There will be a charge for that, but it will be less than having him come out again. If you want a second TV hooked to the first one, have him do that too, my installer did not charge me to do that. BE SURE YOU BUY A DUAL LAN DISH EVEN IF YOU DON'T PLAN ON A SECOND UNIT. IF YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND LATER, YOU WILL NEED A NEW DISH IF YOU DON'T. The free system I received is dual lan, so be sure to ask for it.
4. The remote with my "better" unit (on our main family TV) is incredible! "Too much Information" for me,though my hubby LOVES it (figures). Don't lose the remote, I am not aware that you can just buy a new one as easily or a cheaply as you buy regular remotes these days Without it you have nothing. I don't know what it costs to purchase another.
5. You will not get any of your "real" local stations. For me, that means no local school closing information via TV. I will have to rely on the radio now.
All in all it works for me, and even the drawbacks are not too bad. I love it!
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