Digital cable and satellite TV give you a front seat to the latest entertainment. While both can do the trick, there are advantages and disadvantages to each service. Keep reading for some things to keep in mind, and don’t forget to check out DexKnows in your search for the best local service.
How each works and cost
Satellite TV uses a satellite dish that is placed outside the home and pointed toward the sky. The dish acts like an antenna to collect signals that are then routed to TV sets through cables hooked up to satellite receivers. Each TV must be connected to a receiver, though all the receivers can be hooked up to one dish.
Costs differ, depending on what channels you want. The website Digital Landing states that DirecTV and Dish Network each have basic packages ranging between $20 and $25 per month. Additional services such as HDTV, sports channels and movie channels can mean another $8 to $25 per month. There may also be a rental fee for equipment, depending on the provider, and additional upfront costs for equipment, including the dish and installation.
Digital cable TV requires a box connected to each television and audio video cables. The signal is sent over outside cable lines that connect to a receiver and run into your home through other cables. While older cable systems didn’t deliver the same picture quality as satellite TV, digital cable TV now uses similar compression of signals that enables more HDTV.
Basic cable costs are similar to basic satellite. Digital Landing estimates costs at $20 to $25 a month. Renting equipment costs additional money.
Premium packages for both cable and satellite can cost around $100 or more. When comparing, make sure to include the cost of renting equipment and search for promotional deals. Most offer a teaser rate, but be aware of the costs after that discount expires.
Cable television does not have the same reach as satellite TV. It is only available in areas where the provider has the cable wiring outside so it’s available to connect to a home. If a cable doesn’t pass your home, it won’t be an option. This means you have a better chance of getting cable TV if you live in a town or city. Satellite TV just needs a clear path to point a satellite dish to the sky to receive the signal. That is why it’s the choice in rural areas, where laying down cable can be expensive across long distances. In cities, satellite TV may not be practical because of high rises blocking the signal. Also, renters will likely need permission from their landlords before installing a dish. In areas with homeowners’ associations (HOAs), the rules for which service to use may be specified.
Weather, including heavy rain, will affect satellite service. Putting the dish in an area that has the clearest line of sight to the southern sky and is not blocked by trees that may blow and obscure the view in heavy winds will lessen the chance of loss of service. Most signal losses are temporary.
Cable TV isn’t as affected by storms, but when it does go out, it may last for a few hours.
All satellite channels are digital quality, while some cable channels are analog, which are lower quality signals.
Digital and HD channels are available through both satellite and digital TV providers. There is also on-demand and pay-per-view programming. Cable TV offers more variety when it comes to local channels and may have more regional sports packages. Satellite TV offers more national channels.
Digital cable TV providers offer high-speed internet that features faster download speeds and more reliability than satellite internet. Satellite providers, however, have started partnering with internet service providers to offer better services.
Satellite providers typically ask customers to sign a service contract, usually a year, that, if canceled early, results in extra fees. Cable TV providers generally do not ask customers for the same sort of commitment. Cable TV providers, however, may offer bundling packages and special promotions that do require committing for a certain length of time.
The final verdict
Advancing technology has leveled the playing field for satellite and digital cable TV providers. The difference often comes down to where you live and what kind of channels you prefer. Keep these differences in mind while searching at DexKnows for local providers.