While Direct Home Connect can connect your new home with television service, many new homeowners have the option to choose from multiple satellite and cable providers in their area. The differences between cable television and satellite television service get downright confusing. Depending on your needs, one may be a better option than the other; here is a quick side-by-side comparison on the things you need to know before signing up.
High definition is where it’s at. You didn’t stand in line for twelve hours on Black Friday to score a discounted 60” UHD 4K TV set just to watch some fuzzy reruns of Friends. You have standards: high definition standards.
Satellite generally has a better selection of national HD channels, while cable has a better selection of local HD programming, so if you want the best channels in the best quality, go with satellite.
Some HD channels are usually included in even the very basic package offerings. However, desirable movie channels like HBO and Showtime are typically included in more expensive service bundles or are offered as an extra. When you call to set up satellite TV service, see if you can wrangle in some HD movie channels along with your bundle.
Cable television requires wiring inside the house from a wireless router to the set-top boxes adjacent to the television sets. Cable also requires a wired connection that begins at a trunk line in a neighborhood (within a mile of a subscriber’s home) and goes into a connection point to your home, typically a small exterior box. The bottom line is this: if you have cable, no one can tell.
With satellite, however, your home will need a dish attached to the roof or side of your home. While dishes can be positioned unobtrusively, they’re still somewhat unsightly. And, because they’re exposed to the elements, you can bet they’re much more likely to be damaged in poor weather (or from a stray baseball).
Both cable and satellite offer a vast array of channels. Premium channels are often offered for free for a limited number of months by both satellite and cable unless a subscriber elects to pay for a premium (read expensive) package. For both mediums, a subscriber can tailor a package that meets all their viewing requirements.
Because the big cable and satellite providers are under continual pressure to deliver programming tailored to customer demand and have to compete with each other, they’re constantly updating their paid content. No matter which option you choose, expect to have thousands upon thousands of available movies and shows available for purchase with your cable or satellite TV subscription.
WINNER: DEPENDS ON PROVIDER
Satellite is generally stronger for national news and sports, while cable is generally better for local news.
Here’s the deal though: with channel selection, it comes down to provider, not cable versus satellite. For instance, according to our expert picks, DIRECTV scores an 8/10 when it comes to channel selection, but DISH is only a 7. On the other hand, AT&T’s U-verse gets a magical 9, while another provider, Time Warner Cable, only nabs a 5.
We recommend sitting down and making a list of your favorite shows and channels, then making sure that the cable or satellite package you select includes them. It’s not rocket science, but you don’t want to be locked into a contract and suddenly realize you don’t have MTV.
Pricing & Availability
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