Satellite TV holds a great advantage over the cable TV companies. Not only is the picture and sound quality superior, but there’s more choice in what to watch. If you said to yourself ‘there’s nothing on TV’, switch to satellite. The differences couldn’t be more obvious.
Cable Quality vs. Satellite Quality
With the limited bandwidth that cable offers, it’s no wonder the quality is poor. First, the cable wire comes from a hub transmission system somewhere near your home. At source, the signal is passable, but by the time it runs through your community, splitting to each house, the signal has degraded. As the cable is RF (radio frequency) based, it has converted from an audio/video signal (at source) to RF and then needs to re-convert back into audio/video for your television. Along the way, anything broadcasting through the air has tried to get into the cable line and will appear as noise on your TV screen.
Unfortunately, we are our worst enemy as well. Look at your cables and splitters inside your house. Poor quality RG6 or RF cable can cause great loss of signal too. Turn on your TV and have someone bend your cable in half and watch for ghosting on your picture. If it is ghosting, you have unshielded cables! Replace them with something better like Monster Cable. RF cable has a tough time producing stereo sound too, so don’t expect great audio. Another culprit of poor cable quality is the cable splitter. Most splitters have just a positive and negative wire inside (it’s a noise box). Throw it out and again replace with a good splitter (Monster Cable makes quality ones).
Satellite signals stay digital until the receiver. That means better picture and audio. The picture can be 2-3 times better resolution from your cable picture. The sound from the satellite receiver is true stereo and can be Dolby Digital surround depending on the program you are watching. Plus there are many more channels to choose from.
By the way, if you have a digital box from the cable company, you have only a handful of digital channels, the rest are the same if you remove the cable box.
Satellite companies like Dish Network, provide national satellite service with hundreds of digital stations. The picture is clear and crisp, especially if you spring for a high definition receiver to match your HD ready TV. While most cable signals are below 150 lines of interlaced resolution, standard satellite can approach DVD quality (480i) and HD content will be sent at either 1080i or 720p (progressive). A regular 27” TV has the capability of no more than 500i while a HD television can produce the full range.
What are interlaced and progressive signals? Interlaced broadcast was developed from the old NTSC format where the designers in the 1920’s and 30’s couldn’t get the TV to scan every line from the top of the screen to the bottom fast enough. They needed to cheat by having the TV scan all the odd lines; 1, 3, 5 etc. then go back and scan the even lines; 2, 4, 6 etc. The result is thick black lines running horizontally across your screen and only half the picture appearing. These flickering lines prevented you from sitting close to the television without getting eye strain. As the TVs got bigger, you sat farther away.
The new HD televisions scan all the lines progressively and refresh the screen much quicker. It is like looking through your front window with horizontal blinds. Turn the rod so the blinds are half open. The street outside is now half covered like interlaced pictures and you only see half the picture at one time. Now pull the cord to fully open the blinds. You now see the entire window unobstructed or like a progressive signal.
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