Archive for February 9, 2009

Is it possible to take my existing Dish Network box and use it on another Dish satellite in a different house?

satellite dish
scsa0096 asked:

The weekend they have dish at my inlaws cottage already but they have dish network and satellite dish.

The weekend they have dish network and satellite dish at my inlaws cottage over the weekend they have dish at my inlaws cottage over the channels subscribe to be able to watch tv.

The weekend they have not brought up their second box also if it is possible would still get the.

The weekend they have not brought up their second box also if it is possible would still get the cottage.

Judith

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Get in the picture with this superzoom digital camera

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The Canon Powershot SX10 IS, 0, is a superzoom that, though a bit pricey and heavy, is great for more ambitious photos. (Click on the image at right for a closer look.) It has a powerful 20x optical zoom, and a face-detection self-timer feature that’s great for family group portraits: It won’t begin the countdown until it “recognizes” an additional face. It also has other key features that can be very useful for more advanced shooters: wide-angle capability, a swiveling LCD, and a hot-shoe for an external strobe.

To see how well it did our in tests, see our Digital Camera Ratings (available to subscribers) and use Consumer Reports Shop Online tool for real-time price comparisons at retail outlets for this and all rated digital cameras.

—Terry Sullivan

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High-def video streaming services: Are they really HD?

Vudu-media-player
Recent months have seen a rash of new products that connect to online video services, such as Netflix, that allow you to stream—and in some cases, download—movies and TV shows from the web for display on your TV. While most of the fare so far has been in standard definition (SD), limited amounts of “high-definition” programming is now available, and more is expected to come. Given that immediate access to HD content will be a key selling point for many prospective customers, we wanted to know if the quality of these streaming HD shows was equivalent to what we're used to seeing from high-def TV services and Blu-ray discs.

In a word, the answer is no. In our tests, streaming HD movies looked to be about the same quality as standard DVDs. Standard-definition movies from the streaming services looked a lot like VHS tapes.

The one standout for quality was a new video technology, called HDX, from a lesser-known player, Vudu. HDX titles, however, are downloaded, not streamed, which can be time-consuming. So while Vudu's streamed content, in both SD and HD, fared no better than the others, movies downloaded in the Vudu HDX format are delivered in 1080p, with crisp detail and rich colors. Though not as sharp as the best Blu-ray titles, Vudu HDX movies at least looked like high-def. (Click on the image above for a closer look at the VuDu media player.)

2Wire-MediaPortal-Player
All of these services require broadband connections, the faster the better. Most services stream to standalone boxes. Four of the boxes we tested provide access to Netflix's video-on-demand streaming service. They included LG's BD300 Blu-ray player (0), Samsung's BD-P2500 Blu-ray player (3), Microsoft's Xbox 360 Pro (0), and the Roku Netflix Player settop box (9). To receive streaming content, you need to be a Netflix subscriber. Xbox owners also need to be Live Gold members.

Blockbuster offers similar capability through a separate settop box it sells, the 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player. The box itself (Click on the image at right for a closer look.) is free, but requires a pre-payment for 25 movies.) Other streaming services we tested include Apple TV (9 for the 40GB model), which gets content from the company's iTunes music and video service, and Vudu ( to 9, depending on promotions and retailer), which maintains a library of content on its servers.

We also tested Sony's DMX-NV1 Bravia Internet Video Link (currently 0 at Amazon), an add-on module that attaches to certain Sony TV models to provide access to select online video content, including Amazon's video-on-demand service.

Netflix-Roku-playerWhile the quality of these services may be acceptable to many viewers, those looking for high-quality high-def content will likely be disappointed. The good news is that all the receivers connect in a straightforward way, and the Apple, Blockbuster, and Roku boxes have built-in Wi-Fi, a plus if a wired connection isn't convenient. The Netflix service requires a few more steps than the others, since you have to visit the Netflix
website using your computer, choose the movies you want, and then add them to your online queue. They will then become available via the settop box. (Click on image at right for a closer look at the Roku player.)

With Vudu's HDX downloads, the downside is that even with a fast broadband connection (5Mbps or more) it can take two hours to download a movie, and up to nine hours if you have a slow (2-3Mbps) connection.

That means at least for the time being, you'll have to make a choice between the convenience of an instant stream or the higher quality enabled by a download. And at CES, LG and Vizio announced upcoming TV models that will include built-in Netflix streaming, so there's no need for a separate box.

We'll be filing a more complete evaluation of these services in the near future that addresses relative pricing for hardware and content, and the number of titles available from each.

—James K. Willcox and Richard Fisco

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Myths, Magic, and Reality

One question we get every week is “when are you going to increase power, or improve the signal”. The truth is no matter how much power a station transmits, the digital carriers remain virtually the same carrying zeros and ones. If you look back at the pictures of the “haystack” signal stations transmit, you can see the business part of the signal is the small carriers on the top, that look like Bart Simpson’s hair. The receiver decodes that from left to right, not top to bottom. That haystack needs to be flat, and above the neighborhood noise, but not necessarily tall. Most converter boxes have a signal strength meter screen, but it is not signal strength most of these are measuring, it signal quality. Naturally, the higher the quality of the signal, the better the receiver can decode it. I only mention this as most people confuse signal strength versus signal quality. The quality of the signal is the most important factor, not how big the signal is, but these meters are designed to be read in the familiar way, even though they are not always as you think.

Your antenna is your key to successfully decoding the digital bits from the signal. The 8VSB used over the air has to be decoded from the flat top of the haystack. If it is tilted, or has dips and peaks in it, the receiver has a hard time decoding the data. That causes the rectangular blocks and freezing in the picture. It’s the same symptoms as being on the digital cliff, where the signal strength isn’t high enough, but you can have a strong signal, and still not be able to decode the signal.

I often advise viewers to stop thinking logically when troubleshooting RF issues. The signals just don’t behave the same as analog technology to interference and indoor walls causing bounces. You have to have a “clean” signal, without multipath. That’s where signals bounce off walls and buildings, and arrive at the antenna a little bit later than the main signal. I demonstrate this in my video “House Call” where Dr. Mark Vardy and I compare the packets of data to the human spine. Well, I thought it was cleaver, and it does show what happens with most indoor antennas.

You want quality over quantity for good stable reception. Certainly, if the signal dips in and out, it is not going to be satisfactory. As long as your antenna gets the signal consistently, your receiver should be able to display perfect pictures.

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