The question of satellite or cable television in a home theater setting is almost as old as home theater itself, I seem to remember the term home theater being used even before DirecTV’s first satellite launched. Way back then it was generally accepted that satellite offered more for the big-screen watcher than cable but this was due to the fact that digital cable was still in its infancy, obviously we’re well past that stage.
Now that digital cable is commonplace, and well for that matter HD cable along with DVR’s, it’s easier to make an apples to apples comparison between HD cable and HD satellite for use in our home theaters. I suppose for me it’s not about image quality. I’ve seen really good and bad examples from both cable and satellite, and since DVR capabilities are available from both that isn’t really much of a decider either.
No, for me it really boils down to this. Yes, there are a few more channels on HD satellite than cable (at least in my area) and yes the image quality is good but cables cost of entry, i.e. what it takes to monetarily to get someone out to your house and get you up and running is generally still less with cable. Combine that low cost of entry with the fact that the cable company still (in most cases) has an advantage in being able to offer you blazing fast internet service, the choice for me is almost always cable.
One obvious (others exist) alternative to cable television and specifically high definition cable television is direct broadcast satellite (DBS for short) DBS comes in several flavors most notably DirecTV and DISH Network but regardless of which you pick both share many similarities. Both charge a subscription fee, anywhere from $29.99 on the low end to well over a hundred dollars a month with premium channels.
Both DISH Network and DirecTV offer DVR’s, some form of (albeit limited compared to cable) pay-per-view and most importantly high definition programming. For several years DirecTV had the edge in overall HDTV programming available but DISH took the lead back in late 2006, adding another 5-6 stations on top of what DirecTV already offered. Expect this superiority to ebb and flow between the two providers in the future.