4DTV Satellite receiver Page 3

Master feed of the universe
Although much has changed in the DTH business, one thing hasn't: C-band is still the primary medium by which cable networks downlink their signals to local cable operators. In addition, broadcast networks use C-band to transmit taped and live programming and news feeds to affiliates scattered around the country. In many cases that are not intended for direct home viewing, these "master feeds" are received by your local cable or broadcast affiliate and then rebroadcast to your home with local commercials, station identification, and so forth.

DBS systems such as DirecTV and PrimeStar also capture these same C-band signals. Before rebroadcasting them, however, the DBS "head end" facility must convert the incoming analog signals to digital, then run the signal through compression and encryption before uplinking to a DBS satellite, which retransmits the datastream back down to your dish.

In essence, C-band owners intercept the same first-generation signal going to the local cable and network affiliates. Except for PPV movies (which are first-generation signals sourced from D1 digital videotape), DBS signals are heavily processed, second-generation transmissions.

And it shows. Analog broadcasts are a joy to behold on 4DTV. Once you've seen standard network fare such as ER, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or Nova on the "big satellite," as we call it chez Ullman, you'll never go back to DSS, cable, or local broadcast. I've made numerous A/B comparisons of the same feed on 4DTV and DSS, and the results have been consistently in 4DTV's favor. The big system's resolution is clearly superior; DSS looks washed out and soft by comparison. Premium channels such as HBO also look better than their DSS counterparts, in both analog and digital form. (With 4DTV, you can take your pick.)

Hog heaven
In addition to looking better than DSS, 4DTV gives you much more to look at. Table 1 is a system comparison chart reproduced from an industry Web site (www.cbandtv.com). The figures pretty much speak for themselves.

Table 1 System Comparisons
Franchise CableDirecTVDish NetworkPrimeStarC-band
No. of programmers121130
Present channels6624610389766
Max. future channels70246192966000
Movie channels5151512103
Sports channels 327201635
International channelsnone28341
Music video channels345112
Education channels287245
Pay per view492610116
Free (video)none41none208
Free (audio)none283010143
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