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DirecTV HD vs FIOS HD

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Old 01-19-2012, 07:37 AM   #1
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Default DirecTV HD vs FIOS HD

I've been watching FIOS HD for the past 4 years. I have the same 42" plasma that I bought my parents, but they were always commenting on how much better the picture quality on mine was... they have Comcast. I always thought they were crazy, I mean, digital is digital, right?

I recently moved to Indianapolis and just had AT&T u-verse installed (the other option was BrightHouse, which was at least twice as expensive). I am shocked at how terrible the HD picture quality is, not to mention the serious audio-sync problems that I am having. After doing some research I have learned that most landline providers (other than Verizon's FIOS HD) use lossy compression on HD streams that reduces picture quality. My FIOS HD was equivalent to OTA for broadcast stuff---I had no idea how lucky I was.

Anyway, does anyone know how DirecTV's HD picture quality compares to the FIOS HD service that I used to have? Are DirecTV and Dish equivalent in this regard?
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:15 AM   #2
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I've been watching FIOS HD for the past 4 years. I have the same 42" plasma that I bought my parents, but they were always commenting on how much better the picture quality on mine was... they have Comcast. I always thought they were crazy, I mean, digital is digital, right?

I recently moved to Indianapolis and just had AT&T u-verse installed (the other option was BrightHouse, which was at least twice as expensive). I am shocked at how terrible the HD picture quality is, not to mention the serious audio-sync problems that I am having. After doing some research I have learned that most landline providers (other than Verizon's FIOS HD) use lossy compression on HD streams that reduces picture quality. My FIOS HD was equivalent to OTA for broadcast stuff---I had no idea how lucky I was.

Anyway, does anyone know how DirecTV's HD picture quality compares to the FIOS HD service that I used to have? Are DirecTV and Dish equivalent in this regard?
It's always difficult to compare PQ because there are so many variables - for example, with all the cable providers (including ATT) a lot depends on where you are located.
But here goes.
On local HD channels, typically FIOS is the best because they deliver the signals without any bandwidth limitation and conversion. Probably DirecTv is next - they generally have enough bandwidth, but do have to convert from the MPEG-2 signals coming from the local station to the MPEG-4 encoding used by DirecTV. With correct setup, it's sometimes hard to see the transcoding losses - here in DFW most of the DirecTV HD locals are about the same as off-air and FIOS. Dish PQ is often marginally softer, because many channels use 1440x1080 instead of the 1920x1080 used by others, but some people prefer the Dish picture. Cable is all over the place, because it depends on your local cable system - at least Dish and DirecTv are delivering the same PQ to everyone. The best cable is in the same ballpark as DirecTV, the worst is pretty poor. And then there is u-verse, which is generally accepted to have the worst HD PQ - certainly that applies to uverse in my area, my neighbors have noticable worse HD PQ than I do, with my DirecTV service.
On regular HD, the same comments apply, except that FIOS has less of a potential"edge" because many of the channels are already bandwidth constrained before they get to FIOS.
On SD channels, most of the "cable" channels including uverse and FIOS have the edge on the sat providers. SD locals from DirecTv are often pretty poor, but then if you have HD locals it does not matter.

Of course most people don't have access to FIOS so their choice is limited.
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:17 AM   #3
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In our area - FIOS- uses Directv their (Bundled) tv service.
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:26 AM   #4
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In our area - FIOS- uses Directv their (Bundled) tv service.
We saw this as well in Pittsburgh but they rolled out TV at some point. I can't remember if a tech upgraded my ONT for it, I seem to remember that they did. We were using OTA until FIOS TV became available.
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:40 AM   #5
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On local HD channels, typically FIOS is the best because they deliver the signals without any bandwidth limitation and conversion.
I've ordered a new antenna for local OTA, hopefully the insane flatness of Indianapolis (compared to Pittsburgh) means that I won't have the same sorts of OTA problems that I had in Pittsburgh before FIOS TV.

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Probably DirecTv is next - they generally have enough bandwidth, but do have to convert from the MPEG-2 signals coming from the local station to the MPEG-4 encoding used by DirecTV. With correct setup, it's sometimes hard to see the transcoding losses - here in DFW most of the DirecTV HD locals are about the same as off-air and FIOS. Dish PQ is often marginally softer, because many channels use 1440x1080 instead of the 1920x1080 used by others, but some people prefer the Dish picture. Cable is all over the place, because it depends on your local cable system - at least Dish and DirecTv are delivering the same PQ to everyone. The best cable is in the same ballpark as DirecTV, the worst is pretty poor. And then there is u-verse, which is generally accepted to have the worst HD PQ - certainly that applies to uverse in my area, my neighbors have noticable worse HD PQ than I do, with my DirecTV service.
I'm relieved to know that u-verse isn't representative of the non-FIOS world.

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On regular HD, the same comments apply, except that FIOS has less of a potential"edge" because many of the channels are already bandwidth constrained before they get to FIOS.
From what I can tell, u-verse (in my neighborhood in Indy) is worse for non-locals HD too.

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On SD channels, most of the "cable" channels including uverse and FIOS have the edge on the sat providers. SD locals from DirecTv are often pretty poor, but then if you have HD locals it does not matter.
I've never actually tuned to an SD channel in the past couple of years.

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Of course most people don't have access to FIOS so their choice is limited.
That's me now. I definitely need to drop u-verse TV. I might be able to get used to the PQ for non-locals if I get good local reception OTA, but the audio-sync is intolerable and google doesn't seem to think that there's any way to resolve it. At least I haven't found anything in the last 48 hours that helps. It's too bad... I like the networking and cabling advantage of IPTV.

It sounds like it might make sense to try the local cable's HD (BrightHouse) to see how it is.
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Old 01-19-2012, 09:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by luke_ View Post
I've been watching FIOS HD for the past 4 years. I have the same 42" plasma that I bought my parents, but they were always commenting on how much better the picture quality on mine was... they have Comcast. I always thought they were crazy, I mean, digital is digital, right?

I recently moved to Indianapolis and just had AT&T u-verse installed (the other option was BrightHouse, which was at least twice as expensive). I am shocked at how terrible the HD picture quality is, not to mention the serious audio-sync problems that I am having. After doing some research I have learned that most landline providers (other than Verizon's FIOS HD) use lossy compression on HD streams that reduces picture quality. My FIOS HD was equivalent to OTA for broadcast stuff---I had no idea how lucky I was.

Anyway, does anyone know how DirecTV's HD picture quality compares to the FIOS HD service that I used to have? Are DirecTV and Dish equivalent in this regard?
FIOS HD is pretty much the cream of the crop. Cable systems vary, but Directv is generally considered at second. Dish looks good, but is a more soft image IMO.

Ive seen Uverse at a friends house and was not impressed. If it were between Dish, Directv and Uverse, for PQ, Id pick Directv.
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:20 AM   #7
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Ive seen Uverse at a friends house and was not impressed. If it were between Dish, Directv and Uverse, for PQ, Id pick Directv.
I also have BrightHouse, the local cable provider, as an option, but it sounds like DirecTV is going to be better. I'm leaning towards it, but there are a couple of factors, like summer south exposure due to a huge tree and existing OTA options, that I have to evaluate first.

I'm mostly still just shocked at how bad my u-verse HD is.
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:40 AM   #8
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I also have BrightHouse, the local cable provider, as an option, but it sounds like DirecTV is going to be better. I'm leaning towards it, but there are a couple of factors, like summer south exposure due to a huge tree and existing OTA options, that I have to evaluate first.

I'm mostly still just shocked at how bad my u-verse HD is.
If you have a Iphone or simlar type you can download a D* app That will show on the screen (as you hold it) the sky positions of 99 -101-103- That will give you a clear line of sight.

http://www.dishpointer.com/2009/augm...ellite-finder/
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:52 AM   #9
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If you have a Iphone or simlar type you can download a D* app That will show on the screen (as you hold it) the sky positions of 99 -101-103- That will give you a clear line of sight.

http://www.dishpointer.com/2009/augm...ellite-finder/
Cool. I don't actually own any iDevices but my wife has an iPhone and an iPad. I'll check it out when she gets home.
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Old 01-19-2012, 01:48 PM   #10
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Cool. I don't actually own any iDevices but my wife has an iPhone and an iPad. I'll check it out when she gets home.
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Old 01-20-2012, 05:43 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by texasbrit View Post
It's always difficult to compare PQ because there are so many variables - for example, with all the cable providers (including ATT) a lot depends on where you are located.
But here goes.
On local HD channels, typically FIOS is the best because they deliver the signals without any bandwidth limitation and conversion. Probably DirecTv is next - they generally have enough bandwidth, but do have to convert from the MPEG-2 signals coming from the local station to the MPEG-4 encoding used by DirecTV. With correct setup, it's sometimes hard to see the transcoding losses - here in DFW most of the DirecTV HD locals are about the same as off-air and FIOS. Dish PQ is often marginally softer, because many channels use 1440x1080 instead of the 1920x1080 used by others, but some people prefer the Dish picture. Cable is all over the place, because it depends on your local cable system - at least Dish and DirecTv are delivering the same PQ to everyone. The best cable is in the same ballpark as DirecTV, the worst is pretty poor. And then there is u-verse, which is generally accepted to have the worst HD PQ - certainly that applies to uverse in my area, my neighbors have noticable worse HD PQ than I do, with my DirecTV service.
On regular HD, the same comments apply, except that FIOS has less of a potential"edge" because many of the channels are already bandwidth constrained before they get to FIOS.
On SD channels, most of the "cable" channels including uverse and FIOS have the edge on the sat providers. SD locals from DirecTv are often pretty poor, but then if you have HD locals it does not matter.

Of course most people don't have access to FIOS so their choice is limited.
This is an excellent explanation, but I'll add one thing to it. Most cable companies also use MPEG-2 feeds, and deliver TV the same way that FiOS does (QAM). The difference in PQ between cable companies comes down to the amount of space they allocate for a channel.

MPEG-2 HD channels peak at ~20Mbps transmission speed. Each QAM channel (defined as a 6MHz slice of frequency) can carry data at a rate of 40Mbps. So, if you want to carry HD channels using MPEG-2, without running the risk of adding compression artifacts, you basically can only run 2 HD channels per QAM channel. This is exactly what Verizon does with FiOS which is the reason their PQ is so good. With SD channels, again, same thing - you want to max out at something like 8 to 9 SD channels per QAM.

Many cable companies don't do that. They cram more than that number of both HD and SD into a single QAM. Comcast, e.g., runs 3 HD channels per QAM, for most channels. You can do that - you can cram them in like that. And you can try to take advantage of real transmission rates for channels (most never hit that 20Mbps peak, and some peak WAY below that rate), but in the end, by going this route you introduce compression artifacts into your feeds. Which leads to reduced PQ.

Some channels, as Texasbrit mentioned, come into a provider already at a highly compressed rate. At that point there's nothing the provider can do to improve the PQ. Watch AMC HD sometime and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. AMC is one of 4 Rainbow channels that go to various service providers. Rainbow decided to send all 4 of their channels in the space of 1 QAM - introducing horrible compression artifacts at the source.

BTW, the reason you saw the massively degraded PQ with U-Verse is because of those data transmission rates. U-Verse runs MPEG-4, which is much better at allowing for compression with fewer artifacts. But still, if you bit-starve a picture, I don't care how good your compression algorithm is, the PQ will still take a hit. And that's the difference between DirecTV HD (which is really good) and U-Verse HD (which, from what I've read, is marginal at best). Both use MPEG-4, but U-Verse seriously bit-starves their feeds. They really have no choice - they're basically running TV, internet and phone all over your phone wire. It's essentially TV over DSL.

You may want to check out your local cable company to see if they're any good. If so, then you can get some good bundling deals by going that route. Otherwise, DirecTV is a great option. I'm a former DirecTV subscriber, and I currently have FiOS, so I know what you're talking about in terms of Verizon's PQ.
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