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Dish HDTV picture quality?

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Old 01-05-2009, 07:53 PM   #1
My plasma is High Def.

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Default Dish HDTV picture quality?

Hi. I am a long time DISH network subscriber and have been more or less happy with their product. I had a 2007 Panasonic 42" plasma t.v. in my living room with an older (at least 2 years old) Dish Network DVR - maybe a model 6000 (don't know the model for certain). Anyway, I had a stunning, clear picture with that old receiver and my existing 42" plasma t.v. We just purchased a new 50" Panasonic Plasma HDTV and upgraded to two, separate VIP612 HDTV receiver/DVR combos. Now the 42" t.v. which is in the same exact location but with the VIP612 receiver does not have anywhere near as nice of a picture as before the "upgrade". The 50" t.v. is even worse. The picture is not "crisp" - close ups appear blurry and grainy. I have done some reading on your site and although I am not technically savvy, I have some thoughts / questions please?

Both Panasonic plasmas are installed with good quality, Monster HDTV cables. A DISH Network service person did the installations (he originally wanted to use RCA cables that he provides and said "trust me, you won't be able to tell the difference".... which I did not beleive).

I do notice that HD stations do look somewhat better than the SD stations on both t.v.'s. My newer, 50" plasma (Panasonic Viera, 1080p, TH-50PZ85U) was given very good ratings by a number of on-line sources. It has "upconverters" to upgrade a 480p or 480i signals to a simulated 1080p I guess (?). Anyway ................neither t.v. has as nice a picture, HD or SD as my OLD, SD receiver had on one of the same t.v.'s! I am taking from my reading on your site that that is to be expected with SD broadcasts, but is this true even with the upconverter technology?

Should I do as one person on your site suggested and hook the t.v.'s up with both HDMI and RCA cables and just switch the input everytime I view SD vs. HD (wow, this seems to be a pain!!)?

What I do not understand is why did I have a stunningly clear, crisp picture with my 2-3 year old, SD receiver/DVR on my one year old plasma, and now not as good of a picture on either t.v. - even with HD in my opinion?

DISH is sending an installation technician here on 1/07 and I would like to be able to be armed with some intelligent and confident information.

One further comment. The installation tech. had some trouble getting a clear signal. He was originally going to install 2 satellite dishes but decided upon one instead. He said this was because of my roof and the way we had the old dish installed and that he didn't want to damage the roof or something like that. But I think he was just trying to get done as it was after dark and he was trying to finish up with a flashlight in a light, cold rain! Should the installation have been done with 2 separate satellite dishes since I got 2 separate VIP612 HD receivers ................. does it matter? He did put the new dish exactly where the old one was but he had quite a bit of trouble getting a clear signal; he had to call into DISH Network for support because he said the signal was "bouncing all over the place"??

Sorry this is long. I guess you are tired of installation questions, but hopefully this will help someone else as well.

Thank you.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:28 PM   #2
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Go to the settings of the 612's (menu, 6,8) and make sure they are set for 1080i and 16x9.

FYI component video connections (green, blue, red) will give the same high quality picture as HDMI. Sorry to hear you paid so much for those Monster cables.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:00 PM   #3
How can anyone watch standard def?

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Default Ditto on Resolution and Aspect settings.

Loves2watch is correct - Make sure the settings are as stated in that post.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:18 PM   #4
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Unhappy Monster cables

Yes, indeed. You paid WAY too much for your HDMI cables. Most likely you paid about 10x more than you could have, had you gone to monoprice.com. Like Loves2Watch said.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:52 PM   #5
My plasma is High Def.

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Default Thank you

Thank you for the advice about the settings. I just got home from work, so I will check in a bit. Regarding the Monster cables - I got one set "free" with a promo with purchase of the first set a year ago. The most recent ones I got very cheaply from a store going out of business. Otherwise I probably would have bought Radio Shack's brand.

Regarding my original post - does anyone know whether it makes a bit of difference of having two satellite dishes, one for each of the 612receivers? The installation guy said he was originally going to put 2 dishes up, but it was a "judgement call" and that "there are actually a variety of ways we can do this". He said he decided to do just the one dish because of my roof line and dormer (where the original dish was mounted). But if there is only one dish and several receivers doesn't this mean the signal is "split"? Could this also be a factor in the diminished signal quality?


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Old 01-07-2009, 09:10 AM   #6
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Signal is NOT split, all you need is ONE dish.

I'm getting really, really tired of Dish re-scheduled install threads!!
Call a local Retailer. And, we'll check your receiver in the store for free. If you can reach your LNBF, we'll check it for free too!!!!
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Old 01-07-2009, 07:27 PM   #7

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Besides making sure the settings are correct, also use the format button to make sure it is set to normal and not zoom.
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Old 01-08-2009, 05:30 PM   #8
How can anyone watch standard def?

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I am *really* looking forward to hearing what nittfan discovers when she checks that "1080i and 16x9" setting.

I'm so close to upping my service to HD, but I'm also suffering analysis paralysis from reading about folks who move from SD to HD, but then find the picture on their new HDTV is worse than before.

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Old 01-08-2009, 07:12 PM   #9
My plasma is High Def.

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Hello and thanks again to all of you for your time and consideration. Yes, I checked the settings on both t.v.'s and they are correct. Question to "BigBeer" please ............. o.k. maybe this is stupid, but I am very new to HD. I do NOT like to watch any programs with the gray bars on the side or black bars top/bottom; this is very distracting to me. I have not yet learned how to view SD programs full screen without having the t.v. set on "stretch" or "partial zoom", and of course I understand that this will diminish the clarity. If I attempt to watch an SD program on "standard" format I get the gray boxes (yuck!). I am assuming that this is part of my problem. If I watch an HD program I keep it on standard and it is very clear, and full screen. So, for the "dumb blonde" question of the night, why are SD programs on standard format boxed and HD programs not? And why where all programs on my ANCIENT, SD receiver (displayed on my 2007 Panasonic plasma) always full screen and so clear and crisp that I had many people ask me if we had HD?!

SD with the new VIP612 HD capable receivers is the main problem. Is this to be expected and I should just get used to it? HD channels seem to be pretty crisp (at least on the one t.v.). I read a post on this forum somewhere where someone was speculating whether you could "have the best of both worlds" and watch SD channels utilizing an input with RCA cables and watch HD with the HDMI input; is this a waste of time, and if so ............... in layperson's terms, why?

A Dish Network installation technician is coming by tomorrow to check the wiring. When I called DISH a few days ago and spoke with a "technical specialist" they walked me through a few diagnostics over the phone. He (tech support) decided that I may indeed have a problem because it was over 4 minutes and the receiver still had not progressed beyond acquiring more than 1 satellite. Also, we have been watching both t.v.'s on the same channel at the same time for diagnostic purposes, and on occasion just the one t.v./receiver will lose it's signal and it also on occasion demonstrates minimal to massive with pixel and signal loss. That is why I wondered if the signal from the satellite dish itself is split ........... we will lose a signal on just the one t.v. when they are both set on the same program.

Thank you again for your time and patience.

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Old 01-10-2009, 01:27 PM   #10
My plasma is High Def.

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Thanks for the link highdefjeff; it looks very informative! Like I said, I am new at this HDTV stuff, and I am not of the younger, "techie" generation. Prior to my purchasing the newest plasma I did get calibration specs from several on line sites, primarily plasmabuyingguide. I used these guidelines to configured the brightness, sharpness, color, and tint according to their recommendations. We usually view on "standard" picture mode and our main viewing seats are approx. 4.5 to a little over 5 feet from the 50" t.v.

Regarding the dish/receiver installation, we did have another (much more knowledgeable installation tech from DISH network) come to the house yesterday. He was able to determine within a minute or so that the installation was done improperly. He said the guy who switched out our dish 500 itself had one of the wrong satellites for HD locked in. Here's what happened to the best of my understanding. When the original installation guy came he admitted to having problems with the installation - "the signals are bouncing all over the place". He told me he "originally was going to install two dishes, but because of the roof line and the way you had your existing dish mounted I didn't think you would want me to mess with your roof. I decided to go with one". The real determing factor though, I believe, is the fact that he was actually finishing up on the roof by flashlite in the dark, in a light rain and temps around 38F. I personally think he only had so much time to get the job done, he knew this, and he went with what would get him finished sooner and get him home to dinner.

The tech who showed up on Friday said that the original installation guy "probably should have installed two Dish 500's". He said the current configuration is a small dish that is currently tuned to satellite 61.5 for high def instead of satellite 119. He told me that the (current) small dish is not able to pull in all of the high def stations by itself, and that the first guy should have known that satellite 61.5 is the "older satellite" and "we usually don't use that one anymore". He attributed this to be the reason we weren't getting all the HD channels and the less than great picture. They are sending yet another person next Tues to install either two Dish 500's or a seperate piece of equipment that will handle the problem. I do not know what this other piece of equipment is. Anyway, during his diagnostics he showed me the signal strength was either missing for some channels or weak (in the 40's to 60's) for the HD channels. He said this was responsible for the pixeling and fuzzy picture.

What I still do not understand is why this (pixeling or total loss of picture and then "reaquiring satellites") would happen on just the one t.v. We started running the two t.v.'s at once on the same exact channels for diagnostic purposes and on occasion just the one t.v. would cut out. (We can easily see the other t.v. in an adjacent room).

Also, could someone please tell me why with my new VIP612 receivers I have to choose "stretch" or "partial zoom" to view SD channels full screen? Is it because these new receivers are really designed with a preference or whatever for HD? My old SD receiver (600?) displayed a crystal clear, full screen picture on my 42", 720p plasma. After I originally set the format I never had to set it again; it just always displayed full screen. Now SD channels are far from sharp because if I want to watch a clear picture I have to have it set on standard format with the very distracting gray bars on the sides; to me it is not an acceptable or enjoyable way to view a program!

So far with my experience I would have to say that our prior SD programming on a very good quality plasma display was preferable. At least I had all of our channels in excellent quality. Now I have HD channels (but not enough of them to make it "worth it") that are sharp and clear but at the expense or compromise of viewing poor quality SD. Of course the premiums are in HD but this just makes the monthly cost exorbinant. DISH has offered me the "platinum" HD programming free for 3 months due to their errors in installation and the fact that I have been missing programming for almost a month. But, this is just to get me "hooked" so I continue on with the more expensive platinum package. I am sure that they are aware that customers do not want to watch the poor quality SD channels once they have experienced HD. I can't be the only one ................!

My "locals" are supposed to go HD next month I believe and this will be great. And, I understand that within the next month or so there are going to be more channels available in HD ................ is this correct? This was my main reason for NOT going HD sooner; not enough programming that I would find worth viewing to off-set the costs. And, I did NOT know that my SD channels would be much worse with these new receivers.

Thanks to anyone who responds, and I will give you an progress report on the dish setup itself if anyone is interested.


Last edited by nittfan; 01-10-2009 at 01:34 PM..
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:56 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by highdefjeff View Post
I would suggest that a combination of viewing distance, color calibration and signal strength adjustment will solve your issues.

Look here:
Hey Jeff: Your following statement (from your website) is false. I'm referring to the last sentence of the quote.
Nearly everyone in the business will say that if you've have the digital picture, that what you see is what you get and its quality can not vary. They say that either you will have the best quality picture, or it will pixelate and you will lose signal altogether. They will definitely say that digital picture quality will not vary due to signal strength.

This is NOT true. HD televisions and HD receivers (digital systems) are capable of producing a stable but lower quality picture.
Do you care to comment? How about a link?
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:58 AM   #12
What is HD?

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Default picture quality

I am sorry to see you having so many pq issues but I would like to say a few things that might help you out. First of all no matter how high quality your new plasma is, an SD picture will look worse the larger the screen size, there is simply no way around that. Any image contains a certain amount of information so as you spread that information over a larger area (your increased screensize) it will appear less sharp. Any upscaling of that image is an educated guess by way of sophisticated software to add information in an attempt to fill in what would be blank space on your larger screen size, but it is just a guess, the software can't make something accurate from nothing.

I too have pq and audio issues with newer DISH receivers on my 50" plasma but they are related to DISH signal quality as thy are using more compression than before resulting in lots of issues.

RGB cables will transfer an analog signal to your plasma while HDMI transfers a digital signal and should always be superior. Make sure your signal is not being scaled twice (once in the sat box and once in the plasma). Set your sat box to 1080i output and 16 X 9 format s has been suggested in previous posts, that is correct.

You only need on dish for up to 4 boxes. DISH can use 4 output LNB for four separate feeds to the various sets, so the single dish is not an issue.

Have you tried adjusting your plasma using a setup DVD such as Video Essentials or similar?

As for your claim that the SD signal was always full screen and clear on your 42" plasma, that display is also a 16 X 9 format device so you either had to have your hated gray bars or the picture was set to stretch but it didn't look as bad as the 50" unit because the picture wasn't being stretched s much. I wouldn't worry too much as all stations are going digital and most of them HD as well very soon.

Hope this helped.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:52 AM   #13
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The new guy that said they do not use 61.5 for HD anymore is full of it. They are putting new local HD on as we speak. All the east coast locals are going on 61.5 as well as 72 and 77 129 is the bad sat for HD and you will not get any HD from 119
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:46 AM   #14

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In the end, it's pretty simple. Standard definition feeds are meant to be viewed on standard defintion TV's, and HD feeds are meant to be viewed on HD TV's. This is the reason we are all clamoring for more HD channels. SD picture on a HDTV kinda sucks. You have to stretch because the aspect ratio is different and the bigger your TV, the more it has to be stretched and the worse it looks. No matter how expensive your flat screen is, it's not gonna look great with a SD picture on it. It's made for a 16x9 aspect ratio picture.
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Old 01-11-2009, 12:26 PM   #15
My plasma is High Def.

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Thank you VideoMonster for the useful information. I do, of course understand that with a larger screen the image is stretched. I guess the SD broadcasts were meant for that small box t.v. that is becoming a relic. Anyway, my biggest issue is the diminished picture quality on my smaller (42") 2007 Panasonic which is located in the same place as it always was - the only difference is it is now hooked up to a VIP 612 receiver/DVR. When it was hooked up to an old (600?) SD receiver/DVR I had a beautiful picture. Now that it is capable of playing SD and HD, only the HD looks good; SD looks like crap! In both instances (with the old SD receiver and now with my new 612 receiver) the picture still had to be stretched to fit my 42" screen, right? But now with the only difference in this t.v. being the HD receiver, the picture is much, much worse when I try to view SD channels. Maybe I am in a small minority of people who bought a very good HDTV set but did not immediately upgrade to HD programing? My square box t.v. died, so I saved up and bought myself a widescreen, HDTV. I continued to view SD broadcast on an plasma that is/was HDTV capable, and I thought it looked pretty darn sharp! I did not rush into HD programming because I was not too thrilled with the limited channel line-up. So, then my old receiver started having issues, and I thought well maybe it's time to upgrade to an HD receiver/programming. Now I know why so many posters use the tag "how can anyone watch SD" - because once you switch out to an HD receiver your SD pictures are worse. This is a fact in my house .............. I am not imagining this. My 3 year old, SD Dish Network receiver/DVR delivered a picture with such beautiful clarity that most people asked us if we had HD. Now, on that same 42" t.v. (with HDMI cables and proper calibration) the SD programs are almost unbearable to watch .............. blurry, soft edges, and blotchy skin on facial close-ups! The only change here was the receiver!

Our 50" plasma has even worse SD picture quality, and I do understand that part of this is the size of the screen and the viewing distance. But, the signal strength needs improved (from the mouth of the Dish tech, not me). I am encouraged to know that there are indeed more HD channels coming soon, and my locals will be HD in February. In the meantime, I will try to make sure that both the sat box and t.v. are not set to 1080i; not sure how to do this on the t.v., but I will try.

To Oljim - I do not know why there is so much mis-information out there regarding the satellites and the "proper" hook-ups of the dish(es) themselves. I do know that the 2nd Dish tech told me he was a supervisor who works directly for DISH, and he covers a large service area; that was why he could not guarantee that he would be the one to come back. I suspect that the first installation guy, however nice he was, is either a "sub-contractor" for DISH or has not done installations for long. The second Dish guy told me that the 3rd satellite that was locked in - the 119 satellite - was not used much anymore for HD. Maybe he meant for the maximum amount of channels for the "platinum" package .............? Who knows. I do know that he showed me that the signal strength was low. I do know that the dish that they replaced my Dish 500 with is noticeably smaller and he put it on an extender rod. This in itself was puzzling to me, because we live in a very rural area and have a totally clear "line of site" in the sky.

I, like the rest of you, will be clamouring for more HD channels!

Thank you again.

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