HD

Margaret and I have resisted switching to High Definition TV for a long time – partly because our old TV and DirecTV service works fine, and mostly because we would lose Tivo (it’s built in to the old DirecTV receiver but after many announcements and delays it’s still not available for HD service!) … but recently Margaret decided to update the living room, changing the huge TV / cabinet setup we have, and that meant getting a new thin/flat TV – which of course would be Hi Def.
I also was interested in the new Google TV service, and so this past weekend we bought a new Sony TV with built-in Google TV! Absurdly though, we were feeding this fancy new TV with antenna quality Standard Definition programming!

We looked at what it would cost to get HD from DirecTV … pay $200 for a new non-Tivo receiver, and pay another $10/month for HD; new customers don’t have to pay – but as a loyal more than ten year customer, we have the privilege 😦
So then we looked at Dish Network … hmmm, we could save about $20/month, and we’d save even more for the first year as a new customer incentive. On top of that, Dish Network would give the receiver at no charge! And as even more of a bonus, Google TV integrates fully with Dish Network, not so much with DirecTV.
OK then, let’s switch …

When installer Eric arrived, he laid to rest another of my switching worries – Dish Network satellites are quite low in the sky for us and I worried that they would not clear the trees; it turns out that Dish Network now carry an “East Coast Feed” of satellites in different locations – it requires a slightly different dish (which Eric had to get an OK from Dish to install), but the sight is much higher and there were no tree issues. The dish did have to be mounted on the roof instead of down at the bottom of the garden, but it’s not too obtrusive:


Installation went very smoothly with tidy cable runs and within a couple hours we were ready to see the new picture; now we just need a new TV shelf / cabinet to finish Margaret’s goal of re-arranging the living room!

Thoughts so far:
Standard Definition programming is very noticeable much more compressed than DirecTV – a soccer game this afternoon, available only in SD, was awfully pixelated compared with what we are used to!
Dish Network is less expensive than DirecTV – but only because their programming packages aligned closer to what we need, so we don’t have to pay for Cinemax and Starz that we never watch.
The Dish Network receiver works nicely, able to feed separate programming to our living room and bedroom TVs; and with a radio link from the “far” remote control, I can remove my infra-red repeaters and further tidy our wiring.

Google TV with Dish Network seems to work well so far – Google TV automatically knew that it was connected to a Dish Network box, and both boxes prompted me to call and activate the $4/month Enhanced DVR Integration. What’s more, when I called, the automated service guessed that was why I called and immediately offered that choice to me!

As for Google TV, it is (like many Google services) theoretically very nice but released a bit too soon! It’s less a TV and more a computer that happens to be able to display TV pictures – so even while watching TV full screen, the mouse cursor appears if you touch the “optical mouse”. No problem – except that since everything is via a computer, stuff happens a bit slowly. For example, a 3-5 second delay from pressing volume up/down to it having an effect!
There’s a strong lack of integration too, with different Google TV features working in different ways, and other features hard to control. The Chrome browser for example offers “New Tab” in it’s menu, but no command or keyboard button to switch from one tab to another!
No doubt there will be updates (indeed, the TV spent 15 minutes updating itself when we first connected it)

More challenging to update will be the remote – it’s designed only for people with excellent close-up vision, with it’s tiny buttons and labels. And about those labels: what to make of the “back” button which seems to arbitrarily behave differently depending what else you’re doing! Meanwhile you have to “Function-Shift” to access common features like “INFO” (which details the program you’re watching), while the multi-function colored buttons mostly do nothing at all.

Google TV gives me choices to watch Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Sony Qriocity, or just free YouTube – of course they all have separate accounts, different user interfaces … of course I could just watch Dish Network (once I’ve learned where all my channels are)
Well, I guess I’ve got a lot of user manuals to read (except for the Sony Google TV, which doesn’t really give you any, offers Help links to PDFs online, which the Google TV cannot display!)

4 thoughts on “HD

  1. Turns out there is a way to access tabs, not very intuitive though! To the right of the Google search bar when you call it up, is an icon of overlapping windows. No keypad button for it, so you have to mouse over and click – then it’s possible to move between open tabbed windows.

  2. Glad to see you take the leap on Google TV (& hi-def!)Ian – I’ve been wondering how well it actually works, along with the practicality of surfing and emailing via the “big screen” all the while plopped down in an easy chair. It’ll be interesting to hear if the lag and delay are tolerable and how sensitive it is to atmospherics.

  3. Well of course, the Dish Network atmospheric issues are separate to Google TV (it does work with cable or DirecTV – just works more integrated with Dish).

    I could write long lists of negatives about Google TV; things that don’t work properly at the moment – I wish there was a way for “early adopters” to get feedback to the developers, but doesn’t seem to be.

    My biggest problem right now is the loss of Tivo. Watching TV without Tivo is a big challenge!

  4. Can identify with your comments on Directv and “New Customers”. We had that from Sky! Guess what. they fly a long way when booted into touch!! Only miss a little sport, mainly cricket. We now get BT Vision which serves for what we want and they have a recorder box which can stop and rewind live TV, useful. What size screen is that ?? I,m sure you will master the lot.

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