How to Compare Satellite Dishes

by Valerie Liles

    Finding the best deal in satellite TV service is not just about the package or the money. Dish Network, for instance, offers seven options, from the basic 55-channel lineup to the more than 320-channel America’s Everything Pak. However, beyond the number of channels, each provider has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to service, installation, hardware, repair and replacement policies, and the cost of cancelation. To find the best deal, first determine your preferences, such as children’s programming, sports, movies or a little bit of everything.

    Step 1

    Compare the basics. Write down the name of each plan, and the number of local, movie, news, weather, music, sports, children’s and specialty channels. Write down what the added fees are for pay-per-view. Decide which package offers the best options for you and your family at a price you can afford.

    Step 2

    Compare special offers. Dish Network offers high-definition TV free-for-life. For new subscribers, it offers Blockbuster@Home, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz free for three months. Most companies have short-term special offers, but make sure to find out the costs after the offer ends.

    Step 3

    Compare installation services, the cost to upgrade your hardware, service contract costs, technical support, cancelation fees and equipment repair costs if you don't opt in for the service contract. If you are a new customer, you will get a better deal than a customer who is renewing his service, but you might be able to negotiate for better prices if you have had service for a year or more and pay your bills on time.

    Step 4

    Compare the equipment. Make a list of all the basic receivers, and write down all the features for each model. For example, find out if it supports one or two TVs, and does it have parental control locks, a themes list, a favorites list, one-touch channel return and closed-caption support. Equipment is leased, so know what it costs, for how long and will the fees go up after a specific amount of time. Basic receivers do not provide recording or storage capability.

    Step 5

    Compare the upgrades. Digital Video Recorders, or DVRs, provide recording capability with independent viewing on one or two TVs, one standard definition and one high definition. Normal recording capacity is 200 hours of standard definition and 30 hours of high definition. Note how much capacity each receiver provides, and if you can add additional hard drives or storage capacity. Note how much each one costs per month.

    Step 6

    Pool your information together, compare it and make a decision. Make a note to yourself as to when your special offers expire so you can cancel them if you don't want to pay the extra fees. Most companies will start billing you for these added services without further notification.

    Tips

    • When comparing price, packages, service, receivers and upgrades, make sure you are comparing like items.
    • Know the terms of promotional offers and early cancelation fees.

    Warnings

    • Satellite TV service often has hidden costs, such as taxes, destination charges, delivery charges, regulatory fees, and program or package change fees. When signing up for service, ask your service representative to give you a complete list and an explanation for each of these fees.

    About the Author

    Based in Atlanta, Valerie Liles has been writing about landscape and garden design since 1980. As a registered respiratory therapist, she also has experience in family health, nutrition and pediatric and adult asthma managment. Liles holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University and a Master of Science in technical communication from the University of Colorado.

    Photo Credits

    • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images