Satellite TV and the New Kid on the Block


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There are several ways to get satellite TV programming into your home. In the United States, the first satellite TV systems are called TVRO, for TeleVision Receive Only. They are set up using sizable satellite dishes (three to six feet in diameter) to receive programming from many different satellites. For the same reason, often they are designed to move so that they could be directed at different satellites at different times. TVRO systems operate using a frequency called C band.

Do-it-yourself satellite TV enthusiasts are the most typical owners of TVRO systems, and they are still preferred by many boob tubers. That is because the content available over C Band is for the most part unencrypted and so the better your TVRO system (or systems) the more satellite television programming you can get. Often, TVRO owners can find “raw" news content, meaning that it has not yet been edited in any way by a news station. The big drawback of these systems, however, is that they carry far fewer stations than their newer counterpart: Direct Broadcast Systems.

Direct Broadcast Systems, or DBS, are today the most common satellite TV systems. These are the corporate satellite TV services that offer programming packages with hundreds of channels for a monthly subscription fee. DirecTV and Dish Network are the two heavyweights in the satellite TV market in the U. S. DBS systems make use of a much smaller dish (around a foot and a half diameter) as they operate on a much higher frequency called Ku-Band. It doesn't need to be able to move because it is directed at only one satellite that is “fixed, " residing in geostationary orbit.

In addition to TVRO and DBS systems, there is a new kid on the block in terms of satellite TV viewing, one that is making a lot of noise. Although it is commonly referred to as “satellite TV on PC, " “satellite TV for PC, " or “satellite TV to PC, " etc, it is more accurately described as Internet TV. After all, even though TV satellites are used to transmit content, you, the viewer, do not need to have a satellite dish yourself. Instead, you need a high speed Internet connection and a computer with decent enough graphics capability. This is all you need to tap into the growing world of Internet Television.

Internet TV makes use of available Free-to-Air (FTA) digital satellite broadcasts, and can offer you an overwhelming number of channels, of both video and audio programming, provided you know where to find it, and how to set up your computer to receive it.

Enter “TV to PC" software: for anywhere from $19.95 to $75, there are software applications that provide direct links to satellite TV content available worldwide. As you would expect, you get a range of news, sport, movies, shopping, kid stuff, adult stuff, and music, but you are also getting content streaming from a large number of different countries. You'll find a good deal of programming that you want, and a good deal more that you didn't know you wanted because you had no idea it was out there and was available to you.

There are some free websites online that offer links to a limited amount of Satellite TV content, but a one-off cost for software that provides direct links to a broad range of channels and instructions on how to organize and manage them might be worthwhile for some customers. Purchases should come with some form of customer support along with some form of guarantee. As with anything, shop around and be smart about your purchase. Make sure you're getting what you pay for.

Drew Surrey writes on a TV culture changing in the age of the Internet and digital technology. For more on your satellite TV to PC options, check out our review site:


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