An Entertaining Question: Choosing Between Digital Cable and Satellite TV

flat screen TV

Consumers now have plenty of choices when it comes to making a purchase and whilst that is great for competitive prices and hopefully getting a good deal, it can make it harder to decide what deal or product is best for you.

This scenario definitely applies to the question of whether you should choose to go with digital cable or satellite TV. When you add in packages such as Time Warner Cable Internet Plans available in your area, and you have some decisions to make before you part with your cash.

Spot the difference

A good place to start would be to get a good understanding of the difference between digital cable and digital satellite systems (DSS).

There is often some confusion with a good number of homeowners confusing cable TV with HDTV. The majority of channels available on digital cable are not HDTV, although it is easy to see where the assumption comes from, as most cable companies do tend to offer about a dozen HDTV channels over their digital cable systems, but the rest of your package will consist of NTSC analog TV.

It would also be good to remember that another fundamental difference between digital cable and DSS is the fact that DSS provides you with a choice of receivers at a cost, whereas digital cable does not give you a choice.

Part of your monthly fee

When you pay a monthly fee for your digital cable package you get the digital cable set box as part of the deal and you simply have to accept what the cable company gives you.

This might seem restrictive but the good news is that the cable company often has to fix or provide a replacement set-top box if things go wrong, but the bad news on this arrangement is that you don’t often get to choose a set-top box which provides the features you might want.

Picture quality

Another factor to consider is the picture quality that you might be able to enjoy from your chosen provider.
Many cable companies use a compression technology which means that you could find your picture is not as sharp or offers clearer details than if you were receiving the images at a lower compression level from a DSS provider.
This is not always the case, but it is worth asking the question so that there are no nasty surprises when you find the picture is not as great as you were expecting it to be.

Digital cable advantage

One specific advantage of digital cable over DSS that might help you in your decision-making process, is the fact that digital cable systems will always have your local channels available as part of the providers obligations.
This could also mean that, depending on where you live, you could even receive some local cable-only channels which might not be able over DSS or through a TV antenna.

Need a phone line?

More people than ever before seem to rely on their cell phone for making calls and although there are often some good deals around which combine broadband and call packages, it could be that you might not actually need a phone line to receive your TV package.

Digital cable systems work as a two-way system and because it sends and receives information back through the cable line itself, you don’t need a phone like you would do if you chose DSS.

If you like your movies, you can also use video-on-demand services over a digital cable system, so you won’t be missing out if you don’t have a phone line.

Weather watch

Another point to consider is the fact that the weather can occasionally interfere with your viewing plans.
Digital cable systems should by design, not be affected by storms and heavy rainfall, whereas DSS can suffer problems when there are strong winds or driving rain, which can cause your signal to be interrupted and cause your picture to freeze.

This doesn’t really happen that often in most areas and cable is not entirely immune, but you might want to check service availability performance figures if they are available for your area, just to see how often the service has been affected in the past.

These are some of the main points to think about when trying to decide which system is best for you, although it will depend on where you live as to what level of choice and availability you have, as digital cable is not available in all parts of the country yet.

Peter Laurence has been in media retail sales for a number of years. He is passionate about watching live sports and movies and enjoys sharing his industry know-how with others online. He often writes for media entertainment websites.