Computer Buying
Computer Building
The Webcast
The Forum
Monthly Broadcast
Why Widescreen?
HDTV Images
What are the advantages and disadvantages of digital cable and satellite?
Cable and satellite can be great ways to receive television, especially if you have trouble getting a good signal off an over-the-air antenna. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of both:

Cable TV

Of the two, cable is definitely easier. In some cases, you just plug a cable line from the wall jack right into the TV. If you have digital cable, a converter box sits between the two. All equipment is included in the monthly fee, so there's usually no upfront fee aside from a possible installation charge. You don't need a cable box for your second or third analog TVs, since even digital cable comes with analog service (just not for all the channels). In addition, if your cable company offers HDTV service, you're more likely to get your local channels in HD. Often the HD video looks better than satellite HD, though this constantly changes. Finally, cable often offers better access to Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) as well as Video On Demand service.

There are downsides to cable. To start, since cable companies don't compete with one another (you usually only get one choice), they have a bit more freedom to raise rates more often. As a result, the monthly service charge is often higher than that of satellite. If you move, you have to return the equipment and potentially get equipment you don't like as well with your new service. The channel lineups also change from provider to provider. When the service goes out, it usually takes longer to get it running again since it's usually something the cable company has to repair. Even with digital cable, many SD channels are still analog and can look worse than those from satellite providers. Finally, some sports packages you may want (such as NFL Sunday Ticket) are not available on cable.

Satellite TV

Satellite definitely has the advantage when it comes to where you can get service. As long as you have a decent view of the Southern sky, you can almost certainly get satellite TV. This includes many areas where cable doesn't even bother to run lines. Rates for satellite usually don't go up as often and the service is sometimes a bit cheaper. Since you often own your equipment, you can count on having the same gear no matter how many times you move. In addition, the channel lineup is the same no matter where you go. Though heavy rains can cause short service disruptions (a rare occurance if you have good signal strength), those outages are usually measured in a few minutes, rather than potentially hours for cable. SD programming usually looks a bit better via satellite.

Unless you have your equipment professionally installed (a service that is usually included when you subscribe), satellite equipment can be a little harder to set up than cable. After the first time you do it, though, it becomes much easier should you move or upgrade equipment. Of course, you often have to buy that equipment (though leasing is becoming more common and many deals can often provide free equipment you get to keep). If you want HD service, you may have to find a different way to get your HD locals channels. Though these stations are slowly being added, you may have a long wait if you live in a small market. Finally, no satellite provider currently offers Video On Demand, though DirecTV plans to add that feature in the near future.

©Copyright 2003-2007 Kimberlite Productions
No part of this site may be reproduced or redistributed without written permission.

Some of the tips and advice may void your equipment or service warranty. When in doubt, consult your owners manual and/or seek professional assistance. does not recommend performing any task that may damage your equipment, void your warranty or violate applicable laws. The use of certain software may violate DMCA or other copyright laws. Since laws vary, depending upon your location, check local regulations regarding any activities you choose to engage in.

Apple, Ipod, ITunes, Windows, DirecTV, Dish Network, Dell, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and other product names are trademarks of their respective owners. Use of those names is for review or demonstation purposes only. No infringement is intended or should be implied. In addition, no endorsement should be inferred. is not responsible for the content of any outside site it may be linked to. In addition, is not responsible for any innaccurate or deceptive claims made by any outside web site. Links from to other sites does not imply our endorsement of those sites.