Satellite, Cable, Internet TV: Which Television Service Is Right for You?

Posted by Justin Ruiz on February 17, 2013


cable-television-tv-services.jpgIf you're looking to get your television fix, there are countless satellite and cable providers and even the latest trend of internet television. How do you decide which service and provider is right for you? We'll give you a rundown on all the important facts to help you make the right decision for your home.

Cable Television

Cable is the most popular option for getting home entertainment in the United States. You get your home hooked in to the local cable company's system, run the cable inside your house to your television and you're good to go. Depending on your show preferences, you can get the basics or something customized for your viewing pleasure. If you love sports, you can add a sports package. If movies are your thing, adding premium networks like HBO, Showtime or Cinemax is an option.

Cable offers shows "On Demand," meaning you can watch them when you want instead of being locked in to a certain time slot when they air. On Demand programming may feature movies that have been recently released on DVD and Blu-ray in addition to older movies on a Pay-Per-View basis. You can lease a DVR to record programs as well for an additional monthly fee.

Pricing varies depending on the type of service you choose to have. Obviously, the more channels and options you have, the higher the cost. You don't need a ton of hardware with cable; usually the receiver for a television signal is all you'll need. Even better, that's factored in to your bill every month; if you cancel service, you simply return the receiver to the cable company. The set-up fee for installation is added to your bill as well.

Cable has an extremely reliable signal, as weather doesn't impede the ability to deliver. As long as you're in an area where the cable runs, you can get cable programming.

Satellite Television

Satellite providers, like DISH and DIRECTV, offer the flexibility of taking your programming with you, no matter where you are. Instead of relying on being hardwired via the cable company, you put a satellite dish somewhere on your property that has a clear view of the southern sky. This transmitted signal comes to your dish and subsequently, your television. You will also need a receiver for your television.

Like cable, satellite providers feature a variety of packages that can be tailored to what you need. Pay-Per-View, On Demand and HD programming are all available. Satellite TV can be a better option for those who are big PPV fans, as cable requires boxes for each television that you may want to watch PPV programming on. Conversely, satellite receivers can be costlier than their cable counterparts, which can make it difficult when it comes to making a choice between the two.

For programming packages, satellite tends to be less expensive than cable, as they can avoid local taxes and fees that the cable company has to add on your bill. Satellite providers tend to have more channels that come with each package. Satellite tends to get expensive when there are multiple televisions that need service, as additional receivers come with an added expense. There usually is a 12 or 24 month contract involved to lock in a price for certain packages as well.

Satellite service can be directly affected by bad weather, as signals can be lost or scrambled. The glitches do tend to resolve themselves rather quickly compared to cable, which can require technicians isolating the point of issue and then repairing it.

Internet Television

The latest trend in home entertainment is internet television. There is no expensive equipment that you need to lease or purchase; as long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you can access internet TV. What makes internet TV more attractive is the price tag: the majority of programming can be viewed for nothing more than a little bit of time.

Third party sites, like Hulu and Netflix, have carved out their piece of the proverbial pie. Some networks also allow you to watch shows off their sites. However, there is usually a delay between the original airing of the show and its appearance on the site. You can pause, rewind and play your shows with internet TV without having to have a DVR as you would for satellite and cable programming. If your connection is fast enough, you can even watch HD programming without having to worry about upgraded equipment.

The biggest issues with internet television are reliability and programming. Streams can be choppy and some sites don't stick around, making finding what you're looking for a bit more difficult. As far as programming, you may be limited by what a certain site or provider is willing to allow you to see for free. They may have older episodes of a program but not the more recent ones. It's a nice feature for those who don't watch a ton of television and only are seeking certain programs.

What service do you use for your home entertainment needs?

About Author: This guest post is from Justin who writes about TV, Technology and Sports for Direct TV.

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