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#288555 - 01/25/10 12:34 PM Premium channels
HomeDad Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 3301
Loc: Central,California
This may have been covered, but I'm looking at dumping Netflix and going with a premium channel on my DirecTV. We are looking for the channel that has the best movies and programming as well as a good on demand selection.

I'm not really familiar with any of them, my wife likes the Tudors and I believe that's on Showtime, but I'm not sure if that's the package I want to go with. Any input would be appreciated.
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#288571 - 01/25/10 01:21 PM Re: Premium channels [Re: HomeDad]
Ken.C Offline
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Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 18044
Loc: NoVA
Hunh... I thought the trend was going the other way! Any particular reason you're dissatisfied with Netflix?

Oh, I recommend Speed as a semi-premium channel. ;\)
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#288575 - 01/25/10 01:26 PM Re: Premium channels [Re: Ken.C]
HomeDad Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 3301
Loc: Central,California
Nothing wrong with Netflix, I don't get mail delivered to my home and it's a 20 mile round trip to the post office, plus my wife seems to take a week to watch a movie I receive, so I'm not really getting my monies worth.
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#288579 - 01/25/10 01:28 PM Re: Premium channels [Re: HomeDad]
Ken.C Offline
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Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 18044
Loc: NoVA
I've mostly been using mine for the watch instantly feature--with the occasional BSG DVD.
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#288662 - 01/25/10 06:57 PM Re: Premium channels [Re: Ken.C]
onn Offline
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Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 999
Loc: Edmonton Alberta
Why don't you just get an Apple TV
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#288668 - 01/25/10 07:43 PM Re: Premium channels [Re: HomeDad]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
 Originally Posted By: HomeDad
This may have been covered, but I'm looking at dumping Netflix and going with a premium channel on my DirecTV. We are looking for the channel that has the best movies and programming as well as a good on demand selection.

I'm not really familiar with any of them, my wife likes the Tudors and I believe that's on Showtime, but I'm not sure if that's the package I want to go with. Any input would be appreciated.


Well, the three main premium channels in the US are Showtime, Cinemax, and HBO. I have Dish Network, so I can't tell you exactly which programming package on DirecTV you'll want to look into. We subscribe to Dish's "Everything Pack", and have for several years. So we get all of the "premium" channels.

I don't know the specific arrangements, but each premium channel gets specific movies first as they're released. You get movies a couple of months after the DVD's have been released. They'll all be in HD with great PQ and will have DD5.1 sound if you've got your satellite receiver hooked up via a digital method (HDMI, toslink, digital coax). Some movies don't ever seem to make it to certain channels. So if you only subscribe to one, there will still be some movies that you'll never get. At least, that's what it seems like.

Then there is the original programming. HBO and Showtime have many original programs, and some of them are quite good. Actually, we've found that we watch HBO & Showtime more for these shows than the movies. We quite like many of them. More so than many "regular" network shows. Just be warned that there are few rules as far as language and content. Many (all?) of these shows are definitely *not* for kids. In MPAA rating terms, all of them (that I've ever seen) would be rated "R", and at least a few would likely garner an "NC-17". None of it is "XXX", but they can get pretty raunchy. You've been warned. ;\)

Showtime notably several good ones. The Tudors is quite good, we think. My wife and I have watched it since the beginning and we're looking forward to the next season. We also quite like Californication, though it is most definitely not for the whole family. Nurse Jackie is/was also good. Weeds wasn't bad either, though it's not as good as it used to be. Penn & Teller: Bull@%^#! is entertaining too, at times.

HBO has several good ones too. Most notably, the mini-series Band of Brothers was astoundingly good. And very soon they're airing a Pacific 'version' of the mini-series, called The Pacific. The previews give me goose-bumps. We will absolutely be watching that. No question. HBO also has True Blood and Big Love. Both of which are quite interesting. And as much as I hate to admit, we actually quite like True Blood. Watched it because my wife wanted to, and I got sucked into it. Pardon the pun. ;\)

So of the premiums, if you are just choosing one, I'd go with either Showtime or HBO. Neither is really better than the other, they just have different programming. Check out their respective web pages and look at their original shows and see which appeal to you more.

The thing with dumping Netflix for premium channels is that you're not going to get to choose what you watch. Even with all of the channels, you still can't decide that you want to watch "Batman" tonight.

So for that... I'd highly recommend an AppleTV. We have one and just love it. For many movies, we just wait until it comes to one of the premium channels. But for those occasional must-see-now movies, or on a night when we want to watch a movie and nothing's on (it happens), we'll gladly rent them from AppleTV. And all of the series' that are on the premium channels are on the AppleTV too, though in some cases it's several months after the original episode aired.

Good luck!
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#288672 - 01/25/10 08:14 PM Re: Premium channels [Re: PeterChenoweth]
HomeDad Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/29/05
Posts: 3301
Loc: Central,California
Thanks for the suggestions, I called DirecTv this afternoon and it turns out I have 3 months of free Showtime that I got in Dec. that I knew nothing about, so I'll check it out for the next month before I decide.

I must be really out of touch, this is the first I've heard of Apple TV. What makes it different from DirecTV Cinema, other than the purchase option, the rental prices are about the same.
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#288676 - 01/25/10 09:00 PM Re: Premium channels [Re: HomeDad]
terzaghi Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 4870
Loc: Tulsa, Oklahoma
We dumped HBO for netflix about 2 years ago and never looked back...
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#288721 - 01/26/10 07:37 AM Re: Premium channels [Re: HomeDad]
onn Offline
aficionado

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 999
Loc: Edmonton Alberta
 Originally Posted By: HomeDad
I must be really out of touch, this is the first I've heard of Apple TV. What makes it different from DirecTV Cinema, other than the purchase option, the rental prices are about the same.


I'll give a simple answer to your question and hopefully Peter will answer better. \:D I use my Apple TV for the movie rentals and to listen to my ipod (itunes) music and if I feel adventurious look at my photo gallery.


Edited by onn (01/26/10 07:38 AM)
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#288736 - 01/26/10 11:54 AM Re: Premium channels [Re: HomeDad]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
 Originally Posted By: HomeDad

I must be really out of touch, this is the first I've heard of Apple TV. What makes it different from DirecTV Cinema, other than the purchase option, the rental prices are about the same.


If you use and like iTunes, but want that content on your Home Theater, then an AppleTV is the way to go.

AppleTV

In essence, it's sort of a glorified iPod, but with networking capabilities. It connects into your TV & home theater to present music, movies, TV shows, local Photos, YouTube, Flickr photos, and Internet Radio on your HT system. It can also connect to the iTunes Store by itself, allowing you to browse and buy music or TV shows, or to buy/rent movies. There is no monthly fee. You pay for the unit itself and then are charged when you buy content.

The AppleTV itself is a 7"x7"x1" square that sits somewhere in your AV rack. WiFi, ethernet, HDMI, toslink, & RCA A/V. Video to your HDTV, sound to your AVR. Controlled by an included Apple IR remote, your own universal remote (I use a Harmony One), or via your home network from iTunes, an iPod Touch, or an iPhone (which is pretty cool).

You link the AppleTV to your iTunes account and an iTunes instance/library on a PC/Mac, (wireless or wired) and then you control what media content is copied from that PC/Mac. Just like an iPod, you can choose some or all of your content to be copied. Or the ATV can stream content directly from an iTunes library if your media library is too large and/or you have a dedicated media server. After you set it up, the ATV will automatically sync up (if needed) and maintain the sync with your media library whenever you run iTunes on your 'library' computer. So if you buy or rip new music on your iTunes library, it'll automatically sync over to the ATV. And vice-versa, music or movies purchased on the ATV sync over to your iTunes machine.

I choose to sync everything in my media library to my ATV, so all of my Music & photos are copied and available on the ATV even when my Macbook (where my media library resides) is off. Some people keep a dedicated server running, and the ATV can browse that content just as if it's stored locally.

As I mentioned, we really like ours. There are two main ways we use it.

Firstly, we really like listening to music with it, as it's wonderful to have my entire ~5,000 track library just a few clicks away. Everything is at least 256k AAC, and I have zero complaints about the quality of either purchased or self-ripped music. Sounds beautiful on my system. I also have ours set up to randomly cycle through my 10,000+ collection of family photos from the past 10 years as the music plays, and we've had the nicest times just kicking back with a glass of wine, listening to our favorite tunes, and chatting about the photos that saunter over our 61" HDTV screen. Good stuff. It's also fantastic for showing off vacation or event photos to friends and family. We also buy music directly on the ATV sometimes too. Apple has made browsing the iTunes store very easy and seamless, with music previews and a "you might like..." feature. Great to listen to the previews on the 'big' HT system. We've found several new artists just by surfing around the iTunes store and following its suggestions. Click, preview, like, click, download, done, listen, enjoy. All from the couch. All just charged to my iTunes account. It's the ultimate in couch-potato media consumerism. \:\)

Secondly, we rent movies from the iTunes store. Usually in HD but sometimes just in SD, as the PQ is good enough for many movies (ahem, chick-flicks). HD is $4-5 each, SD is $1-$3. Lots of fun to just browse around the store, looking at new releases, old releases, even just to watch trailers. With our 3MB DSL connection, HD movies take about an hour to buffer. SD ones are available to watch immediately. Movies are available to buy when the DVD's are released, and are usually available to rent about a month later. We have never been big into buying movies, so we just rent everything. Some TV shows are available immediately, like within 24 hours of airing on the network. Many prime-time, major-network shows are like this. But other shows are only available when the show's DVD is released. And some aren't available at all.

And you aren't limited to just the purchasable content on iTunes, either. Just as iTunes is perfectly happy with ripped MP3's, if you can import the movie/TV/media into iTunes, you can play it on an AppleTV. With some formats, you might need to re-encode with software (Handbrake is a popular one) to an ATV-friendly format, bitrate, or size, but you can watch just about anything on an ATV.

I hope this helps a little. Good luck!
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