Small satellite service specializes in HDTV

S

Sean Mota

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
19,039
1,738
New York City
Source

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Bill Lammers
Plain Dealer Columnist
While the march of technology has been giving us better and less expensive high-definition televisions and HDTV accessories over the past two years, the choice of programming has been fairly stagnant.

There are a lot of broadcast network shows in HDTV, and they're great. There are a couple of premium networks with HDTV movies and high-profile series, and they're great. Add a couple of arts, nature and documentary channels - plus ESPN, of course. If you get HDTV programming through cable, Dish Network or DirecTV, that's the extent of the menu.

For almost a year now, the little satellite service that could - Voom - has been providing three dozen or more choices of HDTV movies, documentaries, cartoons, concerts and news in all their widescreen, 1,080i or 720p glory.

There are HBO and Showtime's HD channels, just like other cable and satellite serv ices, but Voom carries both East Coast and West Coast feeds. HD versions of Cinemax (East and West coasts), the Movie Channel, Starz (East and West coasts) and Encore also are offered. None of those six is offered on DirecTV and Dish; Starz and Encore HD show up on some cable HDTV packages.

The other usual suspects are there: ESPN HD, Discovery HD Theater, TNT in HD and Bravo HD+. The only significant HDTV services not offered are HDNet and HDNet Movies.

Voom makes up for the missing HDNets by including 21 unique channels, including one HDTV news network. There are 11 channels of just movies: HD Cinema 1 through 6 are Hollywood hits, plus there are separate channels called Classics, Epics, Gunslingers, Monsters and Divine, which shows gay-themed movies.

HD transfers that I have watched have been beautiful, even when traditional 4-to-3-shaped pictures have been cropped into the widescreen 16-to-9 format. Just wait until you see Gamera - the giant turtle with rockets in his pockets, as late-night movie hosts used to say - shoot high-def flames at the Japanese Army.

Voom's nine other original HD channels are where it gets pleasantly weird. Equator is a travelogue destination; Ultra offers fashion. WorldSport shows a whole lot of futbol, as much of the world knows soccer; Rush has the 411 on extreme sports. Rave airs HD concerts, mostly from PBS' "SoundStage." Animania airs HD versions of old film cartoons, such as the "Pink Panther," plus newer HD 'toons.

Auction airs previews of major auctions; my wife and I lusted for a '67 Chevelle SuperSport on one show. Gallery offers HD tours of art galleries.

The weirdest channel has to be Moov - Voom spelled backwards. It is billed as HD video art set to music, and about 19 hours daily are devoted to video and film effects with electronica. The best Moov bet is "Tank" - 2½ hours twice daily of aquariums in HD, bubbles and all. There are coral reefs, sharks, stingrays and jellyfish, Atlantic and Pacific and Caribbean aquariums - all changing in 15-minute increments. It's a big hit at our house, especially with the cats, which keep hoping for a canned tuna tank.

Like other satellite services' HDTV options, Voom does not offer local HD channels over the satellite. Instead, the Voom set-top box has an HDTV over-the-air tuner built in. Connect a rooftop antenna or rabbit ears to the VOOM box to receive local HD channels. (The better the antenna and its placement, the better your chance of pulling in local channels.)

Once installers set up the Voom system, customers customize the receiver for their own systems. The user can choose whether to have the box output its signal with 720 progressive lines of resolution, 1,080 interlaced lines or whatever the channel has chosen for its broadcast. Choosing one output resolution cuts down on a TV monitor constantly adjusting its resolution as the channels flip by.

Voom, an offshoot of the Cablevision empire, began a slow introduction last November and started charging for its service in February. It has about 27,000 subscribers, the New York Times reported last week.

Compared to the 20 million people who subscribe to either DirecTV or Dish Network or the more than 70 million who subscribe to cable, 27,000 subscribers may seem insignificant, leading industry analysts to give the fledgling service little chance of survival. But industry analysts have even less clout than political pollsters who predict blue states and red states.

Voom's original setup cost was prohibitive. The company now offers a lease for $9.50 a month, much like a cable company leases its set-top boxes, with no long- term commitment.

As long as Voom keeps setup costs minimal and subscription fees in line with top-of-the-line packages at other services, it remains a reasonable way to bring HDTV programming into your home. Both Dish and DirecTV have announced plans to increase HDTV options soon. It will be a challenge for Voom to remain ahead of the pack. Until that balance changes, Voom will be the place for HDTV - and jellyfish.
 
R

ram1220

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 14, 2004
269
0
Allen, Texas
Not even handed at all. They should have listed all of the problems we have experienced. Then it would be more even.
 
J

jhogue@hrtc.net

SatelliteGuys Family
Supporting Founder
Nov 14, 2004
57
0
Indiana
Everything I see people complaining about I have experienced with other providers also. I have been double billed by D* took three months to correct. Then the y kept sending me bills for two months after I switched to E. I had terrible rain fade with D*. The 3 years I was with E* I had 3 STBs. They would lock up on me as I would change channels. The receiver would erase and record programs on its own. Today I get my final bill from where I called to cancel (for 16 dollars) and it says my service was disconnected because it is seriously past due. I just cancelled last week and my bill was current. My neighbor who switched to E* was having his credit card double billed, called 5 times to have it taken off credit card billing. Finally had to cancel his card.

So what I am saying what I see here is the same with all the satellite companies. I think you pick one that provides the programming you want and voice your concerns with the company(in a reasonable and professional way).
If you don't like the results.

Also, personally I think Voom is doing ok. They are still a new company and have some roadbumps to work through(like any new company). You just need to be patient and somewhat understanding. If you cant then you probably shouldn't switch to any new company until it is well established.

As far as new promotions being offered to existing customers I doubt very few satellite companies offer this to their existing subs. However it never hurts to ask. I called E* to see about switching to HD before I switched to Voom and the csr told me I would have to buy a new receiver and pay for installation and pay extra for an HD package ( and I was leasing at the time).
When I called to cancel they offered me a new HD receiver (lease) and 24.95 install along with some free months of programming. I probably would have stayed if the csr would have offered it to me. But, I already had voom at that time.

Last thing price increases. I had 3 with D* and 2 with E*.

I am not putting anyone down for their comments. We all need a place to vent. But be rude and facetious doesn't do anybody good.

Sorry about the long post. I just wanted to offer another point of view.
 
TheTimm

TheTimm

Made In Detroit
Supporting Founder
Jun 18, 2004
1,679
0
Charlotte, NC
ram1220 said:
Not even handed at all. They should have listed all of the problems we have experienced. Then it would be more even.
I disagree with the "at all" portion of your statement. It does comment on the small number of subscribers compared to the big boys, and says that leading industry analysts "give the fledgling service little chance of survival". Those aren't exactly glowing comments. I would agree, however, that the rest of the article does read a little bit like an advertisement.
 
J

jose44

SatelliteGuys Family
Supporting Founder
Mar 7, 2004
49
0
So send it back and watch the directv hd

ram1220 said:
Not even handed at all. They should have listed all of the problems we have experienced. Then it would be more even.

If you don't like it, send it back.
 
DarrellP

DarrellP

I Think, therefore, I am.
Supporting Founder
Nov 6, 2003
4,298
0
Salem, OR
The only significant HDTV services not offered are HDNet and HDNet Movies.
I guess INHD1 & INHD2 are insignificant?
 

Similar threads

S
Replies
0
Views
1K
Sean Mota
S
S
Replies
0
Views
1K
Sean Mota
S
Top