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What you need to know about DIRECTV's MPEG-4 equipment

Matt Burns

Oh, DirecTV; how you confuse us. Many of you already know that DirecTV is starting the transition over to MPEG-4 signals. MPEG-4 is more efficient because of better compression, but you will need new equipment. I want to make sure that you understand how this is going to play out less you waste a lot of money.

Who can get the MPEG-4 signal?

  • Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, San Francisco and Atlanta. There should be more soon. They are rolling it out by market size in a method reminiscent of the SD local stations a few years ago.
More Q&A after the jump.

What type of new equipment do I need?

  • First you need the H20 receiver paired with the new 5 LNB (AT9) satellite dish.
5 LNBs! What for?
  • Currently, you are going to use 4 of them but the 5th is there for future satellites. There is only 3 "prongs" on the end of the dish as the center one picks up 3 satellites and sends the signal down one wire.
Can the H20 be used on the older HD dish?
  • Yes, but you will not get the new MPEG-4 channels.
I heard that there was was not free equipment...
  • DirecTV will love to upgrade your equipment but you do need to sign a two commitment. This upgrade is only available to the markets that have MPEG-4. There is a catch though as you have to surrender your old box if you go through DirecTVs upgrade service, so I would deal with rebates that Best Buy and Circuit City is offering; you can keep your old box.
Have the audio sync problems been worked out?
  • Seems to been fixed by a software upgrade.
Can the H20 be used on the older HD dish?
  • Yes, but you will not get the new MPEG-4 channels
Can the new dish work with the older boxes?
  • No. The one LMB that picks up multiple satellites send the signal in a format the the older boxes can not pick up. Do not upgrade to this dish unless you plan on getting the H20.
DirecTV is a confusing enough. Plus, with all the changes can make it overwhelming so please ask us if you have any questions.

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