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But what in blue blazes is a “D10?” Isn’t that Eminem’s Detroit rap posse? No, that would be “D12,” Slim Shady. A D10 is nothing more than set-top box that receives DirecTV signals. It features an Advanced Program Guide interface, and is capable of receiving signals from several DirecTV satellites to tune of over 225 channels. The box itself costs about $50 retail. A “multi-switch” is, well, a switch designed to allow more than one set-top box to receive information from same satellite dish receiver. Some models feature built-in amplification. The model offered with this package has three different outputs to send video to TVs in three different areas of a house. Other multi-switches are designed to allow one satellite dish receiver to provide video to more than one home. As might be easily guessed, DirecTV does not encourage sharing of its video offerings by entire neighborhoods of houses. It does, however, promise to install these devices for you, at a combined package cost of only $47.95. What a bargain! It’s a good thing RapidSatellite doesn’t charge by acronym.
The second ad presents only one new complication, “Triple LNB Dish.” A Triple LNB Dish, also known in DirecTV parlance as a Phase III Mulitsatellite Dish, is an 18” by 20” dish receiver that collects broadcast signals from three different satellites. Customers with high-definition TV sets will definitely want to upgrade to Triple LNB, because without it, it’s impossible to receive satellite broadcasts in HDTV. “LNB” stands for “low-noise block.” It’s device that hangs off arm of satellite dish and looks sort of like a flashlight. So what does it do? To find out, we first have to crane our necks and stare up into orbit. The DirecTV satellite at 101 degrees has 32 transponders, numbered 1 to 32 for some reason, each of which sends a group of channels. Back on Earth, an LNB converter responds to changes in voltage transmitted by DirecTV receiver by looking at either odd- or even-numbered channels. A Triple LNB Dish, not too surprisingly, includes three LNB converters, each operating independently of other two. That way, three different DirecTV receivers can look at three different stations on three different transponders. Long story short, it means Mom can watch HGTV while Dad checks out Sports Center. Meanwhile, their progeny have gathered around a third TV set to enjoy Aqua Teen Hunger Force, all at same time. Thanks to DVR and TiVo technology, it’s entirely possible that all three programs were recorded weeks ago.
As for third ad, a “Hughes Director” is standard receiver offered with basic DirecTV packages. How standard? Many DirecTV vendors are now offering device free with purchase of a dish receiver. Still, it’s a perfectly adequate receiver, with many of features offered by snazzier DVR80. While it can’t record video, it does offer a WatchWord search feature that scans through DirecTV program menus and alerts user when favorite shows are about to come on.
The “HR10-250” receiver is a much pricier alternative, cashing in at somewhere around a thousand bucks. Still, as Ferris Bueller once noted, “It is so choice. If you have means, I highly recommend picking one up.” It contains four tuners and a built-in DVR with TiVo. These four tuners allow for two HD shows to be recorded at once, even as user watches a third prerecorded show. The 250 gigabyte hard drive holds about 30 hours of HDTV, or as many as 200 hours of non-high-def video (at 480 lines of pixels). PCWorld critic Cathy Lu’s review of HR10-250 decided, “Cost aside, DirecTV HD DVR is best way that I've found to watch and record HD.” She gave it four and a half stars out of five. That’s pretty good for a machine whose profoundly uninspired name makes it sound like a tax form.
Sarah Gustafson is a freelance writer and contributing author to http://www.dishtvreview.com, a site that provides satellite TV news and consumer buying advice.