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August 2010
Satellite system

Q.1 : How many channels can I get with a satellite system? I am looking forward to your answer. (Mohammad Sohail, Karachi)

Ans: Hundreds, literally. But it depends on what kind of satellite system you are using. For instance, DirecTV and Dish Network satellite systems can receive about 300 channels, but you must subscribe to their packages of programming. Free-to-air systems offer programming that does not require a subscription. The channels are 'in the clear'. 'In the clear' is a term used in the industry to describe a channel that is broadcast without encryption. Hundreds of 'in the clear' channels exist right now and the number is growing daily.

Outdoor antenna

Q.2 : I live in a condo where it's impossible to erect an outdoor antenna and an indoor antenna may not work because I live quite a distance from town. Is there any way to receive major networks like FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS? (Sajid Iqbal, via e-mail)

Ans: In many cases, yes, major networks are now available via the dish. Dish Network products only receive Dish Network programming and the same rule applies for DirecTV. Also, Free-To-Air (FTA) products are what they imply. They get free channels. DirecTV and Dish Network programming is not free, so therefore you can't receive FTA signals with Dish Network or DirecTV equipment. On the other side of the coin, you can't receive DirecTV or Dish Network channels with a Free-To-Air system, with a handful of exceptions.

Dish installation

Q.3 : Is it difficult to install a satellite system? Can I install it myself? (Arshad Menhas, Dubai)

Ans: The mini-dish (DirecTV, Dish Network and Ku-Band dishes qualify here) is designed to be an easy installation. However, we recommend that you have some mechanical aptitude. You also will need some basic tools. They are: a screwdriver, a level, a crimper, a cable stripper, some wire cutters and possibly a drill. Some folks substitute pliers and scissors for the crimper and stripper.

TV channels

Q.4 : I watch different satellite TV channels and want to get more satellites with my current system. How can I get more than one satellite? (Kamran Haider, Saudi Arabia)

Ans: You can have more than one dish, or have up to four ‘offset feed’ LNBs on the same dish, but at most these can only be for satellites within 10-15° of each other.

FTA channels

Q.5 : Mostly I watch FTA channels. How can I get encrypted channels? (Saleem Zia, Peshawar)

Ans: You’ll need a viewing card and the hardware to use the viewing card, either built into your receiver, or with a conditional access module for a receiver with a common interface port.

Poor picture

Q.6 : My problem is that there are red and blue streaks down the middle of my TV screen. They are not straight, nor are they right next to each other, but I have noticed that they have grown, from what I believe as top to bottom. Also, the TV screen will lose the picture for several minutes while still playing sound, or the screen will flash like it was turned off then flash back on in about a second or two. Is my TV dying? (Mohammad Shoiab, Hyderabad)

Ans: It could be a problem with the degaussing circuit. Possibly the screen is magnetized and needs to be degaussed by a service technician. Do you have any large magnets like speakers near the set? Sometimes there are magnetic fields in the wall that causes this. Try moving the set to a different location and see if it affects the problem. It could be that you would need an electric transformer type soldering iron to fix it. To do this you would hold the soldering iron about a foot away from the center of the screen facing sideways.

Picture problem

Q.7 : We have a 4-year-old Sony XBR. Recently the picture will cut out every 15 seconds or so for a few seconds and then come back. The sound stays on. This makes the TV un-watchable. The picture is as good as ever when it is on. I don't know much about electronics but seems like a power supply issue. Can a picture tube work intermittently? (Anwar Ali, via e-mail)

Ans: Sony has a built in protection system (1K protection) whereby the video is muted when the CRT emission gets below a certain level. Since yours appears to be borderline, this can usually be remedied by turning up the screen voltage just a little. Inside the TV, there's a large usually black box with a large red wire coming out the top. There are two adjustment knobs, screen and focus; screen will turn up the voltage. You need to watch the screen while you adjust the screen voltage.

HD capability

Q.8 : Please explain to me what I need to do to actually use the HD capability! For example, is there something I need to purchase and install, and would this be a DIY project? As a secondary question, I'm wondering what is the best way to identify programming that can be viewed in HD? (Khalid Iqbal, via e-mail)

Ans: HDTV Ready means it will display HD but you need an HDTV STB, or Set Top Box. An STB can be from your cable company, if it offers HD, or it can be a Direct, Dish net, or Voom satellite receiver. You don't have to DIY, as the Satellite installers will usually install it for free. If you don't want cable or Satellite, you'll need a stand-alone STB HD receiver for OTA (Over the Air), if your local stations are broadcasting digitally in HD.


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