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Friday
Jul132012

Podcast #539: DTV Green Dish - Dishtenna Review

The best way to cut the cord without giving up TV is to go the old fashioned route, put up an antenna and watch all the HDTV you want absolutely free. It’s amazing that the signals are still floating across the air free of charge, but they are. But what do you do if you’re too far away from the local broadcast tower to actually receive very many channels, if any? You may want to give the new DTV Green Dish, aka Dishtenna a try.

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DTV Green Dish - Dishtenna

The best way to cut the cord without giving up TV is to go the old fashioned route, put up an antenna and watch all the HDTV you want absolutely free. It’s amazing that the signals are still floating across the air free of charge, but they are. But what do you do if you’re too far away from the local broadcast tower to actually receive very many channels, if any? You may want to give the new DTV Green Dish, aka Dishtenna a try.

The Dishtenna

The DTV Green Dish, or Dishtenna, is a small, digital broadcast antenna that resembles a satellite dish for use with DirecTV or Dish Network. It is much smaller than other antennas that claim a similar range. The website claims the Distenna will pick up broadcasts that are within a 75 - 100 mile radius. The antenna costs $299, which includes professional installation. It is available in four different colors to match your home (Army Green, Grey, Sand or White).

Installation

Even if you consider yourself an enthusiast, you’ll want to have the Dishtenna professionally installed. An installer will have the right gear to make sure the unit is pointed exactly right for the highest possible signal. Both Braden and Ara had to have their demo units professionally installed to get the most out of them. The Dishtenna can’t simply be pointed in the direction of the broadcast towers. In Braden’s case, the antenna is actually pointed west of the broadcast tower to get the best signal.

Another installation issue we ran across was the the cables we had run from the antennas on our roofs to the inside of our homes didn’t work with the Dishtenna and needed to be replaced. The professional installer should already know the specs of the cable you need to get the signal all the way into your home. Braden’s first cable didn’t work at all, the second and third both transmitted most of, but not all of, the channels coming in on the antenna. By the fourth cable, everything was just fine. Ara had the same issue, but his installer had learned the cable specs and got him set up on day one.

Use

Using the Dishtenna is no different from any other over-the-air antenna you may have used or could be familiar with. One the installation is complete, you run the signal into your TV or other tuner device, let it scan for channels, and you’re off to the races. The website claims that one Dishtenna can be split out to up to 8 different televisions. We didn’t get a chance to test this limit, but if you have more than 8, simply invest in another Dishtenna for the rest of them.

Performance

Where the HT Guys live is quite far from our local Los Angeles broadcast towers on Mount Wilson. In Braden’s case, antennaweb.org reports that there is no known antenna capable of picking up any channels over the air. The exact quote is: “Due to factors such as terrain and distance to broadcasting towers, signal strength calculations have predicted no television stations may be reliably received at this location.” A quick check at tvfool.com shows that most stations are beyond reach, with those that are available being listed in red (barely attainable). Ara previously had to put up a  Yagi Antenna with a 9 foot boom to get his over-the-air channels to work.

Once the professional installation was done at both HT Guys locations, we were shocked and amazed to see how many channels we were picking up. At Braden’s house we were able to get all the red stations from tvfool.com as well as a couple of the gray ones.  

Ara had some geographical issues that made reception difficult. He had a small hill with a house directly in the line of sight of the towers. Still with this limitation the Distenna was able to pick up most of the UHF channels. But the main reason Ara was interested in the antenna was to pick up ABC and Fox which reverted to VHF after the analog shutdown. The installer was able to tweak the antenna to pick up ABC (VHF 7) which shocked Ara, but that caused many of the other channels to disappear.  

Feeling that he would never get all the major networks regardless of technology in a last ditch effort, Ara swung the Dishtenna around almost 180 degrees towards the sunny and beautiful city of San Diego more than 90 miles away! Bam! All the San Diego channels, including one with a transmitter in Mexico, came in. Here’s the weird thing, the Dishtenna started picking up LA ABC and Fox! Not all the time but the 9 foot Yagi never picked them up ever!

Ara did feel bad about losing his LA channels but then he thought the two antennas are pointing in different directions why not combine them. For that he used a Channel Plus 2512 DC + IR Passing 2-Way Splitter/Combiner it goes for about $10. And now Ara gets San Diego and LA OTA channels

The last install detail for Ara is that he runs the output of the splitter/combiner into a 4-way splitter that feeds his HD Homerun (two tuners), Slingbox, and Panasonic Plasma TV.

This performance only comes after a couple hours of getting the antennas installed and replacing the cables running into the house. But once all the hard work is done, you can sit back and watch one of hundreds of different stations (if you like multi-cast stations).

Conclusion

We were skeptical about how well the Dishtenna would work for us and were amazed at how well it exceeded our expectations. The professional installation is a must because the unit tends to be a bit fussy if you don’t have it set up just right. If you’re looking for a way to get free over-the-air television without installing a 9 foot antenna on your roof, the dishtenna could actually do the job for you.  It did for us.

Download Episode #539

Reader Comments (14)

I've been planning on getting an outdoor antenna with the hopes of dropping Comcast Cable. Since Ara and Braden had such a good experience with the Dishtenna, I ordered one this evening.

July 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterReboot

Nice review on the Dishtenna, but a little short on hard data, guys. You say the dish worked for you, but you can't know that after only a week or two. OTA signals go in and out, you knew that, right??

You mentioned this was a demo unit. Did you decide to keep/pay for it? If so, we'd appreciate an update in a month or so. If not, the obvious question is why not?

You say the dish did things the 9 ft. Yagi never did for you, but clearly that's because you had inferior cable, as you mentioned. Bad cable is just bad cable -- there's no magic cable for a particular antenna. For example, if you still had the old RG-59 hooked up to your Yagi, with a long cable run and/or bad connectors, that would easily account for the poor performance.

Ara, was the second antenna you coupled to the Dishtenna the Yagi? If you still have them both up there, you have a great opportunity to compare the two. Then we would have some basis for concluding the Dishtenna is "revolutionary," or as most professionals suspect, equivalent to an average 2-bay bowtie.

Your review leaves so many more questions unanswered than I had hoped.

Best,
FW

July 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred Wenger

90 mile signals that never go out? Isn't there a slight problem there with THE CURVATURE OF THE EARTH?? Or is the earth flat in your neck of the woods?

Caveat emptor, people. Which is more likely: that this person has found a way to defeat the laws of physics, or that (s)he is associated with the Green Dish company and would say anything to make a sting, er, make a sale?

July 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred Wenger

HT Guys- I don't believe you mentioned if the install was on your roof? I'm in Aliso Viejo, somewhat near you, live in a slight valley, and condo association will not permit a rooftop install. Wondering if this could be installed on a pole in my patio, as my current Dish is, and have a chance to grab those same 90 mile away channels?

Love your podcast and great reviews!

Mike

July 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown

I would love to believe the Dishtenna is the greatest antenna in the history of the universe. I would also love to hear specific answers from the htguys to the very simple, specific questions I posed.

Insults, I can live without, and all the trolls are tarnishing the image of the Green Dish.

FW

July 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred Wenger

Robert B, you'd better check the fine print on that money back guarantee. Once they have your credit card number, things can get sticky in a millisecond. There are many, many, MANY more scams in the world than true "revolutions." And there are many more reasons to be skeptical than you seem to realize.

Still waiting for simple answers to simple questions. Shouldn't be this hard.

FW

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred Wenger

Fred,

We will discuss these comments on the next show.

Many comments have been removed. The HT Guys won't allow our comments section to be turned into a marketing platform for ANY company!

Ara

July 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

I too am hoping you can give us more information. You have to understand those of us who know antennas, and their installation are having alot of trouble in believing that antenna is going to get DTV stations 90 miles away when a Yagi won't, both with the same cable. I will be flabbergasted (lol) if that antenna outperforms a good traditional one.
I actually hope I am wrong, I will buy one if I believe it is that good.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterT8

That's outstanding, Ara. I notice you wrote: "Using the Dishtenna is no different from any other over-the-air antenna you may have used or could be familiar with," so I think you're trying to be fair. And I don't think you're claiming any unusual expertise on antennas. Nevertheless, a series of simple questions and answers could put this thing in perspective very quickly.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of BS and hype in the antenna market. I don't know why, there just is -- even in ads from long established "respectable" companies. What would be great is if you could get a third party expert out to your properties to test the systems. (Not me. I'm not remotely qualified.) A third party can be a real leveller.

Glad you're getting good reception!

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred Wenger

My Dishtenna came today. Mounted it to the gable facing Mt. Whitney (east) on the first floor, set it up and plugged it in per the instructions (and one quick call to Dan) and just pulled 125 channels to my bedroom TV. I went down to the guest room to scan for channels and got the same 125. After I texted the news to Dan he let me know this is a record for my area. When I scan the big theater room TV I'm going to attempt to get a picture for him.

Too bad I don't have a meter to tell you the signal strength but one TV has an indicator that showed 7's and mostly 8 bars out of a possible 9. Not bad for the far, far west San Fernando Valley! The picture is beautiful and now I can tell the difference between OTA and compressed cable company results (I've had both TWC and Uverse). The power for the amp is ingenious. Very, very happy. This baby is going with me to the midwest when I move.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRick K.

Whitney? Holy cow, I meant Wilson! Or Baldy. Something like that.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRick K.

Hey people, I heard a lot of hype about this dishtenna so I bought one. I installed it in my attic. I connected it to my cable box with an eight splitter connector. I aimed it north east. to my surprise I immediately picked up 43 stations I dropped the cable blood sucking company from $220.00 dollars a month to zero dollars. I Highly recommend this dish. Get one before the price increases.

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

How do you all record over the air programming now? TiVO, or some combination ?

July 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown

That green dish antenna must be a real piece of doogy loaf if it is only capable of picking up channels from 100 miles away...and they want $300 bucks for that? LOL

Shucks, I can pick up channels from over 225 miles away with my $50.00 4-bay bowtie antenna placed in my attic!

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim58hsv

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