Satellite Tv for Pc Product Review

By: Craig Guest


In this Four Part Series, we will examine: Satellite TV for PC (PCTV)

&bull Part I: This new technology, what it is and how it works (briefly),

&bull Part II: How to buy this new technology Online (in great detail),

&bull Part III: What the implications of this new technology are (in broad detail) and finally,

&bull Part IV: What kinds of products are available (in serial installations).

The Series: Exclusive Reports: Satellite TV for PC: Part I: Satellite TV and Satellite TV on PC: Great Expectations. (Now Available!) Exclusive Reports: Part II: Satellite TV for PC: Buying Satellite TV for PC. (Now Available!) Exclusive Reports: Part III: Satellite TV for PC: Disruptive Technology. (Now Available!) Exclusive Reports: Part IV: Satellite TV for PC: Product Reviews. (Now Available!)

Satellite TV for PC: Part IV: Product Reviews:
1. A Software Solution: TRACK 1 of 2

In previous installments: Parts I, II, and III, the stage has been set for actual Product Reviews, I include here, and in Reviews to follow.
If you missed one or more of the first three installments, you can easily catch up by visiting: Archived Articles Page.

In Part IV of the Series, we're going to evaluate (3) Solutions in a growing array of Products destined to bring PCTV fully into the World marketplace.
Here, over the course of a few weeks, we will look at a Software Solution Part IV-1, a Hardware Solution Part IV-2, and a Noware (No Software and No Hardware) Solution, Part IV-3.


First, I will introduce a few terms I'll be using to describe and classify Software Solution PCTV: Thanks in part to The Free Dictionary, and Wikipedia. Visit: and

Origination and Delivery
Live TV v. Recorded Programming: Live TV is experienced (very nearly) at the time events are actually taking place. Recorded Programming is Pre-recorded content, generally intended for later transmission and/or viewing.
For example: Live sports programs reach viewers almost as they happen, as distinguished from prepared Video Clips, and Instant Replays, which are classified as Pre-recorded Programming.
Streaming: (Media) Continuous Video and/or Audio Transmission. According to my Wikipedia, Streaming Media is media that is consumed (read heard, viewed) while it is being delivered. Streaming is more a property of the delivery system than the media itself.
The distinction is usually applied to media that are distributed over computer networks; most other systems are either inherently Streaming (radio, television) or inherently Non-streaming (E-books, Video Cassettes, and Audio CDs).
Buffering: (Streaming Media) Downloading the first block of data. In Streaming Media, buffering refers to bringing in an extra amount of data (filling the buffer) before playing the Audio or Video.
Having more Audio Data or Video Frames in (Computer) memory than are actually needed at each precise moment, compensates for momentary delays in transmission from the source.
When a network is fast enough to keep up with playback, Buffering is not necessary; however, this is not the case over the Internet where packets can traverse 20 routers from source to destination, and delays of any duration can occur at any time.
Practically speaking, Buffering is a process which must precede transmission of Audio and Video of Streamed Media. Re-buffering occurs when transmission is disrupted and data must be supplemented or reloaded.

Synchronization: (Audio/Video Pairing) Media images and sound can be combined such that the perception of Audio/Video (A/V) events, though separately channeled, is imperceptible.

For instance, while watching Satellite TV, if you observe closely enough, you will be able to detect a slight time lapse, from the time you see words pronounced, to the time you actually hear the sounds of the voices of actors.

Bandwidth: The amount of data that can be passed along a communications channel in a given period of time.

Picture Quality

Definition: A term used to refer to the degree of detail in a graphic image, piece of artwork, or any other object.
Most all current Satellite and Cable TV is viewed in what is classed as Standard Definition (SD). High Definition (HD) delivers images that are about (4) to (5) times sharper than SD.

Clear: No interference.

Grainy: Having visible dots, pocks and running lines like old celluloid movies.

Focus: Blurred to Sharp.

Sharp: Well-defined objects.

Fuzzy: Poor definition.

Saturation: Relating to Color. Vividness of hue; degree of difference from a gray of the same lightness or brightness. Saturation is also called intensity.

Bleed: The color of one object dispersing into another.

Brightness: The effect or sensation by means of which an observer is able to distinguish differences in luminance. The dimension of a color that represents its similarity to one of a series of achromatic colors ranging from very dim (dark) to very bright (dazzling).

Luminance: The intensity of light per unit area of its source.

Flicker: Unstable Images which bounce and/or vary in intensity and brightness.

Jaggies: Jagged edges or points at the perimeter of objects, which should otherwise appear smooth.

Pixels: The basic unit of the composition of an image on a television screen, computer monitor, or similar display. Ideally, in terms of quality production and program delivery, these Pixels are never perceived by the viewer. Pixels, observed, are also known as "Artifacts."

Pixelization: Squarish blocks or tiles of color, or black and white chips, which are apparent to the viewer.

Images: A variety of things on screen, consisting of Graphics and Stills and other objects, seemingly in the foreground, superimposed on a background.

Graphics: Logos and alpha-numeric messages superimposed on a screen. Sharp to Blurred.

Stills: Photo images without apparent motion. Sharp to Blurred. Also called "Freeze Ups" when they occur in Streamed Media.

Drop Outs: Visual discontinuity.

Motion: Sharp to Blurred Images.

Motion Ghosts: Trails of Images residual from one second to the next, creating Blurred Images.

Audio Quality

Bass: A low-pitched sound or tone. The tones in the lowest register of an instrument.

Treble: The highest part, voice, instrument, or range.

Fidelity: The degree to which an electronic system accurately reproduces the sound or image of its input signal.

Drop Outs: Audio discontinuity.

Distortion: An undesired change in the waveform of a signal. A consequence of such a change, especially a lack of fidelity in reception or reproduction.

For example, any given audio clip of the Human Voice, fed through any sound system at top volume, is considered to be distortion.

The Software Solution Test

Objectives: To provide a fair, consistent and thorough evaluation of the Solution by applying and following good "scientific" methods.

Methodology: The application of an observable and repeatable battery of tests of Audio and Visual characteristics and capabilities of the Solution.

Tested: Satellite TV for PC 2006 Elite Edition: $49.95 USD.

Variable Test Factors: The following Factors all influenced the Results and Conclusions (which are listed below) to a lesser or greater extent.

The Test Equipment Factor

The capabilities of the Personal Computer (PC) used must be considered. Newer, more powerful PCs will naturally deliver better more satisfying overall experiences.

For the Tests, I used my 2006 HP Pavilion ze2000 with its 15" Diagonal Screen (9" Measured Vertically x 12" Measured Horizontally).

The built-in sound system is Altec Lansing, which has provided reasonable fidelity and volume.

My HP PC is capable of acquiring Internet signals Wirelessly.

I used MicroSoft Windows XP and Windows (Free) Media Player 11 to perform all the testing with this Software. Alternately, Real Player may be used, though you may be obliged to buy a Basic Download, as the Free Version may fail to install.

Other than Volume/Performance "hardware acceleration (set to Full)" and something called "sample rate conversion quality (set to Best)" my PC sound system only allows for the standard equalizer settings: Balance and Volume.
Beyond that, there is no real purpose in defining the Audio Characteristics of PCTV. There is simply nothing more of importance to measure.

In preparation for the Test, I downloaded the Software and readied everything on the HP in advance, as per the Software Manufacturers recommendations.
The adjustments included changing the Display Resolution to 800×600, and adjusting Dots Per Inch (DPI) to 96.

For our purposes here, I am referring to the quality of the observed images with the PC Display and Settings adjusted for viewing PCTV: 800×600 Pixels, at 96 DPI, with the Display otherwise in default mode, on the MicroSoft XP Control Panel.

For comparison, I used a Factory Burn DVD of Average Standard Definition (SD) Quality. The sound was generally [8] Very Good quality with well-modulated Base and Treble. The Video quality was also [8] Very Good.

Note: See below Numeric Rating Factors indicated "[ ]"

As the DVD Test I performed before the Software Test, gave such good results, I did not adjust any of the Color Settings available on my Monitor.

The Internet Factor

It must be considered that the Internet, itself, delivers a variable product. All other things being equal, generally, the slower the service available for testing, the more users on the Internet at any given time, and the more intense the demands, the slower the Internet delivery speeds are going to be.
Ultimately, for testing Software Solutions, this means that Buffering can slow to a stop, which in turn means that viewing may be interrupted by interim, or Re-buffering sometimes required to continue Streaming.

In these instances, Still Images will linger on the Display until full Streaming can be restored.

The Internet Connection/Delivery Factor

&bull Dial Up Services (Not Tested): A Software Solution may not work satisfactorily at Dial Up Internet levels, due the huge amount of information that needs to pass through your Internet Connection all at once.
Dial Up speeds, pegged at 56Kbps* or lower, are generally so slow that Software may fail to load Programming. However, as there are a few channels designated for Dial Up on the Software I tested, apparently some consideration has been given to accommodate Dial Up Users.

&bull Cable Internet Services (Not Tested): If speed and wired connections are important to proper functioning, this Software Solution may work very well for you who are fortunate enough to have Cable Internet Access!
The characteristic fast speeds of Broadband Cable, around 4Mbps*, may also deliver uniformly Good, to Very Good Audio and Video with the tested Software, with fewer Freeze Ups and Drop Outs.

&bull Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Services (Not Tested): This kind of Broadband service may work well for you using a Software Solution.
Because of the nature of the service: Relatively wide Bandwidth, at 1.5Mbps*, and Wired Delivery; DSL may provide a very satisfying PCTV experience.

&bull Satellite Internet Services (As Tested): With Bandwidth measuring around 400Kbps* and up, and Wireless Delivery, you may experience the very same kinds of things (Freeze Ups, Drop Outs, Re-buffering, etc.) which I have recorded here.
As I note below, for the Home Office Test, in order to conduct any testing, it was necessary to connect my PC to its Router with an Ethernet Cable.

&bull Broadband WIFI Services (As Tested): With Bandwidth measuring around 1.5Kbps* and up, and Wireless Delivery, you may experience the very same kinds of things (Freeze Ups, Drop Outs, Re-buffering, etc.) which I have recorded here.

*Comparison Data Courtesy:

The Test Services Factor

The following Tests were run in two different locations under the following conditions:
Test 1. Home Office Test: High Speed Satellite Internet Service with DirecWay 6000 Modem rated at 700Kbps down/128Kpbs up, and LinkSys Router: Wired Connection. (Wireless Connection Trials almost always failed.)
Test 2. StarBucks Test: T-Mobile WIFI Network (Wireless) Connection. T1 Speed advertised. (At 1500Kbps or 1.5Mbps, T1 is more than twice the speed actually furnished by my Satellite System.)

The Human Factor

My own set of foibles, biases, hopes, and yes, Great Expectations, must be taken into account.
What I really want from the PCTV Software is the same TV experience I know and love, as I have experienced at home, Tube Side.
Only now, I want my Satellite TV for PC to be entirely portable, and ideally, free of monthly subscription fees.

The Quality Factor

DVD/CD-ROM/OTA Quality: Used here as yardsticks for comparing and contrasting the quality of test PCTV experiences.

Rating System: Here is the ranking (Best to Worst) I will use when describing PCTV Audio and Video.
Note: While High Definition (HD) provides by far the best quality TV signal available, at this time, 09/01/06, so few HD Sets are in use, HD is not a useful measure for comparison.

Therefore: The following Rating System will be applied here:

Supreme: High Definition (HD) MPEG-4 DVD Best Quality (Factory Burn) as played on a Lap Top PC. (This Rating is furnished for comparative purposes only.)

Excellent: Standard Definition (SD) MPEG-2 DVD Average Quality (Factory/Home Burn) as played on a PC.

Very Good: CD-ROM Quality as played on a Lap Top PC.

Good: Off-The-Air (OTA) Quality, high frequency radio signals, as played on a TV Set or Lap Top PC using a Hardware PCTV Solution.
(More on this subject in Part IV-2.)

Fair: Off-The-Air (OTA) Quality, high frequency radio signals, as played on a TV Set or Lap Top PC using a Hardware PCTV Solution.
(More on this subject in Part IV-2.)

Poor: Off-The-Air (OTA) Quality, high frequency radio signals, as played on a TV Set or Lap Top PC using a Hardware PCTV Solution.
(More on this subject in Part IV-2.)

Unacceptable: Too poor to rate.

Numeric Rating Factors

For our Tests, we will be comparing Standard Definition (SD) Factory/Home Burned DVD, equating it to the same SD quality as Satellite TV MPEG-2, and comparing these equals to the Software Solution PCTV experience. Ratings shown "[ ]"

Video (Picture Quality): [10] (Perfect) - [5] Adequate - [1] (Awful)
Audio (Sound Quality): [10] (Perfect) - [5] Adequate - [1] (Awful)
Synchronization (Audio/Video Pairing): [10] (Perfect) - [5] Adequate - [1] (Awful)

Based on the above criteria, here's how our Bench Mark, DVD Average, Standard Definition (SD) Quality rates:

Video (Picture Quality):
Small Screen Option:
Color: [9] Excellent. Full Red/Green/Blue (RGB) Palette.
Graphics: [9] Excellent. Clear and Sharp.
Resolution: [8] Very Good: Sharp. Clear Stills, Graphics and Smooth Motion, without apparent Blurring or excessive Jaggies.

Video (Picture Quality):
Full Screen Option:
Color: [8] Very Good. Full Red/Green/Blue (RGB) Palette.
Graphics: [8] Very Good. Clear and fairly Sharp. Some Motion Ghosts.
Resolution: [8] Very Good: Sharp. Clear Stills, Graphics and Smooth Motion, without apparent Blurring or excessive Jaggies.

Audio (Sound Quality): [9] Excellent: Very Clear with no Drop Outs or apparent Distortion. Uniform sound quality with [8] Very Good Bass and Treble.

Synchronization (Audio/Video Pairing): [9] Excellent. No apparent lapse between Audio and Video perception.

Definition (Standard): Unless otherwise noted. [8] Very Good.

Resolution: [8] Very Good.

Audio Factors

Because the Satellite TV for PC Interface tested has only one Audio Control, Volume, there is no point in analyzing the sound quality other than to note the obvious: Volume Controls, and Audio Drop Outs.

Note: If the Streamed Media can't be heard at a reasonable viewing distance, from 2' to 3' distant from the PC Display, there is a Audio problem.

Satellite TV for PC 2006 Elite Edition Interface Volume Control: My experience ranged from Satisfactory to Unsatisfactory.

Note: Having to adjust the PC Volume on the XP Control Panel, in addition to maxing out the Software Interface, was a hassle. Drop Outs in the Audio Stream were too frequent.

Video Factors

Picture Quality characteristics merit considerable attention: Color, Graphics and Resolution, are all important measures of the quality of the PCTV experience.
Therefore most attention will be centered here.

Installation Factors

Software Download from Web Site: Degree of difficulty: Easy

Interface 1: "Satellite TV for PC". Configured during Download.

Interface 2: "TVAnts". Two additional Servers must be manually configured after Download: Easy.

Pop Ups-and-Downs Blizzard Factors

On the downside of this rather easy and otherwise uneventful set of events, was the absolute blizzard of pops-everywhere featuring Chinese advertising: observed both during Download, and as I recall during Installation!
If you plan on purchasing this Software, be advised! StopZilla (a good suppressant) may be just what to employ, prior to your Download!

Interface Control Factors

Satellite TV for PC 2006 Elite Edition Interface Controls:
Interface 1. and Interface 2.
Launch: Quick and sure.
Menu Bar: Easy to use with Drop-down Sub Menus.
Controls: Play and Stop: Easy to operate, and obedient.
Full Screen and Shut Down: Easy to operate, and obedient.

  • * *

Test 1: Following is a recap of my experience with (6) popular US-Based TV Channels, in my Home Office:

Fox (WVUE-TV): Loaded in 1 minute or less.
Audio: [7] Good: Audible with Interface Volume 50-100%.
Video: Small Screen:
Colors: [4] Fair: Muted and Washed. Pink Flesh tones: Like watching tinted Black and White Video.
Graphics: [6] Good: Readable Graphics.
Resolution: [4] Fair: Hard to distinguish presenters from backgrounds. Focus varies from Sharp to Fuzzy.
Video: Full Screen:
Colors: [4] Fair: Muted and Washed. Pink Flesh tones: Like watching tinted Black and White Video.
Graphics: [4] Fair.
Resolution: [2] Poor. Jaggies and Blurring Motions. Fuzzy Images.
Synchronization: [6] Good, despite noted Focus issues.

ABC (ABCNEWS): Loaded in 1 minute or less.
Audio: [7] Good. With Interface Volume 50-100%.
Video: Small Screen
Colors: [4] Fair: Strong blues and blacks. Otherwise Muted: Like watching tinted Black and White Video.
Graphics: [6] Good.
Resolution: [6] Good Video Images. Motion Blurring.
Video: Full Screen
Colors: [4] Fair: Strong Saturated Blues and Blacks. Otherwise Muted: Like watching tinted Black and White Video.
Graphics: [4] Fair.
Resolution: [4] Fair: Jaggies apparent. Motion Blurring.
Synchronization: [4] Fair.

ESPN: (2) Attempted loadings crashed Program.
Video: Small Screen
Video: Full Screen
Synchronization: Good

Bloomberg: Loaded in 1 minute or less.
Audio: [7] Good. With Interface Volume 50-100%.
Video: Small Screen
Colors: [7] Good Flesh tones. Strong Saturated Blacks and Blues.
Graphics: [7] Good. Readable.
Resolution: [4] Fair: Jaggies. Motion Blurring.
Video: Full Screen
Colors: [4] Fair: Good Flesh tones.
Graphics: [4] Fair.
Resolution: [2] Poor: Motion Ghosts and Jaggies. Fuzzy images.
Synchronization: [2] Poor.

C-SPAN1: (2) Attempted loadings crashed Program.
Video: Small Screen
Video: Full Screen

QVC (British Version): Loaded in 1 minute or less.
Audio: [4] Fair: Muddy but Audible at Interface Volume 50-100%.
Video: Small Screen
Colors: [4] Fair: Strong Saturated Darks and Reds. Otherwise Muted. Pink Flesh tones.
Graphics: [4] Fair.
Resolution: [3] Poor: Pronounced Jaggies.
Video: Full Screen
Colors: [3] Poor: Strong fuzzy, bleeding Darks and Reds. Otherwise Muted. Pink Flesh tones.
Graphics: [3] Poor.
Resolution: [1] Awful. Jaggies. Motion Ghosts. Blurry. Video in and out of Focus.
Synchronization: [4] Fair. Despite Video issues.

  • * *

Download/Play Program Evaluation

Scoring: Test 1: Out of a field of 6, 2 out of 6 Channels failed to load at all.
The QVC Channel was only available in the British Version, rendering the total useful USA Programming (3 Channels out of 6 Tested) at an abysmal 50%.

  • * *

Best Regards,

Craig Guest
CEO, Satellite TV Seeker

Fair Use Policy: This Article may be reprinted or otherwise reproduced in total, provided that the following resource is cited:

Continued on TRACK 2


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