All About Satellite Receivers

With the rapid technological advancements, TV has become a necessity — no longer a luxury — in homes across the globe.

The one-time entertainment box, presently, is better considered a doorway to global happenings.

While a TV may be considered a gateway to the world, it is limited without a receiver.

If you wish to access a wide range of channels on your TV, the satellite receiver is your best bet.

That said, a satellite is more of a package than a single device. It includes, basically, a single cable router (SCR), dish, and a receiver.

After reviewing the WatchAir, we decided to bring this post to you:

What are Satellite TVs?

Satellite TVs are a form of TV programming that sends wireless signals to televisions globally. This transmission happens through a network of communication satellites, radio signals, outdoor antennas, and broadcast centers.

Satellite TV works with a special kind of antenna, commonly referred to as satellite dishes.

These dishes send satellite signals to a receiver. In many cases, these receivers are built-in systems in TVs or the form of a set-top box.

The program source sends signals to a service provider broadcast center.

Your satellite dish (typically installed outdoors) picks the waves and sends to the receiver, which decrypts the programs and coverts to audiovisuals on your TV screen.

Types of Satellite Receivers

Satellite receivers have four common types:

  • HD receivers
  • Scrambled channel receivers
  • Normal receivers
  • Digital receivers with a recorder

The individual devices, each, have unique features and functions, advantages, and disadvantages.

Let’s examine them individually, briefly.

HD Receivers

As with other receivers, HD receivers get signals and transmit data to the screens and audio devices.

One distinguishing factor, however, is that while HD receivers project HD (high quality) images, normal receivers offer far less image and sound quality. Therefore, TV channels that desire to transmit HD quality signals to viewers need to transmit in HD.

So, to enjoy HD quality displays with your HD receivers,

  • The channel ought to, first, transmit in HD quality, and;
  • Viewers must own an HD satellite receiver and an HD TV

With these in place, you can view pretty much better audiovisuals. That said, HD receivers are typically pricier than the regular options.

Scrambled Channel Receivers

Some channels on satellites sell their channels (frequency). This means, to decrypt their signals, users would purchase some specially designed receivers, not your normal receiver.

Hence, it requires that users subscribe to get an LNB (Low-Noise block), satellite dish, and receiver to decrypt and project signals on your TV screen(s).

Normal Receivers

Here’s arguably the commonest. Plus, it is impressively simple in design.

The device draws signals from the LNB — typically installed outside — which receives signals from the satellites. It then transmits the signals to your audio and video devices.

Normal receivers are widely thought the cheapest among the other types of satellite receivers.

Digital Recording Receivers

These receivers usually work with scrambled channel networks. The receiver is widely thought the best entertainment device, globally.

Besides receiving, decrypting, and projecting signals, this receiver allows users to rewind, pause ongoing programs, and even record future programs on the channels.

What to Consider Before Buying a Satellite Receiver

Satellite receivers come in different designs, models, and brands. So, here are some features and specifications to check out before you invest in any receiver.

Radio Signals

Many users wish they could get radio signals from their receivers. If that sounds like you, then opt for a receiver with radio signals. Simply ask your vendor for a receiver with this function or check the product specification on the package. Thankfully, this feature is common in most receivers.

Multiple TVs

Would you want to watch your satellite programs on more than one screen? Perhaps, to enable viewing in your bedroom and living room, simultaneously?

Then, prefer a receiver with a multi-TV screen feature. These specs are tailored to get signals and transmit audio and images, through multiple outputs, to more than one TV screen per time.

USB Ports

Most receivers come with USB port(s). USB ports in receivers enable the receiver’s connection to computers, iPods, and other USB-enable devices. This allows you to play music or work on applications and programs on your TV screen – via your gadget.

You may wish to connect a USB-designed device and listen to music and view videos and pictures.

Internet Connectivity

If, for whatever reason, you’d need to get connected to the internet, consider an internet-enabled receiver. This feature is a favorite for those who wish to stream music live or view shows on websites.

How a Satellite Receiver Works

Primary functions of a satellite receiver include:

  • Decrypt satellite signals. To access satellite signals, your receiver has to, first, decode the programming package. The network provider interacts with the chip through signals to adjust the decoding programs appropriately.
  • Transmits decrypted signals to TV as audiovisuals. In the US, for instance, satellite receivers transmit signals in NTSC format. You can also get HDTV signals on some dish and receiver configurations
  • It delivers custom channels based on users’ preferred subscription package.

Basic Satellite Installations

Lost your satellite receiver manual? If, for any reason, you’re not sure how to navigate around your new receiver box? Read on.

First, as we know, satellite receivers need a TV set for on-the-screen-display.

That said, usually, the front of your decoder is scantily equipped. Too often, they spot only a few buttons and, if at all, a mini display.

Front-view Buttons

Most receivers spot a few buttons which allow you to run primary functions without a remote. Power, channel up and down, volume up and down, and a menu button are common front-view buttons on most receivers.

Check the Backside for Connectors

This is arguably the most common feature in all receivers. They all spot necessary connections at the backside. But all you might need to start watching your favorite programs is a video output and signal input.

So, after these primary connections, you can turn on your receiver and TV. Your pictures should come up immediately.

For older TV versions — without video input or SCART — you may need to run the connection through the RF output on your receiver.

If, luckily, your receiver comes preinstalled with a channel list, congrats, you can begin viewing right away.

However, if you see some ‘worrisome’ message on your screen, no scare, yet. It takes time for some receivers to make the first display.

However, we suggest you run a thorough system setup. This not only helps you set up customized configurations, you can also detect new channels.

Video Content Delivery – Analog Vs. Digital

Satellite television service is also called Direct-Broadcast Satellite – DBSTV or simply DBS.

The DBSTV provider chooses a programing – which usually consists of several services and channels – and transmits content to satellite subscribers.

The channels may be sent to either an analog satellite receiver or its digital version. That said, analog satellite systems are fast fading out; widely replaced by the digital options.

The digital setups have further improved its picture quality, thanks to its HD TV technology. Contents deliver through these high-techs comes with clear pictures and sound quality.

Cable Vs. Satellite — Compared

Before we compare, what is a cable TV?

Cable TV

Also called Community Antenna Television (CATV), Cable Television is a system designed to distribute audiovisual contents from FM radio and TV to subscribers via stationed cables – unlike the conventional broadcast television and with widespread reach — typically via the pay-tv services.

Cable TV distributes TV channels processed in a central station – referred to as head-end – to users within a region through coaxial or/and optical fiber and broadband amplifiers.

The different frequencies enable the distribution of several channels through a single cable. The Radio or TV tuner chooses the most desired programs from the list of transmitted channels.

So, talking programming and TV services, which is a better option?

Satellite or Cable?

Until lately, getting a satellite TV service wasn’t a cakewalk. Today, satellite TV services are more of an essential item in homes spread across the US – and other parts of the world.

While satellite seems like the in-thing, it still has some downsides – for instance, extreme weather conditions may alter signal strength, offering undesirable obstructions.

Here’s a more detailed cable-satellite TV comparison.


Satellite TV favors subscribers whose homes have no obstacles that may obstruct a direct view of the clouds. This unobstructed view ensures reliable and uninterrupted satellite signals to the satellite dish or antenna.

On the other hand, Cable TV services entail running a cable, directly from the stations, into subscribers’ homes.

Wondering what services are most suitable and available in your region? Consult your satellite company or the satellite provider to express your concerns.


Depending on regional laws, and/or property manager or owner, dish/antenna installation may not be allowed in your home.  Over tune, the federal communications commission (FCC) have imposed restriction and regulations on DBS dish placement.

Persons in condominiums, townhouse communities, apartment buildings, multi-dwelling units, or cooperatives may refer to recent FCC regulations and guidelines before any dish or antenna installation.


Another downside of your favorite satellite dish is a reception-availability concern. In the event of, for instance, a wind, users may have to climb up the roof to make adjustments to its setting.

Terms and Conditions

Review terms and conditions of any subscription package before you opt-in — whether on cable or satellite.

Or can you access services without any minimum contract terms.? Are you required to pay for a minimum contract? What is the typical contract duration? Do minimum terms contract come with bundled services? Are there any fees associated with contract abortion?

Answers to these questions will help you make a well-informed decision.


Satellite TV services can work but with satellite dishes. The dishes are stationed, typically at roof-level. for tenants whose landlords allow a dish installation on their property, you’re lucky. You can always move this equipment, in the vent of relocation.

At such, depending on the property owners, you may be charged for any damage the dish may leave on the roof, building frame, or shingles.

Besides, for HD signals, you have to buy extra satellite equipment.

For cables, you may require a DVR box or a cable box with a subscription. Depending on the cable companies, you may be allowed to rent the relevant items.


Besides self-installation, would providers assist for more professional installation?

As mentioned, for reliable and stable signals, satellite services require antenna or dish installation with a clear sky-view.

While professional assistance is your best bet with both cable and satellite options, self-installation is pretty much easier with your cable TVs.

Bundle Services

Typically, the internet, home security, phone, and television are usually customers’ most desired services. With satellite receivers, these services come in a single bill.

Although cable TV providers offer bundles frequently, usually, satellite TV companies partner with other carriers to provide phone, internet, and related added services to customers.

For best connectivity, ask yourself: What is the most reliable internet near me? This will help inform your decision on the best bundle services that considers your internet usage.

Online Streaming

For customers interested in live TV streaming and online video content, take time to review providers’ package details to be sure your provider offers a decent array of live streaming options – both on-the-go and in-home.

Whether you prefer streaming TV movies and TV shows online or you’d prefer to stream on your mobile phones, there’s always a package that fits.

Customer Service

Often, customers are allowing to express their satisfaction — or dissatisfaction — for their cable or satellite providers through online questionnaires and surveys.

Before you settle for any product, check out what people with some form of experience are saying.


If you just got yourself a satellite receiver or thinking to acquire one? This guide may be all you need to make a smart decision. While there are other world-access platforms – such as your cable TV, Terrestrial TV, etc. – satellite TVs are your best bet. And talking crystal clear audiovisuals, a HD receiver and HD TV combo tick the most desirable boxes.