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DirecTV satellite dish receiver
Satellite mini-dish - or simply dish - is a popular name for round or oval receivers used to collect signals emitted by TV satellites (according to the FCC fact sheet, satellite dish in the continental US is considered "small" if bellow 40" in diameter).
Depending on the purpose, satellite dish antennas vary somewhat in size, as well as in the number and arrangement of LNB (low-noise block down-converter) units, which process and intensify received signals. An LNB unit is needed for each satellite feed (actual antenna in the focus of the dish surface) receiving signals from a particular TV satellite location, so that more LNBs means more satellite coverage - and more programming.
In the past decade, DirecTV had several dish models. The simplest was Phase I dish, 18" in diameter with dual LNB (low-noise block converter). This allowed up to two single tuner receivers connected, or a single dual tuner receiver, such as TiVo. It was intended to work with the 101, DirecTV's core satellite, in their own words, "the premier destination of new exclusive programming...". The "101" comes from satellites orbital latitude, which is in this case 101 degree west.
Phase II DirecTV dish featured two dual LNBs with four outputs. It is slightly larger, at 20"x18" oval, working with 101 and 109 DirecTV satellites.
Phase III DirecTV dish was also 20"x18", also four outputs, but comes with three LNBs, working with 101, 110 and 119 DirecTV satellites. For some time, it was the most popular DirecTV dish.
Then came the 5-LNB 4-outputs MPEG-4 Ku/Ka dish. It was specifically intended to work with new 99 and 103 satellites, with advanced MPEG-4 compression technology in Ka-band (30 GHz), for delivering high-definition programming. It is a part of DirecTV's move to deliver local HD channels to a number of largest US cities. The dish was also covering "conventional" Ku-band satellites, 101, 110 and 119, working with less efficient - but appropriate to then standard digital requirements - MPEG-2 compression. At 26"x30" the MPEG-4 Ku/Ka dish is larger in size than previous models. Also, it requires DirecTV's MPEG-4/Ku receiver, H20.
There were also a "specialty" dishes, like Gain Master, International Dish and Hot Shot. The former was a large 35"x26" dish antenna with a dual+single LNB and four outputs. It was also covering 101, 110 and 119 satellites, but with 65% gain in signal strength over the Phase III dish. This made it less prone to rain fade effects, as well as better choice for regions at the periphery of satellite "footprint".
The 36"x24" International Dish had two linear, or a single dual LNB and two outputs, for international programming from 95 and 101 satellites. The 18" Hot Shot, intended for cold regions - had built in heating element with automatic thermal control, preventing ice formation.
Last generation of DirecTV antennas are the "Slimline" varieties.
There are other dish brands that can be bought and used for reception of DirecTV programming. If buying on your own, keep in mind that dish and receiver need to be compatible. Best approach is to figure out the entire system, including connectors, wiring and TV set(s) beforehand, making sure it will all work well when put together.
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