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DISH Network Turbo HD Review

DISH Network TurboHD service made its debut on August 1st, generating quite a splash with television advertising touting the availability of the only 100% HD service.  Is Turbo HD all it claims to be?  More importantly, is it worth it when comparing prices with either DIRECTV or other DISH Network packages?

After reviewing the packages and pricing for Turbo HD, it looks more like marketing fluff than a viable alternative to programming and packages already available in the market today. DISH Networkhas fallen behind DirecTV’s lead in a big way over the past year, and obviously they feel TurboHD was a necessary step to help them get back in the HD game.

So what exactly is wrong with the whole TurboHD setup?  First off, if a customer actually selects the HD only package, either Bronze, Silver, or Gold, they don’t get many channels to work with.

TurboHD Bronze contains 24 HD channels, six HD PPV channels, and 14 HD VOD channels.For $24.99 per month, that is probably all you should expect.Add locals for $5 and you may get them in HD if DISH Network has them in your area.

TurboHD Silver has 32 HD channels, the six pay-per-views, and again the 14 HD Video-on-demand channels.This package also includes regional sports networks where available, so you may get 2-3 channels there.Cost on this is $32.99 or $37.99 with locals added.

TurboHD Gold includes 40 HD channels, six PPV, 14 HD VOD and regional sports networks, all for $39.99 per month, or $44.99 with locals.Here are the 40 National HD channels in the Gold package, fewer channels are in the Bronze and Silver packages of course:

A&E HD

Discovery Channel HD

HDNet

Sci Fi Channel HD

ABC Family

Disney (E)

HGTV HD

TBS in HD

Animal Planet HD

Encore (E)

History Channel HD

Tennis Channel

Big Ten Network HD

ESPN HD

Lifetime HD

TLC HD

Biography

ESPN 2 HD

Lifetime Movie Network HD

TNT HD

Bravo

ESPNews

MHD

Toon Disney

Cartoon Network

Food Network HD

National Geographic HD

Travel Channel

CBS College Sports

Golf Channel/Versus HD

NFL Network HD

USA HD

CNBC

Hallmark Movie Channel

Planet Green

Weather Channel

CNN HD

HD Theater

Science Channel HD

WGN America

Finally, DISH Network offers the Turbo HD Platinum package.This stand alone package adds the following 7 channels on to any TurboHD package for $10 a month.

HD Net Movies

NBA TV

Smithsonian HD

World Fishing Network

MGM HD

NHL Network

Universal HD

So how does this compare with traditional packages, either with DISH Network, DirecTV, or even cable companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, or Cox communications?

As far as content goes, it doesn’t.Even with the Gold package, you are looking at a total of only 50 channels of programming once you toss out the PPV and HD VOD channels, which shouldn’t be counted in the first place.

Why only 50 channels, even when DISH Network is now claiming over 100 HD channels? None of these packages include premium movie channels, such as HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax. Then add all of the regional sports networks (RSN) that are not available nationwide, but are still claimed by DISH Network as HD channels, and you will finally get close the the 100 HD channels they claim to have.

DISH Network also continues to insist on charging an extra $10 for all of the available HD content that it carries.

These channels are the better channels available on cable TV, but they certainly don’t cover nearly enough of the pay television universe.

Now of course you don’t have to subscribe to just the TurboHD package.Any of these tiers can be added to DISH Network’s existing programming packages: America’s Top 100, America’s Top 200, America’s Top 250, or the America’s Everything package.

What this results in, however, is an almost unlimited number of combinations regarding standard packages, HD packages, and DVR additions. I fear for the DISH Network customer service representative, manning the phones and trying to explain all of the standard packages, along with the multitude of Turbo HD offerings available in addition.

Overall, I understand why DISH Network is promoting the heck out of Turbo HD, it is an attempt to level the playing field with DirecTV. The problem with their HD only packages is that ordering and understanding satellite TV may take longer than you ever thought possible.

28 Comments

  1. That stinks. I was all excited and called my dad about getting him a bunch of channels for his two HD televisions. I knew there was a reason that it was cheaper than what he is paying right now for standard definition channels. I just didn’t know what it was until reading this. I don’t watch tv myself, except maybe Fox News.

  2. This looks like the perfect package. None of the extra lousy channels I am innudated with on cable tv. A nice compact set of channels that have good quality shows. I am going to cancel all but the limited basic set on cable and use turbohd as my HD supplement. I’ll save $60/mth and get better channels! Now that is something I can live with.

  3. I agree with Jeff on the lack of watchable programming. We don’t have Direct TV where I live, but our satellite here is the same pretty much.

  4. I’m not impressed with the packages from most providers – sure you get 100, 200, 300 channels… of crap that I don’t want to watch or can’t possibly watch and still be be a productive citizen. You have to take into account A) all the junk channels and B) once you have an HDTV, you don’t watch much standard def. It just looks like crap next to HD.

    Plus I still can’t believe we’re still paying for channels to spam us with commercials, but that’s another story.

    I just dumped my cable because of these reasons. TurboHD is actually compelling to me since it’s all HD and only $30/month, but until there are better TV options I’ll stick to free internet content, thanks.

  5. I agree that the 2-300 channels that cable networks nd satelite tv providers offer are not worth it. They charge a lot of money for channels that the average person will never watch. In the absense of an “ale carte” option which would allow people to choose the channels they want, the Turbo HD packages are a great deal. 35 dollars a month for locals plus all of the channels that you would normally watch, or 40 dollars to add local sports networks. Fantastic! if you ask me, and I just ditched my cable provider for this and will be saving 50 dollars a month.

  6. I’d ordered the TurboHD Gold package plus our local DMA in combination with a ViP 722 HD DVR and I’m more than pleased!

    I thought I’d miss channels moving from a larger SD package on DirecTV, but I’m finding that all the shows we did watch are here in the Gold package. The DVR is a huge improvement over our previous R16 and is extremely easy to program to capture our shows in “new release” only configuration. No wasted hard drive space on reruns.

    Much cheaper than our previous package, plus it’s HD!

  7. Like others, I’m finding the Dish TurboHD Bronze to be the perfect package for me, a sports fan. Here are each carrier’s lowest-end priced package that contains ESPN with High Defintion and DVR, as I just checked online:

    Cox cable – $81.65 (they make you get both SD and HD)
    DirecTV – $55.96
    Dish TurboHD – $34.99

    Seriously, there’s no comparison. I don’t need 100 channels, with 70 channels I usually just skip. I even get local channels with this package.

  8. i expect to get a the top 200 + bronze. my main concern is picture quality. i get hd over the air and the quality is superb, minus the pixilation when the wind blows hard–the only reason im switching. ive heard the quality is not as good as over the air? any feedback?

  9. i just dumped Time Warner cable for the Gold TurboHD package. The reason is that I only watch HD channels because I can’t stand the poor quality of SD channels. This package offers more HD channels than Time Warner and I will probably watch most of these channels. With Time Warner I probably only watch about 20 of the channels (even though I have hundreds of SD channels) so I will end up with more with this package and save money too. Not to mention this HD DVR blows cable away!

  10. Lea,
    Sounds like I am in the same boat with you, except Comcast was the victim in my case. They only have 12 HD channels in my area-WHAT A JOKE! Got the Turbo HD Gold along with the platinum add on for a few months at least, plus HBO and Cinemax. I dont miss the standard channels at all, just a bunch of shopping channels anyway! Comcast better get its act together before they lose all of their customers…oh and your right about the HD DVR…its awesome

  11. I agree with most of the posts here. I am an old DirecTv customer and I called to see if they had any HD deals for a returning customer that owns their equipment. Nope. You need to buy one of their SD packages with a new contract/equipment and add select HD channels for $10/mo. I don’t want all the crap in their base packages. Don’t like 10 shopping channels, MTV, VH1, E, etc. Dish Network’s new HD only programming is close to perfect. I am very very happy to pay their price for only HD channels that I will actually watch.

  12. People that compare Dish Turbo to other providers by counting channels don’t understand. My cable company makes me pay $50 a month for the analog channels before I can add HD for $5 for. Dish Turbo has more channels than cable and the only reason I’m not getting this just yet is that here in the Philadelphia area Comcast is using a FCC loophole to withhold the Philly sports network from satellite providers. Other than that this package has all the channels I watch and they don’t make you pay for all those analog channels us HD owners aren’t watching anyway.

  13. I absolutely love DISH offering Turbo Bronze. We, a married couple at thirties on a budget, love movies and Blue-rays, and are not very much into TV. Moreover, local HD channels work just great with our TERK HD antenna. Hence, $25 for CNN, ESPN (X2), Disney, TBS, SciFi, A&E, Weather, and more… sound just too good to be true, at least to us.

    One thing. 24 months commitment or $100 installation fee, certainly stinks. Especially when you had no experience with satellite tvs. No money-back guarantee for the picture quality doesn’t make any sense, for this kind of a “new” business.

  14. This package looks absolutely amazing. When my buddy Michael tryed to get an install he realized a tree needed to be moved. He almost backed out…..then Dish offered 10 a month off his bill for the first year. Well……..not only was it a deal to start….but that paid for the tree branch removal…….DING DING DING…..we got a winner. When we first turned it on we were a little down…….thought the picture wasn’t right….played with the options and instantly when we switched to 1080 option we were blown away. Add the dvr……ability to download your favorites……downloading from work when he found something awesome………this service is exactly what he needed. I am going to get this for the house very soon. Comcast gives you jumbled numbers…….you get exactly what you want with this package.

  15. For less money that Time Warner charges for it’s analog lineup, the Turbo Silver with two receivers looks good to me. I can live without 8 religious channels and 6 shopping channels. and almost all of the HD channels from Dish are not available at all from Time Warner, who have developed a nasty habit of annual 10% price increases and added fees on top of high equipment and dvr fees. Goodbye cable ripoff. We can also get DSL with no phone line purchase, so I’m ready to be free of Time Warner at last. 200 channels aren’t worth anything if most of them are crap, the Dish channels are the ones we actually watch and they’re in HD to boot. Since both of my TVs are HD I am looking forward to getting this installed.

  16. I currently get more hd channels with time warner. They added a good number of channels over the past two months at least in the nyc area. Based on the price the hd turbo package is a good deal though, as far as premium channels are concerned you can dl movies on the internet.

  17. I actually like these packages. I really don’t care about 90% of the channels provided by cable or satellite. Lets face it, if you have time to watch all these channels you probably need to get a lfe.
    I am thinking of subscribing to the TurboHD because 1. Its cheap, 2. It has all the basic channels I want and 3. Its all in HD.
    On top of that, I can get a two-room dvr so I can watch the few shows I like in either my family room or bedroom.
    Not everyone needs or wants 100 channels.

  18. We just switched and i was blown away i love the turbo hd gold it is the best we have had i love it and would recommend this to anyone i know it is even better than our old directtv it is cheaper too we even get more premium movie channels than we did before we switched

  19. if you have direct tv switch it is cheaper and there is alot more hd channels and they are all worth watching and recording we can put up to 500 hours on our hddvr switch if you can it is so much bettter

  20. Turbo HD rocks! I cant say enough about this service. Left Time Warner cable two months ago for Turbo HD, and couldnt be happier. Not only is my bill about $50 less than with TWC, but I dont miss a thing when it comes to channels. Sure I lost some shopping networks, but anything worth watching at all is on the Turbo HD gold lineup, and the DishDVR rocks too.

  21. This is a good deal for most viewers. How many channels of TV can a normal person actually make use of?
    My only complaint is that I paid the extra $6/mo for local channels, but the “local” PBS channel is actually the national feed, rather than KCET (I live in Santa Barbara, and we got KCET from our COX cable service). This makes absolutely no sense to me, but DISH is a large company, and can’t be bothered with this oddity.

  22. You people need to use this so called GOOD DEAL for about 6 mo. then read your own comments . What a joke……………….

  23. I am quite impressed so far with many of the DISH network services. The Dou DVR 722 converter box is awsome. It is better than any sat box I have worked with, and works better than TIVO. The Sat dish, The LNB’s, and the reciever in combination work excellent. Even at low signal strengths I get great picture with no interuptions of service.
    The instruction manual is easy to read.
    Then they send me a Qualified Sat Technician/installer that doeas the job like a true proffessional installing my system, and explaining it. A real proffessional. They even give me direct tech support from the field service techs which is outrageous.
    Best of all they give me a channel line up that is fun to watch, and interactive programmining that is
    excellent with potential for growth. It cost about $690.00 to lock in one year of programming of
    top 200/local channels/HD/and DVR, and it is worth it. I have never been happier, and my familly loves it. DISH NETWORK IS QUALITY. I can,t wait till they offer there own Broadband internet capability.

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