How long should a satellite receiver last?

It’s a sad fact today that a lot of electronic devices become obsolete before they break. I can’t even remember how many perfectly good components have ended up in the recycle bin because they simply didn’t work the way I wanted them to. They were too slow, had the wrong kind of plugs, or just didn’t have some capability I needed. This is unfortunately a very common situation.

Yet, a lot of people have this strange desire to hold onto old satellite TV equipment forever. Maybe it’s because back in the 1990s and 2000s, these boxes cost upwards of $1,000. Maybe it’s just because there’s “nothing wrong” with the thing, or maybe it’s the perfect size for a niche shelf you have. Maybe you bought the receiver as part of an RV or marine satellite system before the last recession kicked in and you thought it would last forever.

Sad news, though, nothing lasts forever.

Both DIRECTV and DISH have gone through multiple generations of their technology and that’s meant moving away from the oldest receivers to something more modern. A few years ago, DIRECTV stopped providing guide data to the pre-2003 boxes, making them useless. Last year, DISH upgraded its encoding technologies to make anything made before about 2008 obsolete. DIRECTV is planning the mother of all changes when it stops standard definition service sometime in 2019, making all SD equipment into expensive bricks.

How fair is that?

Personally I think it’s really fair to have a piece of equipment last 5 years. Beyond that you’re on borrowed time. That may not seem like a lot but in technology years it is. Certainly there comes a point with every technology where it’s stable enough that older stuff will work for a long time. Look at PCs. Even though they’re really inexpensive, you could easily make one last 7 years or more because things just aren’t changing in the PC world as much as they used to. If you’re willing to forego some of the fanciest new stuff, you can say the same about audio equipment. Sure that 2005-era audio receiver may not do Dolby Atmos, but it still works the same as it ever did and it will probably keep going for another 11 years if you let it.

DISH’s last receiver to lack the ability to decode today’s signals was sold about eight years ago. By the time DIRECTV stops SD service it will have been six years since the last residential customer got a new SD receiver. Both companies have aggressive upgrade programs for customers with older equipment, reducing the cost to near-nothing.

Of course, if you’re using an RV or marine system you may have your equipment in a custom cabinet and yeah, I get it… that’s a pain. But it happens all the time. If you think about it, plenty of sports bars that were built at the same time as your RV or boat had big custom spaces for big tube TVs. The world changes. The important thing to know is that if you really want to be futureproof, be prepared to take a good look at your satellite equipment every 5 years or even less. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re looking to upgrade, be sure to call Solid Signal at 877.726.4182 and we’ll take care of you from beginning to end!