Monday, March 19, 2012

Winegard Carryout Review - part 1

One thing we miss when we take the camper out is our satellite TV.  I decided to bite the bullet and buy a Winegard Carryout - a nifty automatic satellite dish.  I ordered it from Dryersonline and it arrived in just a few days.  When it arrived today I was anxious to try it out.  Since we don't get to go camping as often as we like, we just take the satellite receiver out of the house and put it in the camper for our occasional trips.  To try the new Carryout out I put it in the back yard and ran the cable to the receiver in my living room.

Since we use Dish Network, I had to open the dome and change some flip switches - it took just a few minutes to do it.

I had a bit of a problem getting electricity to the Carryout.  It comes with a cable that has a "cigarette lighter" plug on it.  I didn't think that suited my needs, so I shelled out an extra $30 for an adapter.  I dutifully plugged the adapter into the wall outlet and then plugged the Carryout into it.  Nothing appeared to be happening.  I fooled with it for several minutes before I realized that the end of the cable that plugs into the Carryout felt snug but actually needed to be pushed in a bit farther.  When I heard it "click" I knew I'd found and fixed the problem.  Once the plug was all the way in, I heard the machinery go to work in the Carryout.  It takes it about three minutes to get the satellites spotted.  My first try, I had it too close to our back patio and it only found one satellite.  I moved it a bit farther out into the yard and it found all three in just a couple of minutes.

Per instructions, I ran the receiver through the installation process without the dish connected.  It took quite a long time to go through the 38 switches (whatever that is) and report that it found nothing.  Then, I hooked the cable up and did it again, and again, I had to wait through all 38 switches.  All in all, it took 20 to 30 minutes.  Once done, I backed through the menu, ignoring the one that said it saw no satellite signal.

Low and behold, I had an excellent picture.

Let me add that when I was finished, I went back to my dish that's mounted on the roof.  Once again I had to wait while it went through the entire 38 switches.  It went a bit faster, but then the receiver wanted to download the program guide.  The entire hook-it-up-again process took around 15 minutes.

Here's the deal: you have to go through the "switch process" once each time the receiver is changed from the Carryout to the house roof dish or vice versa.  So, when we head out on vacation, the first night we'll have to go through the longer process.  After that, anytime the Carryout is moved it'll take just three or four minutes for it to find the satellites again.  Then, at the end of the trip, as I move back to the house, I'll have to go through the long process again.

Now I know I could get another receiver, etc. but we just don't get to go out enough to justify it.  Not only that, be we want to take our DVR'd shows along with us.

The picture is every bit as good with the Carryout as with the roof mount dish.  When I went through the channels, intentionally going from one satellite to another, the Carryout adjusted faster than the receiver could display the new channel.   There's one drawback worth noting: since you can only see one satellite at a time, you can't watch one program on one satellite live while recording another program on a different satellite.  Sooner or later that will be a problem, but certainly nothing devastating.

Anyway, so far, so good.  I'll do another post on the Winegard Carryout once we've had a chance to take it on the road.

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PS: Sept 2014 Update: I used the Carryout with generally positive results.  I had to replace the 12V plug on it (the original was of some strange design and broke easily).  I also had to send it back for service because of my own blunder.  When it stopped being able to lock onto satellites the factory guy said it needed to be returned for repairs.  I opted to go with a standard satellite instead.

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