We have been using the Winegard Dish Playmaker satellite antenna for several months now so I wanted to do a review to let you know what we think about it.
Just so you don’t have to read the whole review to find out: Yes, we like it.
Dish Playmaker Satellite Antenna Review
We are parked in our Son’s driveway and when we first arrived here I managed to find a spot to set up the tripod and point the dish through a small opening between trees and had pretty good signal strength. However, over time the trees leafed out and branches grew and the signal strength weakened. Eventually, we could no longer get reliable reception. With nowhere else practical to place our tripod dish antenna I had to find another way to get a signal.
The only place near our RV with a good shot at the satellites was the roof of our Son’s house. I didn’t want to put the tripod dish up there because I did not want a semi-permeant installation nor did I want to go up on the roof to aim it and service it. So I purchased the Dish Playmaker made by Winegard. Actually, I purchased the Playmaker and a Wally Receiver combo.
When the Antenna and receiver arrived I set the system up temporarily, just to get it working, with the Playmaker on the ground in the middle of the driveway. It was pretty easy just following the printed setup guide and on-screen directions. Once the Dish Playmaker had paired with the Wally receiver and located the satellites I called Dish to activate the Wally. When our Son got home from work he set the Playmaker up on the roof for us.
The Playmaker has been on the roof now for a few months and has endured several big rain storms and high winds and it is still working just fine.
Yes, we like it but, as with most everything, there are pros and cons.
Dish Playmaker Pros:
- Biggest pro of all, it is easy. We have RVed for years with the standard two LNB satellite dish on a small tripod. I got pretty good at setting it up and pointing correctly. But there were times, for what ever reason, it was more hassle than normal. The Dish Playmaker Satellite Antenna is hassle free. If the antenna has a clear view of the southern sky you are good to go. Just connect the receiver coaxial cable, turn on the the receiver and the Playmate finds the satellites.
- It’s portable. You can locate the Playmaker anywhere up to 50 feet away. Which means you can park your RV under the shade tree and locate the antenna where you find open sky.
- It is small and lightweight. Winegard claims it is the smallest portable antenna at 14.3″ diameter x 13.5″ tall and weighing in at just 10 lbs.
- Easy to stow when traveling. I have more space in my storage compartment than when I carried the old parabolic dish and tripod. If you have the Playmaker mounted, say on your roof or RV ladder, it’s even better.
- Low price. At $329 MSRP it is one of the least expensive of the portable antennas available.
Dish Playmaker Cons:
- The Playmaker can lose signal during bad storms. Under the R2D2 dome is a miniature satellite dish antenna. Because it is small it cannot gather as much of the satellite signal as a normal dish. A storm weakened satellite signal and the limitations of a small dish means you may lose signal. It doesn’t happen often and it usually doesn’t last more than a few minutes but it always happens when you are watching a good show.
- Only one LNB. Dish Network uses three satellites to deliver all it’s programming so on a typical home dish you will find three LNBs with each pointed at a specific satellite. An LNB, or Low Noise Block downconverter, is a the small box on an arm that points toward the center of a satellite dish. It receives the signal and sends it to the satellite receiver box that connects to your television.
- The Dish Playmaker satellite antenna has only one LNB. So, if you switch to a new channel that is broadcast on a different satellite the Playmaker has to reposition the LNB and that takes several seconds. It’s not a big inconvenience unless you are used to ‘running’ the channels to see what’s on. In that case the delay can be frustrating. Switching between channels served by the same satellite is similar to regular cable TV.
- Only one receiver. The Dish Playmaker satellite antenna is designed for one receiver/TV. This usually is not a problem in an RV but if you want two TVs the Playmaker may not be for you.
- May not work with your current receiver. As of this writing, the antenna is often sold in combination with the Wally receiver but also works with DISH Solo HD receivers (models 411, ViP 211, ViP 211k, and ViP 211z) If you don’t have one of these receivers you will need to get one and add it to your service contract.
A note about the Wally Receiver
The Wally is a basic receiver that does not have a hard drive for recording and does not support Dish Anywhere service.
You may also be interested in this article: King has new automatic satellite TV antennas for Dish and DIRECTV