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.
YouTube Video for the DishPlaymaker from Winegard
YouTube Video for the Wally Receiver
You may also be interested in this article: King has new automatic satellite TV antennas for Dish and DIRECTV
This is not hassle free, I moved the receiver 10″, and it can’t find the satelittes.
Camp in the mountains a lot can I get service there.
Maybe, but realistically probably not. You need line of sight just above the normal horizon and that is not likely with mountains. It all depends on what you are. If you are in a large valley you might make it work.
System will not send signal they satalite port on rv. Signal loss. But my system works on park cable. Rep said that need cables checked in rv.
Here’s a fresh review. It really is junk! I bought this October of 2019 and have never been able to get HD local channels. Even when the Play Maker is sitting right next to my home Dish antenna. Sad! They say it’s because there is not a clear view of satellite 129. So why does the home system work? Oh, they say, maybe it’s the coax, maybe the Wally is bad, or the antenna. You have to drive to a vendor and have them check it out they say. When I called one of two they recommended, they said they get a lot of calls. But they sell only, no servicing. Here’s my log of all the calls:
5/15/2020 10:30 AM I called (at least 4 times) I told the call receipt what I wanted and that I had the equipment and wanted to “reactivate it”. There was at least 4 call transfers and one disconnect during the process. There is not a single choice anywhere that would tell the listener what to do. It was only after many many trial and error that I chose “technical support. Issues with documentation given me with the purchase.
Then, it took 4 or 5 Wally resets the next day to get the dish to receive correctly. However, it still would not receive the local channels. Even when placed directly next to my home Dish antenna.
6/17/20 11:30 AM Worked for several hours, the tech finally asked me to call Winegard 800-788-4417 said he could no longer help me. At 12:54 I dropped the call.
6/17/20 1:06 AM Called 800-788-4417 talked to Winegard tech support. They said it was a Dish issue. They told me to call Dish Outdoors at 800-472-1039
6/17/20 1:25 PM Called 800-333-3474. After about an hour working on the problem. Power down up many times, changed the coax, etc. my wireless home phone lost power and the call dropped.
6/23/20 4:19 PM Called tech support. Still unable to get local channels. I was told to call 1-866-262-1240 and report my trouble.
6/24/20 9:45 AM called 866-262-1240. After 30 minutes on hold, I left a message for a call back
6/24/20 12:10 PM A Dish technician (Jorge) called me back. He determined the problem seemed to be related to the local “HD” channels. All my “SD” local channels work fine. No resolution. He said he would call me back in an hour.
7/6 3:00 PM I never received any call back from Jorge as promised. Since it was over two (2) weeks, I called back. After being on hold for 15 min. I left a message for a call back.
7/7/20 10:00 AM Jorge called me back. After a brief discussion of about 20 minutes, Jorge said he would have to escalate the trouble and would get back to me. He said it seemed the Wally was defective.
7/19/20 7:00 AM No calls from Dish to resolve the trouble. 7/21/20 1:20 PM call Dish Network complaints line in the first instance on 1-855-318-0572 prompt 1
Talked to steve. He wanted me to run through a few things that I needed to get the system setup for.
7/21/20 1:40 PM prompt 1 then 4 then 1 and I waited for Steve since I didn’t have the system running before. Daniel. He sent me to a case manager. talked Page She said the trouble was that the playmaker was not getting a good signal from sat 129 spotbeam 2. That’s what I needed for local HD channels. She said I needed to go to two vendors (Pikes Peak RV 719-596-2716 or Campers World 888-502-3870).
7/21/20 2:10 PM Called Pikes Peak RV 719-596-2716. They said they do not service the Dish products only sales. He said they get calls all the time about Local channel issues. He could not help me.
So don’t buy this unless you like blowing your money. It’s a big headache