I switched from DishNetwork to DIRECTV on Wednesday December 8, 2010. I had been using Dish for 3 years and I had no complaints with the service. My only reason for switching carriers was because DIRECTV was offering a better deal for new customers, so I decided to give DIRECTV a try. Prior to having Dish, I had cable TV from a local provider, so I have no brand loyalty to either cable nor satellite. My only consideration is how much it costs me a month.
Equipment: Dish uses a single HD-DVR which comes with two tuners built into the receiver which controls two TV’s. The first tuner broadcasts a HD signal whereas the second tuner only broadcasts in SD. In my case the HDTV in my bedroom only received a standard definition signal which was less than stellar. DIRECTV supplied me with a HD-DVR for the living room and a HD receiver for the bedroom. Both broadcast signals in HD including local stations. You can also view recorded programs and record programs from both rooms.
Picture Quality: Both my wife and I noticed that it appears to us that DIRECTV has a better picture in HD with more depth than did Dish. This is on all stations which broadcast in HD. SD channels are the same for both DIRECTV and Dish.
Remote Control Features: Both DIRECTV and Dish offer comparable feature rich functions on their remotes. Each offers the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward live programming. The main difference I found is that with Dish you can pause, rewind and fast forward live programming from both remotes. With DIRECTV this is limited to the main TV in the living room and does not function for live TV in the bedroom. To over come this, you can record the program and then take advantage of the pause, rewind and fast forward features on the second TV in the bedroom or in any other room that is connected by a receiver.
DIRECTV offers what is called a Quick Tune feature. Using Quick Tune you can set up up 9 stations you watch most often. With this feature you do not have to surf through the channel guide.
Channel lineup: 200, 220, 250 channels oh my! Everyone of us have different viewing habits and different programming needs. But what both DIRECTV and Dish have in common is that both like to include their music channels in the programming packages. Plus both include programming such as CSpan, multiple news networks and so forth that I never watch. When I setup my Favorites programming I end up with about 90 channels that my wife and I normally view and that is out of the 205 channels I signed up to receive. Typical for both DIRECTV, Dish and if I recall cable as well.
Recommendation: I believe that both DIRECTV and Dish provide very good service. I would give DIRECTV a slight advantage over picture quality but not to the point where I would not use Dish again. IMO opinion both DIRECTV and Dish are both better than cable, but that may just because where I live, the cable service is mediocre. Your mileage may vary.