DIRECTV – How Does It Compare To DishNetwork?

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.

Comments welcome.

Another Cable Cutter Throws In The Towel

In order to justify our decision-making, it is always nice to find someone who has done the same thing, with the same results. Like David and his wife eBeth, I had delusions of grandeur that I would someday be able to cut the cord [cable or otherwise], and live a happy peaceful life knowing all of the money I was saving. But like David, sometimes in life you just throw in the towel and surrender to the TV Gods.

I had cut my DishNetwork subscription to the bare bones package. I was going to rely on my Roku to stream programs using either Netflix or Hulu Plus to make up for the programming loss. I tried my best for just about a month. What I found was similar to what David encountered. It was a hassle to try to find programming to match what I had discontinued. The streaming from Hulu Plus left much to be desired since it sputtered and spurted unstable pictures to my HDTV. I finally stop using Hulu Plus after the initial free experience ended.

Here is what David said:

I chose to replace my full slate of cable TV with a combination of over-the-air antenna programming, available for free from local broadcasters, and Internet TV services. eBeth and I experienced first-hand a few big disadvantages to this arrangement, not all of which will apply to other prospective cable-cutters.

Spotty antenna reception. Despite purchasing a $180 antenna that’s appropriate to my location, installing it on the rooftop, and orienting it properly, I couldn’t get reliable over-the-air (OTA) reception of the local CBS station in my area. Other major stations came in well most of the time, but during windy days we experienced outages and breakup even on strong stations–frustrating, to say the least.

I had the same problem. Though I didn’t spend $180 for an outdoor antenna, I also experienced reception problems. I recall one Sunday watching an NFL game when the station went dark. After several minutes of no picture, I changed channels which worked just fine. Back over to the football game which finally came back on. But it was spotty for the remainder of the game which was annoying. FYI. I live about 20 miles from the local stations.

Less programming than cable. Even if I achieved perfect reception by securing the antenna better or cutting down a tree or two, the five major networks available over-the-air aren’t enough for my household.

It wasn’t enough for my household as well. Both my wife and I missed programming that we thought we could live without. It soon became evident that we were a spoiled pair who needed our programs back.

Lack of a DVR. We also missed DVR functions previously taken for granted, such as fast-forwarding through a program or rewinding to catch something we missed–actions that were less convenient or impossible with streaming video.

Not being able to record live TV was my biggest disappointment.

My household is now back on the pipe, dumb as it may be, and I’m back to being able to watch Knicks games legally. More importantly, my wife eBeth can watch CBS daytime shows and Bravo prime time without having to deal with streaming video from, a wind-tossed rooftop antenna, or paying for individual episodes via Amazon VOD.

So is mine. I am enjoying DirecTV and it is good to have returned to the programs that I liked. My wife is happy as well.

I still use my Roku to stream from Netflix only. I give Hulu Plus a try once they have a more reliable service.

Comments welcome.

Source – CNet

DIRECTV – My First 24 Hours

As many of you may have known, I switched from Dish Network to DIRECTV. The reason I made the switch was that DIRECTV offered a Premium TV package that was lower than what I was paying Dish for. I have been a Dish customer for 3 years and have absolutely complaints with the company nor the service they offer. In fact Dish customer care is great. As an example the hard disk went out on my Dish DVR and the company delivered a replacement to me less than 24 hours after I reported the failure. They even included a return box and postage to return the broken DVR.

So yesterday, Wednesday, December 8,2010 the DIRECTV technician arrived at my door to do the new installation. Before he even arrived DIRECTV was in contact with me to confirm not only the appointment time, but also to confirm the exact hour of arrival. The tech. took the time to check where the new receivers would be placed, where the connection to the Internet was and where the location of the satellite dish would be.

The install took about 2.5 hours and the system was up and running. The tech. was very enthusiastic to show me how to record a program in one room and play it in another from any TV. That is a nice feature. With Dish we only had the record capabilities from the main and one secondary TV. Also with the Dish DVR, the second TV connection only broadcasts in standard definition.

Much of last evening was spent setting up our favorite channel menu and dumping the stuff we never watch. Once that chore was completed we next channel surfed to see how the reception was. Perfect on all stations. I was pleased that all of our local stations were in hi-def. Dish for our area still broadcasts the locals in standard def. In order to receive the channels in hi-def from Dish, I had to have a second satellite dish installed, which I thought was a dumb idea.

DIRECTV also offers a library of some 4,000 movies and TV programs that I can stream via my Internet connection.

Thus far DIRECTV is working perfectly. I am pleased with the install.

Comments as always are welcome.

Dish Network DVR Hard Drive Failure – Fast Replacement

Wednesday evening while watching the tube our screen froze. No matter what I tried I could not get a picture so I did a hard reboot of the DVR. When it fired back up, I got a ‘Hard Drive Failure’ notice. Sure enough the DVR didn’t work, but I was still able to watch life TV. On Thursday morning I went onto the Dish Network site and had a chat with technical support. Once they confirmed the problem, they went to order a replacement. No joy. The system was being updated so I need to call back.

Now I must admit that my thoughts were not kind. In the afternoon I went back to Dish Network chat, and completed the order for a replacement. My wife asked when I thought a replacement would arrive and I figured about Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Thursday evening I received an email notifying that the receiver had shipped from Denver was coming over night air. Interesting. So when I checked this morning when I got up, I checked with UPS and sure enough the receiver was out for delivery.

At 10:00am the door bell rang and their was a special UPS driver with the replacement in hand. Following the simple to follow directions I was up and running within an hour. Now I just have to set up my favorite channels and I will be finished.

It is rare that we ever thank a corporation for the customer service, but in this case I just want to thank Dish Network. Thanks for the excellent technical support I received and for a fast replacement being sent over night.

Comments welcome.

Logitech Revue Companion Box With Google TV – Amazon Reviews Not Favorable

This morning I received a blurb from Amazon stating the the Logitech Revue Companion Box With Google TV was available for ordering. I haven’t paid much attention to this unit, since I personally think that $300 is expensive. I am getting the Roku HD unit for my birthday — which is this Sunday — and believe that $80 is enough to pay for streaming video. I did take a look at the Google TV box and I was surprised that the reviews for the device were less than stellar. In fact the unit was rated only 3 stars out of a possible 5 by 46 reviewers.

Here are some of the less favorable comments being made:

First things first I want to save time for those readers who have a dial-up or don’t have a cable box or if you have your PC connected to a TV and using it as a DVR or in a similar fashion, you can stop reading now; this thing is not for you.

First, you should know that I’m a gadget/tech hound. I’ve had everything there is out there, from Amiga to Zenith. Remember the WebTV? I had one some 15 years ago. I bring that up because, frankly, I don’t see much difference between that failed attempt at bringing the “web” (as it was called then) to TV and Google’s latest try.

The concept of Google TV is very neat and I’m excited to see where it goes, but the only place my Logitech Revue is going is back to Best Buy.

Interesting. But are these reviews fair? I went over to Best Buy to see what was being said:

First and foremost, before purchasing this product, I knew it was not ready for public consumption, but I had to try it out.

The software itself is really in beta. Lots of quirks, bugs, slowdowns… similar to how Android initially was, however it has the potential to be what Android is like today. In 6-12 months this could truly be a great platform.

Similar to another review I read, I am very tech savvy and have been installing home theaters for years. I’m sorry I have to write this negative review because I was so excited about this product. If you have an A/V receiver (I have a flagship Onkyo, not a piece of junk receiver) everything will go fine until the screen comes up that says you should see your tv picture showing. The picture appeared for a sec, then disappeared, and the sound would continue to flutter on and off. I then hooked the unit directly to my TV and it did work, but I no longer could get 5.1 audio out of my FiOS, no matter what I tried I was stuck with 2.0 stereo. I bought a $1000 receiver for the convenience of A/V switching for 5 HDMI inputs. I bought it Sat night and returned it Sun night.

Not going to go into the details covered by others, but I just want to point out that currently, Google TV does *not* fully integrate with DirecTV DVRs, only Dish Network. What this means is that, aside from controlling basic functions with the remote, you won’t get what this product is meant to do with an attached DVR — the ability to search for TV content from your DirecTV service and DVR and access it through the Google TV Interface.

On the Best Buy site the device was rated at 3.7 stars our of 5 stars by 20 reviewers.

To be fair there were also many positive reviews from both Amazon and Best Buy Web sites. Some people had no issues hooking up the device and were able to stream without flutters or stutters. I think this one statement says it all:

The software itself is really in beta. Lots of quirks, bugs, slowdowns… similar to how Android initially was, however it has the potential to be what Android is like today. In 6-12 months this could truly be a great platform.

This is not earth shattering news. It usually takes any company about a year to fix the bugs, add features and get any product fully functioning for mass consummation. I believe this is going to be a super device in about a year or so, PLUS, it will be cheaper. LOL

Next week I will let you know how the Roku works. I am still practicing my surprise look when I open the box.

Comments welcome.

Source – Logitech Revue Companion Box with Google TV and Keyboard Controller

In Case Of Fire Grab Your Cable Equipment First

In Fargo North Dakota, there was a fire at an apartment complex that destroyed 62 of the units, leaving about 150 residents homeless. Some of the residents lost all of their personal belongings, plus their cable equipment from Cable One. In the fine print Cable One requires that the customer be responsible for any damaged equipment and pay for it if it is destroyed. Some residents are stating the cable company now wants to charge them between $500 and $1,000 depending on the type of equipment the customer was using at the time of the fire.

Service agreements that customers sign say you’re responsible for returning equipment in good working condition. But Rich Smith says he wasn’t responsible for the fire, and what it did to his third-floor home. He admits the cable wasn’t the first thing on his mind after the fire, but when he called CableOne Wednesday, “The operator I talked to said it was a big loss to the company. I really had to bite my tongue because I know she didn’t write the policy.”

CableOne’s general manager said, in a phone call, that they’ll work with customers on a case by case basis. It will be based in part on their payment history, and the depreciated cost of older equipment. They won’t charge for modems or DCTs, but they will for DVRs, which are worth $500 when new. G-M Scott Geston added, “We’ve been hurt too.”

This one statement made me think. What is the real value of a used DVR?

but they will for DVRs, which are worth $500 when new.

For any of us who have had cable service, we are aware that the equipment that is supplied may be used when we receive it from the company. We are all aware that used electronic equipment, no matter what it is, loses its value fairly quickly. For those who lived in the apartment complex and who had insurance, it would be interesting to see the value that the insurance company would put on a used DVR.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Today

Amazon Is Taking Pre-orders For Google TV

Amazon is now taking pre-orders for the Google TV device that will be shipping as soon as it is released. Google TV will offer a wide variety of home entertainment as well as allowing Internet surfing. The device which is being produced by Logitech comes with a what is called a Revue Companion Device that connects to your HDTV as well as a keyboard to with a built-in touch pad. Since a touch pad is included, no mouse or other device is required.

On their website Amazon describes the device and system requirements as

Logitech Revue with Google TV brings together all of your entertainment
in one place…your HDTV. Now you can enjoy:

  • Your cable or satellite programming
  • The full Web
  • Apps designed especially for your TV
  • Compatible DVR recordings
  • Your photos, music and videos
  • One simple-to-use interface, instead of switching devices or locations
  • No extra monthly fees
  • Before you order a Logitech Revue make sure you meet the minimum system requirements which are:

    HDTV with HDMI Port
    Cable, satellite or telephone company box with HDMI out
    High-speed Internet access either Wi-Fi or ethernet network connection.

    Cost of the unit is $299.99. The price seems high when others are offering similar units for under $100. However, it does appear that this device will do a lot more than what others are offering.

    Comments welcome.

    Logitech Revue Companion Box with Google TV and Keyboard Controller

    Dish Network Subscribers Can Access Programs For Online Viewing

    If you are a Dish Network subscriber, you will be able to view programs online starting today. The new feature is currently in beta and currently features about 1200+ TV programs for your viewing pleasure. In addition Dish Network states the following about their latest addition to their programming:

    “People are shifting where they watch video, and I want to shift with them,” Dave Shull, Dish’s senior vice president for programming, said in an interview. Dish is the second-largest satellite carrier behind DirecTV, with about 14 million customers.

    The site will show some free video clips, but cable shows and many movies will be available only with a subscription. Free clips of the film “Iron Man,” for instance, may be available to any customer, but a full streaming version would be available only to pay-TV subscribers or for a one-time rental fee.

    Some of the features showcase what can happen when a customer’s set-top box is connected to the Internet. Customers with a top-of-the-line device will be able to view live television or any of the shows that they have recorded on their digital video recorder.

    I went to the Dish Network site and after logging into my account, was able to access several TV programs, which were being presented by Hulu. I also learned that if you wish to record these programs to your DVR, you need to have the Dish receiver connected with by a phone line, wireless or hard wire to your router.

    The online offering from Dish Network  is currently in beta testing so the program selection is limited. There is about 1200+ programs listed. I would venture a guess that the selection will expand in the near future.

    Comments welcome.

    Source – NYT

    Dish Network vs. DirecTV – Who’s Really Cheaper? You Decide

    We have seen the commercials from both Dish Network and DirecTV, both claiming they are cheaper than each other. The only thing they both can agree upon is that anything is better than cable. No offense cable users, but I have tried cable TV on and off for more years than I care to recall, and I have never been satisfied with the service nor the pricing. Just my two cents.

    But is Dish Network or DirecTV really cheaper as they both claim? I personally doubted the claims of either company and here is the reason why. Each of us have different requirements for our homes. The options from both companies make comparisons difficult, because each uses different types of equipment.

    Example. I have Dish Network using an HD-DVR set top box that works for two televisions. For DirecTV you would need one HD-DVR box for one TV and another HD receiver for a second TV.  DirecTV states with this setup you can then watch recorded programs from either TV. But, with two boxes, you have to pay an additional $5 for the second box. Does this matter? Nope, not at all.

    Once you compare the two services, pricing is fairly close. I used my current system and tried to duplicate the same with setup using DirecTV. As I previously mentioned, I have both DVR and HD service, I have the 250 channel setup [don’t ask – LOL], the HD Premium service, and local HD channels. Last month my bill was $71.60.

    I went over to DirecTV and tried to match a similar package and came up with a price of $70.88. Like I said, the pricing is very close. One must also remember that the pricing for DirecTV was for new customers only.

    But as of six months ago, I was paying $91.60 a month. So I called Dish and said I wanted to cancel because I could save $20 a month going with DirecTV. The nice folks at Dish decided that since I was such a wonderful human being, that they would knock off $20 a month to keep me as a happy customer.

    Bottom line is this. Both Dish and DirecTV have their good and bad features, but I believe that pricing is fairly close.

    What do you think?

    Comments welcome.

    DirecTV DVR Glitch Giving You A Headache? Try Two System Reboots

    One of the misconceptions about being a computer guru is that, since you understand the complex world of computers, you are a master in anything electronic. On occasion I have been asked to try and fix radios, TVs, DVRs, VCRs, digital watches, and even a paper shredder, which I actually got working again! LOL

    So this afternoon when my doorbell rang and a new neighbor stuck his head in, he asked if I knew anything about DirecTV DVRs? Of course I do! Though I am a DishNetwork customer and have been for years, I have had my share of problems and have spent enough time with DishNetwork technical support over the years to have learned a few tricks.

    The first thing I did was jump on the Internet and see if there was any information about DirecTV having any issues. Oh yes, people were jumping up and down all over the place and in general were quite mad at the company. But I then read a Twitter post that recommended rebooting the receiver not once, but twice.

    Over to my neighbors house and, two reboots later, all was well.

    I hope this helps someone else who may be having this issue.

    PS This may not work for all DirecTV DVR problems.

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    Stuff A DVR In That Stocking!

    You can’t have a fully-wired, bandwidth-efficient house without a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). If you attempt to live the digital life sans DVR, it’ll be impossible to ever get your money’s worth out of your monthly investment (cough) in a cable or satellite television subscription. Folks without a TiVo or other DVR often fail to grasp the value proposition, but it all basically comes down to this…

    Continue reading “Stuff A DVR In That Stocking!”