DirectTV or Dish Network?
October 10, 2006 9:47 AM   Subscribe

What's better...DirectTV or Dish Network?

I hate my Time Warner Cable Moxi and unfortunately got rid of Tivo (for lack of HD, but Tivo is the standard to which I compare everything). And no, now is not the time to spend the 800 bucks on the Tivo HD.

Specifically, I'd like to know about the DVR and HD components on both. And yesh, I've gone to AVS forums and so forth...but it all gets a little to technical for me.

And no one ever gives a straight answer.

FWIW, I live in Los Angeles with a pretty clear view of the sky.

posted by ryecatcher to Technology (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you like TiVo the Dish network DVR option (although not intuitive like TiVo) is free of monthly charges. Dish advertises the most HD channels.
posted by Gungho at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2006

Usually people pick DirectTV cuz it has the Football package.
posted by k8t at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2006

DirecTV is owned by Fox. What you make of that is your decision, of course, but this fact has always influenced my options.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:32 AM on October 10, 2006

The DirecTiVo is very nice to have, but AFAIK it does not support HD channels.
posted by neckro23 at 10:34 AM on October 10, 2006

In my subjective experience, the sound and the picture quality with dish is much better. Especially sound.
posted by mmdei at 10:38 AM on October 10, 2006

DISH may be owned by Fox before too long too. FWIW, I've had DirecTV since 1993 or so and have never had a major problem. Even the one billing error was cleared up quickly. They get a lot of grief about poor customer service, but the very few times I ever needed customer service it was fine.

I've got the DirecTIVO option - adds $5 a month if I remember correctly. One warning - you can not use PiP with a single box, it will only send one signal to the TV. You can of course, record two signals at a time, or watch one and record another. I think they are offering the TIVO HD option for $10 a month, $99 for the box, with a 2 year commitment right now.
posted by COD at 10:40 AM on October 10, 2006

DirecTV has HD, and it has a DVR. But getting the combo HD DVR costs something ridiculous. It's $500 upfront or so (or at least it was a few months ago), plus I think a 3-year contract.

I don't know what Dish offers in the way of HD DVR.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 10:45 AM on October 10, 2006

If you are an NFL fan, only DirecTV has the Sunday Ticket package which gives you access to all the games. I got DirecTV specifically because it would allow me to watch my hometown NFL team regardless of what other games are on locally.

Contrary to what is said above, DirecTV DOES have a HD DVR. It is fairly new, but I have it installed and it works well. Not Tivo-level in terms of ease of use, but comparable to the HD DVR box that I had been using from Time Warner.
posted by GregW at 10:47 AM on October 10, 2006

OK, to clear up a few misconceptions:
  • DirecTV has pretty much always had an HD DVR. The first (the HR10) was/is a TiVo-enabled HD receiver that has no problems receiving most of DirecTV's high-def channels (all those encoded in MPEG2 and broadcast off of its main satellites); the channels that it can't get are the local high-def channels (which are, for the most part, broadcast off of the much newer MPEG4 satellites). I have this DVR, and then to get my local channels in high-def, I have an over-the-air antenna hooked up just next to my dish and routed in over the same cabling -- DirecTV did this all.
  • DirecTV has a new high-def DVR that was released about a month ago (the HR20). This one is not TiVo-powered, but rather is DirecTV's own technology. It also has an MPEG4 receiver in it, so it doesn't need an over-the-air antenna to get the local channels in high-def. And since DirecTV claims that it'll be broadcasting a lot more (non-local) HD channels from the MPEG4 satellites, this DVR is really the path forward that DirecTV is offering for those customers who want all the HD programming they can get.
  • Finally, while DirecTV used to charge an arm and a leg for the HD DVRs, now they've moved to a purely lease-based model with a smaller up-front outlay. For new subscribers, the HR20 is $99 up front and $6 a month (I think); for existing subscribers, I'm pretty sure it's $199 up front (same monthly).
I'm moving from the HR10 to the HR20 next weekend; since I got my service between when DTV announced and released the HR20, they were willing to upgrade me to it for free, which was nice of them.
posted by delfuego at 10:57 AM on October 10, 2006

Response by poster: All some great opinions. Thanks so much. My main problem with Time Warner is the ridiculous interface of the Moxi menu. It isn't quick to respond, and only able to view one channel per time (instead of a grid menu).

And the picture is far less than impressive.

Both are offering great deals right now, so I guess now I just have to track down someone who has one, and someone who has the other, and sit down with 'em to see what's-what.
posted by ryecatcher at 11:04 AM on October 10, 2006

A friend found DirecTV is bastard when his payment was late by 1 week for the first time in 2 years (He had been on a trip) they cancelled his service in a heartbeat, then tried to tell him that he had to repurchase the packages all over again. Needless to say, DishNetwork was thrilled to see a new customer.
posted by Vaska at 11:07 AM on October 10, 2006

DirecTV is owned by Fox.

DirecTV is a publicly-traded company (NYSE: DTV). Its largest shareholder is News Corp (38%), which also owns Fox, but "Fox" certainly does not "own" DirecTV. It doesn't even have a controlling interest.

BTW, News Corp shareholders will vote on October 20 whether to allow Liberty Media to take over News Corp's stake. Liberty Media currently owns $11 billion worth of News Corp and wants to swap it for News Corp's stoke in DirecTV, which is worth $9 billion. (Liberty Media is the second largest shareholder in News Corp behind Rupert Murdoch.) Liberty is owned by former TCI cable head John Malone.

The FCC blocked DirecTV and Echostar (Dish) from merging back in 2002; it's unlikely that a merger would be allowed now. The FCC would have to be convinced that spectrum was so scarce that the two companies had no other way to get the spectrum they needed but to combine their share.
posted by kindall at 11:19 AM on October 10, 2006

News Corp's stoke in DirecTV

posted by kindall at 11:20 AM on October 10, 2006

Isn't the Dish Network in the middle of a nasty court case with regards to their DVRs?
posted by jca at 11:49 AM on October 10, 2006

We switched from Dish to DirecTV and have been pretty happy. Dish had this annoying thing where you had a blue screen while it "download info" from the satellite. Extremely annoying. DirecTV doesn't have that problem.

OTOH, Dish had Fox Sports Bay Area as part of their basic package while it's an add-on for DirecTV. As it happens, the SF Giants sucked this year, so I didn't really feel deprived not being able to watch their games.
posted by jasper411 at 1:24 PM on October 10, 2006

For what it's worth-- Echostar's DISH Network has consistently endorsed efforts to give consumers the right to pick and choose their channels -- a la carte or in pick 20 channels for 20 bucks -- and more flexibility in general. But they've been blocked by the media companies that own the channels.
posted by kenneth at 1:53 PM on October 10, 2006

DirecTV + DirecTivo R10 off eBay = The Best[*]

(I always made fun of people who would insist discontinued electronics from eBay were better than what is currently offered, but TiVo is Worth It, especially since you've used it before.)

*Best not including HD or any recent TiVo features
posted by troyer at 1:55 PM on October 10, 2006

Don't forget the music channels!

DirecTV = has XM
Dish Network = has Sirius

I've had both services and was happy with both. I liked the onscreen menu/guide from Dish Network better, and their customer service folks were always quite helpful. Never had any billing problems or any notable service issues.
If I go back to a satellite provider (I have Comcast now - I just moved and didn't want to risk missing the Battlestar Galactica season premiere) I'd go back to Dish Network.
posted by drstein at 5:37 PM on October 10, 2006

kindall - Murdoch profits when DirecTV does well. that's the bottom line.

i hate this but i am a D* subscriber. everything delfuego says is right. the thing that really sucks is TiVo and D* getting divorced. the HD20 is a POS (IMHO) and the HD10 is hard to find anymore, since it was officially discontinued.

i think it will be a while before D* shuts off the MPEG2 HD streams, so perhaps an HD10 is not a bad investment even now, if you can find one.
posted by joeblough at 5:38 PM on October 10, 2006

You know you want the Series 3.
posted by trevyn at 6:15 PM on October 10, 2006

Murdoch probably profits when the economy does well in general. I can't imagine he doesn't have decent-sized stakes in a lot of different companies or at least some broad market indexes. So, um, don't buy anything, it might benefit Murdoch. Anyway, hold your nose until October 20 and see if they give DirecTV to Malone, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. (They'd be silly not to, it's $2 billion in their favor.)
posted by kindall at 8:08 PM on October 10, 2006

yes but certainly more so when direcTV does well. anyway i, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords!
posted by joeblough at 9:14 PM on October 10, 2006

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