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  1. #1
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    DirectTV vs. Dish Network...

    Any recommendations on which service to go with? I've always had cable, but I'm moving to an unserviced area. Quality, consistency of service (picture quality and minimal outages), good customer service and most channels per $ are my main concerns.

    Is there another service I should consider?

  2. #2
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Any recommendations on which service to go with? I've always had cable, but I'm moving to an unserviced area. Quality, consistency of service (picture quality and minimal outages), good customer service and most channels per $ are my main concerns.

    Is there another service I should consider?
    I'm afraid I can't do an indepth comparison, but I have Direct TV and I love it. I bought an RCA receiver that has a component video out and a a digital audio out. Picture' great and surround sound (when available) is great. One thing you should keep in mind is that different receivers by different companies have different features and styles. We had a Sony receiver, for instance, and it was real slow in tuning into different channels and the grid was weird, but it had a great "favorite channels" function that RCA does not. But RCA has this scout where it can search for all the shows of a certain title, director, or actor. And it's ongoing. So each day I can check what the new hits are for Hitchcock or Die Hard, or Woody Allen. Once you go satellite, you'll never go back, at least willingly.

    Paul.

  3. #3
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul_pci
    I'm afraid I can't do an indepth comparison, but I have Direct TV and I love it. I bought an RCA receiver that has a component video out and a a digital audio out. Picture' great and surround sound (when available) is great. One thing you should keep in mind is that different receivers by different companies have different features and styles. We had a Sony receiver, for instance, and it was real slow in tuning into different channels and the grid was weird, but it had a great "favorite channels" function that RCA does not. But RCA has this scout where it can search for all the shows of a certain title, director, or actor. And it's ongoing. So each day I can check what the new hits are for Hitchcock or Die Hard, or Woody Allen. Once you go satellite, you'll never go back, at least willingly.

    Paul.
    Thanks, Paul. Is it better to buy your own receiver to begin with, or go with the one offered with installation/startup deals? I guess I could go with their's and shop around later?

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    I think the two services are comparable. Only minor differences in the channel selection. I think that Dish has a lower basic entry level package than Directv, but with the expanded basic service, the two are similar. I've read that Dish's picture quality on average is slightly better than Directv because they have more capacity. I have Directv and the picture quality's a step up from analog cable, and I've been very happy with the customer service so far. Occasionally, the picture pixelates, and some channels don't look as good as others. This might be where Dish has an advantage, but I don't know this for sure. I've only used Dish on a couple of occasions and it was not critical enough viewing to tell any differences with Directv.

    But, I think what it boils down to is if you're looking to subscribe to sports packages, Directv's a no-brainer because it carries NFL Sunday Ticket exclusively, plus their regional sports network coverage is better. And if you want foreign language programming, Dish has a larger selection of international packages available.

    Both services are expanding their HD offerings, but still fall short of what a lot of cable systems currently offer. Directv's due to launch a couple of new satellites soon, but won't have new capacity to offer local HD channels until at least the middle of next year. Dish might take even longer.

    A wildcard in all of this is Voom. Voom is another satellite service that has by far the best HD offerings. They've been trying to add to their subscriber base, but it remains small and from what I've read, their parent company is trying to sell the service. Between Directv and Dish, if either of them acquire Voom, then they instantly have a clear upper hand in what they can offer via HD.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Thanks, Paul. Is it better to buy your own receiver to begin with, or go with the one offered with installation/startup deals? I guess I could go with their's and shop around later?
    The receivers offered with those installation deals (the three-room free installation stuff) are usually refurb units and/or discontinued models. Keep in mind that if you want HD and DD 5.1, you need to go with a larger elliptical dish (I believe this applies to both Directv and Dish) and a more advanced receiver. Those installation deals that you see on TV usually don't include those items. You could swap out the receiver later on, but that would also entail switching out the dish. Directv currently has a $300 HD package deal that includes the HD receiver and elliptical dish. Not sure what Dish offers.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Yeah, shop around. Think about what features you care about and which ones you don't. Woochifer is right, getting into HD satellite is quite pricey at the moment. I picked up my receiver for $90, including a cool silver remote.

    Paul.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    I recently switched from Dish to DirecTV, mainly because DirecTV's Tivo service is phenomenal while Dish's PVR is rather useless. That alone made the switch worthwhile for me, but I ended up saving about $10 a month for the same channels (even WITH the Tivo subscription) and DirecTV has a far better picture quality.

    I miss two things about Dish..Iike the way their channels are laid out. DirecTV's channels are scattered everywhere with no real grouping so it's hard to just flip around without typing in numbers at some point. The second thing I miss about Dish is the Sirius Radio channels which is really more of a novelty thing I guess. I have over 1000 CD's, but the sat radio is cool to have now and then

    Overall, I say DirecTV if you are going for Tivo. If not, it's a toss up.

  8. #8
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    What about TiVo with a built in DVD recorder? Do they have those and if they do it seems that would be the best of both worlds and way easy.
    Look & Listen

  9. #9
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    I recently switched from Dish to DirecTV, mainly because DirecTV's Tivo service is phenomenal while Dish's PVR is rather useless. That alone made the switch worthwhile for me, but I ended up saving about $10 a month for the same channels (even WITH the Tivo subscription) and DirecTV has a far better picture quality.
    I tried Dish when I first bought my HDTV reciver and found that the both the HDTV and NTSC picture was better with DirectTV. I have read several reviews that state the opposite. I wonder if we are talking about receiver brand quality not the signal quality of the service.

    I have had three brands of receivers all behaved quite differently each had their own set of annoyances. My current receiver is a Panasonic; it is full of software bugs, the Sony was better but it wasn't HDTV and I've now forgotten the brand of my first receiver that was painfully slow in scanning the channel menus.

    Considering how long the services have existed there is litle excuse for how badly the user interface works on the receivers I've owned. The favorite channel function on my Panasonic is useless and if you add one too many the reciever reboots (thats about 5 minutes) and ALL previous favorites are lost. Don't bother asking it to find all of one kind of show, up to 7 minutes of blank screen with no exit function. The list of bugs goes on and on, too many to bother to list here and to think I paid $1,000 for this junk..

  10. #10
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    I appreciate all the responses. I'm probably at least a year away from HDTV so I'll probably go with the best package deal for now. I failed to mention that the home I'm buying already has a Dish Network dish. I have no idea whether it stays (do you buy these things or lease them?) or whether I need to transfer the existing account for it to stay. It may turn out to be easier in the short run to get up and going with Dish, but the Directv w/Tivo sounds appealing. Geez, it's hard enough just making sure my utilities are transferred!

    Based on the experiences you've shared, it looks like I need to plan for the future even if I can't use HD now. It also looks like I'll have some flexibility in choice of receivers. That's something I never had with cable (or, if I did, I didn't know it). Thanks again.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    I appreciate all the responses. I'm probably at least a year away from HDTV so I'll probably go with the best package deal for now. I failed to mention that the home I'm buying already has a Dish Network dish. I have no idea whether it stays (do you buy these things or lease them?) or whether I need to transfer the existing account for it to stay. It may turn out to be easier in the short run to get up and going with Dish, but the Directv w/Tivo sounds appealing. Geez, it's hard enough just making sure my utilities are transferred!

    Based on the experiences you've shared, it looks like I need to plan for the future even if I can't use HD now. It also looks like I'll have some flexibility in choice of receivers. That's something I never had with cable (or, if I did, I didn't know it). Thanks again.

    Oh, I'm sure that Directv would be more than glad to take that Dish Network dish off your hands! I know that with Directv, they tell you that if you move, leave the dish where it is, and they will arrange to do the installation at your new home. It might be easier to go with Dish, but the only difference by going with Directv is that they would need to send someone out to do the installation. And all of these deals with both Dish and Directv are for three-room installations. If the Dish installation at the new home does not cover three rooms, then you'll still need an installation appointment.

    Something else to consider by going with a HD installation is that the HD receivers have DD 5.1 output. If later you decide to upgrade from a standard installation, you would need to get the elliptical dish installed.

  12. #12
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    I have the non-HD DirecTivo receivers and they also have Dolby 5.1..but keep in mind there are maybe 3 channels that broadcast in 5.1 now.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Any recommendations on which service to go with? I've always had cable, but I'm moving to an unserviced area. Quality, consistency of service (picture quality and minimal outages), good customer service and most channels per $ are my main concerns.

    Is there another service I should consider?
    I left DirecTV a few months ago to switch to DISH. I liked the DISH picture across all channels better. When I had DirecTV, I had to buy the HDTV satellite receiver from DirecTV for a few hundred bucks. The satellite receivers won't work across providers. I gave it to my son who has DirecTV. DISH provides the equipment, including the HDTV satellite receiver. They require its return when you terminate service. No big deal because you can't use it with any other satellite service anyway.

    And since you're using their units, repair is always included, which is no freebie on DirecTV. I'm using it with my own TIVO. DISH has a two-receiver unit that sends one signal via radio to a remote at one of the non-HDTV receivers (which saves about $5/month) (it doesn't require a direct antenna connection for one receiver). But the radio-controlled connection is a composite (yellow RCA) connection and its quality is not as good as the S-video on the directly connected non-HDTV TV receiver. To avoid this, you can get an additional directly connected (S-video) unit for an additional $5/month.

    Since I use an AV receiver with video up-conversion to component video, the HDTV picture is also better on non-HDTV channels. HDTV is best by-passing the TIVO (which always runs the sound and video through its own compressor and off the hard drive). Which is why I got the up-converting AV receiver.
    Last edited by Stu-r; 01-14-2005 at 08:54 AM.
    Stu-r

  14. #14
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    DirecTV will have much increased HD (HD locals in major market areas in addition to the current HD nets from network owned and operated stations) service in the second half of THIS year (2005). This was all announced at the just concluded CES in Las Vegas last week. Dish Network is at a disadvantage currently over capacity. Look for Charlie Ergen to attempt a buyout of Voom's satellite capacity when that service goes on the auction block. (Don't be surprised to see Rupert Murdoch bid the price up as long-overdue payback to his "buddy"...) Dish Network also has a couple of satellite launches planned soon, too. As for HD receivers, there are deals out there. Circuit City and Best Buy sell HD DirecTV receivers for under $300.00. (I got my Hughes HTL-HD receiver for $270 last year.) There is a "catch" you should be aware of, though with DirecTV. The buyer is on the hook for a year's continuous subscription or a $250 (I think) "penalty" for non-performance or early termination is charged back to the subscriber's credit card. If you think you'll walk into the store and pay cash for a new DirecTV receiver, think again. The store will "swipe" your card for a chargeback up to $250 in case you "forget" to subscribe or cancel your subscription early. You can, however, beat the mandatory subscription term by buying a used receiver. Unless it's from a family member who terminated in good standing, though, you will have to purchase a new access card (FedEx overnight delivery to your door). That's only $20, though. The reason for this is that new receiver costs, regardless of manufacturer, are heavily subsidized by DirecTV and to get to the break even point, they need the subscriber to stay with their service at least 1 year. (that and as protection against inveterate hackers stealing service) This early termination or non-performance penalty applies to both SD and HD receivers - everyone gets the "opportunity" to stay with DirecTV at least a year. There is no mandatory minimum subscription level. As to service outages, that depends mostly on weather.* During severe weather, dense rain clouds can and will degrade signal strength. Ku band satellite signals are similar to microwave oven frequency, so they're absorbed by water. Clouds are suspended ice crystals. In the nearly five years I've had the service, I've suffered absolute outages two or three times - never more than a minute and usually only single digit seconds. The usual weather-related problem is momentary pixilation breakup lasting less than a second. (annoying if you're making a permanent recording of a PPV event...) DirecTV supplies and requires free professional installation for all new installs. Partly to avoid stupid subscriber mistakes and partly to avoid stupid "subscriber" hacking. I can't speak for Dish Network, but the few times I've questioned a billing statement irregularity, I was able to resolve the issues over the phone to my satisfaction. I've found DirecTV's customer service representatives helpful and accomodating, and when the entry level CSRs weren't able to resolve the issue, they'd refer the matter to a supervisor who got things straightened out pronto. Finally if you want NFL Sunday Ticket, (which is now available in HD!!!) your only small dish satellite service choice in the U.S. is DirecTV. DirecTV just negotiated an exclusive five-year contract with the NFL. Sorry, Charlie...

    *Mostly... But, never underestimate the importance of good exposed-lead dressing. Insecure terminations that become water-fouled can be a bon-of-a-sich to diagnose. As a subscriber who installed his own system prior to the mandatory professional install policy, trust me...
    Last edited by Ray H; 01-14-2005 at 01:55 PM.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    NFL Ticket

    I know this is kinda off-topic, but does anyone else besides me think that NFL ticket (HD or not) is kind of a ripoff? My father has NFL ticket and after a while, (I know, I'm slw), I realized that unlike,say baseball or basketball, football games are only held two times on Sunday. So, you're paying all this money, and you can still only basically watch two games—one at 10am and one at 1pm—so you're just paying all that money to be able to choose which game you watch at 10am and which game you watch at 1pm.

    Paul.

  16. #16
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul_pci
    I know this is kinda off-topic, but does anyone else besides me think that NFL ticket (HD or not) is kind of a ripoff? My father has NFL ticket and after a while, (I know, I'm slw), I realized that unlike,say baseball or basketball, football games are only held two times on Sunday. So, you're paying all this money, and you can still only basically watch two games?one at 10am and one at 1pm?so you're just paying all that money to be able to choose which game you watch at 10am and which game you watch at 1pm.

    Paul.
    I have no idea how much the package is, but you make a good point. I'll probably check the price because (unless there's a doubleheader) the only NFC games we get in my area are Saints games until the playoffs.

  17. #17
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    I had Dish Network and switched to Direct before Dish offered local channels. My picture was better with Dish, considerably. Then I bought a new HDTV receiver and the quality for all channels was much improved and more compatible to Dish.. The receiver I was using was a free receiver from Direct. So I would say that the better receivers have a better picture....
    I think Dish also had better customer service. Much easier to get to talk with someone...

  18. #18
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    I definitely agree. My sister ahs NFL package just to watch Colts games. How pathetic to want to watch the Colts first of all never mind pay all that money to do it. As far as watching multiple games on a Sunday, yeah right. Switching channels all day during a game is no fun especially when networks take commercial breaks abt about the same time.. Then you factor in timeots (not TV) and injuries and slo mo reviews and forget it, you actually catch about 25 minutes of each game.
    Now if your TV could split in to 8 screens and was big enough to watch all of them at the smae time, provided you could afford 8 different receivers including the 4 most households have, not to mention the remote control nightmare etc... etc..
    So yes in summary a major ripoff and the price keeps going higher, so what does that tell you about the smarts of our population.........Unbelievable

  19. #19
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    I appreciate everyone's responses. Since my wife watches tv too, we kinda tackled this one together. She collected all the newspaper flyers and mailers to compare the best deals, then called each service to confirm the deals. After discussing all the options we went with DISH's 4 room package - 49.99 on your credit card then 49.99 credit on first month's bill for installation. With this we get tivo on 2 tvs and some other stuff. The salesman really pushed their equipment like it was all new state-of-the-art stuff. We'll see. Right now they do have an HD deal that sounds very good (I believe it can be included in this 4room deal at no extra initial charge - not sure about monthly charges), but I'm about a year away from being ready. Hopefully, the conversion won't be painful/expensive down the road.

    Bottom line is we're coming out about $22 cheaper per month compared to digital cable. We got the 120 package with HBO and Starz. Once we get settled in our new house, I'll have more time to compare. Initially, I think I might be losing some channels while gaining others, but it doesn't really matter because I can't get digital cable at my new house anyhow. Again, thanks for sharing your experiences - very enlightening.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    I appreciate everyone's responses. Since my wife watches tv too, we kinda tackled this one together. She collected all the newspaper flyers and mailers to compare the best deals, then called each service to confirm the deals. After discussing all the options we went with DISH's 4 room package - 49.99 on your credit card then 49.99 credit on first month's bill for installation. With this we get tivo on 2 tvs and some other stuff. The salesman really pushed their equipment like it was all new state-of-the-art stuff. We'll see. Right now they do have an HD deal that sounds very good (I believe it can be included in this 4room deal at no extra initial charge - not sure about monthly charges), but I'm about a year away from being ready. Hopefully, the conversion won't be painful/expensive down the road.

    Bottom line is we're coming out about $22 cheaper per month compared to digital cable. We got the 120 package with HBO and Starz. Once we get settled in our new house, I'll have more time to compare. Initially, I think I might be losing some channels while gaining others, but it doesn't really matter because I can't get digital cable at my new house anyhow. Again, thanks for sharing your experiences - very enlightening.

    Be sure to order all your options at the get-go. Later, it usually costs.
    Stu-r

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