Technology Geeks: Dish Network Versus DirecTV

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My Experiences With Both Satellite Companies

About a year and a half ago, I switched from Dish Network to DirecTV. Basically, I was broke at the time and wanted a nice dual-tuner DVR and DirecTV had started going after Dish Network subscribers in a bid to get us to switch. I had the impression that Dish Network was cheaper than DirecTV, but DirecTV had better equipment. This came from my time working at … uh, let’s call it Electronics City. (I now know that much of the training I got from the City was just salespitch spin, but didn’t know it back then.) When I compared versus the other, I thought they were roughly even and maybe I should the other guys a try. So when all these factors converged, I went for it and tried out DirecTV. So how’d it go? Who wins in the Dish Network versus DirecTV satellite battle?

Dish Network. At least for me.

Bear in mind that I don’t have HD or anything. I just have a regular old Phillips TV set — which my DirecTV remote has trouble switching on and off for some reason. (No such problem with my Dish Network remote.) The next thing I noticed was that the remote I got from DirecTV didn’t have a radio signal to control the receiver from another room. It only had an infra red remote. Meanwhile, Dish Network’s receiver came with one of these radio remotes. Okay, so the remote wasn’t as good. But I could deal with that.

After a day or so, I realized that — on my TV, at least — the picture just wasn’t as good. Maybe this is because DirecTV uses a tighter, proprietary compression format. As I understand it, Dish Network uses good old MPEG-2. Or they did back in the day.

Next bit of suckiness: the DirecTV receiver lacked common sense features, like the ability to start over from the beginning of a recorded program instead of sitting there while it fast-rewound to the beginning. DirecTV recently added this (It really took them more than a year to figure this out?) but the “jump forward” button doesn’t actually jump ahead instantly by 30 seconds like my old Dish Network system. It merely fast forwards about 30 seconds, which is actually slower. And kind of annoying for the first few months. These, and other little inconsiderations, soured me on the interface too.

I got my DirecTV installed in January. The signal seemed okay. Except the guy who did the install couldn’t be bothered to move the actual pole that the dish from Dish Network was mounted on. A neighbor’s tree was right in the way now because the DirecTV satellite is a little lower in the sky than Dish Network. (Dirty %@&$!!!) So DirecTV wanted me to pay $50 to have the very same dufus come out and move it. I argued that it was their fault … I mean, come on. The tree is right there! The dish is aimed right at the tree which has now grown leaves! So they only charged me $25. Which I think kinda sucked. Then the guy comes out and just trims some leaves and stuff. He doesn’t move the dish. And this company is the only one DirecTV allows to service their equipment in the area! Like, WTF?! Dish Network had a dozen or more providers. Fast forward a year later and the neighbor’s tree has grown even taller. We’re experiencing signal loss again.

So I just called Dish Network this morning to switch. It will cost me (according to the lady I spoke with at DirecTV yesterday) like $160 for quitting early! But I’m saving $120 at Dish Network because I get the first three months for free. Which isn’t so bad. And come Tuesday, I will be able to watch TV again. Plus I’ll get the local channels that my local affiliates won’t let me have through DirecTV like ABC, CBS, CW, etc. because Dish Network now has an offer from another provider that is allowed to give me these channels using Dish Network’s equipment.

Sold. Dish Network wins.

I will report later how the new set holds up. Will it be as good as I remember? The installer is supposed to be here this Tuesday.

Note one thing before I go. Customer service is weak at both companies. They’re better than Comcast Cable in the area, but neither is all that good. I had a similar problem when I first got Dish Network because I made the installer mad. He didn’t get to me on time, so his boss chewed him out the next day. Then he took it out on me when he arrived. I should have told him no right on the spot. Anyway, he deliberately did the very same thing: he pointed the the satellite dish at a stinking tree! When the leaves grew out that Summer … same story. But while Dish charged me to move it, at least I got a different installer. And they filed a complaint against the local guys who messed it up the first time for me.

Anyway, time will tell.

-the Atheist Geek-

About The Atheist Geek

The Atheist Geek is a former Jehovah’s Witness turned secular humanist. He’s a lifelong sci-fi geek and a writer wannabe.

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