Feren (feren) wrote,

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Of the choices that blow, DirecTV appears to blow less.

I went over to Circuit City today and talked to the sales rep in the TV department for a bit. I explained my current annoyance at Comcast and asked three simple questions about DirecTV. First, how much will this cost me per month when all the features I want are turned on (meaning the package has the channels I want, HD service is enabled and the HD DVR subscription is turned on)? Second, do they supply my local NBC/ABC/FOX/PBS/etc affiliates in HD over the dish, or do I have to go to an off-air antenna? Third, what does DirecTV get me that Comcast doesn't (in other words: mister salesman, earn your keep and "sell" me on this product)? The answers surprised and pleased me:
  • With all the features I want, the cost per month of DirecTV is considerably less than my current Comcast bill. This was surprising given the calculations I was working under yesterday, but serves to illustrate my point about DirecTV failing the test of putting their pricing up front. With DirecTV, DVR service is about $5.99 per month. I already knew their HD service is $10.99 per month. The basic service package is $41.99. Apparently, tax is already handled by the service costs. Total monthly invoice: $58.97. That's about $16 per month less than Comcast is charging me (although it wouldn't include any "premium" channels). I can add a premium channel with DirecTV for something like $12.99 per month, which would still put DirecTV under Comcast for price by a margin of about $4.
  • Despite what I'd read on the various sites, I can indeed get my local network affiliates in HD via the dish, which eliminates the need for an off-air antenna. At this point it is evident that for my requirements, DirecTV is equal to Comcast and comes in at a lower pricepoint -- something that is always attractive to potential customers.
  • DirecTV offers a number of benefits over cable. A big benefit: DirecTV programming is inherently digital across the board. Comcast has a number of "analog" channels still, almost one hundred of them. Simply put, analog stations look like crap on the big screen because you can see the overcompression that Comcast is using. While DirecTV also does compression, all their material is digital so it is handled better. A second advantage over Comcast is that because DirecTV is all digital, almost all the stations support 5.1 surround sound. Hooray, my theater system will no longer go to waste when I'm watching regular television! For the money I spent on the Onkyo and the speakers, everything I watch should be in 5.1 DTS. Third, the DirectTV DVR is based on Tivo and Tivo doesn't suck. While I want to root for Motorola, the simple fact of the matter is that the Comcast DVR solution is still immature, has a lousy GUI, lacks sufficient storage and is prone to a lot of glitches. The DirecTV HD Tivo has a 250 GB HD, so it can store 30 hours of HD content and over 200 hours of standard definition content. This is a vast improvement over my current situation because the Comcast DVR can only hold 30 hours of standard definition content and something like 4 hours of HD.

Faced with a better product for less money per month I bowed to economic pressure and played the part of consumer whore. I plopped out the $599 at Circuit City and came home with the DirecTV HD tuner/Tivo device ($499 after the mail-in rebate). I got a bit of a runaround on the phone but finally reached the right department to schedule the installation of the remaining tuner and the dish. So, in one week hence, I will be up and running on DirecTV and can cut Comcast loose. I'll have to stay home for it because there's a 4 hour window when the installer will arrive. Of course, nobody will tell me when that four-hour window might be, so I consider the entire day a loss. In that respect DirecTV (or maybe the installer is from Circuit City, I dunno exactly in this case... things get all confused when you buy DirecTV service from Circuit City) is no different than Comcast or the phone company. But hey, small price to pay, right?

So, in summation: For me, Comcast blows more than DirecTV and thus is being dropped.

This is my show
Tags: canblowme, geek, tv

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