Is My View on DirecTV vs Dish Valid?

Guy Owen

Active SatelliteGuys Member
Original poster
May 26, 2004
I ordered VOOM for my 55" Mitsubishi HDTV -- can't get it because of no line of sight. I think I can get either DirecTV or Dish. Went back through my comparison lists and came up with the following Observations, and nagging Questions...

a) The Program Offers based on Packages seem cheaper on Dish, but when I looked specifically at the Dish Top 120 ($35) program vs DirecTV Total Choice Plus ($43), my opinion changed. For $8 more on DirecTV, I get a LOT more stations that I'm interested in which are NOT included on Dish-- Biography, Bloomberg, 5 more Discovery stations, NASA TV, National Geographic, Oxygen, Science Channel, etc.
Winner for Best Mid-Level Programming Value: DirecTV

b) Comparing Dish Top 180 ($45) to Choice Plus ($43), there's tons more options on Dish. I'm not sure comparing these is fair, but DirecTV's only other choice jumps to $90 a Month.
Winner at this Level: Dish.

c) Opting for the HDTV offers at both, I think both require a 12-Month Contract -- no matter what.
Winner for Contract issues: Stalemate.

d) However, Dish dealers are including BOTH a DVR and an HDTV receiver with that commitment for no additional fee -- whereas, DirecTV is still demanding $399 + Shipping.
Winner for Up-Front Costs = Dish.

e) Reported quality of the Dish 811 HDTV receiver = lots of bad news.
Reported quality of DirecTV HDTV (especially Hughes) receiver = mostly good news.
Winner of Equipment Quality: DirecTV.

f) Forum battles over good picture / bad picture issues seem to slide mostly Good toward DirecTV -- not so much toward Dish.
Winner of Picture Quality issues: DirecTV

g) Rumors about more HD options on DirecTV have been around for 6 months with no action. However, at least there's the possibility... apparently. Whereas, with Dish there seems to be a consensus that there is no chance in hell they'll add any new HD.
Winner for Possible HD Content Improvements: DirecTV

Since both require a Contract with HDTV, I'm leaning toward DirecTV -- but I hate the idea of paying for the equipment. It adds a staggering $26 Per Month to the payment if I only stay the one year. And that doesn't include DVR (unless I missed something).

1) Anybody see glaring errors in those observations?
2) I think DirecTV will have to come out with a No Contract or Free Equipment option, eventually -- anyone agree?
3) If I have a rooftop antenna for Local Stations, does the satellite OTA picture improve anything over that?
4) If I decide NOT to get HDTV with my satellite, will a separate Local HDTV Antenna be useful? Someone mentioned 50% or more of all HD programming (forgetting Voom) is off Local Stations, anyway.


You are right on until you get to points F and G. Dish generally gets the nod for having better PQ, especially if you use a big screen. If you have a smaller tv, they will look roughly the same.

Also, at the time Dish has more HDTV than Direct and seems to have more of a commitment to HD. Dish has the same channels Direct has, and on top of that Dish just added TNT-HD. Voom is obviously the place if you want the MOST HD, but if you want the best mix of HD and SD programming, Dish is the better choice. I've had both, and find Dish to be a superior service.
go with direcTV. if you want anything more than a basic line-up and standard receivers, than Dish is not for you. if you want HD receivers and a line-up of HD programming that will be expanding really soon-DirecTV is your choice. my polls show that there really isn't proof that one service has better PQ than the other, so don't believe what people say about one being much better than the other. DirecTV currently has more HD channels than Dish that actully show HD programming, as TNT-HD is nearly a complete waist that shows almost nothing in HD. for what you want, there is no question that direcTV is the better choice. ever wonder why Dish gives all those HD receivers and DVR's away or sucks you into a cable like rental program? because you get what you pay for, at Dish the quality level just isn't there. they will not be adding any HD channels anytime soon, as Charlie says. go with DirecTV. o'h and one more thing. Dish uses the exact same satellite (61.5) Voom uses for some of its programming, looks like that will not work for you?
That's not true. Dish has free setups for new customers to get HDTV rcvrs and DVR rcvrs. not just standard.
You know from what I have seen you will get about the same PQ and comparable programming choices on both E* and D*. I have had both at one time or another.

You will be happy with either one it's the little things that you have to look for.
1. Do they have the programming packages that you want?
2. Which receivers do you like Tivo vs Dish's home grown DVR/PVR
3. Which one has those little obscure channels that a lot of people don't even know about.
4. Are you wanting to have access to lots of HD programming D* is on top when they get the new HD channels and surely it will be very soon.

So IMHO both will make you happy. Go with Voom if you want HD right now.

"Go with Voom if you want HD right now"
didn't anybody actully read his post? he said he can't have Voom because he can't view 61.5 from his location. he can't have Dish either, because they ALSO use 61.5 for some of their programming. thats it-end of discussion. that leaves DirecTV as his ONLY choice other than C-Band or FTA.
Actually mini1, depending on where Guy Owen lives will determine how important 61.5 is to him. Only HDTV on 61.5 right now are the Demo channel and New York CBS HD feed. All other HDTV is on 110/119. International channels, some east coast locals, and some second dish locals are also located on 61.5. As he has no line of sight for 61.5, an assumption can be made that he does not live on the east coast, so locals should not be an issue.

Now, as a retailer for both DISH and DirecTV, and as a past subscribers to both services, I do prefer DirecTV to DISH, mostly because equipment is less buggy. In some cases, as Guy mentioned in his first post, DISH programming and prices are sometimes superior.

mini1 said:
"Go with Voom if you want HD right now"
didn't anybody actully read his post? he said he can't have Voom because he can't view 61.5 from his location. he can't have Dish either, because they ALSO use 61.5 for some of their programming. thats it-end of discussion. that leaves DirecTV as his ONLY choice other than C-Band or FTA.

Ouch mini1 you got me! I got so wrapped up in giving him all of the straight poop that I lost sight of his original statement.

That is another good reason to always quote and read the quote while you are trying to answer questions.

I'm glad you see what I mean. in the future 61.5 could be used for more programming that Guy will want to get, I would never sign up for a service if I thought at some point that I could lose access to up to 1/3 of the programming. go with DirecTV-its your only real choice here.
Guy -

Package price - The comparable cost of Dish's AT120 is $40/month, not $35, as both TC and TC Plus include locals .
If you put TC and AT120 side by side for your $40, DirecTV's TC is without a doubt a much better value.

PQ - The two are comparable.

HW - DirecTV is much better on quality and functionality. Dish is much better for price. (Free!) The expression, "you get what you pay for", has never been truer, though.

HD - Dish has one more channel than DirecTV for $1 less per month. Dish has the advantage. But, evidence points to DirecTV being on the road to surpassing Dish in a big way, due to their recently increased sat capacity and official press releases stating such. OTOH, Dish will probably follow suit, as they have in the past.
Guy Owen,

Are you east coast or west coast? Mini1, if Guy is west coast then the possibility that he would need to use the 61.5 satellite is very slim. Even if Guy intends to subscribe to internationals, E* is working to move them to the FSS sat at 121.

If anything happens to 61.5, I suspect it would be to lease the remaining transponders E* owns to VOOM, since 61.5 is so niche that are moving elsewhere.

The question really is 148, 121, 119, 110 and 105 available to Guy's line of sight? This would allow him access to more content.

The simple fact that E* has more transponders on more dishes other than 61.5 indicates more room for HD in the long run. D* can send up more SAT's, but with existing spot beam technologies, still only carve up the amount of transponders per customer less than E* could.

I'm just bring that up, since you now say that the focus of the discussion is on 61.5 while previously you had made a number of statements that didn't jive. shows me the HD programming on D*, is E*. Can you specifically back up the statement "DirecTV currently has more HD channels than Dish that actully show HD programming, as TNT-HD is nearly a complete waist that shows almost nothing in HD. " When I compare the two sites, I'm not sure what you mean when other than TNT-HD they seem to both be in parity, oohhh yeah the "prawN" channel Spice. Depends on if that's the content Guy wants.

As to D* DVR's with the Tivo technology, I don't like to speculate, but why did D* dump a lot of Tivo investment? Many technologies that are available by Tivo features have very simliar offerings available from TV Guide (Gemstar) which D* also has an agreement with. Now that E* will have named based recording and other items coming in future software updates there may begin to be some parity between the two hardware wise.

Guy, whoever you go with make sure to have a full sight survey so that you can see what all of your potential Sat's could be. This would allow you to grow with SuperDish and the other technologies either provider develops.
"Now that E* will have named based recording and other items coming in future software updates there may begin to be some parity between the two hardware wise"
this will come in the future- I can't find that Dish has had an press releases on this subject-so it is just speculation. even with name based recording Dish's DVR's still don't even come close to Tivo. D* dumped alot into Tivo because they knew Tivo was a winner, and couldn't be topped by something that they made up like we have seen with Dish. I would have to disagree with TV guide being remotly close to what a DirecTivo can do. As for HD programming you kind of answered your own question.
Wow! Lots of good responses here. I went through my list a second time and when I compared my choices with DirecTV and Dish's 180 package, I ended up choosing Dish. I just could not see paying for the equipment. This will give me a year to get my toes wet, so to speak. Then I can switch. Otherwise, I'd have to divide DirecTV's up-front costs by 12 months to be somewhat fair on the comparison -- and that increased DirecTV's monthly cost by $26 to $27. Dish's 180 package gave tons more stations under that scenario, but it might be due to my warped way of thinking.

So I bought their 180 and got all the movies, a free DVR and free HDTV receiver. I posted my install story elsewhere -- THAT was a hoot!!

I'm on the East Coast, just outside Washington, DC. Only two sats were involved -- 110 and 119. Both are coming in at well over 100 on a bar scale reaching 125 (119 is at 123 in a yard where the first Dish installers said I had "no signal of any kind").

I did seriously consider DirecTV because of the supposed increase in HD programs -- but that rumour has been posted on the Internet for over 6 months, now, it seems.

Comcast's website told me I could only get Basic for $56 a month -- then their email notification service confirmed I could not get HDTV nor DVR. THEN an email came from their home office telling me I could. But this was AFTER the Dish was installed.

Thanks for your replies!!

the receivers are not free. you are renting them, just like you would on cable. most people forget to see that. you will end up paying for the same receiver over and over. the DHA plan only cuts your up-front expense, not you total expense. in the long run it costs more to rent than to own.
Not if you go with HDTV.
HDTV adds in the commitment.
The non-commit is only good for the basic plan.
Does the commitment specify AT60 or higher? Or, does it specify a 1-year commitment to the HD Pack?

If it's only the HD Pack, they pro-rate the cancellation fee based on months remaining. So, if you were to cancel before the year is up (which you would never do because Dish hardware and service is absolutely perfect), you would only be responsible for $9.99 times the months remaining.

OTOH, if you have a commitment to AT60 or better (and maybe HD Pack in addition) you might have a flat $240 penalty fee (PLUS the HD Pack remaining amount). Ouch!
Yes, AT60 or higher. Another plus is with the AT180 you do not pay for either the DVR or the second receiver fee (I forget which one was "free"). That's about $60 in savings.

On the "rented vs free equipment" argument, I guess my statement wasn't clear enough. I did not like the "up-front" fees charged by DirecTV. Whether I own it or buy it or rent it is not very important to me when I have to shell out several hundred dollars with one company before I get connected vs paying the other one only $5 for each receiver. Both companies demand the 1-year commit on their HD packages (DirecTV might demand it even on their non-HD packages, not sure). If we divide the rental fees of Dish into the up-front fees of DirecTV, I think it extends the cost out over 45 months or so. I don't see myself staying with any company that long when DirecTV is claiming they are adding a lot of HD channels sometime in the future. And the technology changes pretty fast -- then what? Sell my old units?

My guess is DirecTV will offer a package similar to Dish and Voom within a year. If we do not agree that the equipment is free then I would offer a restatement: It did not cost me extra to have Dish come out and set two receivers on my table. In 4 years, I'll see what the current offers might be.
well like you don' thave enough input ... The main reason to choose D over E is NFL Sunday Ticket & Tivo ... if you don't care, it doesn't matter. Of couse I have the 90.00 package .. with my 120 hour TiVo I find it is more than worth it. Plus, the wife would die without SundayTicket! I am a hacky fan myself, but football is awesome in HD ... props to D*

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