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DISH vs DirecTV

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If you’re in the market for satellite television, there are two main players that you are probably looking at: DirecTV, and DISH. Both are completely viable, well-thought-out solutions that deliver the product that they promise. Both offer competitive home television solutions, good picture quality, and good customer support. In essence, both are services that are deserving of your consideration (and money).

However, we are blessed with a free market economy, where one product will always trump the other one. Superiority of design, engineering prowess, and the actual company behind it generally outdo the competition, and it is by this formula that many products have come and gone from the market. This is the very concept that has shaped our economy, and by now you’re probably wondering why this is relevant.

We’ve prepared a bit of a death match between the two main satellite providers in America – DirecTV and DISH – and have begrudgingly set them at each other in an epic battle to the end. Who will remain? Keep reading.

DirecTV – Features, Benefits, and General Information

DirecTV is a name that is synonymous with satellite television. When satellite television service was in its infancy, DirecTV was there. As the service expanded and grew, DirecTV was there. And, as the industry transformed into a complete multimedia solution, DirecTV was there. You could say that DirecTV is in it for the long haul.

DirecTV has gained a good reputation for being a quality satellite provider that offers value, customized packages, and ease of use for the customer. One of the main attractions to DirecTV is the fact that it is seemingly plug and play- once the technicians leave your home, your TV just works. There are no games to play, no hassles to experience, no hoops to jump through- just a working television set (err, up to four of them actually).

DirecTV’s lowest package (the Family package) runs $29.99 a month for 55 channels. At this price, which is pretty low considering the quality of the audio/video and the fact that the channels included are good channels, the customer is also given the option of having up to four receivers installed for free- how’s that for value?

Of course, there are packages that soar right through the entire pricing spectrum: $29.99 a month (Family), $49.99 a month (Choice), $54.99 a month (Choice Xtra), $59.99 a month (Plus DVR), $64.99 a month (Choice Xtra HD), and $69.99 a month (Plus DVR HD). The base package (the Family package) includes 55 channels, whereas the top end Plus DVR HD package includes 195 channels, HD content, local channels, as well as 68 XM Satellite radio channels. That’s a whole lot of TV.

DISH – Features, Benefits, and General Information

DISH is not as well known as DirecTV, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t making a big splash in the market. In fact, since DISH launched a few years ago, customers have been flocking to the service, credit cards in hand, literally begging DISH to take their money. Why?

DISH has a lot going for them: high-quality broadcasting, capable hardware, desirable packages, great rates, and plenty of customization. Their HD DVR units are second to none, offering the whole experience and enough technical features that they blend in perfectly to any home theater setup.

While the hardware is decent, what really makes a good television provider is the content that it is able to deliver. On that note, DISH does well. Their packages range in price, starting at just $19.99 a month for 55 channels and reaching as high as $104.99 a month for 320 channels and, of course, packages and pricing everywhere in-between. DirecTV however has landed an exclusive deal with the NFL for Sunday Ticket which provides total coverage of football and the NFL this is one major thing that DISH currently lacks.

Which Service is Better?

Pitting DirecTV against DISH was a difficult task, as it was hard for our testers to focus on the task at hand. Both providers have excellent services, and on that level we are able to say that we liked them both. However, in the interest of Darwinian science we’re going to find just one contender that does the job better than the other.

That contender is DirecTV, and here’s why: throughout the duration of our testing we couldn’t help but feel more at home with the software provided by the DirecTV. It flowed better, looked better, and was a lot faster too. Scrolling through various options menu’s was simple and easy to accomplish, and though that could be done on DISH as well, we found it easier and faster on DirecTV.

The DirecTV HD DVR is the best around right now, and though DISH’s incarnation is a very good example of what a HD DVR should be, the one offered by DirecTV is just a teeny bit better.

We predict that DISH will start to gain ground in the market, however we still recommend DirecTV because of their superior content and hardware. You can sign up for DirecTV here.

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23 Responses to “DISH vs DirecTV”
steve - February 8th, 2009 at 9:18 pm

woot. I agree with your conclusion. Though I would have said it was foregone from the getgo. 🙂

nice post.

Micah - February 8th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

I am doing research on the Dish Netwok Corp. and I was wondering how Dish earns their income besides the subscribers. Do the channels like TBS and FOX pay Dish for a slot? Please explain this process to me, asap if possible.

Thanks,
Micah

clyde - February 22nd, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I have had both, each for many years. I recently returned to DirecTV. Boy am I glad. I should have done so two years ago, especially after what transpired after I discontinued Dish service. Here are just a few reasons DirecTV is superior.
1. DirecTV uses only one roof satellite receiver for local channels. Dish, in areas, requires two dish satellite receivers on the roof to receive local channels. I tried for years, purchasing three TV antennae, to get reliable local TV reception; to no avail. I could not get the Dish second roof top receiver because of my neighbor’s trees.
2. DirecTV includes local channels in their price. You pay extra with Dish.
3. DirecTV HD DVR will record two HD channels at once. Dish records two channels at once, but only one is HD.
4. DirecTV receiver stays on if you leave it on. If the Dish receiver is left on, the picture is replaced in the middle of the night with an annoying Dish logo on the screen. So, if you want to record a Dish recorded program to your VCR or DVD during that period, your program is replaced with the Dish logo.
5. DirecTV has at least two weeks of programming information on their system. Dish programming is limited to one week.
6. DirecTV DVR has output options for HDMI, component and two analog AV outputs that operate simultaneously. Dish has HDMI, component and one analog.
7. Dish has a policy, as I unfortunately discovered, that destroys your personal property if you mistakenly return your expensive DVD/hard drive recorder instead of their receiver. Both were out of my media tower and looked almost the same, and I just hastily grabbed the wrong one. They just destroyed it, without any notification, or giving me any opportunity to even pay for it’s return. I noticed their receiver, a week after the mistake, but they had already destroyed my equipment. They have consistently, and adamantly refused to compensate me. Yet, I returned their receiver, or my credit card would have been charged. I have No recourse. I certainly would not trust such a company that treats people this way!

ryan - June 2nd, 2009 at 11:34 pm

to correct clyde on his points he must be retarted and is wrong.

1. dish only needs one dish for locals AND regular programming

2. dish does charge for locals but even with that directv just tacked on $5 dollars for that in the regular price. atleast with dish you have the option not to pay for locals if you dont want them.

3. The vip 722 dvr can record 2 hd shows at once. i have no idea what hes talking about. if you set the box in “dual mode” then you can record still two things in hd or one in hd and one standard since it can power one HD tv and one standard tv.

4. go into the options and change it are your that retarded?

5. 14 days with dish wrong again.

6. and your point is? you only need one to operate. lol

7. sounds like you just had a bad experience and used the previous points which most are not true or not even relevant. learn the facts before you post your negative opinions…

go with dish if you do want the best equipment and price. directv is good but dish is better.

Scott - September 1st, 2009 at 10:33 pm

They both are equally good except that dish offers a split reciever you can record and watch in two different rooms. That is nice. Direc does not have this capability.
Direc offers NFL Sunday Ticket, Dish does not.

I need my Bucs football up here as a transplant in Nebraska.

carlos - September 24th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

All I gotta say is NFL Sunday Ticket..Have a nice DAY

Pat Mann - October 3rd, 2009 at 8:54 am

I’ve had both DirectV and Dish Network. Directv is overall the best satellite provider. The color is lifelike and sharper. With Dish Network the colors fade out and the picture quality is not nearly as good

Chris - October 9th, 2009 at 5:37 am

Hi.

Live in Bend Oregon.

I have Directv

I have to pay for local channels. That is I pay for the ones I get. FOX and NBC refuse to allow me to have service though I have requested it 3 times over a year. There are trees that make using an other method impossible. So no “House” and limited football.

Michael in South Bend IN. - October 12th, 2009 at 6:33 pm

We had Directv for many years. We switched about 3 years ago. Directv customer service was very bad. The outages were much longer in bad weather than Dish Network (maybe because of the older equipment). We love the customer service and the lower monthly price of Dish Network. The customer service representatives will credit your account for mistakes, even when I screwed up and forgot to cancel premium channels after the free period. They also offer 1 penny Cinemax for switching to paperless billing for a year. If after a year you still want 1 penny Cinemax, all you need to do is tell them to start sending the bill again and they restart the offer. The onscreen menu structure is much easier to navigate with Dish Network. I don’t like the fact that the Dish Network receiver needs to be plugged into the telephone line or else they charge you extra. I don’t order pay per view, I just like the privacy. The receivers for Dish Network are much more reliable than the Directv receivers. We were having to send back Directv receivers often. The last replacement receivers that they sent were wedge shaped, so they had to be at the top of the A/V component stack.

Rick - October 26th, 2009 at 11:53 am

Dishnetwork is by far the best TV service. I had Dish for over 10 years and wanted to get HD and dish only had 1 of my locals in HD. So I switched to Directv, signed a 2 year contract and was miserable. Picture problems, sound problems and signal problems. Constant calls to customer service, Equiptment replaced multiple times and no fix. I finally convinced them to break my contract, which I was told was impossible to do, but I did it and went back to Dishnetwork with new HD DVR receivers and now with my locals in HD I am in heaven with the better TV service. Everything with Dish works much better than Directv.

Neal - October 28th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

The NFL Sunday Ticket service is costing Directv millions in losses with the lack in demand, so I wondered why my service went up $3 back in January ’09 to keep this service above water. I dont even have NFL Sunday Ticket, I and others are paying for it. Been a Directv subscriber for 4 yrs and I luv it but another price hike to supplement something that I dont have myself will send me to the competition, hello DISH.

Andy - November 23rd, 2009 at 4:44 pm

How does one prevent the price from doubling on Directv in the 2nd year of your 2 year contract? They are trying to claim that my rebates are done and want to charge us $72 just for the choice package. I find this crazy and I don’t want to pay $280 to cancel the 12 months. It seems all I read is you’ve been with Direct for about 8 months and can’t wait to get out or you’ve been with them for 5 plus years and love them. Everyone bail after that introductory offer in the 1st year or what?

Tim - December 1st, 2009 at 7:49 am

directv has horrible customer service. was a former customer and rejoined after moving into a new house. was promised rebates and free movies channels and alas once I’ve setup. I’m not eligible for either of them. No one could tell me why, after being transferred several times and 4 hours of being on the phone, I got crappy movie channels and still no rebate… again… they could not tell me why. so I canceled my contract and am disputing the ridiculous fee of 460 dollars they want to charge. signed up with dish.. quick and painless, installed the next day for free, 2 free hd dvr’s, a comparable package and better yet, half the price!!!

JoeBlow - December 27th, 2009 at 5:35 pm

With DirecTv you sign up for a contract (2 yr) and there is no back out once they have installed it. The Early Termination Fee is $20.00 per month that you have left, which usually for lots of customers that is around month 13 -14 of their 24 mos contract because the price increased about $26. What about with Dish? Is there a 24 hr trial period or anything like that and what sort of contracts do they have and what is the ETF on theirs?

cj - January 14th, 2010 at 6:43 am

I’ve just switched rom cable to DISH and I really do like the additional programs that I happen to watch that are in HD. My daughter has DIRECTV, and she has one feature that DISH doesn’t have (which cable also had); which is a library of free movies that you can chose and watch whenever you want.

Jonathan Bardi - February 10th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

We were with Dish Network for YEARS, but switched to DitecTV when Dish refused to give us the equipment we wanted. We wanted an SD DVR in each of our 4 rooms, but Dish absolutely refused and said we had to have 2 SD DVRs and 1 Dual SD DVR, which meant 2 rooms sharing the same small hard drive. Also, Dish Network’s standard box has only 1 tuner while DirecTV’s standard box has 2 tuners. So, even if Dish Network had given us 4 SD DVRs, we could only record one show on each DVR while watching something off the DVR, while DirecTV lets you record 2 shows and watch off the DVR on ALL four boxes, so we could record 8 different shows at the same time in the house and still watch 4 separate shows off the DVRS. And DirecTV has just given us free upgrades to 2 HD DVRs, so now we have 2 SD Dual Tuner DVRs and 2 HD Dual Tuner HD DVRs. The day Dish Network can match that, maybe I’ll look at them again, but until then, DirecTV is the better deal, has more programming, more choices, more support, and I can even control it with my iPhone remotely… beat that Dish Network!

Mike - February 12th, 2010 at 10:25 am

To correct Jonathan, Dish Network’s DVR’s (even the “Solo DVR” that controls one TV do allow you to record two HD shows at once, and watch a pre-recorded show at the same time, or record one HD (or SD) show and watch another HD (or SD) show at the same time, on the same TV. We have 2 Solo HD DVR’s and we are able to record 2 shows on each (both in HD if we wanted the to be) at the same time. So, I don’t know what type of information you were given there. Secondly, Dish Network does have an iPhone App that allows you to control your DVR from your iPhone (or your PC for that matter, as there is one for the PC also) anywhere, at any time. So, they did at least match DirecTV there. And, actually they beat DirecTV as their app allows you to do more than the DirecTV one does, and even doubles as a remote control (not that I really care about that). Finally, when it comes to pricing, etc. I received 2 Solo (meaning it only controls one tv, but each is 2 tuners in that respect) HD DVR’s and one Duo HD Receiver (no DVR) which will control the 1st TV in Full HD and the 2nd TV in SD, all for free, with free installation, and HBO/Showtime free for 3 months. I am going to be saving about $35/month over DirecTV after the 1st year – almost $50/month for the 1st year, and we have the Top 250 package with Dish (which is pretty much every channel but the movie channels).

I had DirecTV for YEARS, but switched to Dish because they are siginificantly cheaper, better Customer Service, better Equipment and they carry Versus (and I am a huge hockey fan and DirecTV stopped carrying Versus) AND they have the NFL Network Red Zone Channel available for $5.99/month (to get DirecTV’s version of the Red Zone Channel you have to pay for their Sunday Ticket at about $400/year….I am a Bears fan, and I live in Chicago, so I get all the Bears games – why the hell do I need Sunday Ticket, but I want the Red Zone Channel). Dish gives those to me – DirecTV did not, and for more money.

To me, the choice is clear.

Jeff A - February 20th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I am currently with Directv and am thinking about switching to Dish, now that Dish has the Big-10 network. The only thing that is holding me back is the irritating $5 transaction fee that Dish charges every time you remove a movie channel or downgrade, even if you have had the programming more than 30 days. Directv will charge you if you have a movie channel less than 30 days, but there is no charge to remove it after 30 days. In effect, Dish is punishing you for ordering a movie channel since you have to pay both up front and again when you remove it.

KC - February 24th, 2010 at 2:36 am

I’m about to get satellite service so I’ve been trying to thoroughly compare Dish and DirecTV. I’m looking to get a middle of the road package so I’m comparing America’s Top 200 from Dish with Choice Xtra from DirecTV. I want 2 HD receivers, one of those being a DVR. I also need standalone internet, meaning that I want service that does not require a separate phone line. Here’s what I found.

For America’s Top 200, Dish is $52.99/month, plus $10 for the HD channels. The current promotion offers a $15/month discount for the first year, equipment is included, and the installation fee is waived. They charge $6/month for DVR service and $7/month for HD service. So the total for the first year would be $60.99/month ($731.88) and the second year would be $75.99/month ($911.88) for a 2 year total of $1643.76.

DirecTV is $63.99/month but HD channels are included (and they have a few more than Dish.) The current promotion offers a $29/month discount for the first year. I was also offered an additional $5/month discount that salespeople are allowed to give away at their discretion (so ask about it.) The equipment was included except that they charge a $5/month rental fee for the second receiver. Installation is free. They charge $7/month for DVR service and $10/month for HD service. So the total for the first year would be $51.99/month ($623.88) and the second year would be $85.99/month ($1031.88) for a 2 year total of $1655.76.

As you can see, the two prices are only $12 apart over 2 years. However, there are a few other things to consider. DirecTV has more HD channels right now with more to come by the end of 2010. Dish supposedly has a better user interface and faster menus, which I can’t say for sure having never used either service. Dish also comes with almost all the Fox Sports Channels and DirecTV does not. I just moved from LA to the East Coast so if I want to watch Dodger games on FSN West I have to pay $10/month extra to have the sports package with DirecTV (it says $12.99 but they’ll give it to you for $10.)

DirecTV did offer the first 3 months of the sports package for free but over the other 21 months of my contract that’s an additional $210, bringing the DirecTV total to $1865.76. However, I also need internet service. I was able to get a $10 discount for signing up with Windstream through DirecTV’s bundle department, which basically nullifies the $10 for the sports package. Dish also bundles with internet providers, including Windstream, but as far as I can tell they only offer discounts on the basic packages. Since I would want America’s Top 200 from Dish and 12mb service from Windstream, it doesn’t look like I would get a bundle discount.

So there you have it. Sorry for the lengthy review but this was meant to serve the dual purpose of helping others decide and helping me get it all straight in my head. I should also mention that I contacted each company and made a tentative agreement for future service so I could see (and lock in) the exact rates for the services I wanted and easily compare them. Both companies will let you do this and cancel without penalty as long as the service hasn’t started yet. At this point I’m leaning toward keeping the DirecTV appointment and canceling the one with Dish, although I can exactly say why I feel that way. Maybe because I’m a web designer and DirectTV’s website is better looking. Anyway, I’m sure either one will be better than cable. Go Dodgers!

Gary - March 9th, 2010 at 4:59 am

I live in Oregon and have DishNetwork and yesterday we got a rain storm with hail, and during that time I NEVER lost single with Dish Network. I have had DirTV and any rain or clouds you lose single. Dirtv recivers that are single HD can’t buy a simple hard drive for and have an HDDVR like with Dishnetwork. With DishNetowrk you can get a Duo recvicer or solo and buy a 50gb to 500 gb hard drive pay 40 dollars and you have a DVR without all the fees and costs. Dish Netowork is still owned by the same company, while DirTv is now owned by the fifth company that has bought them. According to BBB Dirt TV is an F company as far as people who have the service. Sorry, guys Dish Network is number one. FYI just have Dish Network come out to your house, they install the dish lower than DirTV and that in turns gives the best single.

Gary - March 9th, 2010 at 5:11 am

for those who think DirTV is the best, here’s one thing DirTV has to ship your reciver and dish to you. If you go with Dishnetwork you get everything brought to you when installed. DirTV will charge you 20 dollars for shipping and handling, meanwhile DishNetwork they bring it to your home for free. If you don’t have very good credit DishNetwork will allow you to still get their service, unlike DirTV won’t. I am getting everything that dishNetwork has 80.94 plus tx. DirTV can’t match this package or price. Dishnetwork after my year is over all I will pay at the moat 120 that inclides all movie chanels and sports for fox cost 6.00 more. Just an FYI.

shelley b - March 11th, 2010 at 10:56 am

Directv only wants to play nice with new customers. Once you’ve been with them for a while, they will charge you extra for EVERYTHING!

Mike - March 18th, 2010 at 12:12 am

To correct my post from February 12th, Dish Network SUCKS (at least in Chicago). I had them for about a month and have DirecTV coming tomorrow to reinstall my service with them.

We have had nothing but trouble with Dish Network since we have had them (5 tehnicican visits already) with pixelization (not bad weather related either), our DVRs (as we have 2 of them) freezing/skipping, etc.

I had DirecTV for over 4 years before we made the switch to Dish Network because I thought it would be cheaper and we never had any issues with pixelization (minus the really, really, really bad weather at times), DVR problems, etc. At first I thought it was our DVR’s themselves (although it was hard to believe that 2 of them were “defective” in exactly the same way) but then I talked to my Dad (who lives in another State even and has Dish) and a few of our neighbors/other friends and they have the same issues with their DVR’s. Basically the Dish claims it has the “best” DVR, but that is crap. The technology (especially if you pause/rewind) is terrible as it always freezes/skips when you play it back after the pause/rewind.

Good riddns Dish Network….Welcome back DirecTV. Oh yeah – and DTV also got Versus back, and they have the MLB Network (which Dish does not have) so that is another reason why I switched to Dish in the first place (I love hockey and couldn’t live without Versus).

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