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DirecTV Comments

I have to laugh at the ads for DirecTV. I had DirecTV for around a month, due to the previous owners leaving the dish and the receiver. I might still have it if not for the rude customer service representative. DirecTV wanted to charge me for a new access card, claiming that there might be charges associated with the old card, even though I had it in my possession for a month. I wanted to go with DirecTV because I disliked the cable company (still do and it is worse after trying to get a cable modem from Adelphia and having them lie to me so many times). The problem was that I did not want to have to pay for the access card since that would make it more expensive. Since I had the dish and the receiver, perhaps DirecTV did not like the fact that they would not have me locked in and wanted more money. In any case, I told the DirecTV representative that perhaps I should go with cable and she said to go ahead, so I did.

During the month that I had DirecTV, the signal would drop out several times. I recorded some movies, to watch at a better time instead and I don't think there is one movie that does not have at least one dropout. I have rarely seen this with cable. I dislike cable, especially the cable company, but I unfortunately prefer it to DirecTV.

DirecTV's web page claims more than 115 channels for the Total Choice package, but I count 30 "channels" of music. Generally you don't have a TV for listening to music. To me, that is a bit deceptive. They also claim all digital quality, or something like that, but I seriously doubt that the source is actually recorded digitally, so it is just converted. As I understand it, the channels on DirecTV are digitally compressed (at a loss of original image quality) due to the limited bandwidth (the amount of data that is transmitted at a given time, which includes all channels). There is a choice in how much you compress an image, depending on how much loss you consider acceptable. I heard that when there are many live sports events on, which are much harder to compress in real-time, that they degrade the quality of the other channels. Perhaps that is why they claim digital quality since the quality of digital might not be so good. They make statements that cable is not all digital, but when you use digital means of degrading the quality I would personally prefer to not have that type of quality.

DirecTV also makes claims that it is cheaper than cable. Perhaps if all goes well and you are happy with their limits then it is. I personally have 3 televisions, in different parts of my house. I also have 3 VCRs. With cable, this is not a problem, it would be with DirecTV, unless I did not want to be able to record one program and watch another. There are limits and differences like this that DirecTV fails to mention, since it is not in their best interest. They also fail to mention that you are committed to paying them for one year (better not move to a place that you can use their services). With cable TV, most of the devices (TV/VCR) are able to use the signal without any converter boxes (digital cable requires a converter), but DirecTV requires a receiver in order to convert the incoming signal. You have to buy this box, although often it is "free", but you own it and are responsible for it. This is nice, except that you are committed to a year of service and the warranty of those devices are often not a year in reality (see the article on RCA's warranty). Having to buy a new receiver can be expensive. If you only have one receiver, then you will not have any TV until you can get the unit repaired or replaced. DirecTV certainly does not add this into the cost of getting their service. There are also different types of access cards, which you are also responsible for buying yourself, yet another expense with DirecTV.



Index for Insanity, Inc.

Written: 29-Oct-2003

Updated: 28-Dec-2004

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