Updated: May 9, 2015

Is DirecTV the Right Choice for Your Home?:

Guide to DirecTV - Television is the greatest invention since sliced bread. In fact, most people would be more willing to give up their white bread carbs than their TVs, so it might just be even better than sliced bread. While your mom was right - you should go outside and play, and you don't want to turn into a couch potato - sometimes television is a reward you give yourself. Like a piece of dark chocolate, your favorite TV show can be a mood lifter after a long day. You can watch educational shows with your children or the big game with your friends. Unless you have a special adapter, you can't get channels through your bunny ears anymore. Everything is digital, and you now have more options than you know what to do with. Should you go with DirecTV or cable? Which offers the best service and packages? Which offers the channels you actually want and the features you need? Who has the best prices? If you enjoy watching TV, read on as DirecTV and cable battle it out.


What is DirecTV? - Cable has been around for years; it uses radio frequency signals transmitted through fiber optic or coaxial cables to broadcast programs to viewers. When first introduced in the 1990s, it was seen as a vastly improved system for transmitting. That is, until satellite came to town. Satellite companies, notably DirecTV and Dish Network, capitalized on the weaknesses of cable to promote their technology and offered customers:

*Better quality in terms of images.
*More channel selection, including 160 full time HD channels and the most Blu-Ray movies.
*Better package deals and bundles.
*Less expensive service.

Targeting people who wanted better TV less expensively, DirecTV carved out a niche for itself by offering the best feature of all, choice. Their slogan is "Don't watch TV. DirecTV." An aggressive ad campaign has worked to turn cable viewers into satellite viewers. You can see one of their commercials here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkB9OT2XVvA). But is DirecTV really better than cable? That depends on who you ask. DirecTV portrays its competition, notably cable and Dish Network, as rather bumbling and incompetent, while it is the brilliant Jeopardy winner who brings great prices and packages to the people. Cable, though, isn't allowing DirecTV to take over without a fight. There are drawbacks to having satellite, including:

*Interference with reception. On some ads, you see the slightest sprinkle of rain interfering with reception, and this is not the case. DirecTV works, rain or shine. However, if you get a snowstorm, you may have to go out and shovel your dish. Heavy storms can interfere with your reception.

*Dishes have to be southern facing, which may present a problem for those who have to contend with landlords or homeowners' associations. They are also not really pretty lawn decorations. Cable has the advantage of making itself scarce.

*Internet service. Cable generally provides faster speeds than DirecTV internet. You can get download speeds from 4 Mbps to 16 Mbps with cable, compared to 1.7 to 7 Mbps with DirecTV.

Why go with DirecTV?:

DirecTV is able to offer a wider variety of channels, packages, and features to consumers. The satellite company is particularly renowned for its sports offerings; they offer 9 complete sports packages in contrast to Dish Network's 7. They also offer high quality HD, DVR, premium channels, On Demand, and a host of other features. Another benefit that satellite has over cable is that it is available in 94 percent of American homes. There are many areas, particularly rural areas, which are not serviced by cable.

So how does this work? You've decided to go with DirecTV - what next? - On DirecTV's website, there are several options for TV packages. Let's take a look at the most basic for cost-conscious television watchers. The Select package features more than 150 DirecTV channels, free standard professional installation, free dish, free shipping and handling, free local channels, no start-up costs, and no equipment to buy. You can choose to include HD service for $10 a month more and DVR for $7 a month more. You then choose your receiver. They have a standard one which they offer for free (and you can get up to 4 receivers for your home) when you purchase a package. After you choose your receiver, you can review your order. To go on with our example, we know have the Select package and standard receiver. The receiver usually has a per month fee for rental (which is typically $6 per receiver). You can then opt to add premium channels, sports packages, international packages, or a protection plan for your dish and hardware. This can quickly drive up the price. Say you wanted to add the NFL Sunday Ticket package, which allows you to view up to 14 NFL games a week and enjoy features like Out-of-Market games, Player Tracker, Real Time Scores, and more. This will cost you $334.95, or 5 payments of $67. The best time to sign up for DirecTV is when they are offering a deal. For instance, that $45 a month Select package may be available for $29 with a 24-month agreement. You may get your receiver lease fee waived, or you may get a fee upgrade to a better receiver. You can get free HD or DirecTV DVR or 3 free months of premium channels, like HBO and Starz. You may be able to save on the package you were eyeing or upgrade to a more feature-packed one.

What the Experts are Saying?:

Experts are anyone who like TV and demands a high quality experience. Consumers are mixed in their review of DirecTV. On consumer site, Viewpoints, DirecTV gets poor marks, especially for customer service. Some say that their bills were confusing and that the sales pitches didn't quite live up to the actual product. Others, however, report prompt, professional service, and great quality. To make sure you are in the latter category:

*Talk to a live person. Get his/her name, and have him explain the package in detail, along with every last fee that will show up on your bill. Keep him on the phone for as long as it takes. A good customer service rep will take the time to explain it to your satisfaction. And if something doesn't make sense, don't be embarrassed about saying, "What? Huh? Say that again." Or some more eloquent version thereof. You want to make sure you are very clear about what you're getting and what you're paying for.

*If you are under the assumption that you will be getting a deal on your package, make sure that it is explicitly stated by the representative as well as in a confirmation email. Some consumers report that they were told they were getting a discount, but that it was not reflected come bill time.

*Shop for DirecTV deals. Don't pay full price for a package when you can wait a month and get a better deal! Be aware, though, that the deals are often an introductory rate for the first 6 months or year. That's not a fun surprise.

DirecTV has made the effort to clean up its customer service, particularly regarding billing. When you order, you will see a tab on the right side of the screen that tells you what your first month's cost will be (which will include installation fees - if there are any), the regular monthly fee, receiver lease fee (if applicable), and the fee for premium or sports packages. It also shows what you owe at checkout, which is handy. If you love to watch TV, DirecTV may be the solution you've been looking for. With the latest technology and features, you can be sure that shows and movies will look better than ever.