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General discussion

Cable vs DirectTV

Dec 6, 2005 1:46AM PST

I have done all of my research (Cnet and primarily this forum) and made the plunge... Panasonic 50' monitor, Yamaha A/V reciever, new DVD recorder, cables, etc. I just contacted my cable company (TW) to udate my cable box to HD and was told they won't have any until mid January! My local phone company is offering a package deal with Direct TV which sounds good...about $10 a month cheaper. Are there any issues regarding Direct TV that I should be aware of?? Is service and picture quality as reliable as cable?

PS I live in the So. Cal. area so I will not need an off-air antenna to receive local stations.

Thank you for you help!!

Discussion is locked

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I'm in the process of making that decision too
Dec 6, 2005 2:02AM PST

I'm leaning heavily towards DirecTV. From what I've read (Consumer Reports and elsewhere), satellite typically has a better picture than cable, gives you more for your money and has better customer service. Probably because the satellite companies are in competition for your business and the cable company has a monopoly on your neighborhood.

The main issues with satellite would be:

1. The dish has to have a clear line of sight to the satellite, which is near the southern horizon, so if you live in an area with mountains or tall buildings in the way, you may have to stick with cable.

2. If you live in an area that is prone to snow, ice or frequent heavy thunderstorms, you may have interruptions.

3. The up-front cost is higher (installation, equipment, etc.).

You may also want to stick with cable for your internet service even if you go with satellite TV. Your choices with satellite would be either DSL (slower and less reliable than cable) or satellite internet (fast but very expensive, and costs around $600 for installation!).

Hope this helps.

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Dec 7, 2005 3:41AM PST

Just wanted to mention that installation is not much of a cost since DirecTV gives you the equipment for free (with the exception of the HD DVR). I just switched to DirecTV about 3 weeks ago and got a 3 room system with one HD receiver (non DVR). Cost me 229 bucks up front with a $200 rebate coming in the mail.

I live in Virginia and we've had several gusty storms with lighting since then and I have not noticed any interruptions at all. And coming from basic analog cable.....I freaking love DirecTV. Couldn't be happier.

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Glad to hear it!
Dec 7, 2005 3:44AM PST

We're looking forward to our HD satellite service. Thanks for the feedback.

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local channels
Apr 12, 2010 11:57AM PDT

do you have access to local channels there. I didn't and they didn't even bother to tell me. Told me to get a roof top anntena. All but two of the channels are way out of range.

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Satellite Internet is Slow
Dec 8, 2005 6:21PM PST

You mentioned that Satellite internet is fast, but it's actually the slowest ''broadband'' you can buy, and it's the most expensive.

Satellite internet from DirecWay goes no higher than 1.0Mbps. Compare that to "regular" DSL service at 1.5Mbps. Satellite internet costs twice as much per month at those speeds, and you have to shell out about $600 or more for the equipment alone. Since we're really comparing Cable to Satellite, know that Cable internet is still less expensive than Satellite internet, and their standard speed is 5.0Mpbs. It's a much better value.

Satellite internet's monthly service begins at $60/month or higher, I don't remember. Cable broadband is very close to that, but the equipment is usually thrown in free to use, and you often get automatic discounts of about $10 or more per month if you subscribe to Cable TV service at the same time.

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Dec 8, 2005 11:34PM PST

But... One can always get DSL as I do. DirecTV w/Tivo plus Yahoo!SBC DSL is perfect. It may not be a ''bundle'' but so what.

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Satellite internet is slow, but....
Dec 19, 2005 3:33AM PST

Yes, absolutely! Satellite broadband is slow and expensive. For now. Rumor has it that, at least DirecTV, will have additional satellites up in the next couple of years to resolve the speed and cost issues. Just a matter of time. If this true I can't wait to get hooked up!

As for cable, the speed quoted is only partially true. There ''standard speed'' of 5Mbps is not standard, but their ''top end speed''. That is the POTENTIAL speed you can reach. Most people will never see that speed and even if they get close to it it will only be in short bursts. Not continually. The cable companies advertise the top end speed a lot. Especially when comparing themselves to DSL.
Since cable uses a ''star'' architecture (a group of connections, such as households, that culminate into one backbone connection) the more people on your ''star'' the slower the speed for all on the ''star''. This is not true of DSL. DSL will give you a minimum connection speed based on the amount you are willing to spend. This is why you see DSL ratings of 384K, 768K, etc. That is your guaranteed minimum speed with the upper limit being 1.5Mbps. Cable NEVER guarantees a starting minimum speed! They can't. It depends on what investment they make in infrastructure. I have performed a lot of IT work for clients over the years and in any area, particularly residential, the cable companies are not likely to invest in the equipment that could boost the speed. They MIGHT do it in say a business park if they are even providing services there. Some of my clients got cable when their were few users in their area. The speed was incredibly fast (I was jealous). But then more people signed up for the service and the speed degraded quite a bit. In some places very badly. The customers in those areas complained about the poor speed, but it took a lot of pressure and about 2 years before anything was done to fix the issue. They never got back the blazing speed they had in the beginning! A lot dumped the service.

This doesn't mean that cable is slow, just not as fast as the cable companies brag about. There are a lot of factors to consider. Mostly it is based on what service is available to you. You won't know what you will actually get until it is connected. I would still choose to have cable if my only other option was dial-up!

The above only pertains to download speed, not upload speed which is usually not a factor for the average user. If you need a faster upload speed then you will want to go with DSL. It is the only one that offers different upload speeds (like the download speeds) depending on how much you are willing to spend. This may change in the future.

I just want to provide clarity on the cable vs DSL issue. It's not one that most people know about since most info is based on advertising and not the technology.


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DSL (slower and less reliable than cable) I think not
Dec 9, 2005 9:00AM PST

You say "DSL (slower and less reliable than cable)"

I used to have 4mb cable internet for almost a year it would constantly go out. It seemed like once a month I would have to reset cable modem.

I recently changed to DSL which is only 2.5MB speed " reports as 2005-12-09 19:46:06 EST: 2429 / 615 or Your download speed : 2429 kbps or 303.6 KB/sec.
Your upload speed : 615 kbps or 76.8 KB/sec.

This was while I am downloading.

Since switching I have noticed the following...

Afternoon's and weekends there is no dip in performance

I run multiple computers connected to my router and even while doing intence downloading or uploading it doesn't affect connection speed on any other computers.

I have only had one outage and it was after a power outage.

Don't get me wrong results may vary from city to city but here I say listed speed isn't everything.

Besides I don't think I have ever downloaded a file faster then 500kb/s anyhow.

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cable vs DBS
Dec 9, 2005 12:51PM PST

The cable company does not have a monopoly in your neighborhood- they are competing with satellite companies house to house.

If you have service related issues, the cable company will be there within 24 hours- satellite will not.

Satellite can offer you niche programming that cable companies can nver compete with. Currently, cable companies offer a wider range of HD programming, especially local.

Satellite companies are usually cheaper.

Video on demand with cable companies is exactly that, while satellite offers theirs every 30 minutes or so. You cannot choose to watch a program on DBS at the exact second you want to, as opposed to cable.

Many people have had a bad experience with cable 5- 10 years ago, but because of competition, that will have changed.

The signal quality of cable and DBS are the same, unless you live in a very rural area whwre the cable company has not upgraded in the last 3 years.

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Still having trouble
Mar 12, 2010 9:03PM PST

I disagree with your statement that poor service was 5 to 10 years ago. Where I live we have terrible cable service. I have called customer service many times (at least 12 times) over the last two years and still have unresolved issues. I get the impression that they love my monthly payment but do not care enough to solve the problems. I am ready to switch to Satellite TV and hope to never look back to Cable and really bad service again

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Keeping direct tv
Dec 12, 2005 12:09AM PST

For lower prices on faster speed internet , I do have cable . I pay for local channels from cable so I can get the lower cost per month for cable fast speed internet. When I had two aol accounts for our dial up , I was paying aol over $40 a month for slow dial up for the two connections. With cable internet , I pay $32 a month for all our computers at home. But like I said direct tv rules for for the price and more channels

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Hands Down, Go With DIRECTV!
Dec 6, 2005 2:36AM PST

You can tell by the title, go with DirecTV man. You will be so happy you did. The first thing and most important is that all the satellite channels are digital where with cable almost half are not, sometimes more than half are not. Especially with the tv you have, you want all digital because cable on these new age tv's look awful. Of course you will here the little things like your satellite going out in bad storms and stuff, all that b.s., but go with DirecTV or you will be kicking yourself!

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Dec 8, 2005 11:37PM PST

Agreed. Besides, cable tends to compress all their music channels. DirecTV just replaces Much Music with XM Sastellite (whcih we all know and love). So with your Yamaha and some good speakers, you're doing the best thing.

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Go with DirecTV or Dish Network
Dec 9, 2005 1:16AM PST

DirecTV Pros: Consistently better picture quality, more control over what you do with the signal when you receive it (i.e.--DirecTivo, Video Extraction, etc.)

Cable Pros: On demand services that don't exist on satellite, nice program guides, free HD

If picture quality is important, you'll find that satellite beats cable consistently. If you like the free HD cable offers, go there. You might be surprised though that your FREE HD bill on cable still comes out to more than satellite dues to fees and taxes!!!

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Dec 9, 2005 8:44AM PST

I sure would like to know where this FREE HD comes from???? First of all, the town I live in, Killeen, Time-Warner charges us $10 a month MORE than for Waco, in the SAME viewing area, I'm sure just to GOUGE the military-located in an around Killeen at Ft. Hood/Copperas Cove/Harker Heights/Nolanville.
Not only do we pay $10 MORE for basic service, then they wanted $9 more for HD, plus you have to pay $7.50 a month for the HD receiver, making the HDTV $20 more a month than regular cable.
I fail to see anything FREE about this service.
Plus, there currently is only a few local channels, plus Discovery, and a few others, plus the Premium Channels, requiring EVEN more.
For REGULAR analog cable, plus road-runner cable modem, by Cable bill is over $100 a month, which is really stupid and exhorbitant, considering the p*i*s*s-poor service we receive.
Not to mention, our cable bill is DIFFERENT every single month. Every time we dispute the bill, they can NEVER give a reasonable or viable explanation, despite the fact that our services have NOT changed in over 4 years.
Read particularly the sentence noting that they charge us MORE for the same service, just because we're in a military town, home to the largest military base in the world.

Killeen, Texas

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Yes, Free HD
Dec 13, 2005 10:57AM PST

I live in NY, I have Adelphia Cable, and YES, I get free HD.
Buffalo, NY

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Agree about Time Warner sux
Jul 18, 2009 4:50AM PDT

The service has really downgraded. What bugs the crap out of me most is all of the bait & switch routines. First the low-ball great deal to switch to them. Then you decide to add a feature for an extra 10.00 a month. If two months later you change your mind and want to take the feature off, guess what? You do not save 10.00. Why? Because now that feature is part of your "new package" and you can use it or not and oh by the way your original package no longer exists. The bill goes up with little chance of going down. I am starting to believe that each individual has a different price regardless of where they live.

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You think Time Warner is bad
Mar 12, 2010 9:08PM PST

You think Time Warner is bad you should get stuck with Charter (must be the worst cable company on the planet hands down)!

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Cable's HD not free. What video extraction??
Jun 28, 2006 1:38AM PDT

Cable does not offer free HD service in NJ tri-state area, or north east PA. I agree Direct TV beats out cable for pricing however, and quality for basic service, over basic cable's picture. Not to mention, Digital quality sound, that basic cable does not offer that I know of., but that I could be wrong. Also, I have no idea what you are talking about regarding video extraction with Dircet TV tivo. You must have some stand alone version of tivo that is hacked, because Direct TV tivo and new Huges DVR do not allow any networking capabilities. Personnaly, it seems that now Dish Network may be the way to go, as far as pricing, since there programming and quality is similar to Direct TV. Only reason I haven't switched, is that I like my XM programing available on my tvs. Dish offers Sirius, but everyone knows XM is superior to Sirius; thanks mainly to the number one rated show 'Opie and Anthony'.

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Satalite outage
Dec 9, 2005 3:37PM PST

I live in the lightning capital of the world,& i mean the world..During the summer months I have numerous outage,some days 2 to 3 times ea day.But never less then twice a week.When their are heavy overcast,even sometimes light[clouds]bet your bttm dollar there is going to be an outage.Long term at that 2,3hrs sometimes.Now all mentioned here is direct TV,maybe its because i have Dish TV,DON'T KNOW.But I'm not real happy with what I've got
Oh yea Tampa,Florida..if any was curious as to the lightning capatal..look it up its true

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Outage? Not anymore!
Dec 14, 2005 3:53PM PST

When I first installed our satellite receiver, I mounted it on the roof, which was typical of the instructions at the time. We experienced ?outages? during severe storms and heavy rains. I thought that the loss of reception may be as much from the ?wind? movement of the dish as it was from the atmospheric disturbances of the storm. So I decided to try something a little different so I moved the dish from the roof to a heavy steel pole sunk solidly several feet into the ground next to the house, which put the dish at about the 5 foot level, and got it out of the wind on the roof level. The ?line of sight? to the satellite was not compromised, so the reception did not change, still maintained a 92%+ signal reception as indicated on the Sony receiver. But the reception during storms of all types became rock solid, from that point on we never experienced a signal outage or interrupted service, even during minor hurricane activity. Oh, and by the way, we live in Tampa, FL too.

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Dec 10, 2005 1:09AM PST

I've been told by a number of people that though the picture quality is better by DirectTV, the hook is that you are totally responsible if something goes wrong with the connection. That is why I chose Cable. A simple phone call and no charge for service.

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Directtv Sucks
Apr 12, 2010 11:34AM PDT

I get sick every time I watch a commercial with these jerks bragging on how they are better than cable or dish. I started to get their service almost two years ago. They came out and installed the dish, drilling a hole thru my wall in a spot where the cables now pass in front of the front door.When he asked me if it was okay there, I assumed there would be a plate there covering the hole. Instead there is a hole the size of a half dollar with two cables coming thru it. But this was the least of my problems. After he left I try going to one of my so called "local channels" of which only ABC and CW are within 50 miles, and I can't even pick up these channels well enough to be happy with them. Surprise, I can't find them. I call up for help finding my "local channels", CBS,NBC,ABC,FOX,CW. She tells me that we, Direct TV, don't have those channels. Stunned, trying to process the absurdity of what I have just heard, that a company which sells TV programming didn't see fit to tell a customer that they don't have the channels that the average customer would probably watch 60-80% of the time. She then suggest that I buy a roof top anntena to pick up my so called "local channels". After I give her an earful in response to that complete nonsense, she says that they have something coming soon that will provide local channels. One and a half years later they still don't have it.I'm shocked. I cancelled my contract immediately because I was still within my 3-day period. Frankly, I don't know how the NFL does business with these people. They disgust me!

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DTV is great, but....
Dec 7, 2005 6:20AM PST

I've had DTV 2 years and it's great. The only drawback right now is if you want a Tivo or DVR, their equipment prices are kind of high - about $400 net cost after rebates for the dual-tuner HD model.

The good thing is, DTV's standard def signal is very good and my Sony HDTV displays it so nicely that I've delayed the switch. I'm so addicted to my Tivo that I'm waiting for the hardware deal to get better before I upgrade to HD.

good luck

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Direct TV
Dec 7, 2005 6:23AM PST

Your imput has made my decision easy! Thanks!

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If you live in the Los Angeles area...thanksgiving weekend
Dec 7, 2005 3:32PM PST

you missed out on a great deal. Tivo and HD receiver were free after rebate from directTV, although this receiver was the cheaper model.

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Different Models???
Dec 8, 2005 1:01AM PST

You mentioned "cheaper model", what models are there? What is the best one and why? Thanks

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Maybe I shouldn't say cheaper, just different.
Dec 8, 2005 1:10AM PST

Directv has 2 HD receivers; one sell for about $500 and the other for $200. The difference, I don't know.

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Different HD receivers
Dec 8, 2005 8:55PM PST

The $600 receiver is HD + DVR in one box (This is the only way you can record HD programming). The $200 receiver is HD without the DVR.

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Cable vs Directv
Dec 8, 2005 7:49PM PST

I've used both of them.
Cable is far better than directv,especially for HD.
Direct tv freezes somtimes do to the weather,receive lost signal messages on the screen.(It seems to happen right in the middle of an interesting movie.)
Cable very very seldom do you have a problem.
I'm speaking of comcast cable network.
I have no idea how the other cable co.s are with their signal.
This info is strictly from my own experience,I am not
affilliated with either co., Do not work or in any way associated with them.