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Comcast to Direct TV in Boston

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by leaningjowler, Mar 28, 2007.

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  1. leaningjowler

    leaningjowler New Member

    Mar 28, 2007

    Looking to switch from Comcast to Direct TV in Boston and I am a little hesitant to pull the trigger.... I am doing this mainly because I want MLB and I am sick of Comcasts insane rates and garbage DVR.


    1. Picture Quality - I have been reading mostly bad things about the PQ, how much worse is it than cable?

    2. Commitment - Is the standard commitment 1 year or 2?

    3. Installation - I own a condo in a triple decker and due to trees other houses I am pretty sure the dish will need to be on the roof. I am on the first floor is this kind of install usually part of the free installation.

    4. Best way to purchase, in store or online, any recommended local installers?

  2. jpl

    jpl Hall Of Fame

    Jul 9, 2006
    1. You have it backwards - the PQ on DirecTV is much better than what's on cable (unless you have full digital cable - but around here Comcast only has partial digital -- all the channels I would normally watch are in analog, and when I go to someone's house who has Comcast, those channels are unwatchable to me - yeah, I'm a snob :)). If you have analog cable now you're REALLY going to appreciate the full digital quality. Some folks have noticed artifacts from a compressed signal. That, I believe, will largely be alleviated when DirecTV launches their two new satellites and band-width improves. It also depends on the type and size TV you have. I have a 32" HD LCD that I JUST bought (currently only have SD going through it), and a 27" SD Sony. Both have awesome picture quailty with my DirecTV service. Seems like most folks have issues with HD compression (I'll know when I get their HD service) and especially if they have larger TVs.

    2. Commitment is a little on the high side compared to other providers:

    1-year if you get the SD receiver
    2-year if you get anything more advanced (SD DVR, HD receiver, HD DVR)

    3. Not sure about what's considered a standard install. Generally, though, it includes the dish, installation of the dish, running of some length of wire (forget how long), and all your other hardware. Anything beyond that (e.g. fishing a wire through a wall, going into an attic) can be considered as non-standard. You just want to make sure that you have line of sight for the dish, and that you're allowed to put the dish on the roof (not sure what kind of HMA you have, and what they allow). With our initial install, we had cable going into our crawl-space. The installer just removed my cable splitter (it was split in the crawl space to our living room and family room), and spliced in the two cables coming from the dish. In other words, he was able to reuse much of the coax that was already there. You may be able to have the same thing.

    4. The best way is a bit of a crap-shoot in my opinion. I got mine from the store - this was 5 years ago, so things may have changed a bit. At the time I got mine at, no I'm not making this up, Blockbuster. Blockbuster used to provide the PPV for DirecTV, and had an arrangement with them to offer the hardware and installation at select stores. All things being equal, and if the price is no different, I would probably just go through DirecTV directly (i.e. through the website). Installers differ by area, and if there are crappy ones where you live, then you may want to just buy the hardware and either install yourself (which I've never done, so I can't say how easy/hard it is) or pay a private installer to do it (vs. the intsaller that DirecTV would contract out to you - although, granted, this is a more expensive way to do it, as you would be paying for an install that would normally be free). I've gone through DirecTV's website for additional installs (when I upgraded to Tivo) and had pretty good experiences.
  3. Mark20

    Mark20 Godfather

    Dec 24, 2006
    I had DirecTV in addition to cable several years ago, dropped DirecTV and recently made the full switch back to DirecTV. While cable didn't raise my rates (I had the lowest tier of service) they did chop my channels by 2/3 and I would have had to pay dearly to get them back. And we are not talking any premium channels.

    On all but one or two channels the PQ with Comcast was fine.

    Fast forwarding to DirecTV:

    I ordered and set-up the installation date through their website. Once I figured out what package I wanted the process was easy. D* did automated confirmation calls reminding me of the appointment and to let them know if it needed to be changed. The installers arrived at 8:30 (the morning window opens at 8) and were done by 11 but there was already a dish on the roof and they were able to reuse the mount though the LNB was shot. They replaced the reflector, arm and LNB and ran a second coax down. Basement access was easy and they only had to do two rooms. The installation is OK, personally I would have done things much neater but that is something I can worry about down the road. And if I ever put a drop ceiling in the basement, your never going to see the wiring.

    Since then I have been completely pleased with D*, more so than when I had it previously. I have had some minor hiccups with the R15 DVR but nothing that has me steaming. (Hey, it let me pause the Eagles - Cowboys game last Christmas while I fixed something on my sister-in-law's car and picked up perfectly where I left off.)

    Overall the picture quality is better but I see some definite steps in the brightness/contrast of sceens with a lot of dark area. Hopefully when they get their additional satellites up this summer they can ease the compression of the standard channels since they will have more room for the HD ones. (Earl B, can you comment on this?)

    D* now includes local channels which was the main reason I maintained cable and D* previously and its real nice having them with the guide data. I like having the Active channel with the basic local weather info (something I also got off of Comcast). The only thing I miss from cable is my school district's local access channel for closing info during the winter. But if I could train myself to check it on iffy days, I can train myself to check the web on the same days.

    As a previous D* customer for 2.5 years I only lost my signal due to rain 2 or 3 times. I have also never had a problem with a loose dish. Cable generally lost the signal 2 or 3 times a year. When a car goes through a telephone pole and cuts the cable line, your out if it happens to be feeding your leg of the system.

    My whole family has been very very happy with D* particularly the DVR capability. While I'm paying more than I was with Comcast, my current set-up is a bit cheaper than their equivalent. D* knows what cable is charging and balances their rates and offereings against them.

    Hope this doesn't drown you with too much info, but switching to D* has been a good idea for me and my family.
  4. jpl

    jpl Hall Of Fame

    Jul 9, 2006
    As Mark20 reminded me, there are a couple things to consider when making the change. Mark hit one - signal loss due to bad weather. For me I only lose my signal when I have a wrath-of-God type storm. Despite what Comcast tells you, I never lose it due to wind, or rain, or even snow (I've had an inch of snow in my dish to no ill effect). The one thing that does it for me - heavy, and I mean heavy, cloud cover. Like the kind you get with severe thunderstorms. On the good side, it's the best indicator of when the worst of a storm is about to pass over you. Since my dish is basically in the line of sight of most storms in this area, all I have to do is turn on my TV - and I'll lose my signal JUST before the worst of the storm hits. At the height of the storm, I'll regain my signal - it'll still be raining like crazy, but I know that when the signal comes back the storm's just about to pass.

    Second, because it's all digital, there's really no in-between with picture quality. If your receiver can tell the difference between a 0 and 1, you'll get your signal, and the picture and sound quality will be the same no matter how strong the signal is. When you lose the signal, though, it all goes at once. There's no static or snow, it just hiccups, freezes, and the disappears. But again, I may lose my signal about 2 - 3 times a year for a couple minutes at a shot.

    Third, with the exception of your local channels, everything that DirecTV broadcasts is national. Which has some pros and some cons. The main con - no local info from the cable channels. You won't get your "local on the 8's", e.g. on the Weather Channel - you'll get a national broadcast instead. One of the main pros - you get everything. For example, ESPN will sometimes carry different events for different areas of the country and the one you would normally see is dependent on where you live. Not so with a dish - they have to carry both events, so you'll get both events. You'll also get east-coast and west-coast feeds of channels that are set up that way (e.g. Disney Channel). Just a couple things to keep in mind.
  5. Steve Robertson

    Steve Robertson Hall Of Fame

    Jun 7, 2005
    As a heads up D*'s MPEG 4 locals look like crap I have had them 2 weeks now. NESN does look very good though. D* is aware of the Boston problem and it is just a matter of when it will be corrected. I know I am going to hound them to death.
  6. mazter

    mazter AllStar

    Jul 4, 2006
    Hi , I've been a Directv customer for about four years now. There is no comparison. Directv blows away Comcrap , from picture quality to pricing. I know alot of people will disagree , but everyone I convince to switch approves as well. I even have a cousin who works for comcast and he gets cable and internet for free and still prefers Directv. I have four HD boxes 2 HR-20 , 1 h20 and 1 h10. I bought a cheap uhf Antenna from ratshack for 25 bucks to compliment my Directv for HD locals. I can pull in all of Boston and New Bedford, Providence markets . If your into Hd like me it's gonna be incredable when they launch their new sats in a few short months. Jump on. There's good tv, Better tv and DIRECTV!:D
  7. rwmair

    rwmair Godfather

    Nov 16, 2006

    Already been some good comments to date. But here's a little more from another Boston resident. (Note - all my comments relate to SD channels and SD equipment only - no HD here yet!)

    1. If you live in downtown Boston (the area that used to be served by Cablevision of Boston before it morphed thru several owners into Comcast) then the D* PQ will be orders of magnitude better. If you live in surrounding areas that became Comcast via other routes, then the PQ will be just be a lot better than on Comcast. Even the Boston locals are much better, except for ABC9 from New Hampshire, that suffers a lot of ghosting. But all this is due to the local signal quality that D* receives and uploads.

    2. 1 year commitment on just the SD receiver, 2 years on anything else.

    3. If the roof is easily accessible (ie, roof deck or just a regular staircase), then there is no reason it should not be a standard install. If the installer has to use a 40ft ladder or climb up a ladder thru a skylight, it might not be. Standard install also covers ~ 100 ft of cable from the dish to your receiver, so no problem there. If you have a chimney on your building, then the dish can be connected via a chimney mount - meaning no drilling anywhere on the exterior of the building. I had two dishes on with chimney mounts when I rented in the South End - as long as I wasn't drilling, the landlord wasn't fussed.

    Having it on the roof which is otherwise accessible is a great idea. It makes it a breeze to wipe off any snow buildup if this is ever needed (maybe once or twice a year - but no more often than cable signal goes out!)

    As others have said, check with the condo association. If the "association" is just you and the two other owners, then it should be easy to come to an agreement. If its a management organization, there are FCC rules on your side.

    4. I bought mine at Best Buy, but now there is no "choice" in receiver type (everything is now D*-brand), its probably best to do it direct with DirecTV thru their website or phone. You can't choose the installer, and from what I've read elsewhere here, it seems often that 3rd party installers will only take their orders from D*, so they may not do a 3rd-party job for you, no matter how much money you offer. The D* installers I had after my last move were on time, efficient, and pointed the dish excellently. They were a little rough around the edges - ie: with regards cabling options, grounding the dish, etc.

    One thing to realize if you hate the Comcast DVR - the D* one they will provide may not work much better for you. Many people are unhappy with the R15. If you want a Tivo receiver, you'll have to get that somewhere else (eBay, refurbisher) and have that activated later. If you want to go this route, then just ask D* to install standalone receivers. This will cost you the least now - and then go in search of Tivos.

    As I said, I only use SD equipment. If you want HD equipment or are concerned about HD channel performance, the above may not apply.
  8. leaningjowler

    leaningjowler New Member

    Mar 28, 2007
    Thanks for the feedback...

    I have HD so I would go with the HD DVR not crazy about that 2 year commitment....

    Also have to change my Internet to RCN no FIOS yet, or pay comcast 60 a month no thanks.
  9. Paul Secic

    Paul Secic Hall Of Fame

    Dec 16, 2003
    Comcast has an ad around here saying: Watch ch: 1 for the best in VOD. Two weeks I tried them. Bad idea! Their DVRS are junk, their analog channels are snowy. There wasn't a channel 1.
  10. sjc123

    sjc123 New Member

    Jun 25, 2007
    Hi All,

    Am I glad I found this site!!! So we've been D* customers for three years and we're moving this Friday, we currently have SD and I've been looking to upgrade to HD. I called D* and got through to a polite lady who offered an H20 for free, but would only offer the HR20 for $99 off... and no deal on HD programming either. I tried to pursuade her, but failed miserably!

    Oh well, so I called back 30 mins later, and got through to someone else. I phrased my question differently - something like "We're moving and I am interested in seeing what kind of HD deals are available for CABLE and satellite?"... well he replied and said "We're offering the HR20 for free, with free installation and 6 months of free HD". I took a deep breath, and said ummmm... OK, sounds good, can you offer 12 months free HD, and he said "no". I pushed a little more, but I figured this was a good enough deal for me anyway so I signed up - delivery and installation this Saturday :) Oh and I had to do the 2 yr commitment.

    Thanks to everyone on here for the heads up...

    "If at first you don't succeed, just keep calling back until you do!"
  11. Blitz68

    Blitz68 Hall Of Fame

    Apr 19, 2006
    Might be your local broadcast companies.

    My HD locals look as good as OTA.
  12. TomDavis

    TomDavis Cool Member

    May 16, 2007
    I recently made the switch from Comcast in Boston to D*. Here is what I found:

    1. The picture quality is more stable.
    2. The D* try to be helpful.
    3. Verizon DSL is more stable than Comcast by a wide margin and is just about the same speed at least for me. I do a fair amount of graphics over the INTERNET so it is a fairly good indicator I think.

    I booked everything through Verizon and saved $6/month on D*, got the DSL (high Speed Version) for $24 and the phone was also nicely discounted. For me it saved $72/month and all I had was digital cable, a DVR, 2 SD boxes and broadband.

    I have been happy with quality and service for sure. I would suggest that you get a Gmail (or similar) account for email and that way you will not be ISP dependent in the future. This way you can go with who ever gives the best service/price deal and not have the hassle of email switching, which was the biggest pain for me and my wife.

    Good luck!

    Tom Davis
  13. compnurd

    compnurd Hall Of Fame

    Apr 23, 2007
    Evans City PA
    My Boston Locals look fine
  14. rcoleman111

    rcoleman111 Guest

    I've seen a lot of negative comments about cable DVRs. What didn't you like about it?
  15. CoachGibbs

    CoachGibbs Godfather

    May 23, 2007
    ABC, Fox and NESNHD look fine but the CBS and NBC don't look that great to me. At least what I've seen during sports.
  16. jimmyv2000

    jimmyv2000 Hall Of Fame

    Feb 15, 2007
    Manchester NH

    Same here in NH Boston locals A OK:D
  17. JLucPicard

    JLucPicard Hall Of Fame

    Apr 27, 2004
    For those commenting on PQ, not that the comments may not still be pertinent now, but the post that was quoted in post # 11 was three months old.
  18. tonyd79

    tonyd79 Hall Of Fame

    Jul 24, 2006
    Columbia, MD
    If I am putting a dish on the roof, I'm putting an antenna up there, too. You get quality HD and you get all the stations and you get the substations, too.
  19. love that tv

    love that tv Legend

    Jul 8, 2006
    picture quality is excellent, but beware of MLB package. are you a redsox fan? ask some others if games get blackedout in your area. probably not though, redsox ussually sell out right?
  20. jmurray

    jmurray Mentor

    May 16, 2002
    Sorry Mr. Roper. Sell-outs don't apply to MLB. That's an NFL restriction. He should be in the Boston spot-beam footprint and will be unaffected by any blackouts.
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