Recently, we switched from cable to a combination of DSL and DirecTV.  The DSL is working out OK so far – no service interruptions or anything like that.

What about DirecTV?

Installation

Our tech showed up in the early afternoon.  Very friendly guy.  Pretty quickly, it became apparent that this isn’t going to be a simple installation.  Our current wiring won’t support the requirements of DirecTV.  Since we have a finished lower level (also known as “no access to wiring”), this means drilling new holes.  Note: if you’re in the market for a house, consider drop ceilings.  They make things easier.

The installer thought that our house was a condo and asked questions about what type of installations were allowed.  I assured him that the house is not a condo, but a zero-lot-line house (known as a duplex in many areas), and that there are no restrictions.  We then discussed the option of placing the dish on the roof or on a pole in the ground.  We get snow during the winter, so we opted with a ground-based unit to allow easy snow removal.  Two other guys show up to install the dish and run the line (underground) from the dish to the house.

The rest of the installation was pretty smooth, and the installer gave us a crash course on the remote before he left.  (This wasn’t the last time we’d see him, though – he left his drill charger behind and would have to return to pick it up).

Billing

Billing did cause some frustration.  My wife was quoted a certain introductory price and was told that there was an additional rebate that would drop the price lower.  In actuality, the rebate could not be used in conjunction with the introductory price.  After reading bunches of fine print, it seems that the people my wife talked to were confusing the details of two different promotions.  Probably an honest mistake, but still frustrating.

We’re also locked into a 2 year contract – there was no contract with cable.

NFL Sunday Ticket

We have the NFL Sunday Ticket.  My wife is pretty happy about this, because she can watch her Rams.  We’re ever so slightly outside the local area for the Fox station that covers the Rams – about 10 miles.  I haven’t taken much advantage of Sunday Ticket because I’m boycotting Brett Favre’s stay with the Vikings.  Dump Favre and put in Sage Rosenfels.

We also found out that the channel that allows you to watch 8 different NFL games at the same time is NOT part of the standard NFL Sunday Ticket package.  I’m not sure how much we would use this anyway, but this seems a bit crazy.  Seriously, the Sunday Ticket is pricey enough – throw this in.

Baseball

We didn’t get MLB Extra Innings this year because the pro-rated price wasn’t worth it, with just a couple of weeks left in the regular season at the time.  I was hoping this might be part of the promo package we got, but it wasn’t.

I have been able to catch my Rockies on a variety of stations, though.  We’re getting the regional Fox Sports Net channels.  Sometimes the games are blacked out, sometimes they aren’t.  I haven’t figured out the logic behind this yet, so I basically flip the TV on and hope for the best.  I’ve caught more games in the last 2 weeks than in the rest of the season combined – the Rockies were NEVER on TV with my cable provider.  Right now I’m watching Rockies vs. Brewers on FSN Wisconsin – complete with  commercials for Piggly Wiggly.

We also get MLB Network, which we didn’t get with our cable provider.  I really, really like this.  It’s like ESPN, but with the non-baseball stuff filtered out.  Pretty cool …

DVRs

The DVR we had with the cable provider wasn’t the greatest.  It seemed to hold between 50 and 80 hours of shows, and also exhibited some bad behavior from time to time.  At least once a week,changing channels would slow to a crawl, and we’d have to pull the plug overnight and plug back in.  This was the recommended fix.  There were also problems with recordings from one particular channel – the local NBC affiliate.  Shows from that channel would not allow the basic DVR functions (rewind, fast forward).  This seems really strange, as I assumed the recordings were just data streams, and that the DVR device wouldn’t even be able to differentiate between shows from various channels.

We have two DVRs for DirecTV, each of which should hold about 200 hours of shows (we don’t have HD – this would be less with HD).  One of them is quickly filling up with Rockies baseball games.  I need to take some time to nab  a few forensics shows, too.  So far, no weird occurences.  Hooray.

The ability to program the DVRs over the internet is cool.  I haven’t used this for anything important yet, but did test it, just as a proof of concept.  It works as advertised.

Miscellany

My alma mater’s game are only covered by the cable company (a channel that the company owns), so I won’t be seeing many of their games.  That’s a bummer, but getting baseball is a fair trade.

When I went to return my cable equipment, there was a security guard at the cable office.  The place actually got robbed a while ago.  I guess a lot of students pay their cable bill in cash.  I’m not sure how there weren’t 100 witnesses, though – the place always seems to be somewhat busy.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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