Review of DirecTV (7 months later)

May 20, 2010

- See all 763 of my articles

Back in October, I first wrote about our experience with DirecTV.  Seven months later, how do I feel?


  • The DirecTV DVRs are far superior to the DVR we had with Mediacom.  The Mediacom ones would flake out and need to be powered down at least once a week.  It was replaced several times, but all the units acted the same.  The Mediacom DVRs store about 50 hours of programming.  The DirecTV DVRs have been relatively trouble-free, and they store 200+ hours of programming.  That comes in really handy when there is a need to have lots of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes on hand.
  • Aside from the fact that baseball’s blackout rules suck, I absolutely love having access to MLB Extra Innings, which was not available through Mediacom.  I can’t blame DirecTV for the blackouts, as these are imposed by Major League Baseball.  I have been able to catch a lot of Rockies games this year.
  • The ability to program your DVR from the internet is great.  If you forget to set your DVR, you can go to a computer (or smart phone), access the DirecTV web site, and set the show to record.

Negative, but not really their fault

  • We have our TV, phone, and internet bundled through Qwest.  A couple of months after doing this, we realized that they had not been bundled properly, and that we weren’t being given one of the discounts.  The multiple charges and discounts on the bill can make deciphering it difficult – especially since cryptic phrases are attached to the charges and discounts.  I had actually reviewed the bill and was under the impression that we were getting that discount.  Alas, the credit I was assuming was related to that discount was actually related to something else.  This was eventually resolved and we got credit for the un-discounted months.  I’m blaming Qwest for this instead of DirecTV.  The Qwest representative wasn’t willing to fix the problem; the DirecTV rep was.


  • Bad weather can create problems.  Our service was completely knocked out for periods of time during a recent system of severe thunderstorms.  This is an area where dish-based service is always going to lose when compared to cable companies, due to the fact that cable is hard-wired.
  • At times, the signal can be a bit garbled.  This comes and goes, but can be annoying when it happens.  The picture gets scrambled a bit and the audio can get distorted.

Please, please, please add these features

  • There doesn’t seem to be a way to truncate a saved program.  This can be especially problematic with sports programming.  MLB Extra Innings allocates six hours for a baseball game – an absurdly long time period.  I haven’t found any way to shorten this timeframe, other than manual halting the recording when the game is over.  The inability to truncate means that I may have a 2 ½ hour game that takes up 6 hours of space on the DVR.  I’d like to be able to fast-forward to a particular point in the programming and just delete the rest.  Even better, I’d like for the DVR to be smart enough to know when the game ends.  How would that be possible?  Have the TV stations transmit a unique program code as part of the signal.
  • Picture-in-picture.  I’m stunned that this doesn’t exist.  My TVs have PIP capability, and I know how to set it up … but there doesn’t appear to be a way to get it to work with DirecTV.  When I had digital cable, I’d split the coaxial cable before it got to the digital box.  I’d run one split through the digital box and then on to the TV.  I’d take the other split and run it to the TV.  The second split carried just the analog signal, but it gave me PIP functionality.  However, you can’t do this with DirecTV, because the out-of-the-jack signal is scrambled.  The only apparent way to set up PIP would be to have two converter boxes tied to the TV.  Am I missing an obvious solution to this?
  • I’d like to have the ability to create a custom playlist.  I often listen to TV while I’m doing yardwork.  I’d love to be able to set up a playlist that would allow me to watch a saved NCIS episode, a saved espisode of The Office, and then jump to channel 742 to join the Rockies game when it begins.  If that’s not possible (which, really, it should be) at least let me choose the order of the NCIS episodes.

Overall, I’m happy with the product.  The disruptions have been relatively rare at this point and DirecTV give me access to programming I can’t get with cable.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kenny myung
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 00:17:30

    Directv has the worst customer service in the world.. they are all talk and no action.. I have been told many times of my billing correction. but never has it been corrected.. and all the customer service reps have been rude and unhelpful.. Directv’s moto about customers first and customer promise are all lies.. once i cancel my service i am going to try out dish and see how their service is.. for everyone i recommend not to go with directv as they will just take your money and not give you any service you need..


  2. Zach
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 13:36:40

    The Washington State Attorney General sued DIRECTV for “unfair sales practices”. Also the BBB has received almost 40,000 complaints about DIRECTV which has resulted in an “F” rating for DIRECTV from the BBB. I saw you ask about PIP. I can tell you from working at DISH Network and having DISH services myself, that the VIP DVRS are capable of doing this.


Leave a Reply