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A Comparison of Comcast and Directv

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Old 08-25-2010, 02:49 PM   #1
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Default A Comparison of Comcast and Directv

I see a lot of threads on people asking which is better Comcast, Directv, Dish, or Fios/Uverse. Well I had Comcast cable for the past three years and switched to Directv at the end of June. So here is my assessment of the these two providers. I'm in South Bend, IN by the way.

1) Cost
Taking the promotional pricing out of the comparisons Directv is less expensive for me than Comcast. I'll be paying $88.99/mo. for Directv's choice extra package w/ the sports package. (I did receive the free hd for life when I signed up, so it'd be $98.99/mo. if I didn't receive this promo) Now the equipment this includes is 1 HD DVR and one HD Box. The whole-home DVR service is also included in these prices.

For Comcast's Digital Preferred Package w/ the sports entertainment package I was paying $109.75/mo. This included 1 HD DVR and 1 HD Box. So even I had hadn't signed up with Directv under the free hd for life promo I still would have saved over $10/mo. for very similar programming and equipment.

Advantage-Directv

2)Picture Quality

This is hard to call, but not because I don't see a difference between the hd picture quality of Comcast and Directv. Overall, Comcasts's HD picture was actually brighter and sharper on a lot of the channels. Directv's HD picture while very good, seems a bit more "soft" to me if that makes sense. However, on some hd channels for Comcast I had some pixelization issues. Fox News, sometimes ESPN 2, and the Big Ten Network had consistent pixelization. Not enough for me to really be upset over the picture quality, I just noticed it from time to time. Directv's hd picture quality is very consistent. It does not change depending on what channel you are on. So if I'm watching Fox News, ESPN 2 or the Big Ten Network I would prefer to watch on Directv, but Bravo, TLC, HGTV, Science Channel, and Discovery looked better on Comcast. (my opinion on a 40" Samsung LCD)

Advantage-Slight Comcast

3)Reliability

No question Comcast get's the nod here. In the 3 years I had Comcast I only had 1 cable outage. (and that was because of a car accident by my house that took down a telephone pole) We've had a pretty stormy summer here in South Bend, IN and each one that has rolled through I have lost my signal with Directv. I knew this would happen going into it, but I underestimated my own frustration with it when it happens. I figured aahh, it doesn't matter, thunderstorms are over with in 10-20 minutes. Well I find myself getting very aggravated when it does happen.

Advantage-Huge Comcast...not even close

4) The Guide

As far as functionality goes Comcast and Directv are pretty equal. (if you have the a28 version guide with Comcast) If you have the old a25 then Directv is better with functionality.

Now as far as the aesthetics of the guide goes, Directv's looks much better. It's only 480p resolution, but it is in the 16x9 aspect ratio. This drove me nuts with Comcast's guide. It looked like something from the 90's and was only in the 4x3 aspect ratio. Comcast has got to do something about this.

Advantage-Huge Directv-->because of the appearance.

5) On Demand

No question Comcast blows away Directv here. Now I have to say I again knew this would be the case when I got Directv, but again I under estimated how much I really used On Demand. It's not that I used it very much myself, but I really used it quite a bit for my 3 year old daughter. There was quite a bit of kids programming on Comcast On Demand that I played for her that just isn't on TV that I can schedule it with my DVR.

Advantage-Comcast

6)Equipment

Not much to say here. I had the Motorola DCX 3425 HD DVR with Comcast and I have the HR24-500 HD DVR with Directv. The comcast box had a 250 gigabyte hard drive compared to Directv's 500 gigabyte hard drive, but I watch the shows then delete as soon as I've watched. The difference in hard drive size really doesn't matter for me, I could see where it might for some depending on how you use your DVR.

Advantage-equal

So Overall each provider has it's pluses and minuses. I'm locked into Directv for the next 21 months so obviously I'm not going to be switching, but I'm not thinking d**n I wish I wouldn't have made the switch. Directv will be fine for the next 21 months, however when my contract is up in June of 2012 I will probably be switching back to Comcast. Although if Comcast hasn't updated the appearance of the guide by then it will make my decision harder than it should.

What are other peoples reviews who have had 2 or more different tv providers??
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Old 08-25-2010, 03:50 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by chadb97 View Post
I see a lot of threads on people asking which is better Comcast, Directv, Dish, or Fios/Uverse. Well I had Comcast cable for the past three years and switched to Directv at the end of June. So here is my assessment of the these two providers. I'm in South Bend, IN by the way.

1) Cost
Taking the promotional pricing out of the comparisons Directv is less expensive for me than Comcast. I'll be paying $88.99/mo. for Directv's choice extra package w/ the sports package. (I did receive the free hd for life when I signed up, so it'd be $98.99/mo. if I didn't receive this promo) Now the equipment this includes is 1 HD DVR and one HD Box. The whole-home DVR service is also included in these prices.

For Comcast's Digital Preferred Package w/ the sports entertainment package I was paying $109.75/mo. This included 1 HD DVR and 1 HD Box. So even I had hadn't signed up with Directv under the free hd for life promo I still would have saved over $10/mo. for very similar programming and equipment.

Advantage-Directv

2)Picture Quality

This is hard to call, but not because I don't see a difference between the hd picture quality of Comcast and Directv. Overall, Comcasts's HD picture was actually brighter and sharper on a lot of the channels. Directv's HD picture while very good, seems a bit more "soft" to me if that makes sense. However, on some hd channels for Comcast I had some pixelization issues. Fox News, sometimes ESPN 2, and the Big Ten Network had consistent pixelization. Not enough for me to really be upset over the picture quality, I just noticed it from time to time. Directv's hd picture quality is very consistent. It does not change depending on what channel you are on. So if I'm watching Fox News, ESPN 2 or the Big Ten Network I would prefer to watch on Directv, but Bravo, TLC, HGTV, Science Channel, and Discovery looked better on Comcast. (my opinion on a 40" Samsung LCD)

Advantage-Slight Comcast

3)Reliability

No question Comcast get's the nod here. In the 3 years I had Comcast I only had 1 cable outage. (and that was because of a car accident by my house that took down a telephone pole) We've had a pretty stormy summer here in South Bend, IN and each one that has rolled through I have lost my signal with Directv. I knew this would happen going into it, but I underestimated my own frustration with it when it happens. I figured aahh, it doesn't matter, thunderstorms are over with in 10-20 minutes. Well I find myself getting very aggravated when it does happen.

Advantage-Huge Comcast...not even close

4) The Guide

As far as functionality goes Comcast and Directv are pretty equal. (if you have the a28 version guide with Comcast) If you have the old a25 then Directv is better with functionality.

Now as far as the aesthetics of the guide goes, Directv's looks much better. It's only 480p resolution, but it is in the 16x9 aspect ratio. This drove me nuts with Comcast's guide. It looked like something from the 90's and was only in the 4x3 aspect ratio. Comcast has got to do something about this.

Advantage-Huge Directv-->because of the appearance.

5) On Demand

No question Comcast blows away Directv here. Now I have to say I again knew this would be the case when I got Directv, but again I under estimated how much I really used On Demand. It's not that I used it very much myself, but I really used it quite a bit for my 3 year old daughter. There was quite a bit of kids programming on Comcast On Demand that I played for her that just isn't on TV that I can schedule it with my DVR.

Advantage-Comcast

6)Equipment

Not much to say here. I had the Motorola DCX 3425 HD DVR with Comcast and I have the HR24-500 HD DVR with Directv. The comcast box had a 250 gigabyte hard drive compared to Directv's 500 gigabyte hard drive, but I watch the shows then delete as soon as I've watched. The difference in hard drive size really doesn't matter for me, I could see where it might for some depending on how you use your DVR.

Advantage-equal

So Overall each provider has it's pluses and minuses. I'm locked into Directv for the next 21 months so obviously I'm not going to be switching, but I'm not thinking d**n I wish I wouldn't have made the switch. Directv will be fine for the next 21 months, however when my contract is up in June of 2012 I will probably be switching back to Comcast. Although if Comcast hasn't updated the appearance of the guide by then it will make my decision harder than it should.

What are other peoples reviews who have had 2 or more different tv providers??
You may want to look into the alignment of your dish I had Direct tv for about 12 years and would only lose picture for about a minute or 2 during the hardest of rainstorms. After we put siding on the house the dish was slightly misaligned and we would lose signal alot more during rainstorms. Readjusted the dish and it fixed the problem.
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Old 08-25-2010, 03:59 PM   #3
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As much as me dislikes komkast, they have two great things going for them. No contract and high speed internet. If either satco offered the same, me guess is that komkast would see a mass exodus.
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Old 08-25-2010, 04:12 PM   #4
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As much as me dislikes komkast, they have two great things going for them. No contract and high speed internet. If either satco offered the same, me guess is that komkast would see a mass exodus.
No contract required for Dish or DTV either.. If not you have to pay the $150 or whatever it is for the installation.. There internet is very good though , but a bit on the pricey side. Good bundle prices, but their VOIP phone service sucks ass.

I only loose signal with DTV and when I had Dish in the very strong T-Storms and down pours. During Heavy snow squalls sometime too. But they would usually only last a few minutes at a time.. I have OTA as well so that does not bother me. But a couple times when I had a show/movie recorded and would lose the last 5 minute off it, I would be like .. When I had Comcast, I would loos signal less often, but the outages could be for hours at a time. My local bar has Comcast and they are always on the phone with them have to reset stuff..

I think the over PQ with DTV is the best out of the 3 I had. Not by leaps and bounds by any means, but I definately can tell the difference in many cases on my 50'' plasma. My 40 and 37'' LCD's.. Not much at all though. But the 1 thing I like most is the Home DVR thing with my 3 HDTV's.. Works very well and the H24 is a pretty good DVR.. Kinda still miss my Vip722 though..
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by oblioman View Post
As much as me dislikes komkast, they have two great things going for them. No contract and high speed internet. If either satco offered the same, me guess is that komkast would see a mass exodus.
Hey I just switched to verizons FIOS for the same price internet and its faster noticable faster than comcraps cable internet. Switch its the same price (after promo pricing). Speed averages about 5mbs faster.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:13 AM   #6
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No contract required for Dish or DTV either.. If not you have to pay the $150 or whatever it is for the installation.. There internet is very good though , but a bit on the pricey side. Good bundle prices, but their VOIP phone service sucks ass.

I think the over PQ with DTV is the best out of the 3 I had. Not by leaps and bounds by any means, but I definately can tell the difference in many cases on my 50'' plasma. My 40 and 37'' LCD's.. Not much at all though. But the 1 thing I like most is the Home DVR thing with my 3 HDTV's.. Works very well and the H24 is a pretty good DVR.. Kinda still miss my Vip722 though..
Dont use a subscription voip use OOMA its free (after buying box $200 at best buy) then its free mines been online for 1.5 years and better than vonnage in quality works with any internet (high speed). For PQ as it much as it pains me to say comcrap has the better picture verizons FIOS is washed out a bit on HD I have been checking all the offering and comcrap is still better on PQ. But its not enough to deal with their hideous customer service and freaky pricing from month to month. Comcrap must die and now!
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Old 08-27-2010, 02:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by chadb97 View Post
I see a lot of threads on people asking which is better Comcast, Directv, Dish, or Fios/Uverse. Well I had Comcast cable for the past three years and switched to Directv at the end of June. So here is my assessment of the these two providers. I'm in South Bend, IN by the way.

1) Cost
Taking the promotional pricing out of the comparisons Directv is less expensive for me than Comcast. I'll be paying $88.99/mo. for Directv's choice extra package w/ the sports package. (I did receive the free hd for life when I signed up, so it'd be $98.99/mo. if I didn't receive this promo) Now the equipment this includes is 1 HD DVR and one HD Box. The whole-home DVR service is also included in these prices.

For Comcast's Digital Preferred Package w/ the sports entertainment package I was paying $109.75/mo. This included 1 HD DVR and 1 HD Box. So even I had hadn't signed up with Directv under the free hd for life promo I still would have saved over $10/mo. for very similar programming and equipment.

Advantage-Directv

2)Picture Quality

This is hard to call, but not because I don't see a difference between the hd picture quality of Comcast and Directv. Overall, Comcasts's HD picture was actually brighter and sharper on a lot of the channels. Directv's HD picture while very good, seems a bit more "soft" to me if that makes sense. However, on some hd channels for Comcast I had some pixelization issues. Fox News, sometimes ESPN 2, and the Big Ten Network had consistent pixelization. Not enough for me to really be upset over the picture quality, I just noticed it from time to time. Directv's hd picture quality is very consistent. It does not change depending on what channel you are on. So if I'm watching Fox News, ESPN 2 or the Big Ten Network I would prefer to watch on Directv, but Bravo, TLC, HGTV, Science Channel, and Discovery looked better on Comcast. (my opinion on a 40" Samsung LCD)

Advantage-Slight Comcast

3)Reliability

No question Comcast get's the nod here. In the 3 years I had Comcast I only had 1 cable outage. (and that was because of a car accident by my house that took down a telephone pole) We've had a pretty stormy summer here in South Bend, IN and each one that has rolled through I have lost my signal with Directv. I knew this would happen going into it, but I underestimated my own frustration with it when it happens. I figured aahh, it doesn't matter, thunderstorms are over with in 10-20 minutes. Well I find myself getting very aggravated when it does happen.

Advantage-Huge Comcast...not even close

4) The Guide

As far as functionality goes Comcast and Directv are pretty equal. (if you have the a28 version guide with Comcast) If you have the old a25 then Directv is better with functionality.

Now as far as the aesthetics of the guide goes, Directv's looks much better. It's only 480p resolution, but it is in the 16x9 aspect ratio. This drove me nuts with Comcast's guide. It looked like something from the 90's and was only in the 4x3 aspect ratio. Comcast has got to do something about this.

Advantage-Huge Directv-->because of the appearance.

5) On Demand

No question Comcast blows away Directv here. Now I have to say I again knew this would be the case when I got Directv, but again I under estimated how much I really used On Demand. It's not that I used it very much myself, but I really used it quite a bit for my 3 year old daughter. There was quite a bit of kids programming on Comcast On Demand that I played for her that just isn't on TV that I can schedule it with my DVR.

Advantage-Comcast

6)Equipment

Not much to say here. I had the Motorola DCX 3425 HD DVR with Comcast and I have the HR24-500 HD DVR with Directv. The comcast box had a 250 gigabyte hard drive compared to Directv's 500 gigabyte hard drive, but I watch the shows then delete as soon as I've watched. The difference in hard drive size really doesn't matter for me, I could see where it might for some depending on how you use your DVR.

Advantage-equal

So Overall each provider has it's pluses and minuses. I'm locked into Directv for the next 21 months so obviously I'm not going to be switching, but I'm not thinking d**n I wish I wouldn't have made the switch. Directv will be fine for the next 21 months, however when my contract is up in June of 2012 I will probably be switching back to Comcast. Although if Comcast hasn't updated the appearance of the guide by then it will make my decision harder than it should.

What are other peoples reviews who have had 2 or more different tv providers??



accurate! Good stuff! Indirect stinks in most everyone's opinion on this site and other popular sites!!
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:21 PM   #8
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accurate! Good stuff! Indirect stinks in most everyone's opinion on this site and other popular sites!!
In case you havent noticed before Bigmac is a troll that can only repeat indirect stinks over and over in everyone of his posts but can never give a reason why.
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:43 PM   #9
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In case you havent noticed before Bigmac is a troll that can only repeat indirect stinks over and over in everyone of his posts but can never give a reason why.
46 posts, you haven't been workin for them that long have you? R u doing installs by yourself yet or are you still in training how to lie!! If you would read just a few post, there are 10 to fifteen serious beefs I have with indirect, I won't go back and compile a list for you!
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:28 PM   #10
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46 posts, you haven't been workin for them that long have you? R u doing installs by yourself yet or are you still in training how to lie!! If you would read just a few post, there are 10 to fifteen serious beefs I have with indirect, I won't go back and compile a list for you!
By all means allow me.. I will just do the 1st 3 or so..

1. I called DTV and got me some TV.. Then got me a bill that was like $987.. Then me got another 1 a month later that was $989.. That there is like tripled from the month before.. That there Indirect TV sucks.


2. They installed my dish thingy with duct tape and wood glue. Well that there thing fell rite off me trailer and killed my coon dog Dixie rite dear before my very eyes. Indirect TV just suuuuucks..

3. I called that there Inderect TV and told them you killed my dog Dixie.. They just laughed and laughed and said good for ya.. They would send out another tech in like 4 months to fix it, but wold cost like $6000 dollars.. Indirect TV just suckkkkkkkkkksssssssss...
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:47 PM   #11
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Thanks for sharing your review, experience and insight in an objective manner.
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Old 08-28-2010, 09:14 AM   #12
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46 posts, you haven't been workin for them that long have you? R u doing installs by yourself yet or are you still in training how to lie!! If you would read just a few post, there are 10 to fifteen serious beefs I have with indirect, I won't go back and compile a list for you!

Because I haven't posted much in the 2 years I have been here doesn't mean I am a Direct Tv employee... I am not even Direct TV subscriber anymore. But I have seen countless "Inderect tv sucks" comments by you and you have always failed to answer any questions about any experience.
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Old 08-30-2010, 12:29 PM   #13
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After almost 15 years with satellite, the last 9 with DirecTV, we just headed in the opposite direction. For us, it was a greater selection of HD for Comcast and in particularly frustration that after launching a new satellite, DirecTV has squandered the additional space primarily on duplicate premiums and PPV. Some of you can note my user avatar and figure out what channel in particular.

1) Cost

This is a complete wash. With DTV & Comcast internet, we were paying $170 a month total, 105 for DirecTV and 65 to comcast for Internet. It's $115 for Comcast, but our internet goes from 65 to 50. So total for video and internet DTV: 170, Comcast: 165.

2)Picture Quality

We only have a 720p 37" vizio, so at our resolution and screen size we're not going to see a lot of issues that others might, but I think that DirecTV's HD is ever so slightly sharper. However, this is more than made up for by Comcast's far superior SD picture. SD on DirecTV is basically unwatchable, particularly when zoomed it's so blurry that it's distracting. I can't fathom what it must be like on a larger screen. Comcast's SD is very good, even when zoomed. We have a second little 22" 720p in our office and the SD looks indistinguishable from HD where with DirecTV even on a screen that small it was blurry.

Also, if you have a 720p TV, I got into a setup screen--same one you set the SD to be correct aspect or stretched--and turned the output from the STB down to 720p. If I'm correct, many of these channels are 720p anyway so the cable box was upscaling them to 1080 followed by my tv downscaling them back to 720. It seemed to be a minor improvement in the sharpness of the picture.

3)Reliability

I can't speak to this completely as we haven't had Comcast video long enough, but our Comcast internet has been rock solid reliable for the last ten years. I can't think of anytime that we lost SD on DirecTV, but we'd find a HD recording maybe once a month or so that was killed by rain, even with our channels peaked into the 90s. We also live on Cape Cod and had a storm blow our dish out of alignment once, resulting in a complete loss of HD. And then there is a tree that every year grows a little more and each spring I wonder if it will obscure the LOS to the satellite.

4) The Guide/Interface

The Comcast interface is hideous. It looks like DOS. There's no other description. Even the DISHplayer we had in 1999 had a modern interface. Comcast should be embarrassed.

Functionality, OTOH, is pretty similar, but there some differences. These are mostly small ways in which the DTV interface does things just a bit more elegantly. Surprisingly Comcast actually has a few things available that DTV doesn't.

One huge failure that jumps right out is that the Comcast unit has no way to remove unwanted or unsubscribed channels from your default guide. That's pathetic. You can set up a favorites list, but that requires extra button clicks to get to it. DirecTV lets you set up multiple lists and make one the primary. It also has an option to let you automatically replace the SD versions of channels with HD ones--Comcast instead pops up a banner if you tune a SD channel with an HD equivilent asking if you want to watch it in HD instead. DUH, of course I do.

All channel names in the Comcast guide are heavily abbreviated. A lot of these I had no idea what channel they were and had to look them up on a printed guide. It's also inconsistent about whether a broadcast channel is listed under its call letters or as a network affiliate Ie, whether it's "WBZ TV" or "CBS Affiliate". Both providers have recently renumbered channels, but Comcast's remain haphazard. The English language version of GolTV, for example, remains in the middle of the Spanish section and the HD "basic cable" options drift into the 700s and 900s.

One way in which the Comcast guide is superior is in offering a single channel list of upcoming programs (tivo style) by pressing the guide button twice. In DirecTV, you can do this, but you go to the guide, left click to get the cursor from the current time to the channel (which is not really intuitively something you can do in a grid guide), then press the info button and you get a similar list. I tend to set up recordings all at once by going through movie channels and seeing what's coming up and once upon a time had a DirecTIVO so I really appreciate the easy access to this format.

Another win for Comcast is the search function, which I gather has just recently been added or upgraded by them? DirecTV allows a generic search--it will find anything relevant. Comcast allows the same thing with a "key word" search, but will also allow a specific title search or actor/director search. Comcast will let you record a search, not just individual programs.

The results of a search is a vivid example of where DirecTV is just more elegant. Comcast gives you an endless list of every single instance of every relevant program. For PBS we have WGBH, WGBH HD, WGBX, WSBE, WSBE HD, and five different subchannels. Search for NOVA and you'll get one entry for every episode on every different channel and subchannel. The list will go on screen after screen after screen. Search for it on DirecTV and you get one entry for nova, open it and you get one entry for each channel, open those and get the individual episodes.

Other examples of how the Directv box just handles things better.

If a manual recording conflicts with a series subscription, both services will warn you. If you want to record it anyway, with Comcast, your lower priority series pass doesn't record, DirecTV shows you what programs conflict and lets you choose which not to record.

Both units will record the current program if you press the record button. On the DirecTV unit, if you press it a second time, it will set up a default season pass with no additional input.

In virtually every screen, at the bottom of the Comcast option there is some sort of "next screen" option that you need to press if you're scrolling through items. If there are three items on a screen and you are on the bottom one and press down, with directv, you go to the next item and everything scrolls. With Comcast, you go to a "down by one screen" button which then requires a second press.

The interface is also not just an issue of ugliness, the low definition of the Comcast menus mean there are far fewer lines of text per television screen, sometimes only 3. Combine that with the "next screen" silliness and this makes a big difference when you're doing things like sorting priorities for the DVR.

5) On Demand

I'd call it for Comcast, but not by as much as I'd expected.

Comcast has a somewhat larger selection of channels with VOD and they are far more up to date--new offerings come online the day after they air, where there was a longer delay for DirecTV with some channels only updating once a month. However a lot of the channels on DirecTV seem to have more individual items and hidden in their mostly ppv section are a huge number of free movies, a good many at 1080 for download. Comcast also groups channels into sometimes awkward categories, where DirecTV just offers a list by channel.

The interface concept for VOD is very different. Comcast, it's like a separate DVR menu and effectively that's exactly what it is. All VOD functions appear within the VOD section as if it were a separate local DVR. With DirecTV, you record items off of the VOD menu, and they then stream to the hard drive and appear with the rest of your recordings. This makes them easier to find, but it also eats up hard drive space and there is a short delay and menu changes between when you start to "record"/stream a recording and when you can watch it. Comcast is one click and you're watching it instantly or close enough.

6) Equipment (physical)

Win for DirecTV on function and appearance. We had a DirecTV HR21-700 with a 320gb drive that we'd upgraded with a 1TB external USB drive. The replacement was a Motorola DCX4300m with a 500gb drive. Prior to the introduction of the AnyRoom service, the largest capacity drive locally from Comcast was 160gb which is simply unacceptable and was the one sticking point on switching providers. I consider even the 500gb to be bare minimum. In terms of the case, the DirecTV unit was very smartly styled with a funky blue circle indicating on/off/recording status. The Motorola unit is utilitarian in appearance and screams "hi I am a cable box" including an LED readout that shows the time or channel (your choice). The Motorola box also has a red light that indicates recording, but sometimes also displays rEC. For me, on every level, the DTV unit was better. In particularly, I find the fact that Comcast has intentionally disabled an existing functionality in the eSATA interface to be extremely frustrating.

6) AnyRoom DVR

DirecTV is clearly ahead here. With Comcast's AnyRoom DVR service. You have a single DVR and satellite STBs can watch anything on it. You can't have multiple DVRs and you can't schedule recordings from a satellite box. DirecTV allows any current HD boxes to talk to one another and watch recordings from each and you can set recordings from a satellite.

7) Channel Selection

For us, this was a clear win for Comcast. We are basic cable watchers and get our "premium" offerings from Netflix rentals. We gained almost a dozen new HD channels, including AMC HD which makes up a pretty significant portion of our TV viewing experience. We also got WGBH PBS in HD, which DirecTV can't make a deal with, and we got the PBS subchannels which are actually pretty interesting to us as I'm a cooking type person and my partner is a crafty person. Our only real loss was HDNet Movies, which really is a fantastic channel, but doesn't make up for all that we gained.

Where DirecTV has an advantage is in things you need to pay them more money for. They have more PPV and more HD PPV. They have more Sports Packages and more in HD. They have more versions of premium channels. (To me as a DVR user, this is a huge waste. If it airs once, it can be recorded and we're done.) Did I mention DirecTV has more PPV. They're very proud of that.

8) Installation Experience

Ah yes, waiting for the cable guy. Before switching to Comcast, we decided to upgrade to DirecTV's whole home DVR service. We scheduled an appointment and waited. They called just before the installation window and told us they would here towards the latter part of the window. An hour after the appointment window closed, we called and were told we would be called back within 15 minutes with an update. A half hour later, we were called and told the techs didn't have the equipment and when they realized that, we had been cancelled earlier in the day, but never called. We rescheduled. They pulled another no show. We rescheduled again. Another no show. At this point, we just gave up and cancelled.

This isn't the first time we've had this kind of experience with DirecTV. When we first upgraded to HD, the installer arrived, declared the house had no line of sight to the satellites and refused to even put a ladder against the house to actually check. I was pretty sure we had a line of sight, having checked it with the dishpointer site and previously having DISH which uses different locations. We called and got a different installer who installed without an issue.

Comcast showed up on time. The AnyRoom DVR service is new (we were the third install in the market) and they had a supervisor who had been trained specifically on the product who arrived with the "regular" installer. The supervisor was a walking encyclopedia on the product and when he found out I was an IT person, gave all sorts of info on how it all worked including showing and explaining the different tech only screens they used. An additional supervisor also arrived to make sure everything went smoothly. They did a good amount of fresh wiring and disconnected the unused drops in the house which they explained was because they had found some problems with the AnyRoom and signal leakage and they wanted it to be bulletproof.

One quibble I do have about Comcast's installation that probably reflects the "least common denominator" aspects of cable is that SD channels were set by default to "stretch." I had to look up how to get into a service menu to change that and for some reason, probably to do with updating the boxes, they reverted once the first evening which almost cost them the account. I don't understand why this and the resolution setting need to be in a hidden menu.

Given that we have no commitment, we're free to switch back to DirecTV at any time. I'm not sure what we'll do if DirecTV actually adds the channels we want. Their STB interface is so much better, but I do appreciate some of the things about having local cable. An interesting thought I've had is that when we first switched to satellite, they had a far superior channel selection and picture quality, but the STBs were annoying to use compared to cable. Virtually all of that is now reversed.
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:35 PM   #14
HD is that much better
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by klambert View Post
After almost 15 years with satellite, the last 9 with DirecTV, we just headed in the opposite direction. For us, it was a greater selection of HD for Comcast and in particularly frustration that after launching a new satellite, DirecTV has squandered the additional space primarily on duplicate premiums and PPV. Some of you can note my user avatar and figure out what channel in particular.

1) Cost

This is a complete wash. With DTV & Comcast internet, we were paying $170 a month total, 105 for DirecTV and 65 to comcast for Internet. It's $115 for Comcast, but our internet goes from 65 to 50. So total for video and internet DTV: 170, Comcast: 165.

2)Picture Quality

We only have a 720p 37" vizio, so at our resolution and screen size we're not going to see a lot of issues that others might, but I think that DirecTV's HD is ever so slightly sharper. However, this is more than made up for by Comcast's far superior SD picture. SD on DirecTV is basically unwatchable, particularly when zoomed it's so blurry that it's distracting. I can't fathom what it must be like on a larger screen. Comcast's SD is very good, even when zoomed. We have a second little 22" 720p in our office and the SD looks indistinguishable from HD where with DirecTV even on a screen that small it was blurry.

Also, if you have a 720p TV, I got into a setup screen--same one you set the SD to be correct aspect or stretched--and turned the output from the STB down to 720p. If I'm correct, many of these channels are 720p anyway so the cable box was upscaling them to 1080 followed by my tv downscaling them back to 720. It seemed to be a minor improvement in the sharpness of the picture.

3)Reliability

I can't speak to this completely as we haven't had Comcast video long enough, but our Comcast internet has been rock solid reliable for the last ten years. I can't think of anytime that we lost SD on DirecTV, but we'd find a HD recording maybe once a month or so that was killed by rain, even with our channels peaked into the 90s. We also live on Cape Cod and had a storm blow our dish out of alignment once, resulting in a complete loss of HD. And then there is a tree that every year grows a little more and each spring I wonder if it will obscure the LOS to the satellite.

4) The Guide/Interface

The Comcast interface is hideous. It looks like DOS. There's no other description. Even the DISHplayer we had in 1999 had a modern interface. Comcast should be embarrassed.

Functionality, OTOH, is pretty similar, but there some differences. These are mostly small ways in which the DTV interface does things just a bit more elegantly. Surprisingly Comcast actually has a few things available that DTV doesn't.

One huge failure that jumps right out is that the Comcast unit has no way to remove unwanted or unsubscribed channels from your default guide. That's pathetic. You can set up a favorites list, but that requires extra button clicks to get to it. DirecTV lets you set up multiple lists and make one the primary. It also has an option to let you automatically replace the SD versions of channels with HD ones--Comcast instead pops up a banner if you tune a SD channel with an HD equivilent asking if you want to watch it in HD instead. DUH, of course I do.

All channel names in the Comcast guide are heavily abbreviated. A lot of these I had no idea what channel they were and had to look them up on a printed guide. It's also inconsistent about whether a broadcast channel is listed under its call letters or as a network affiliate Ie, whether it's "WBZ TV" or "CBS Affiliate". Both providers have recently renumbered channels, but Comcast's remain haphazard. The English language version of GolTV, for example, remains in the middle of the Spanish section and the HD "basic cable" options drift into the 700s and 900s.

One way in which the Comcast guide is superior is in offering a single channel list of upcoming programs (tivo style) by pressing the guide button twice. In DirecTV, you can do this, but you go to the guide, left click to get the cursor from the current time to the channel (which is not really intuitively something you can do in a grid guide), then press the info button and you get a similar list. I tend to set up recordings all at once by going through movie channels and seeing what's coming up and once upon a time had a DirecTIVO so I really appreciate the easy access to this format.

Another win for Comcast is the search function, which I gather has just recently been added or upgraded by them? DirecTV allows a generic search--it will find anything relevant. Comcast allows the same thing with a "key word" search, but will also allow a specific title search or actor/director search. Comcast will let you record a search, not just individual programs.

The results of a search is a vivid example of where DirecTV is just more elegant. Comcast gives you an endless list of every single instance of every relevant program. For PBS we have WGBH, WGBH HD, WGBX, WSBE, WSBE HD, and five different subchannels. Search for NOVA and you'll get one entry for every episode on every different channel and subchannel. The list will go on screen after screen after screen. Search for it on DirecTV and you get one entry for nova, open it and you get one entry for each channel, open those and get the individual episodes.

Other examples of how the Directv box just handles things better.

If a manual recording conflicts with a series subscription, both services will warn you. If you want to record it anyway, with Comcast, your lower priority series pass doesn't record, DirecTV shows you what programs conflict and lets you choose which not to record.

Both units will record the current program if you press the record button. On the DirecTV unit, if you press it a second time, it will set up a default season pass with no additional input.

In virtually every screen, at the bottom of the Comcast option there is some sort of "next screen" option that you need to press if you're scrolling through items. If there are three items on a screen and you are on the bottom one and press down, with directv, you go to the next item and everything scrolls. With Comcast, you go to a "down by one screen" button which then requires a second press.

The interface is also not just an issue of ugliness, the low definition of the Comcast menus mean there are far fewer lines of text per television screen, sometimes only 3. Combine that with the "next screen" silliness and this makes a big difference when you're doing things like sorting priorities for the DVR.

5) On Demand

I'd call it for Comcast, but not by as much as I'd expected.

Comcast has a somewhat larger selection of channels with VOD and they are far more up to date--new offerings come online the day after they air, where there was a longer delay for DirecTV with some channels only updating once a month. However a lot of the channels on DirecTV seem to have more individual items and hidden in their mostly ppv section are a huge number of free movies, a good many at 1080 for download. Comcast also groups channels into sometimes awkward categories, where DirecTV just offers a list by channel.

The interface concept for VOD is very different. Comcast, it's like a separate DVR menu and effectively that's exactly what it is. All VOD functions appear within the VOD section as if it were a separate local DVR. With DirecTV, you record items off of the VOD menu, and they then stream to the hard drive and appear with the rest of your recordings. This makes them easier to find, but it also eats up hard drive space and there is a short delay and menu changes between when you start to "record"/stream a recording and when you can watch it. Comcast is one click and you're watching it instantly or close enough.

6) Equipment (physical)

Win for DirecTV on function and appearance. We had a DirecTV HR21-700 with a 320gb drive that we'd upgraded with a 1TB external USB drive. The replacement was a Motorola DCX4300m with a 500gb drive. Prior to the introduction of the AnyRoom service, the largest capacity drive locally from Comcast was 160gb which is simply unacceptable and was the one sticking point on switching providers. I consider even the 500gb to be bare minimum. In terms of the case, the DirecTV unit was very smartly styled with a funky blue circle indicating on/off/recording status. The Motorola unit is utilitarian in appearance and screams "hi I am a cable box" including an LED readout that shows the time or channel (your choice). The Motorola box also has a red light that indicates recording, but sometimes also displays rEC. For me, on every level, the DTV unit was better. In particularly, I find the fact that Comcast has intentionally disabled an existing functionality in the eSATA interface to be extremely frustrating.

6) AnyRoom DVR

DirecTV is clearly ahead here. With Comcast's AnyRoom DVR service. You have a single DVR and satellite STBs can watch anything on it. You can't have multiple DVRs and you can't schedule recordings from a satellite box. DirecTV allows any current HD boxes to talk to one another and watch recordings from each and you can set recordings from a satellite.

7) Channel Selection

For us, this was a clear win for Comcast. We are basic cable watchers and get our "premium" offerings from Netflix rentals. We gained almost a dozen new HD channels, including AMC HD which makes up a pretty significant portion of our TV viewing experience. We also got WGBH PBS in HD, which DirecTV can't make a deal with, and we got the PBS subchannels which are actually pretty interesting to us as I'm a cooking type person and my partner is a crafty person. Our only real loss was HDNet Movies, which really is a fantastic channel, but doesn't make up for all that we gained.

Where DirecTV has an advantage is in things you need to pay them more money for. They have more PPV and more HD PPV. They have more Sports Packages and more in HD. They have more versions of premium channels. (To me as a DVR user, this is a huge waste. If it airs once, it can be recorded and we're done.) Did I mention DirecTV has more PPV. They're very proud of that.

8) Installation Experience

Ah yes, waiting for the cable guy. Before switching to Comcast, we decided to upgrade to DirecTV's whole home DVR service. We scheduled an appointment and waited. They called just before the installation window and told us they would here towards the latter part of the window. An hour after the appointment window closed, we called and were told we would be called back within 15 minutes with an update. A half hour later, we were called and told the techs didn't have the equipment and when they realized that, we had been cancelled earlier in the day, but never called. We rescheduled. They pulled another no show. We rescheduled again. Another no show. At this point, we just gave up and cancelled.

This isn't the first time we've had this kind of experience with DirecTV. When we first upgraded to HD, the installer arrived, declared the house had no line of sight to the satellites and refused to even put a ladder against the house to actually check. I was pretty sure we had a line of sight, having checked it with the dishpointer site and previously having DISH which uses different locations. We called and got a different installer who installed without an issue.

Comcast showed up on time. The AnyRoom DVR service is new (we were the third install in the market) and they had a supervisor who had been trained specifically on the product who arrived with the "regular" installer. The supervisor was a walking encyclopedia on the product and when he found out I was an IT person, gave all sorts of info on how it all worked including showing and explaining the different tech only screens they used. An additional supervisor also arrived to make sure everything went smoothly. They did a good amount of fresh wiring and disconnected the unused drops in the house which they explained was because they had found some problems with the AnyRoom and signal leakage and they wanted it to be bulletproof.

One quibble I do have about Comcast's installation that probably reflects the "least common denominator" aspects of cable is that SD channels were set by default to "stretch." I had to look up how to get into a service menu to change that and for some reason, probably to do with updating the boxes, they reverted once the first evening which almost cost them the account. I don't understand why this and the resolution setting need to be in a hidden menu.

Given that we have no commitment, we're free to switch back to DirecTV at any time. I'm not sure what we'll do if DirecTV actually adds the channels we want. Their STB interface is so much better, but I do appreciate some of the things about having local cable. An interesting thought I've had is that when we first switched to satellite, they had a far superior channel selection and picture quality, but the STBs were annoying to use compared to cable. Virtually all of that is now reversed.

Great review! Thank you for your input. Good specific examples of likes and dislikes without bias to directv or comcast.

On your review 4) The Guide/Interface I completely neglected Comcast's inability to filter the channels to show only the ones you receive. I 100% agree with you on this one. I can't believe I didn't included this in my review. The a28 version of the guide improved the functionality of the guide a ton, but why they left this seemingly simple ability out is beyond me.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:04 AM   #15
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One thing to consider is comcrap lies to its customers and its customer service is near the bottom of all american companies in the USA they are at the bottom of all media deliverers and its well earned. They are very arrogant and self serving with all kinds of fees sometimes the fees are made up with problems made up just to generate a service call fee. Im a ex 15 year customer of comcrap and im telling you now you will regret ever signing up with them. They can try to smoke over their bad name with xfinity but however you try to put a tux on a pig its still a pig. After the honeymoon im willing to bet anything that you will regret your decision within a year. I already know your paying too much for your comcrap compared to everyone else just wait till the promo prices end. I have verizon now and I see a speed increase in the internet for the same price so thats already a death nail for comcrap.
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