Old 01-21-2009, 03:04 PM
Hal Briston Hal Briston is offline
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Location: A nice chunk o' NJ
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DirecTV -- How Reliable?

So, we're considering moving from Comcast over to DirecTV. All told, this would spell better than $40/month savings -- nothing to sneeze at. The main question we have is the reliability. In years past, there were always horror stories about how if it were drizzling, you'd get a fuzzy picture...and if there were heavy snow, then forget it, you might as well fire up the old Victrola.

So, are these stories of the past? Technology marches on -- can I expect any issues in this regard, or are things generally problem-free anymore? Also, are there still DVR issues as mentioned in this thread?
Old 01-21-2009, 03:18 PM
FriarTed FriarTed is offline
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Location: IN USA
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We've had it 2-3 years. The first year, hard rains might interfere. Now it pretty much takes a heavy thunderstorm to knock out the signal. And that usually comes back soon as it's passed.
Old 01-21-2009, 03:23 PM
What Exit? What Exit? is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Central NJ (near Bree)
Posts: 28,017
Hi Hal,

Give Comcast a call and ask to speak to retentions as you are thinking about switching to DirecTV to save $40 a month and see what they offer you to stay. I do this regularly and get discounts that add up to at least $40. At the moment I have Digital HD service with HBO, SHO, TMC, Stars, Encore and something else. An GD digital DVR, a HD digital converter and a standard digital converter and Internet all through Comcast. If you want, PM me and I'll send you my monthly fee.

Come to think of it, you were the reason I ended up getting DVR.

Thank you.
Old 01-21-2009, 03:24 PM
NAF1138 NAF1138 is online now
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: North of Philly
Posts: 9,615
Living in Los Angeles, I don't really have to contend with weather often, but the worst of the rainstorms we have gotten hasn't ever disrupted our signal. The biggest problem we had was when we moved to a new apartment the guys didn't calabrate the dish correctly (or something like that) and we had to have them come out a second time and adjust it so we could get signal again.

I like DriecTV very much. DirecTV with TiVo is the best thing since sliced bread.
Old 01-21-2009, 04:01 PM
TVeblen TVeblen is offline
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I've had DirecTV for years and it's been very reliable. It may lose the signal once or twice a year, for maybe 5 minutes at a time, in a very bad year. The only thing that's knocked out the signal is very, very strong storms, the kind where the rain pours down so heavily you can't see across the street. There have only been two blizzards (in 15 years or so) that I can recall with heavy enough snowfall that the signal was lost for a few minutes. I can't remember the last time the signal connection was lost but it's been ages.

FWIW, I dropped cable in favor of DirecTV for reliability and picture quality. It's been just fine. Excellent product, in my experience.
Old 01-21-2009, 04:08 PM
Dazzling White Diamonds Dazzling White Diamonds is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Along the Mighty Wabash
Posts: 605
We've had DirecTv for 8 years now. Love it. The picture is great and the service is *very* reliable. We have quite a few trees to the south, and we still get a strong signal. We experience rain fade when we have extreme downpours or really heavy snow - maybe 3 or 4 times a year. I think the longest outage we've had was approximately 15 minutes, but that was during a barrage of storms.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to upgrade to HD b/c of the trees, as HD requires line of sight to 4 satellites instead of the one we point to now.

It's a great service. Highly recommend it.

Last edited by Dazzling White Diamonds; 01-21-2009 at 04:11 PM. Reason: eta: expand on rain fade.
Old 01-21-2009, 04:31 PM
Litoris Litoris is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: TN
Posts: 2,445
In our experience -- having had Comcast, DishNetwork, and DirecTV -- I'd kill to have access to Comcast again. We had exactly 1 issue with them, it was resolved after the first 3 phone calls (3 because the issue was intermittent -- it turned out to be ancient cables at our house, once they were replaced, we had no issues again!). With the other 2 services, we have a joke -- "the tv is out, must be the grass" -- because it will go out randomly with no reason. Wind blowing = outage, sun shining = outage, rain = outage, birds within 10000 miles of us = outage, etc. As you can see, I am not a happy satellite customer.
Old 01-21-2009, 04:39 PM
Pork Rind Pork Rind is offline
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Location: Santa Barbara
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I've had DirecTV for years now and couldn't be happier. We've only lost signal twice. Once, the dish mount got loose (my fault, I installed it) and once when the dish filled solid with snow and ice. Couple of minutes with a broom took care of that. Other than that, no problems.

Last edited by Pork Rind; 01-21-2009 at 04:39 PM.
Old 01-21-2009, 04:40 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 18,119
Originally Posted by Dazzling White Diamonds View Post
Unfortunately, we weren't able to upgrade to HD b/c of the trees, as HD requires line of sight to 4 satellites instead of the one we point to now.
This is good to know. We wanted to get an HD TV eventually, but it looks like we'd better check the signal first.

I love DirecTV. I can't remember the last time we lost a signal, and that's something, for Iowa. Customer service is excellent. They missed a service call appointment once and gave us a month's free service to make up for it. When the DVR acted up, they sent a new one immediately, and we didn't even have to return the old one (which still worked -- the problem was with us). And after we'd subscribed for five years, they gave us a free premium channel for a year. I'll keep them as long as the neighbor's trees don't get too thick.
Old 01-21-2009, 04:48 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 10,591
I had both DirectTV and Dish Network and they worked good the majority of the time. But when rain or snow storms would knock out reception, even though it was rare, it really sucked. (Hey, it's snowing like mad outside. let's stay in make some popcorn, build a fire and watch our favorite shows... NOT)
Two years in a row I missed the LOST season finales becasue of Spring thunder storms. And they don't rerun those things if you've noticed.
Pissed me off enough that I switched to Comcast cable. Which is very reliable even though their Motorola DVR boxes are quirky.
Old 01-21-2009, 05:02 PM
carlb carlb is offline
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Location: Palmetto Bay, FL
Posts: 1,108
We have DirecTV in two homes - one on the east coast of Florida, and one in Chicago. Reliability has been very good - when there have been problems, it's usually been related to antenna mounting, so they were discovered and fixed early on.

At the Florida home reception has been rock-solid. The only times we lost the picture were when we lost power during a major storm. The antenna was mounted on the roof, on a single-story home.

The Chicago location has been slightly less reliable. We live on the top floor of a four-story building, and the antenna is on the roof. The initial installation went out during the first significant wind. It turns out that the installer used the wrong kind of mount. DirecTV fixed the problem, and it's been pretty reliable ever since. Once in a great while we'll have problems during high winds, but we've never lost it completely.

Their over-the-phone support has, for the most part, been very good. When I have had to speak to technical support types, they have always seemed to know what they were doing, and treated me as if I knew what I was doing.

We've been very happy, and I think it would take a lot for me to switch providers.
Old 01-21-2009, 11:17 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Rochester, MI
Posts: 2,192
Originally Posted by Litoris View Post
In our experience -- having had Comcast, DishNetwork, and DirecTV -- I'd kill to have access to Comcast again.
Interesting. I have had all three and I think I would kill if I HAD TO have Comcast again. I had outages all the time with Comcast & it took forever to get them to come out to deal with it. The few times I have had issues with DirecTV, it was short in duration. I even had a situation where DirecTV called me to say that my DVR had been reporting some signal deterioration and they sent out someone to check the dish alignment for free. Huge difference in service as compared to Comcast. In terms of price, my DirecTV has stayed pretty close to what we originally signed up for many years ago - Comcast had a nice low "introductory price" for half of the duration of the contract I signed & then it returned to whatever they felt like charging.

DVR from DirecTV can get kind of flaky at times. If you don't let it get too full, it behaves. When you have < 30% left anything can happen. My wife was upset because all of her stored shows (marked as "keep") disappeared because she told it to record the Inauguration. She did not realize it was going to record 10 hours.
Old 01-22-2009, 01:36 AM
Yorikke Yorikke is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,926
We had DirecTV for about 5 years, from 02-07. Approximately zero problems with any aspect of the service. We had no signal problems that I recall, even in pretty good storms. Absolutely NO problems with their TiVo system. We only stopped using them because we're not allowed a dish at our new place. Bastards.

HOWEVER, I am a die-hard Howard Stern fan, and I would be unable to subscribe to Howard TV thru DirecTV. Despite this, I think, were we allowed, I'd still switch back. I fully endorse this event or product.

Old 01-22-2009, 01:56 AM
Mesquite-oh Mesquite-oh is offline
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: La Frontera, US of A
Posts: 864
Directv customer for 4 years- have probs with rain maybe 3 times a year for a few minutes each time. When I had cable, it would go out more and would take them anywhere from a few hours to a few days to fix.
Old 01-22-2009, 01:59 AM
Loach Loach is online now
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pork Roll/Taylor Ham
Posts: 23,717
I am in a part of Jersey with the worlds worst cable company, Service Electric. We finally dumped them and went to DISH. The only times we have had signal problems was during the leading edge of a big thunderstorm. Once the worst part blew through it would come back with no problem. Really good customer service too. No complaints at all.
Old 01-22-2009, 03:48 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10,897
The signal quality and freedom from rain fade are pretty much due to the installation of the dish. They can be tweeked to greater accuracy than the crews who do several installations a day are willing to attempt.

For my sports bars, I've found sources for extra-large dishes. I'll take the DirecTV LNB and mount it on a 1 meter dish, instead of the 18" dish that was standard. I found a 24" x 36" 3 LNB dish for the HD signal. They've only reported one very short outage during a torrential downpour in the years since I installed the bigger dish. I haven't upgraded the 5 LNB AT9 dish to an oversize one - it seem to be a superior design, and the standard installation requires a higher level of accuracy in all cases.

If you are in an area with a lot of ice and snow, you might consider a dish heater.
Old 01-22-2009, 08:21 AM
NicePete NicePete is offline
Join Date: May 1999
Location: The Underground
Posts: 2,664
I've had DirecTV since 1995, not long after it first became available. (When we first started we had to subscribe to two services, DirecTV and USSB to get all the channels.) I have always been very happy with the signal quality, customer service and pricing.

My experience with signal loss is much like TVeblen's. Once, maybe twice a year in the middle of a VERY heavy rainstorm for five minutes or so. This has been made even rarer by the larger dishes. Snow, fuzzy picture, blurriness? Never. Not once in over 13 years.

As far as DVR issues go, I can somewhat speak to this. We had the DirecTV/TIVO receiver for several years. It finally gave up the ghost in November and we were forced to replace it. I was concerned because I had heard the issues about the replacement receivers. I think they've resolved most of the issues in the new model. We've been happy with it so far and there's a ton more hard drive space than in the old TIVO.


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