DIRECTV – How Does It Compare To DishNetwork?

I switched from DishNetwork to DIRECTV on Wednesday December 8, 2010. I had been using Dish for 3 years and I had no complaints with the service. My only reason for switching carriers was because DIRECTV was offering a better deal for new customers, so I decided to give DIRECTV a try. Prior to having Dish, I had cable TV from a local provider, so I have no brand loyalty to either cable nor satellite. My only consideration is how much it costs me a month.

Equipment: Dish uses a single HD-DVR which comes with two tuners built into the receiver which controls two TV’s. The first tuner broadcasts a HD signal whereas the second tuner only broadcasts in SD. In my case the HDTV in my bedroom only received a standard definition signal which was less than stellar. DIRECTV supplied me with a HD-DVR for the living room and a HD receiver for the bedroom. Both broadcast signals in HD including local stations. You can also view recorded programs and record programs from both rooms.

Picture Quality: Both my wife and I noticed that it appears to us that DIRECTV has a better picture in HD with more depth than did Dish. This is on all stations which broadcast in HD. SD channels are the same for both DIRECTV and Dish.

Remote Control Features: Both DIRECTV and Dish offer comparable feature rich functions on their remotes. Each offers the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward live programming. The main difference I found is that with Dish you can pause, rewind and fast forward live programming from both remotes. With DIRECTV this is limited to the main TV in the living room and does not function for live TV in the bedroom. To over come this, you can record the program and then take advantage of the pause, rewind and fast forward features on the second TV in the bedroom or in any other room that is connected by a receiver.

DIRECTV offers what is called a Quick Tune feature. Using Quick Tune you can set up up 9 stations you watch most often. With this feature you do not have to surf through the channel guide.

Channel lineup: 200, 220, 250 channels oh my! Everyone of us have different viewing habits and different programming needs. But what both DIRECTV and Dish have in common is that both like to include their music channels in the programming packages. Plus both include programming such as CSpan, multiple news networks and so forth that I never watch. When I setup my Favorites programming I end up with about 90 channels that my wife and I normally view and that is out of the 205 channels I signed up to receive. Typical for both DIRECTV, Dish and if I recall cable as well.

Recommendation: I believe that both DIRECTV and Dish provide very good service. I would give DIRECTV a slight advantage over picture quality but not to the point where I would not use Dish again. IMO opinion both DIRECTV and Dish are both better than cable, but that may just because where I live, the cable service is mediocre. Your mileage may vary.

Comments welcome.

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.


  1. Denny says:

    …. Good News , Comcast was up here last week measureing fur new Fiberoptics cable …
    He Said One Moe Year and we’ll have , HD , :-)

  2. Ron Schenone says:

    Hi Den,
    Now that is funny!

  3. morgan says:

    You can program your favorite channels on DISH into your very own custom programming guide so if you wanted those 90 favorite channels of yours would be all you will see!
    Dish’s HD quality is no less than DTV’s. And in the long run you will pay less with DISH after the promotional offer you got expires.

  4. Ron Schenone says:

    Hello Morgan,
    You can do the same with DIRECTV. I have the 90 in favorites.

  5. Rob says:

    Ron, you are right about DIRECTV’s HD Picture quality being better because actually it truly is. DIRECTV’s 1080i HD Channels are at the full resolution of 1920x1080i where as DISH’s 1080i HD channels are down res’d (AKA HD Lite) to 1440x1080i plus DISH also stuffs more channels per satellite transponder then DIRECTV does which results in more noticeable compression artifacts on DISH’s HD channels. Now on the 720p HD Channels both services broadcast at the full 1280x720p resolution but DIRECTV still has the edge there as well due to DISH stuffing more channels per transponder then DIRECTV.

    All in all I think the true sports fans have to choose DIRECTV (Full Time HD Regional Sports Networks, NFL Sunday Ticket, etc.) where as the people that don’t have to have all the sports and there Regional Sports Networks in HD 24/7 (DISH’s are part time, game only) then DISH is probably going to be a better choice usually.

    Now with all that said, DISH carries about 20 National HD Channels that DIRECTV only carries in SD, just to name a few of the more popular ones such as AMC HD, BBC America HD, HLN HD, E! HD, TCM HD, truTV and several others.

    Anyways, when choosing between the different providers it all comes down to mainly you’re viewing habits and channel selections.


  6. Ron Schenone says:

    Thanks Rob. Now I know why the picture does seem better.:-)
    Regards, Ron

  7. Frank says:

    I’ve been pondering going to SAT for years, off and on. We have a decent cable provider (BHN, Brighthouse Networks), with the latest HD-DVR boxes by Cisco (formerly Scientific Atlanta). Side note, they’re using Western Digital Green HD’s! I ran into DTV folks at Sam’s Club – rather pushy and hostile when I said no, after listening to their pitch. DTV’s introductory prices were just that – introductory. They claimed to beat the local cable provider – and they came VERY close. Wait until month 13 comes around, and my bill was going to more than DOUBLE with DTV, and would then be 35% more than cable. Note that I factored in the costs of paying the unbundled price of my cable internet which was $10 more a month when I compared their introductory offers. The introduction was great, but month 13 wasn’t. Factor in that we have a living room HDTV, bedroom HDTV, office/gym HDTV, and an HDTV outside (yes really). With both SAT and Cable, I would need a receiver for EACH to receive HDTV. Whereas, with Cable, I can get standard TV everywhere at no cost or extra equipment. I recently re-wired the whole house, and I did do some extra runs, so I can easily route receiver feeds to other locations where I don’t have boxes, and use a RF sender to control the channels. I only wish the cable company would use an RF remote…. OR – I could simply get CABLECARDS for $3/mo, though I wouldn’t have access to any OnDemand content, I would have HD access on those extra locations.

    I think DISH/DIRECT’s markets are definitely areas without cable coverage or smaller cable companies which don’t have big enough representation to bring in the channels. In the Tampa/Orlando, FL markets, Brighthouse Networks is affiliated with the Time Warner Cable network, thus it enjoys good representation.

    Now all that said, I think BHN could spend a little more attention to detail with their customers and be more competitive with price. They could network their boxes – most already have Ethernet ports. I believe they choose not to do this as customers would fuss over the cost and their new installation liabilities would increase. Finally, if they had RF remotes, I’d be really happy…. I could hide the box better. That’s one equipment advantage with DISH/DTV if I recall – some receivers have RF remotes? :-)

  8. Ron Schenone says:

    Hi Frank,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. In your situation I would stay with your cable company.
    Regards, Ron

  9. Dakini_3 says:

    Very timely & interesting discussion as I am looking at position for HD & 3DHD. I have looked at Comcast vs DirectTV (sad but Verizon FiOS is not an option in my area & neither is ATT Universe) … I am looking for a high speed Internet HD/3DHD bundle and it appears DirectTV is the current leader. With that said year two is not looking so sweet … Sigh … Did I mention that this is hard … Sony has yet to announce how they are going to bundle their 3DHD Channel & it remains unclear if DirectTV will offer Discovery 3D … Did I mention this is hard? Once you commit you are locked into an expensive second year which may not offer the best options for your family. Still this is an exciting time and I feel very blessed to be in a position to adopt these amazing technologies.

  10. Ron Schenone says:

    Hello Dakini_3,
    ‘I feel very blessed to be in a position to adopt these amazing technologies.’

    Well said. I am blessed as well.

  11. erik says:

    While both companies offer a good product, there are some statistics to consider before you make your choice. I work for DISH and also subscribe to HD Free for LIFE. DISH offers more HD Channels and also extends the HDFFL offer to any of it’s customers with HD Equipment. With DirecTV, you are forced to purchase a higher-level programming package, which can cost around $115/mo. Picture quality is relative, so I can’t give you too much perspective (pardon the pun) on that, but if you’re interested in some more stats and facts, take a look at!! Happy hunting!

  12. doxtorray says:

    I also switched after many years at Dish because DIrecTV seemed to be offering a better deal, and the phone CSR at Dish torqued off my wife.
    Boy, am I disappointed with DirecTV.
    Not only are they not offering several of the channels I watch (G4 and TCMHD to name just two) but the SD programming is noticeably fuzzier on DirecTV than it was on DishNetwork.
    I have (subjective) proof. I happened to set up a recordings on my hard drive/DVD recorder of a two series (on SD channels) when we had DishNetwork. I accidentally recorded the same episodes of the same series later in the week after we had switched to DirecTV. The recording settings are the same and I am watching them from the hard drive (obviously, on the same monitor). Doing an A-B comparison, the recordings of the DirecTV stuff lack detail, and the effect is noticeable if one is discriminating. I’m not talking DVD vs. VHS noticeable, but SuperBeta vs. VHS noticeable.
    Again, this is SD stuff only, but with DirecTV not offering many of the channels that Dish offers in HD, the Standard Definition fare is quite important to me.
    I only have 103 weeks more to go before I can switch back to DishNetwork, and I am looking forward to it.