My DirecTV first impressions

I switched to DirecTV a little over a month ago when I bought my new HDTV. So far I have been extremely happy with that decision. I wanted to take a few minutes to go over some pros and cons of switching.


  1. Lots of HD channels. It is amazing how fast you become use to HDTV and don’t want to watch anything but it. The first thing I do when I turn on the TV is go straight to the HDTV guide and see what’s on.
  2. The DVR is great. I have the HR21 and it has two built in tuners. I can record a show in HD and watch a show in HD and it doesn’t have any issues doing that.
  3. Having 5.1 Dolby Digital sound is great. It seemed like I was only getting mono sound with cable. Having full surround sound is great even when watching a 30 minute comedy. It is also nice to put the surround sound system to use when watching TV and not just using it for movies.
  4. MediaShare is a nice extra. I’m still working on getting it setup the way I want but from the music and photos I have tested it does a good job. I’m expecting this service to get better with time as DirecTV updates the system.
  5. On Demand is a bonus. I thought I would be giving up On Demand when I switched to satellite, but I was wrong. DirecTVs On Demand uses your Internet connect to get the content. They have a fairly large selection of movies and TV shows. I have downloaded a lot of things through On Demand. It is still in beta and they plan to roll out the final version this summer.


  1. On the HD DVR flipping through the guide is slow. The standard boxes flip instantly. I have become use to it but at first I hated it.
  2. MediaShare sometimes just doesn’t show up. I am yet to find a good reason for this.
  3. No local HD. I watch a lot of local channels and I miss not having them in HD. I was going to just buy an antenna but the HR21 doesn’t have antenna hookup.

Some suggestions I have are listed below:

  1. The On Demand service is nice but I feel like the box is throttling the bandwidth. I pay for 10MB connection at home and feel like I could download the files faster than what they are going. I started up a download through On Demand and then ran a speed check. Click here for the results of that test.  As you can see my download is still around 6MB while downloading a movie through On Demand.  If they are throttling they should have an option in the menu to set max/min bandwidth.
  2. The MediaShare is nice but they need to make it so you can point to a shared folder and not use the VIIV technology.  VIIV technology never took off so they are going to make a lot of people happy if you could just scan the network and find shared drives.  It shouldn’t take much for the developers to add this.  They would sell a lot more HD DVRs if they did because I would replace all my standards with them.
  3. They need distributed DVR and transfer to computer option.  I record lots of shows but I’m not always allowed to watch my new TV.  I always get kicked off of the nice TV when my girlfriends shows are on, which happens a lot.  She has her friends over and wants to watch some chick show that I have no interest in.  Tivo provides the ability to watch on the computer so it shouldn’t be too much to get that option on DirecTV.

I said above that I am really happy I switched over.  My DirecTV box has been updated many times since I got it and that impresses me.  It shows me that they are constantly working to make the service better.  I didn’t feel that way with cable.

I’m still working on incorporating my Windows Media Center and Windows Home Server with the DirecTV setup.  There will be future posts on what I’m doing to incorporate those.

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