by Kent Sterling
The day my family got cable was one of the best moments of my life. Not being limited to the three networks was liberating, and being able to watch the Cubs everyday after moving to southern Indiana gave me a taste of home.
After an adulthood of pirating cable while in college, switching to DirecTV after it was generously gifted as a wedding present a full decade after Julie and I married by the great Len Totlan, and then finally pulling the trigger to bundle all media under the AT&T umbrella, I am again ready to explore options.
The problem is that getting a straight answer out of a salesperson or from a website from either DirecTV or UVerse is difficult. Comparing two services is damn near impossible because of the different tiers of options.
My knowledge of DirecTV is that the NFL Sunday Ticket is available only there. MLB Extra Innings too. DirecTV also has a ton of 1080p HD programming. All great selling points. The downside to DirecTV is the occasional issues with dish clutter – like snow – that can mess up reception.
When I had DirecTV in the past, the occasional signal outages weren’t that big a deal. We have an over the air antenna, so when the satellite gets squirrelly we adjust.
U-Verse is okay. Not great. Not bad. No complaints really, but no joy either. A couple of annoyances – I feel like I’m wasting a bunch of bandwidth by having hundreds of standard def stations on channels 1-999. I hate that they exist. I have no use for them, so I would like for them to vanish. I’m well aware they are easily ignored, but it’s a lot like disregarding feral cats in the backyard. I don’t walk around in the backyard, but who wants rogue felines cavorting about?
The sports coverage is okay with UVerse, but the points of differentiation I’ve noticed are useless contrivances. They have six or seven cameras at Wrigley Field that you can specifically access to watch a Cubs game. I visited a couple of times – enjoying it for a few minutes because I like the wide shots so you can see the positioning of the players. As much as I like that, the static long shot got old in a hurry. That might have worked back in the 1950s, but without a little movement, watching the game is duller than hell.
There is a difference with the DVR. With DirecTV, you can go back in time up to five weeks to record a program. If that’s possible with U-Verse, no one told me. You can also record five programs at once on DirecTV. Now I can’t imagine there ever being five shows on simultaneously that I would want to watch – not as long as programmers continue to renew vapid dreck like “Two Broke Girls,” but it’s nice to know. With U-Verse, the maximum is three – I think.
The cost is roughly equivalent after the discounts that apply for the first 12 months, but the free NFL Sunday Ticket for 2014 with DirecTV is a nice bonus with DirecTV.
Another strange difference is that the DVR on the DirecTV receiver holds something like 800 hours of HD programming. God help me if I ever hoard a backlog of 800 hours of stuff I need to watch, but in my world more is always better than less.
So it seems I have made my decision to return to the satellite driven delivery system of DirecTV, and jettison AT&T. I think the reason is that I still see AT&T as a phone company, and all DirecTV does is feed TV into our homes. My imagination tells me that there are dozens of conference rooms at AT&T’s headquarters where overpaid executives meet endlessly to talk landline service, cell service, internet service, TV service, and all kinds of other services. At DirecTV, there is one room where they try to figure out how to bring quality television programming into my home, and that’s it.
I’m sure the reality differs from my imagination, but its wisdom drives my decision making.
You might wonder why no discussion about the Dish Network. DirecTV and U-Verse are like Nordstrom and Von Maur in my world. Dish is TJ Maxx. I would rather buy one high quality and expensive shirt than six cheap shirts that unravel in the washing machine. Couldn’t tell you why because TV is TV, but I can’t imagine dealing with Dish.
Hello, DirecTV, it’s Kent and I want to come back.