My perfect tv service

So this is what I want from my new tv provider:

1. Multi room DVR.
What I record in the living room I want to watch in the bedroom.
2. HD content.
I want my channels in HD… all of them. But be able to watch SD versions on my SD tv’s.
3. Same channel number for HD and SD
I hate having to learn different channel numbers for the bedroom and the living room. If I go to channel 32 (ESPN) I want it to be glorious HD in the living room, but be the sd variant in the bedroom.
4. True HD – and no twisting the figures
Working in the video industry my eyes have become accustomed to being able to distinguish video resolutions. Sometimes I am seeing some rather poor versions of HD, when the stream is limited in bitrate. I know Dish is now pushing the fact that their TurboHD is 1080p, but what is the bitrate? That is the key to the quality in reality.
5. My must have channels
All the locals, Fox Soccer Channel,BBC America, ESPN, ESPN2, and the local sports channels, Animal Planet, Discovery, History. I also would like to consider subscribing to Setanta Sports, and MLB Extra Innings.
6. Low hardware lease costs – minimal startup costs
I think the fact that hardware leases with my current provider cost MORE than a 2x TIVO subscription is a little ridiculous.
7. OnDemand HD Content
If I want to watch rent a movie, I want to do it through my tv. I am not a netflix fan, I can’t wait that long. When the mood takes me I want it now. If there is free content great, but that is not what I really need.
8. Reliable Equipment and Service, and good support when needed
Something I have had trouble with recently. This is the primary reason I am writing this list.
9. Remote Scheduling of my DVR
If I am on the road, I want to be able to schedule a recording on my DVR if I will not be at home on time.
10. Multimedia Center
I want to be able to export recordings I have made, and view photos, videos and listen to music stored on a central pc somewhere on my home network. Ya know, just that mythical convergence box we are all wanting.

So there it is, my ideal tv service wish list. This may be expanded, so DirectTV, Dish, AT&T, and even Comcast, let me know how many of the above points you can offer. I think it is only fair to say I am willing to spend up to $90 per month for all of the above.

Before you mention it – I do know TIVO does a great job on hitting some of these, but I want a tv service, not just a hardware platform. I am also dubious about the compatablity of a tivo box with HD content from a a satellite provider.


  1. Sean Rees Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

    I have Dish Network with HD, let me see if I can run down some of these points:

    1) Multi-room DVR — my ViP 622 receiver (the old standard, now they ship the 722 which features HD in both rooms, I think) has this feature.

    2) HD/SD. No problem here.

    3) Same channel #. Yep. You have your choice of HD or SD though; they just list both channels in sequential order (but with the same number). I’m not sure the behavior if you punch in the channel # directly. (would test, but I’m mid-move and my Dish and TV haven’t made it yet)

    4) I can’t tell you if it it’s 1080p or not; it either is or the receiver is upscaling. Quality varies based on what channel you’re watching, but I’ve found that it’s noticeably better than Comcast and a far cry from Blu-ray.

    5) Channels. I can speak two BBC America, ESPN, and ESPN2, Animal Planet, Discovery, and History. I’m not much of a sports person. When I lived in Clovis, I pulled the locals from the Sat; but I also had an OTA antenna that pulled the same locals (in HD). The Dish receiver has a built-in DTV tuner that’s really handy for this (it even merges the OTA channel list into your regular channel list, pulls listings, and lets you record). The OTA HD was far superior than Sat for the same channels.

    6) I pay $0 for the hardware per month, but I think there’s a nominal “DVR” fee. It’s rolled into my package (“Bronze HD” + Top 100 — $50/mo with taxes and everything)

    7) Dunno about OnDemand. Dish claims to have something like it, but I have serious doubts.

    8) No problems with my Dish DVR. Zero. None.

    9) No remote scheduling. I want this too.

    10) No luck with the convergence box you want. I imagine Dish will do this at some point, but I don’t know if I want their brand on all my media.


  2. Stuart Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

    Thanks for the response Sean. As an update, I have emailed this page to Dish and Directtv and will await their response to see what they say.

  3. Stuart Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

    DirectTV responded to my email, but did not directly answer my question which was to list how they compare with regards the list above. Also, the stock email contained weblinks which were broken – albeit because they were changing the website when I got the email.

  4. Sean Rees Said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 9:25 am

    Hey Stuart,

    I checked my Dish bill to see if I paid anything in receiver fees; I have “DishDVR Advantage” for $39.99 which includes America’s Top 100 + Locals. This plus Bronze HD ($10.00) makes my bill $49.99 + ~$0.50 in taxes.

    I don’t have any obvious receiver lease fees.


  5. Dish vs DirecTv vs Comcast » The Geeky Brit Said,

    August 29, 2008 @ 7:46 am

    […] I recently sent my Perfect TV Service list to Dish, DirecTv and Comcast for them to comment on. I told Comcast, they have to try and keep […]

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