Best Satellite TV Providers for 2013

DirectTV
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#1 DirectTV – Best Provider in 2013

The way we watch TV is changing fast. Satellite and cable gave us access to a wide new range of channels, but the internet is providing much, much more. As the line between broadcast media and the web blurs new technology is giving amazing new opportunities to watch films on demand, customize content to our own preferences and enjoy a wider variety of programs than ever before. The latest services break all this choice free from the television and let you watch it on a whole range of different devices.


Dish Network
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#2 Dish Network – Second Place 2013

DISH Network is a familiar name to anyone who’s ever investigated satellite television. The largest pay TV provider in the USA, DISH has been a pioneer in providing a wide range of entertainment to millions of customers. Technology is always advancing of course, and DISH hasn’t hesitated to advance with it. As media moves onto a wider range of devices, and we get used to accessing it wherever we want, the company had kept its service up to date. Now your DISH account gives you a huge range of channels at home or on the move.

DIRECTTV vs DISH Satellite TV Head to Head Comparison

Dish Network DirectTV
Companies Visit Provider Website Visit Provider Website
Packages America’s
Top 120
TM
America’s
Top 120 Plus
TM
America’s
Top 200
TM
America’s
Top 250
TM
ENTERTAINMENT CHOICETM XTRA ULTIMATE PREMIERTM
Channels 190+ 190+ 235+ 290+ 140+ 150+ 205+ 225+ 285+
Package Price
Price $24.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
$29.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
$34.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
$39.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
$29.99
/month
$29.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
$34.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
$39.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
$86.99
/month
for 1st 12 months
Recording Options
Included DVR Hopper™ Genie
Pause/ Record X X X X X X X X X
Record and Watch on Any TV X X X X X X X X X
# of Recordings at Once 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 5 5
Recording Capacity 2TB 2TB 2TB 2TB 1TB 1TB 1TB 1TB 1TB
Watch Anywhere
(iPhone, iPad, Computer)
X X X X X X X X X
Watch Anywhere
Equipment Required:
Sling
($60)
Sling
($60)
Sling
($60)
Sling
($60)
Nomad
($149)
Nomad
($149)
Nomad
($149)
Nomad
($149)
Nomad
($149)
Our Ratings:
Price/Performance DirectTV DirectTV
Channels DirectTV DirectTV
Options DirectTV DirectTV
Recording Capacity DirectTV DirectTV
Portable Satellite Option
Portable Satellite
(The Tailgater®)
X X X X
Portable Satellite Antenna Cost $350 $350 $350 $350
Sports Packages
NFL Sunday Ticket (Every Game) X X X X X
NHL Center Ice (40 Games) X X X X X X X X X
NBA League Pass (40 Games) X X X X X X X X X
ESPN Full Court College Basketball X X X X X X X X X
ESPN GamePlan College Football X X X X X X X X X
MLS Direct Kick X X X X X X X X X
Fox Soccer Plus X X X X X X X X X
Racetrack Television Network X X X X
Outdoor Sports X X X X
Premium Packages
HBO® X X X X X X X X X
Cinemax® X X X X X X X X X
SHOWTIME® X X X X X X X X X
STARZ® X X X X X X X X X

Helpful things to know about DirectTV

DirectTV is one of these new media services, and it promises to give you a fantastic range of content across the whole spectrum of entertainment devices. It’s billed as “the ultimate video entertainment experience,” and the packages on offer make that a credible claim. We looked at DirectTV to see what you get and how it works.

To use DirectTV you have to sign up for one of their entertainment packages. There are several to choose from, and they can all be customized with premium channel options too. The basic package gives you over 140 digital channels and from there you can build up to more than 285. As far as choice goes there’s absolutely nothing lacking. The range of premium content is impressive as well. Here’s what you can choose from:

  • HBO – This is the number 1 premium content channel in America,  and you can get the full content through DirectTV. Ten channels – nine of  them in HD – are included.
  • starz – This package brings you fantastic original series, including Boss and Spartacus, as well as a library of over 1,000 movies. This option gives you access to 15 themed channels including nine HD ones.
  • Showtime  Unlimited– On Showtime you can stay up to date with Dexter, Shameless and many more original series, as well as loads of great movies. This package adds 13 channels, ten of them in HD.
  • Cinemax – Cinemax gives you a new movie premiere every Saturday night, as well as access to a huge archive of previous blockbusters. Eight HD channels cover every taste.
  • DirectTV Extra Pack – Nine channels exclusive to DirectTV and showing a remarkable collection of high quality content. The range of specialty films and documentaries is very impressive.
  • Audience – Audience is a lively channel with some great commercial-free entertainment content. It’s only available through DirectTV, so if you’re a fan of international series like Call Me Fitz this is an attractive option.
  • Adult  – A wide range of adult-themed movies. Shows and reality TV.
  • DogTV  – DirectTV doesn’t just cater for people. DogTV is made for stay at home dogs, and vets say it can help them manage stress and stay healthy.

As well as the English-language programming DirectTV also have options for Spanish speakers. It’s hard to complain about the range of content. By tailoring packages to what interests you it’s possible to get a truly vast range of both domestic and foreign TV. We rate DirectTV very highly on choice.

A large part of the appeal of services like this is the range of devices you can view content on. We’re increasingly used to being able to access entertainment from anywhere and DirectTV give a lot of options. Live TV and on-demand movies can be streamed to your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android phone; Android tablets can be used to watch live TV and on-demand functionality will be added soon. It’s really simple to get set up too. DirectTV supply free apps for all the major operating systems, and once you have it installed you just need to open it up and start looking for your favorite movies and shows. We were very impressed by how smooth and hassle-free the process was.

Another impressive aspect of DirectTV is their home TV equipment. As long as you have an internet connection you don’t need any extra equipment to get watching, but by adding one or more devices you can get a lot more capability at a low cost. A DirectTV HD DVR system costs $199, and once that’s connected to your internet you can watch thousands of channels, stream YouTube to your TV, record anything you like in standard or HD and set parental controls to take charge of what your children can watch. The HD DVR comes with a 500Gb hard drive, letting you store days’ worth of programs for later viewing.

The standard HD DVR is a great device, but DirectTV also offer their exclusive Genie system. This is the latest development in DVR devices and it’s pretty exciting. It has all the capabilities of the standard system, combined with a 1Tb hard drive, as well as some interesting new features. It lets you watch two channels at once using Picture-in-Picture technology, record up to five shows at once and get recommendations based on what you’ve already watched.

DirectTV looks like great value for money, with an unbeatable range of content and some high quality equipment as well as top class mobile connectivity. If you want to be able to stream live and on-demand wherever you are, and build a great entertainment system at home, we highly recommend it.

Helpful things to know about Dish Network

To start watching with DISH Network you’ll need a subscription package. There are several to choose from, starting at $29.99 per month for the America’s Top 120 option. Despite the name this gives you access to over 190 channels. A nice bonus is a free Hopper DVR upgrade, which lets you watch and record through your whole home. We’ll come back to the Hopper later, but for now it’s enough to know that you get one free with each package, right up to America’s Top 250 (which comes with more than 290 channels.)

As well as the usual array of news and sport channels DISH give you a lot of premium content, too. When you open an account you get all of these free for three months, with an upgrade option after that:

  • HBO – HBO is the most popular premium TV package in the country, offering ten channels of movies and shows – nine of them in HD. DISH lets you stream it to almost any device.
  • starz  – You can get access to top original series, including Boss and Spartacus, plus a collection of more than 1,000 movies. Starz comes with 15 channels including nine in HD.
  • Showtime – Showtime’s 13 channels include exclusive shows like Shameless and Dexter plus  hundreds of movies.
  • Cinemax – Cinemax shows a movie premiere every Saturday night and also lets you choose from a huge library of previous box office hits. In total it      includes eight HD channels.

You can also choose from a huge range of channels from all over the world and covering multiple languages – everything from Spanish to Arabic. These can be ordered as add-on regional packages. It’s a handy way of accessing the content; for example if you have connections in Germany, or want to learn the language, you can sign up for the German Mega Package. This gives you five channels, covering news, culture and entertainment. If you’re an English expat you can even sign up for the Willow cricket channel!

DISH Network has over 14 million subscribers and that number is growing, so it’s obviously offering something people want. We think part of that could be their range of equipment. The heart of the DISH system is their Hopper DVR. This advanced set top box gives you loads of functionality through your whole home. You can record up to six HD channels at once, access thousands of on-demand titles instantly and store a huge library of your favorites on its 2Tb hard drive. DISH also offer the Joey unit; you can use up to three of these to wirelessly connect extra TVs to the Hopper, and get the same features on them too. Once you’ve connected extra TVs they can share recordings from the Hopper, pause, fast-forward and rewind live broadcasts and skip commercials too. PC Magazine rate the Hopper as the best DVR available and it’s easy to see why. With its Sling technology the Hopper can also feed everything to your mobile devices no matter where you are. We found it very easy to connect phones, tablets and internet-enabled laptops to the Hopper; free apps can be downloaded for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and they’re simple to set up and get running.

Another interesting option is the Tailgater package. This truly does let you watch TV anywhere. For $350 you get a sturdy and compact portable satellite antenna that connects to any compatible receiver. As long as you have power you can hook up a TV and watch whatever you want, wherever you want – even on the beach or in a campsite. This looks ideal for anyone with an RV or holiday cabin; you can be as connected on vacation as you are at home. The Tailgater is available with pay as you go TV, too, so there’s no need to pay a contract all year if you only want it for the sport season or on vacation.

Now something we thought we’d save for last. The Hopper and Sling technology let you stream all your DISH content to a mobile device. What if you don’t have a mobile device? If you sign up with DISH as a new customer you will have – you can get a free iPad 2 if you order a Hopper. That’s a very tempting offer and we think it’s a good reason to look at DISH Network if you’re looking for a new entertainment package.

Overall DISH give a great service that brings together some very impressive technology with a huge range of quality content. We’d have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone who’s looking for the latest in versatile TV.