I’m sure you’ve seen the absolutely hilarious DirecTV Genie commercials featuring a couple of white guys who look nearly identical imagining bad and cool things. They compare the bad things (having a dentist spray boogers and spit into your stuck-open mouth) to cable and good things (motorcycles and women with flaming crossbows) to satellite television. If you haven’t, here:
That’s one mean-ass turtle.
Switching from Comcast Xfinity whatever
I’d been a Comcast customer since… 2003. Wow, that’s sad. I’d grown accustomed to calling their terrible customer service, threatening to leave, and having my bill lowered to something that wasn’t ridiculous. My basic configuration was Comcast High-Speed Internet, HD DVR, two other HD receivers, and a package good enough to get me NBA TV and HBO. Comcast even went as far as to GIVE me NBA League Pass to remain a Comcast customer, which is awesome!
Until they charged me for it anyway, made me go through 10 phone calls to get a portion of the charge removed, and basically pushed me away for good. I finally started looking elsewhere. You may or may not have heard over the years about the nightmare that is Comcast customer service, and I can certainly confirm this as fact. From a botched installation, to them “sending signals” to boxes that never worked, and to longer-than-necessary hold times – they just are not ideal.
So I entered www.directv.com into my Chrome browser and read about this newfangled Genie whole-home DVR. And I read some more. The pricing seemed REALLY GOOD compared to what I’d been paying (year 1, I would save $600 on television viewing alone, and in year 2 $200). This was to implement a free installation of the new Genie Whole Home DVR, with three Genie Mini Clients. I finally said “fuck it” as I could use that extra cabbage while also apparently locking up what looked like a superior product. So I called Comcast and scheduled my television cancellation (kept their internet) and made my DirecTV order directly on their website.
One issue I had was I know they always do a Sunday Ticket deal – do I wait? No worries! DirecTV promised to give me that deal when the season starts again!
DirecTV Genie Review – The Install
When Comcast first installed in my current location over five years ago, it was a shitshow. The Bulls were playing in the first game of the playoffs, and I wanted that thing installed by noon – the install was scheduled for 8am. Luckily, the Bulls were on ABC, so when the install went nuts we still got the game. The Comcast installers took forever, seemed rather clueless, and stood around watching the Bulls at times. Whatever, everyone’s different and I won’t blame Comcast for that. However, the DirecTV installer was a real pro, and was able to come out on a Sunday morning!
The scheduling of the install could not have been easier; when you check out at DirecTV.com with your selected package (for us Choice XTRA), it takes you to the next screen to select your date and your window. I received what must have been four confirmation and reminder emails from DirecTV over the next three days (they were installing on Sunday when I’d checked out on Tuesday, no month-long wait for DirecTV!).
The DTV installer arrived in the window provided, asked me where I wanted each box, utilized the existing cables where applicable, asked me where I wanted the dish, and had me sign on the dotted line when everything was working. He programmed all remotes to work with TVs without even asking. He gave me a special connector to attach the digital video output of one of the Genie Mini Clients to my Sony receiver in my basement that I got as a Christmas gift in 1998 (no digital). He made everything work, did so quickly, and gave me the rundown on all things DirecTV.
DirecTV Genie Review – The DVR
Well howdy-doody crazy-ass DVR. I’m not going to wow you with technical stuff like the fact that this bad boy has a TeraByte of storage, because you are probably only wondering what that means. It means 200 hours of HD recordings. Or 100 HD movies. Or 200 hour-long dramas. Or 400 funny comedies like Parks and Rec. To put it bluntly, you can store a shitload of shit on this bad boy.
Do you notice something about that screen? You should, because it’s actually in high-fucking-definition. For too long, providers like Comcast, Dish, and DirecTV have been telling us about the greatness of HD while giving us an SD user interface. This is no more with DirecTV’s newer HD DVRs, including the Genie (and I’m also told on Dish’s Hopper). Of course, you don’t see Comcast and their ancient Motorola boxes listed there. Remember kids, Comcast sucks.
DirecTV Genie Review – The Guide
I’ve already touched on the fact that DirecTV actually has an HD guide. Finally. Compare that to this ad-filled shit guide from Comcast. Not only is the guide beautiful (see below), it’s also functionally superior to any guide I’ve ever used, and actually has customization options!
One of the best features of this guide is the ability to fully customize it – you can hide SD duplicate channels, remove shopping networks, remove any channel you don’t get, to give you a guide that is truly yours. The DirecTV remote is littered with shortcuts that allow you to launch apps, view live sports scores, and quickly enable Picture-in-Picture, perfect for keeping your eye on the game while emptying out that DVR. With so much storage space on the DVR, quickly hitting record twice on the guide sets up series recordings so you don’t have to ever set the DVR at the beginning of the week again! The Genie is here to save the day.
DirecTV Genie Review – The On Demand
One argument I’d read/heard about a problem with DirecTV is their lack of On Demand content. Apparently the users who reviewed this (and the commercials from Comcast that blatantly lie about the content) did not have internet access. If you have high-speed internet, the Genie hooks up to it effortlessly thanks to a fantastic install. This enables tons of content.
I mean, tons of content. I’ve used Comcast’s On Demand for a long time, and as far as current shows, DirecTV has as much or more than Comcast ever has readily available (let’s say on average the 5 most recent episodes of any show on any network -think NBC – or basic cable channel like F/X). Hell, DirecTV has more ABC offerings than were available on Comcast. Then you dive into the library of the pay channels, like HBO. If you’ve used HBO GO, you know that the content they have available is about 50-times more robust than Comcast’s On Demand.
Well, ALL of this content is readily available via DirecTV’s HBO On Demand (they also have everything for Showtime, Max, Starz, etc). There’s no limits. So if you’ve listened to the commercials about DirecTV’s On Demand not being up to par, ignore them. The library is massive.
DirecTV Genie Review – The Verdict
Watching DirecTV the past five days, while enjoying an expected WAY lower bill than paying for Comcast, made me realize what I’ve really been missing. The quality of service, quality of hardware, quality of on-screen content, and library of On Demand blow Comcast XFINITY out of the water. This should be obvious, but the HD picture quality blows Comcast’s away due to satellite not needing to compress the signal to fit extra HD channels into my home. That means the Bulls game looks perfect on Comcast Sports Net, WGN, ESPN, TNT, and even WCIU (a local affiliate that gets a handful of games a year). Prior to DirecTV, I’d just assumed some of those channels were of higher quality than others, but it was just Comcast compressing the signal.
I highly recommend the new DirecTV Genie to anyone currently paying through the nose for Comcast’s bundled services. The prices they are offering along with the free installation and hardware are unrivaled.
Do you have DirecTV? Dish? Comcast? Let me know how you feel about your cable/satellite company below!