With a move pending in two weeks, my wife and I had to confront a bunch of issues - renovating the new apartment, finding movers, and of course the most important one of all - deciding whether or not to stick with Time Warner Cable, or make the jump to satellite.
Currently we pay Time Warner about $155 a month for cable plus broadband service, which includes an HD-DVR (that freezes far more often than it should), and to be honest, more premiums than we ever use - in reality we just watch HBO and Showtime (Dexter is as close to must-see TV as we have in our house). Even if we dropped the premiums we didn't want, we would still be paying around $140 a month. And for that $140, we would only be getting about 25 stations in HD.
Because we're old school, we still have Verizon for phone, which is another $60 or so a month, so for TV, broadband, and telephone, we're paying about $200 a month.
So before simply making the call to Time Warner to simply transfer our service to our new address, I thought it would be a good time to see what the other options were. And while I liked the idea of a single bill for all of our services, I had more interest in getting good service, and good value - if that meant two or three bills a month, then so be it.
First up was Verizon, but not only is our Brooklyn, NY neighborhood still not wired for FIOS, we can't even get DSL - pathetic.
My next call was to DIRECTV. Now sure, I've read George Ou's recent posts about the poor image quality of their "HD-lite" service, but I still wanted to see what they were offering. [Until now, I had avoided satellite because I liked the idea of video-on-demand, and because I couldn't imagine life without NY1, a local all-news station that's
exclusively on Time Warner Cable only available through Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. In reality, we hardly ever use VOD, and as for NY1 -- well, life always has trade-offs, and I can always stream the audio from their website if I get really desperate.] The bottom line: For our first 12 months, we could pay $49.99 a month for virtually every station we receive today (it would go up to $69.99 a month after the first 12 months). On top of that, we would need to buy a $99 HD-DVR ($199, plus a $100 rebate), which at least on the surface, appears to blow away our current Scientific Atlanta box from Time Warner. HBO (and virtually every other premium movie channel) would be free for the first three months, while Showtime would remain free for the first year. As a new customer, installation would be free, and last, but certainly not least, DIRECTV offers more than 90 channels in HD.
Of course, DIRECTV doesn't offer Internet service or phone directly, so if we decided to make the switch to satellite we needed to figure out those pieces of the puzzle. Fortunately, we were able to qualify as a new customer with Time Warner for phone and Internet, so we can get 12 months of Road Runner service for $29.99 a month, plus Time Warner's digital phone service for roughly $40 a month (with the first three months free).
So, the bottom line: A combination of DIRECTV for television, plus Time Warner for Internet and phone, would cost (not including taxes, or the $99 HD DVR box) roughly:
- First three months: $80
- Months nine though 12: $135
- Year two: $165
So, concerns about HD quality aside, we're taking the plunge and welcoming DIRECTV and Time Warner Digital Phone to our lives. Our new world begins February 9, and within a few days of that, I'll weigh back in whether or not we're seeing a major drop-offs in HD quality with DIRECTV. Of course, if we've backed the wrong horse with DIRECTV, we're screwed - customers who buy the HD-DVR box are signing up for a two-year commitment. But it's hard to imagine Verizon will have FIOS - with FIOS TV - ready before, say, 2020, so I'm not that concerned.