I blogged about my lousy experience a few weeks ago attempting to have Comcast install TV and High Speed services at my house - see post. We tried again last week, and it was a much better experience, with a great technician who showed up on time and who was pleasant, knowledgeable and efficient. The short of it is that after a few days with the Comcast high speed and DVR/HD/OnDemand services, I don't think the satellite gang (DirecTV and Echostar) or telcos (ATT, Verizon) can match the cable offering, at least without the staggeringly expensive and time-consuming fiber build out that the telcos are doing.
I'm seeing real world download speeds of 6MB+ from Comcast, about double what I was seeing before. I didn't think that would matter in most cases, but it starts to be noticeable as we spend more time with rich media and as we attach more Internet-connected devices in the house. I'm noticing a slight delay in the initial connection, but am not sure if that's Comcast or my network, and the speed is snappy right after it. On the upload speed, 350KB+ is what I'm seeing, which is fine, but I still think the telcos could differentiate a bit for a decent group of users by focusing on a robust upstream offering (and no, I have not had the energy yet to dive back into the port-forwarding situation that is Sling Media to see if I can get that to work).
DVR and HD
I have a Motorola DCT 6412 dual tuner HD DVR with a 60 hour video capacity (15 for HD). This was a key reason for the switch since DVR's break about once a year in my experience, and I definitely didn't want to pay $500+ for an HD one, as the satellite services want consumers to do. The interface could use a little bit of work since searching isn't quite as easy as I hoped, but all of the basic DVR functionality is there, and the integrated box works nicely, especially now that I programmed the remote to skip 30 seconds forward. You can record 2 shows at once, although not 2 HD shows. You can't access the DVR from the other television, as I could with the Dish 522 box, but we never really did it, and you can access On Demand from there, which is a great alternative. The HD programming is a little more limited than I have seen from DISH, but it has all of the basics such as local networks (key, especially for Olympics), premium channels, ESPN and a couple of others, and after watching the Olympics in HD, there is no way to go back to SD.
I originally thought that the smaller hard drive size would be a big issue (vs my DISH 522 with 100 hours), but what has been the revelation to me has been the strength of Comcast's On Demand free VOD system, especially as a parent. The non-kids offerings are a mixed bag of content, with some real gems, but also a lot of random stuff, and an interface overwhelmed by the amount of content. However, the children's offerings are so good that there is no need to record any shows on the DVR since there is such a breadth and depth of kids shows. Given that this is a feature which satellite can't easily match due to its delivery method, I can see why Comcast is pouring it on in this area, especially since it is almost like having a DVR on every TV.
When I switched to DISH 2.5 years ago, it was because the because the integrated DVR/satellite system was simply a better offering - more channels, high quality, big DVR and lower price. On the high speed side, the DSL offerings were slower, but cheap enough that it didn't matter for that type of content. I can definitely say that the landscape has changed right now, and that the Comcast offerings are clearly superior to the alternatives, and probably worth a 10-20% premium over competing systems, which is the premium I'm paying after discounts. The only way I see that being challenged in the short term is by the new fiber systems from ATT & Verizon, but we're a long way from seeing wide spread distribution of those offerings.
Dick Cheney - just sticking in random hot search words to see if it matters to blog search engines