DIRECTV vs DISH Network – Who Has a Better DVR?

One of the greatest technologies when it comes to watching TV in the past decade is the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). It has totally changed the way my family watches TV.

Why is it so great? Here are some common uses for our DVR:

  • Pause live TV when the phone or doorbell rings. Pick back up when you left after when you get back from the interruption – plus skip commercials to make up for lost time.
  • Schedule you favorite TV shows to record. What night is Modern Family on? Who cares? We watch it on our schedule, not vice-versa.
  • Get a collection of time-killer shows. Sometimes when there is nothing to watch on TV and I have caught up on my favorite shows, I’ll open my collection of “How it’s Made” recordings. It’s not one of those shows that I can’t miss, but it is show that tends to entertain our whole family.
  • Keep kids shows on file. Need a 30 minute baby-sitter to get something done? Start up one of you kids’ favorite shows. For us, it is Phineas & Ferb or Tom & Jerry.
  • Enjoy sports the way they were meant to be enjoyed. Watch highlights as many times as you want. Get a a bit behind and skip commercial breaks.

Both DIRECTV and DISH Network have created their own DVR equipment. I briefly want to discuss some of the pros and cons of each.

Let me start by saying that both services will do all that I mentioned above. But there are some minor things that might make one service more desirable depending on your situation.

There is one big feature that I have always thought DISH Network has done well from the very beginning – the 30 second skip feature. Instead of pressing fast-forward though commercials, you can generally hit the skip button four times to get where you want. If you go over, you hit the skip back button which goes back about 2 seconds.

DIRECTV has implemented this in their latest DVR, but it simply fast-forwards 30 seconds and stops. It still takes 3-4 seconds, it is not an instant skip. The skip back does work the same. For the instant skip forward 30 feature. I would give DISH the win.

Recently, DIRECTV has created what the call the Whole Home DVR service. Now, you can own just one HD DVR and connect to that DVR from other HD DVR receivers in your house. This is what we currently have installed. We have an HD DVR in our family room and a regular HD receiver in our master bedroom. Now we can access all the recorded shows in on our DVR in our bedroom. Because it is not a DVR itself, we can’t just pause & rewind live TV. As far as a workaround to pause, you can hit the record button, then pause it. We can schedule and manage our DVR from our bedroom as well.

DISH Network has a dual-TV DVR that could work in our situation. The reason we went with DIRECTV though is because with DISH’s DVR, only one TV will get HD, the other will be standard definition. Also, you are limited to 2 TV’s. If we decide to get a TV for another room, with DIRECTV we could simple add another HD Receiver and access our existing DVR.

So overall, with DVR technology, I would give DIRECTV the win. But, I must add, you will pay a premium for the extra features. There is a monthly fee for the whole-home DVR service.

For more information on DVR technology from DISH Network & DIRECTV, please visit

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