I don’t believe a word that DirecTV says

If there is one thing I’ve learned about DirecTV over the past three years of blogging is that the PR department has no problem “stretching” the truth in an attempt to improve the image of its company — big surprise, I know. This was never more true then during the DirecTV press conference at CES 2007 where the “100 HD channel” announcement was born. We all know now that this promise was never realized during 2007 and that in some ways it can be argued that it isn’t even true today.

Then there was the entire “HD Lite” fiasco where we at Engdaget got our friend RĂ´mulo Pontual on the record as saying DirecTV had the best quality HD — this was pre-MPEG4 mind you — and that anyone who said different wasn’t actually judging the quality with their own eyes, ha!

So with this in mind it should be no surprise that I don’t believe the recent official suspension announcement about the unofficial HDPC-20 project (also attributed to Romulu). I’m not saying that DirecTV never suspended the project, I’m just saying that it was probably suspended for a half a day while the developers went home early for Thanksgiving. I mean if it was really canceled then why not say canceled? Why say it was suspended with no window of how long. This really just continues the trend of the lack of communication between DirecTV and its customers when it comes to this project.

I predict that there is no real suspension at all, and that in fact the HDPC-20 will be released right along side Windows 7 during 2009, an that the only reason for this “official” communication is to reduce the expectations of the community after the recent eHome labs tour debacle. I believe this is nothing more than damage control from that incident, and a very poor attempt at that.

8 Responses to “I don’t believe a word that DirecTV says”

  1. Rick Says:

    Hey Ben. I think you are looking at DirecTV through industry eyes, not necessarily as a customer (although I know you have Sunday ticket!). Compared to Time Warner Cable, DirecTV has better customer support and HD features.

    Back in 2006 I bought a Tivo Series 3 to use with my TWC. It took them 3 weeks to come out and install the cable cards, and I frequently lost HD channels from my lineup, and had no less than 5 truck rolls to try and fix it…all with installers who barely knew how to spell CableCards let alone install them. I never received all the channels on the Tivo that I got on their crappy Motorola DVR. . Today, TWC only really carries 16 HD channels in my area (of which Cablecard customers only get a handful), including broadcast channels, and they all look like overcompressed crap….They still haven’t deployed SDV tuner in my geography. Along the way they mis-informed me that CableCards don’t work properly in Tivos, and that my system was defective….

    My experience with DirecTV has been quite the opposite. When I switched to DirecTV they installed within a few days of my order. The installer spent time setting up the various HD resolutions up, explaining everything along the way. They have never had to come back for servicing, and have added lots of features and programming through regular updates. For less monthly than my TWC bill I got over 50 HD channels on day one…and its grown steadily since (I think I receive/subscribe to about 70+). They’ve added decent On-Demand, and the ability to view recordings from my PCs at better than Slingbox quality. For the most part, the stream quality does not have noticeable compression artifacts, and the basic DVR functionality rivals the Tivo. My PS3 sees the HR-21s as a DLNA servers and even allows browsing the list (although playback is not their quite yet). I wouldn’t be surprise if they add the ability to control the HR-21s from the LAN onto a VMC PC or DLNA client…..maybe even eliminating the need for HDPC-20s.

    As far as more HD channels, most of the channels I truly watch are already available in HD. AMC and a few other smaller cable networks are the only channels that are not available…. every one of the non-porn premium networks has at least 2 HD channels….some with up to 7.

    So from a customer prospective, I am very happy with DirecTV. They may be a little quick to announce new features from a marketing point of view, but from a day-to-day usage prospective, it’s been a reliable and satisfying service.

  2. Chris Lanier Says:

    “I believe this is nothing more than damage control from that incident, and a very poor attempt at that.”

    So they are doing damage control for a product that was expected to ship based on Microsoft Windows 7 release schedule. What damage do that do to DIRECTV?

    As I see it (from DIRECTVs angle) the story/pictures you posted did nothing but eliminated any expectation on DIRECTV and putting it clearly on Microsoft to finish Win 7. Based on that, I fail to see why DIRECTV would want to do any damage control.

    BTW, I believe Microsoft’s part in this is done and the rest lays with DIRECTV to finish. If this was “damage control,” they most likely needed it because they are now the hold-up on it getting released.

  3. Kenny Says:

    I just think Directv does not want to disappoint their customers if this project fails to materialize again so they are covering their butts with this statement. If the rumor is true I may have to go the cablecard route even though I tend to believe your assessment of the situation Ben. Hey if I bought a new XPS-430 with cablecard tuners would the tuners still work ok if I wiped the system and installed Windows 7 when it comes out? I assume it would since you talked about doind it to your 420 in the podcast.

  4. Ben Drawbaugh Says:

    Kenny,
    There’s no reason to think that the CableCARD tuners wouldn’t work with Windows 7, but you never know until you test it.

    As for DirecTV, yeah they are covering their butts.

  5. Clifton Griffin Says:

    Hi Ben,
    I have been making similar arguments on this case.

    They are not going to abandon a product that already exists…there are pictures of the thing. That means the research and development costs are sunk costs.

    This is simply a way to cover their butts in case Microsoft never gets their act together. Otherwise, barring some unforeseen corporate directional change, there’s no way their going to ditch it.

    And, if they ever do, they may pick up a new subscriber. DirectTV’s package is very tempting as it is, lack of media center support makes it hard for me to switch though…I have too much invested in my media center (and wouldn’t be able to tolerate another DVR by comparison)

    Thanks for the post.
    Clif

  6. Chris Lanier's Blog : DIRECTV and Microsoft: What Went Wrong Says:

    [...] Ben argues that DIRECTV only released a statement because they want to downplay expectations about the tuner.  I don’t follow the concept because DIRECTV has no visible reason to do any sort of damage control.  This is where Microsoft should have stepped in, but alas has failed to do.  When/if Microsoft makes a statement (which they need to), it will likely be very simple and there is a good chance it will not mention DIRECTV by name. [...]

  7. DIRECTV and Microsoft: What Went Wrong - Chris Lanier's Blog Says:

    [...] Ben argues that DIRECTV only released a statement because they want to downplay expectations about the tuner.  I don’t follow the concept because DIRECTV has no visible reason to do any sort of damage control.  This is where Microsoft should have stepped in, but alas has failed to do.  When/if Microsoft makes a statement (which they need to), it will likely be very simple and there is a good chance it will not mention DIRECTV by name. [...]

  8. Dave Zatz Says:

    Hardware is expensive (to produce, barrier to entry) and Windows 7 is still a year away. Bet DirecTV goes to work on a streaming service instead…

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