Why did we switch? and why did we switch back? Price.
Both times, we switched to move to a lower price. Time Warner now has a really good price that lasts for a year. But more about Time Warner's digital cable TV in another blog post. This blog post is about Dish Network.
Here are the differences between Time Warner Cable and Dish Network:
- Dish Network pays sub-contractors to install their equipment. Time Warner has their own installers, at least for the inside of your house (the line from the pole to your house might be installed by subs).
- With Dish Network, the picture really does sometimes break up when the weather is bad. Not as often as I thought it might, but often enough to be annoying. It can sometimes be "searching for signal" for several minutes, during which you get no picture or sound. Yeah, I know, sometimes the cable goes out, too. After having been a Time Warner customer for probably 15 years, I'd have to say that Dish went out at least twice as often, maybe even more.
- The channels are mostly the same, but check the lists for your favorites. What we missed most were Time Warner's local news channel and the local digital weather channels run by our local TV networks.
- The channels are in a different order. Actually, I thought the order and numbering system for Dish was better. All of the kids channels are together, and all of the news channels are together. If you like to surf the channels, you might like Dish's lineup better, but if you have a hard time remembering new phone numbers, you might feel the same when all of your channels are now found at new numbers.
- They don't always give you an option for where the dish will go. I was certain it would be mounted to the roof, and was surprised to find, after they left, that it was in the back yard, about 10 feet behind my bedroom window. They put up a pole in the back yard and mounted it to that, so the dish itself was about 5 feet off the ground. To give them credit, they did this in very deep snow in the middle of January without complaint.
- You have to sign a contract when you get Dish, and then you might still have to pay for repairs. We had Dish for over 2 years. We paid $5.99 a month for a service plan (except for the first 6 months, when we got the service plan for free) and what we got out of it was a new remote when one of the kids broke one. The equipment held up well otherwise and didn't need any repairs. I've never paid for repairs, service calls or new equipment from Time Warner.
- Sometimes, with Dish, the system suddenly decides to update itself and you have to wait a few minutes before you get TV back. Generally, a message comes up and gives you a chance to say you don't want it to do it right now, and it generally doesn't happen during prime time, but still, I know this interrupted my TV viewing several times in the 2-1/2 years we had Dish. Time Warner has to update periodically, but it doesn't take as long and it's scheduled for the middle of the night when you should be asleep.
- With Dish, If you leave the TV on without changing channels, eventually a sort of screen saver comes on instead of letting you keep watching TV in peace.
- Time Warner's digital cable boxes can be programmed to turn on the TV at a certain time and to a specific channel. The Dish machines don't have this function.
- Dish offered us boxes that controlled 2 TVs at once. And the DVR worked on 2 TVs, too. At the time when we stopped Time Warner, their equipment didn't do that. Now Time Warner is advertising "Whole House DVR" though there's a hefty extra charge for this. I think Dish would be a cheaper way to have DVR capability in 2 different rooms, though the farther away they are from each other, the harder it is to control the functions from the room that doesn't have the box.
- You won't believe the number of cables and the intricate ways the Dish installers will have to re-wire your house in order to make two TVs work with one box. I'm no expert, but what it looked like to me was one wire from the wall to the box, then out from the box to both TVs, and back to the box? I never saw so many splitters. Our cables were already wired to run across the ceiling of the basement and back up into the rooms where the TVs are. But if your house is already wired for cable, in the wall, you might want to ask how they're going to run the wires before you let them have access, especially if you're not fond of unsightly extra wiring. On the plus side, they didn't charge extra for that, and they used quality wires, according to the Time Warner installer who came to dismantle it all when we switched back to cable.
- Dish offers a Google TV box. We didn't have one so I can't say if it's any good. You had to pay extra, both up front and an extra monthly fee, so check into the cost of this before you jump. I'm pretty sure Time Warner doesn't offer this, at least not part of their plan.
- Time Warner has several features that are part of their regular Digital Cable offering that make a DVR almost unnecessary: Start Over, Look Back and On Demand. This doesn't apply to all channels or all shows, but it applies to quite a bit of them. I will be writing a longer review of Time Warner's digital cable that includes more info on these wonderful features.
- You might not get that free gift they promised you when you signed up. When we signed up, we were told we'd get an iPod Nano after we paid for 3 months of Dish. Turns out, this promise is made by a 3rd party company that tries to get people to sign up for Dish. We lost the contact info for that company once we were Dish customers and they never sent the iPod. So if you're promised a free gift, make sure you know the number you called when you signed up for Dish, which might not be the number of Dish Network itself, since they apparently have other companies doing some of their marketing.
- When you stop Dish, you have to send the equipment back. They send you a box or boxes to return them in. Yes, they want the remotes, too. Yes, they want at least part of the Dish. Even if you have to climb on the roof to get it. This is when you might be really glad they put it on a pole in your back yard.