My DirecTV HD HR-20 Upgrade Experience

Tags: film

Ah, the power of blogging... now if only I had an audience.

So Leanne and I recently got a new TV for our living room. This was after giving my old Sony WEGA away as a house warming gift to Dave and Amy. Our new TV displays standard definition TV horribly. This made Leanne agree to let me upgrade our satellite system to high definition.

DirecTV requires that you get a new dish when you upgrade to their HR-20 HD DVR. They do not offer a TiVo based solution, nor do they offer a Windows Media Center solution. Both of which I would have preferred to the HR-20. This is because most of the reviews I have ever read are horrendous for the HR-20. A buddy of mine at work got one and he really likes it. So I decided to forgo the TiVo Series 3 which would require me to switch to Comcast and get the HR-20.

Not only does DirecTV require you to get a new dish, they also require "professional" installation. The "professional" installation is where I had problems.

My Old Satelite Dish SetupPrior to the HR-20 I had a standard definition dish that I installed on the side of a planter (pictured to the right).  The idea was that Leanne and I would eventually plant some flowers or spices in the planter. I was always too afraid that the water would overflow and drip down on our neighbors. So, I always found a reason to not plant anything. The beauty of this design is that the dish never sticks out over the balcony railing. This means from the street level our balcony doesn't look as hideous as the dozens of other apartments that also have satellite dishes.

The installer felt that this setup would not be stable enough for the new dish. He said I needed a tripod. For those of you that do not know, DirecTV considers the tripod to be a temporary solution for individuals to use until a professional installer can properly attach the dish to something. Since I did not inform them that I lived in an apartment he was powerless to help me.

I did not like that solution. I asked if he could find a tripod. He called another installer and then left claiming he would be back with a tripod, but that I will have to write him a check for $40. He left, I called DirecTV. They confirmed that a $40 check was required from some installers for a tripod. I asked if they would give me a credit of $40 on my bill since they did not inform me that a tripod would be needed and the customer service representative gracefully gave me a $10 credit on my next 6 bills.

The installer returned claiming that he could not find a tripod and that I would have to reschedule my install and take another day off work to wait for them to belittle me again. I told him to leave. I called DirecTV determined to cancel everything and call Comcast. At this point only the $800 price tag of the Series 3 TiVo was stopping me from doing it. The new customer service representative that I spoke with called the install company and got them to get a tripod and return today to finish the install. I complained about the level of service I was getting from them and I got three months of Showtime for free. I do not feel like this is sufficient.

New Satellite setup Long story short, he returned and finished the install. This is what I now have on my balcony (ugly isn't it?). Notice how it sticks up above the railing. Notice that it is barely held to the ground with two tiny cinder blocks. Now for the clincher...

Broken bolt image 
Notice the broken bolt. Rather than fix it, he filled the gap with black electricians tape and a large bolt stuck straight down. This is the middle stabilizer. Click on it for a larger image.

Broken bolt head 
Here is the bolt head. Click on it for a larger image. He left it sitting on the balcony. I am glad I did not go out there in bare feet. This sharp piece of metal would have been painful.

Professional installation indeed. If you are thinking about HD DirecTV please point them to this blog and demand a better install experience than I received.

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