DirecTV Take 1. Take 2. Take …

As I mentioned elsewhere,
my 11 year old big screen TV decided it was tired, and wasn’t going work
any more. That, of course, accelerated my HDTV education and upgrade
timetable.

My replacement HDTV is on
order.

But as I mentioned to Kathy, this is a slippery slope. Programming.
Audio. Recording. Etc.

And so I found myself on the phone to DirecTV to upgrade our programming
to their HDTV package with their HDTV DVR. No problem, they said. They’d
be happy to take more of my money. No surprise really.

We scheduled an appointment for the upgrade, which includes a new
(bigger) dish and the DVR. I made note to the representative to make sure
to mention that a 30 foot ladder was going to be required, as the
existing dish was at the peak of one end of our house. No problem, they
said.

And here the enumeration begins by visit and technician contact… (you
know it’s bad when a numbered list is the right approach)

My Existing DirecTV dish
  1. May 23rd: DirecTV van rolls up on schedule. Unfortunately the technician didn’t have a long enough ladder. On top of that
    he also apparently didn’t have the DVR. Looking at the work order, the DVR wasn’t called out, the ladder requirement had
    been partially cut off, and the 30′ had turned into 30' (oh the joy of HTML). He left and told me that he’d
    check with his boss to reschedule, and that I should call DirecTV to clarify their work order.

    Later that day I talk to a DirecTV rep on the phone, and we get the work order figured out.

    Also later, a rep from the installation crew calls and we reschedule that for Friday. With a longer ladder.

  2. May 25th: Beat up pickup rolls up, on schedule. It has a nice, long ladder on top. And three PVRs on the front seat, as
    well as all sorts of dishes and assorted hardware all ajumble in the back.

    After we discuss what’s up and what’s needed the technician indicates that the current position of the dish won’t work.
    It’s too exposed, and there’s no place to put the additional support brackets that the slightly bigger dish needs.

    OK, so up the ladder he goes to find a new location. The first location, within reach of the ladder, won’t work.
    Apparently the HD signals come from additional satellites, and that the signal from one of the others isn’t strong
    enough. (I’ll admit I’m a little concerned/skeptical as he didn’t bring a compass and had difficulty establishing which
    way north was. Oh well.)

    Plan B involves putting the dish much higher on the roof. Fair enough, I can live with the proposed location. Except that
    my roof is a 45 degree pitch, and he doesn’t have his climbing gear to make it safely up to where he needs to be.

    Oh. Time to reschedule. Again.

  3. May 30th: I get a call from the DirecTV technician assigned to today’s call to clarify the work. Seems he’s still working
    from the original work order. The one that didn’t clearly call out the need for a long ladder. A long ladder he doesn’t
    have. At least he called first.

    This technician told me he’d check with his dispatching office and get back to me. A few minutes later he does, and we
    reschedule again for Sunday(!) the 3rd, this time with a long ladder. Again.

  4. May 30th: about 10 minutes after I finish rescheduling for Sunday … a DirecTV truck rolls up with another (my fourth!)
    technician. Without a long enough ladder. Again.

    Apparently the second work-order created to correct the first order ended up being an additional work order instead of a
    replacement. And both were handed out – to different drivers.

    He, too, surveyed the situation; even pulling out his too-short ladder to give it a try. His take was that the existing
    location was sufficient, but without the longer ladder it wasn’t something he could do either.

    He, too, called back to the office, and was able to schedule the longer-ladder crew for Friday morning.

And there we sit as of this writing. Hopefully all will be accomplished on Friday. And if so, hopefully the briefly scheduled
Sunday morning visit will be removed from the books, or we could be up for a rude awakening.

To be fair, this all seems to be a organizational issue. DirecTV apparently has several contractors to whom they send this
work out and only one of them has ladders of sufficient length. Unfortunately work orders seem to get distributed without
regard to that. Everyone I’ve dealt with, on the phone or in person, has been great – and like me, somewhat bemused at the
situation.

It’s a good thing I’m not really in a hurry. Had I been on a deadline (like some specially scheduled HD event), I could see
being quite upset about all this.

Updates as they happen.

Update: DirecTV Take 5 (and a half)

HDTV DirecTV dish

So Friday morning came and went. No DirecTV. I guess at this point I wasn’t terribly surprised. I figured that they’d be out
Sunday morning instead.

At around 1 I got a call from the technician – they were running late, and that they should be there after 2.

2:30 technician #1 showed up, after his Magellan nav system tried to send him through a closed fire gate about 1/4 mile from
our home (it’s about a 5 mile drive to make that last quarter mile). Technician #2 (the one with the ladder) was stuck in
traffic, but also eventually on his way.

Long story short, after much ladder climbing, attic walking, wire dropping, dish aligning and DVR configuring … we now have
HDTV. On my 27″ ViewSonic “temporary” TV. Just in time to watch the final episode of The Sopranos in HD.

The fifth time’s a charm. (Plus 1/2 for the delay into the afternoon.

The replacement Mitsubishi should arrive today (Saturday).

But you know I’m not counting on it.

2-Jun Update: Delivery Service Take 2

So I wait around all day for the TV to be delivered. Sometime between 2 and 6.

I call the delivery service’s number at 6:20 and got their answering service. The person was surprised, since they don’t make
residential deliveries on the weekend.

Oh really? Then why did they schedule me for a weekend?

This is getting old.

3-Jun Update: Delivery Service Take 2.5

The TV was delivered.

At 11:00 PM last night. “We’re running a little late.” Ya think?

So apparently not only do they make weekend residential deliveries, but late into the evening.

So this morning as I’m letting the dogs out what do I see? A DirecTV truck driving past. Notable, since we live in a small
community on a dead end road. Either that was my Sunday appointment that hadn’t been canceled, or a neighbor coincidentally
also had a DirecTV service call at 8:30 AM on a Sunday morning. Not sure I believe in coincidences, but for the record he
never actually did come to my house.

Given the “luck” we’ve had with this purchase, installation and delivery, I decided this morning to go ahead and move the new
TV into the family room and fire it up. If there was going to be a problem I wanted to find out sooner rather than later.

So, I unplugged the “temporary” TV and moved it back to the bedroom, wheeled in the new big screen (sitting on two dollys,
where it’ll stay until its table/stand arrives), and fired it up.

It’s freakin’ gorgeous!

I’d recorded an episode of Battlestar Galactica in HD last night. Awesome. Star Trek Enterprise was on
while I was trying out the box. Beautiful. Even the golf that was on CBS HD was stunning.

There’s a lot of tweaking to be done, but that’ll wait until I’ve got it in its final position.

5-Jun Update: Delivery Service Take 3

What I neglected to mention is that I’d ordered a matching base for the new TV, thought a different merchant. It was actually
shipped the day before the TV was shipped, though with the same carrier. As you might expect I was somewhat disappointed that
it wasn’t in the same 11PM shipment as the TV itself.

My plan remains to wait to “clean up the mess” until I can actually put the TV in it’s final location, on that stand. As a
result the family room is still a bit of a mess. The new TV sits on a dolly in front of the old TV, which itself was pulled
away from the wall for the original “it’s dead, Jim” diagnosis.

So, on Tuesday I’m about to call the carrier to ask about the stand when they call me first.

To schedule its delivery.

On Saturday, between 2 and 6 PM.

Again.

We’ll see. In the mean time, even in the wrong position on the floor, it’s still freakin’ gorgeous!

Oh, and a new sound system is on order as well.

14-Jun Update: Delivery Service Take 4

The stand was delivered.

Saturday morning at around 10AM. Don’t they have an interesting definition of “between 2 and 6”? To their credit,
the driver called first and asked if it’d be ok. Seems he was 4 miles away on his way to a fairly distant delivery. He
figured he’d ask since if he did things in the other order my delivery would be very, very late.

That sounds familiar.

So on Saturday I spent the day tearing down my old system and putting the new one in place. Lots of old components got moved
to the basement (including those old had-’em-since-highschool speakers), the old broken brick-that-was-a-tv got moved to the
entry way for now, and the new stand and TV got put into place.

Beautiful. But still running with the TV’s internal speakers.

Then on Tuesday the new receiver and DVD player arrived. Lots more unpacking and setting up and wiring and the like.

Even with temporary speakers, Lord of the Rings in 5.1 surround sounds wonderful. So does Animusic II. (I just
ordered a new copy of Animusic I, with the 5.1 surround audio that the original didn’t have.) Can’t wait for the “real”
speakers (including sub-woofer) to show up. Should be any day.

And then the Logitech remote. That might just be a marriage saver – four remotes is a little over the top. We’ll see.

15-Jun Update: And There Was Sound

The speakers arrived yesterday afternoon, so a quick hookup and … oh yes, much better than the TV speakers or the
temporaries. The subwoofer helps a ton. Still some tuning to do, but I’ll do that after I put the four corner speakers on
stands. Getting those is a road trip for tomorrow, I think.

In the mean time the Logitech arrived this morning. It’s charging in prep for configuration. I’m hoping and praying that
it’ll do the trick.

The Equipment List

Figured it might be worth listing everything that’s gone into this little endeavor.

(You can also see the whole list here in the “Ask Leo! Store”.)

My thanks once again to Ara Derderian of The HDTV Podcast for his initial guidance, and
the recommendations on their highly informative site.

Comments

  1. Claire Gehrett says:

    If we’re healthy, we have a long life – I hope when it’s finally done, you get to enjoy it forever.
    I really enjoy your newsletter. I read it all the time and follow a lot of your instructions, but you usually answer my questions before I have them. Love it…

  2. I’ve always wanted to watch …the NEWS in HD. Why? The only time I’ve ever seen an anchorman out in public with his TV station blazer on, I noticed that the blazer was ratty and stained with fast food. I’ve always wondered if I could see that in HD. πŸ™‚

  3. Bill Sasscer says:

    What a story and it’s not over yet. Thanks for the post.
    Bill

  4. Now, where did you leave that DVD designed to tune-up the picture?!? I discovered that my Mitsubishi DLP had a serious case of “pumped up beyond belief for showroom display” factor. Once I toned down the image, the screen was even better!

  5. Lester Biehl says:

    My problem with HD TV is that you can’t have HD TV and closed caption. Ridiculous? Yes.
    No one said I can’t have both, but the HD Recorder does not support it.
    With the aging population and ear spliting music
    today, it is a necessary convenience.

  6. rojoloho says:

    Leo, You really know how to hurt a guy..
    As you know, HDTV come via the local channels..
    Guess what, Neither Direct TV or Dish have birds/transponders to deliver Local/HDTV in most of Michigan, Detroit market being the exception..
    And they have no idea when, if ever there will be capacity to provide the service…
    So count your blessings and as you enjoy your setup, think of us poor want-a be’s

  7. kathy simon says:

    Always looking forward to your newsletter and blog. Not only are they simply informative (I can understand them) but highly amusing! Thank you for being out there.

  8. Chas D. says:

    Leo,
    Do you have any experience with TiVo DVR’s so that I can ask questions about them?
    Thanks, Chas D.

  9. Dave Spencer says:

    Good choice on the OPPO DVD player. Just curious, why not pop for an HD DVD player, either BluRay or HD DVD? Sure the OPPO looks great. But you’re still seeing a 480p signal that’s upconverted. There’s really no more info in the picture. The prices on hidef DVD players has started to really drop. The Toshiba A2 has been seen as low as $250! That’s not a whole lot more than the OPPO.
    BTW, I have a Mits DLP and the picture is amazing!

  10. Chas: no, sorry. While I do have two of the older DirecTv Tivo’s I’ve only used them, and not done much of anything more. I understand that newer Tivo’s are much more interesting, but DirecTv now has their own PVR that I have with the HD system.
    Leo

  11. Dave: I’m waiting for the format wars to come to more of a conclusion. Or for a really good dual-format player to come along. AND for more (and more) content to show up in the HD formats. It’s happening, but slowly.
    IMO: Put the Lord of The Rings extended editions on one of the HD formats, and you’ll see a FLOOD of HD player purchases :-).
    Leo