How many DirecTV DVRs are there out there
What is DirecTV now and can it replace your cable subscription?
Streaming television is becoming increasingly popular, so users no longer have to rely on standard cable packages, but rather on something that suits their lifestyle. DirecTV is one of the first traditional cable companies to take action with DirecTV Now.
What is DirecTV now?
Basically, this is DirecTV's all-in bet on live streaming television. It's more similar to their traditional satellite service, but geared towards the streaming market (think Sling TV, but DirecTV instead). You also don't need a DirecTV satellite subscription. With this product everyone can stream their favorite shows and channels.
It doesn't contain the bare shit about channels, which I think is a good example of quality over quantity. Most of the big names are here, so depending on your plan, you should get everything you really want to see.
Speaking of which, DirecTV now offers four packages:
- Live a Little ($ 35 / month): 60+ channels
- Just right ($ 50 / month): Over 80 channels
- Go Big ($ 60 / month): Over 100 channels
- Must I have ($ 70 / month): Over 120 channels
All packages support local channels, but availability is region specific and needs to be verified before signing up. I'm not going to go into every single channel that comes with every single package, but I can refer you to this page which gives a good breakdown of what you get with each package.
Note: For our tests, we had the Go Big package and we used an Amazon Fire TV to stream.
The downside here is that what you get is what you get. Each package has a specific set of channels, and you can't mix and match - this isn't a true a la carte setup as one would hope it would be, but there are no services. If you want more mix and match options, you can always opt for Sling. This is also not possible à la carte, but you can combine many more packages.
that means, you can Add premium channels to your service, such as
- HBO ($ 5 / month): Adds HBO Go, East, Family Easy, Latino, and access to HBO's on-demand library.
- Cinemax ($ 5 / month): Adds Max Go, Cinemax East, and access to Cinemax's on-demand library.
- Showtime ($ 8 / month): Adds Showtime East and Showtime On Demand.
- Starz ($ 8 / month): Adds Starz East, Kids & Family, Encore East and Starz On Demand.
HBO really sounds like the best deal, but that's absolutely your job. At least the possibilities are there, right?
DirecTV Now also offers an area for on-demand access to films and shows. So if there's nothing to see on TV, at least you can find something else to watch. (Hopefully.)
In terms of device support, DirecTV Now is available on:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
- Apple TV
- Android (4.4 and higher)
- iPhone / iPad (iOS 9 and higher)
- Chrome 50+
- Safari 8+
And that's it. Some devices may be missing here: Xbox support is in the works, but no feature is available for PlayStation 4 or Android TV. That's a big disappointment, but if you like the service, you can get the Fire TV Stick or the Roku Express pretty cheaply.
How DirecTV works now
DirecTV already has a bit of experience in building an interface for cables, DirecTV Now is pretty straightforward. It also has more streaming-centric features, making it one of the best interfaces I've personally used from a streaming service.
The main interface can be divided into six main parts:
- At home: This is the main screen showing what your watchlist is playing and the suggested content.
- Shows: Trend and on-demand shows.
- Films: Trending and on-demand films.
- Networks: See what's on by channel.
- Conduct: A more traditional grid-style guide.
- Search: Search for shows, movies, channels, and the like.
Since most of these are fairly straightforward, I want to focus a bit on the guide itself as this is the most powerful part of the DirecTV Now user interface.
Basically, this looks like you're used to because ... well. You can of course browse for times and channels, but you can also use the little heart to browse “favorite channels”.
If you've taken the time to browse favorite channels, you can only access those channels in a separate part of the guide so that you can get a quick glimpse of the things that matter most to you before you have to sort out all the junk that You don't care.
While watching live TV, you can also press the “up” button on the remote (we tested on Fire TV) to bring up a sort of quick menu with options for search, guidance, watchlist, and settings. Press the button on the remote control for the full menu.
Overall, the layout makes a lot of sense and is the most intuitive streaming service I've tested so far. I really like it.
Where DirecTV now falls short
I think DirecTV Now is the most intuitive I've used a live TV streaming system that has one major shortcoming: No DVR. I know they are testing a DVR service, but at the time of writing it is not available enormously Damn.
It is currently difficult to recommend a streaming service that does not include DVR capabilities as most people rely on it when their content comes from live television. Not that guy.
Otherwise, I find that the plan prices are a bit steep compared to some of the others, if only slightly. It's not a huge shock to me considering that DirecTV Now comes from a company with a very long history in cable television.
Also, DirecTV limits simultaneous streams to two, and that's it - you can't add additional streams. The company actually has the audacity to suggest subscribing to additional DirecTV Now accounts if more than two people in your family are watching different shows at the same time. Right, as everyone wants to pay double the price because they need three streams instead of two. Go out.
While most of the big names in streaming boxes are supported, I don't want to mention that Android TV, PlayStation 4, and Xbox aren't supported. That could instantly make DirecTV Now a deal breaker for anyone who relies on these systems for their streaming needs.
Can DirecTV now replace your cable subscription?
As with most other streaming services: maybe. It really depends on how and when you watch TV - what channels you need to have and all that. Also, the lack of DVR could (and should) be a deal breaker for most.
That said, DirecTV Now is one of the better streaming services out there, no question about it. While the prices are a little steeper than I would have liked for the channels on offer, they have been very reliable for me and I love the user interface.
Here's my suggestion: wait for them to release the DVR services rumored for early 2018. Provided they don't (and shouldn't) charge additional fees, it only adds to the value of the service, which makes pricing a bit easier. At this point, I think this is the best option for anyone who wants to switch to a streaming service quickly and easily, without learning a new system or making a bunch of decisions. In other words, it's great for the older generation who have just enough contact to make the move to streaming but might prefer to keep a traditional cable feel.
Overall, DirecTV Now was more impressive than I expected, especially from a satellite company that has been in business for a long time. The streaming quality is excellent and the layout is very intuitive and easy to use. I would love to see more aggressive pricing, but honestly I can't say that being a deal breaker is enough. If there are the channels you want at a price you're okay with, I have a hard time Not Think of DirecTV Now as one of the better streaming options out there.
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