It should not be a surprise that the DirecTV Help Forums at seem to do all they can to avoid the truth getting out about the real problems with the DirecTV DVRs.

But I was a little surprised to see the degree of censorship and "discussion control" over there. What is this, China? If a thread doesn't go the way they like, they will simply remove it. They may let it sit there for a while, but then if they can't find a satisfactory way to "blame the victim", the moderators pull the thread.

The moderators claim they are real DirecTV customers and that may be, but they are clearly selected based on their irrational support for all things DirecTV, especially the DirecTV DVRs. I suspect the interview goes something like a Bush-era DOJ interview:

  1. Tell us why you find the HR21 and other DirecTV DVRs to be the best on the market.
  2. What is it about DirecTV that makes you want to serve with all your heart?
  3. Aside from the HR21, give us an example of another DirecTV product you admire.

A particularly touchy subject is the HD DVR area. It appears that the moderators have been told to be especially careful regarding this subject. While the rest of the net is full of reports of never ending problems with the HR-xx series of DirecTV DVRs, the DirecTV Help Forum moderators unconditionally claim they have no problems with the HR-xx series of DirecTV DVRs and anybody with a DVR issue must have other issues. The forum is totally opposed to any problems ever being due to general HR-21 issues. If a problem is with the DVR, it must be one particular DVR, a rare individual defective unit - not a general software or hardware bug. They refuse to admit there are such problems and it's pretty clear DirecTV has told them to say as much (or has made it clear to the moderators that they would lose their precious moderator status if they didn't unconditionally deny any such issues).

Why are they so touchy about their DVRs? Well I think it's pretty clear that it's because the boxes are a hellish nightmare for customers and a looming nightmare for DirecTV. As Cable TV goes digital and adds to the HD lineup, DirecTV starts to lose advantages. Blaming everything on the dish, satellite, and "installation" as is the typical "blame the victim" strategy of the DirecTV Help Forums, may backfire on DirectTV because, even if the problems are related to such dish-related "installation problems", customers are not going to tolerate them. Customers can make all dish-related problems go away, simply by getting rid of the unsightly dish all together. Guess how? - Cable TV. Thus, relegating DirecTV to the niche of serving areas where cable TV is not available.

At one time, DirecTV had several competitive advantages over Cable TV:

  1. much better quality, digital vs. analog signals
  2. more channels
  3. better guide and user interface, (especially later with the Tivo DVR)
  4. not having to deal with the cable company, who we hate about as much as the phone company

The big disadvantage? the DISH and "installation" issues

With Cable TV now digital, the above advantages start dissolving. One huge advantage cable has going for it (besides the market monopoly issue) is bandwidth. They can drive way more content into the home, which especially effects their Video-on-demand (VOD) capabilities, which far surpass those of DirecTV.

Also, with CableCARD one can use their own DVR, such as Tivo, with Cable TV, which is not possible with DirecTV. Even when DirecTV offered a Tivo-based box, it was still a DirecTV-specific model that had specific DirectTV-imposed limitations (no Music and Photo streaming, no Multi Room Viewing, no transferring shows to your PC, etc.), further swinging the balance away from DirecTV.

There's still that issue with hating the cable company, but with what DirectTV has done to me since the HR-21 and with the attitude over at the DirecTV Help Forums, it's about a wash now - only took a year and an HR-21 to convert a 10+ year DirecTV fan into a hater - and I know I'm not the only one. Good job, DirecTV.

Update: I'm told it's not the independent moderators who remove posts, but "Forum Administrators that are DirecTV employess that randomly review posts to ensure that they are in compliance with the 'Forum Terms & Conditions'"