Back to DISH Network from Cox Cable

For anyone who has been following my personal blog you may have remembered that back in June 2014 I had switched from DISH Network to Cox Cable in an effort to test Contour and other television services.  I had been a DISH network customer for 11 years for television and I didn’t know if really had the best television provider out there.  I was plagued with some DVR lock up issues with the HD PVR 922 model receiver from DISH the one prior to The Hopper and there were some issues with the 2nd TV stream being sluggish and slow to respond to channel changes and the like and I wanted to try something different.

Enter Cox Communications, I LOVE COX Internet, I will say that over and over.  I get amazing download speeds and have been a COX Internet customer for over a decade as well.  So I was willing to see if their television cable service was any good and Contour with whole home DVR system looked promising.  I thought it may have been more stable than Cox and originally the sales tech told me that with Cox I can watch my TV shows from anywhere via my mobile devices which turned out to be a lie and only works when you are within your home Wi-Fi network.

Since having Cox Television service I had the DVR lockup and crash while I was out of town for a month, this meant a whole month of no shows recording in July.  They replaced it, only for the box to crash again in September.  But in between I noticed some key usability functions in the Cox television service that gnawed at me like peeves that wouldn’t go away.

Cox has no 30 second skip forward button

Seriously, I had used this so frequently with DISH network for so many years that it’s absence was greatly felt.  When you watch a prerecorded show with DISH and you get a commercial there is a button which auto skips 30 seconds ahead.  Cox has a fast forward button, that is like a 2x, 4x..etc FF but it isn’t a 30 second skip so it takes much longer to skip past commercials or you risk speeding too far and then having to back track.  Yes, when you hit play it tries to go back assuming you jumped too far but it isn’t enough and is clumsy.

Cox Channel Arrangement is Baffling

DISH Network puts the HD and regular non-HD (not many left) channels on the same actual channel, so basically no matter which version of the channel, it is the same channel.  It defaults to HD version unless you specify the non-HD version in all cases when you have an HD TV.  Cox does the odd thing of putting the non-HD channels in the very low numbers and the HD channels starting in the 1000’s series of channel numbers.  This means if you are bouncing between a few non-HD Channels into the HD Channel range you either have to create your own customized TV Channel Guide or have to skip up quite a bit to the different range of channels.

Cox Contour Doesn’t Work Outside of Home Wi-Fi

So you can DVR and watch your Cox content anywhere in your home and within range of your home Wi-Fi router.  This is disappointing, with DISH Anywhere I was able to watch live TV and my recorded DVR content from any network anywhere in the country.  The caveat was that it streams up from your DISH DVR so your upload speeds and Wi-Fi connectivity needed to be rock solid, which wasn’t always the case with my HD PVR 922 model.  However, when it did work it was brilliant and I could watch anything on my DISH while being in California.

Cox Was 60% More Expensive than DISH Network

When I was on the phone with Cox Representatives they told me they couldn’t beat DISH Network on price, that nobody could.  Note, this is as they were selling me the service they told me they had no chance to beat DISH on price.  They told me during the 1 year “discount” period they got close, they were $17 more per month than DISH network for same channel line up.  After discount period they would be $35 more per month than DISH Network for the exact same channel line up.  DISH took me back with a code that made it even cheaper than it was previously, so I wound up paying even less than when I cancelled DISH in the first place too.

Cox DVR Lockup Issues

The final straw and when I cancelled Cox was when during Season Premiere week the main DVR locked up and crashed, HDD NOT FOUND errors, the entire season premiere week of shows about 7 of them was lost.  When I called Cox and complained, they assured me that they would replace my DVR as often as I needed it to be.  This rubbed me the wrong way, this was the 2nd time a DVR needed to be replaced in less than 4 months and they just told me they would keep replacing it said nothing about it’s stability.

Back to DISH Network

So now I am 3 days back on DISH Network and this time with The Hopper and Joey system. I have to say immediately it is far superior to the DVR 922 series receiver and the DISH Primetime Anytime is the most brilliant service ever created after testing it for the first time these past few days.  Many of my shows are on the primary networks Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and with Primetime Anytime, The Hopper will auto record all primetime shows without you having to set a timer for every show, every day of the week you want.  You can still watch the show live or slightly delayed and skip commercials in 30 second increments, but where it really shines is if you watch the show the next day.  The Hopper allows you to completely bypass commercials when you watch a Primetime Anytime show the next day with this feature, it automatically knows and skips the entire commercial chunk for you without you having to lift a finger.  I did this during a few shows including The Simpsons and was very impressed how efficient it was.  I was so programmed to hit Skip 30 that my finger kept reaching for the remote when I saw a commercial about to come on, but The Hopper just skipped past and the show came back on.

So far I can’t speak to reliability for The Hopper as it has only been 3 days, but I love having the more intuitive DISH Network remote, buttons and guide back and The Hopper with Primetime Anytime is a brilliant service that had I tried previously I may not have left DISH network to try Cox TV in the first place.

Reminder

Cox Internet is awesome I get 100Mbps download speeds, DISH network can’t even compare with their crappy satellite Internet service which is only good for very rural areas.  So I still love Cox Internet and wouldn’t switch unless Google fiber were in my area, but for me DISH Network still reigns supreme in the television provider space.

Saving Money by Cutting the Cable or Satellite Bill

I just couldn’t justify paying nearly $100 per month for satellite TV service to 3 TV’s in my house anymore so I was looking for a better and alternative way to still get to watch a ton of content (Movies and TV Shows) while reducing my overall monthly expenses.

I had already owned 2 Roku XDS boxes, and had the Netflix service but I found if I added Hulu+ as well then I had access to much more immediate TV Shows and Seasons than you could find on Netflix.  So here is how I worked my plan.

I stripped out almost my entire TV package down to only my bare minimum channels, and removed service from 2 of the 3 TV’s in my house.  I now use Netflix / Hulu Plus only for the Kid’s television and they can get all the kid’s shows and movies they want and aren’t affected much.  With Hulu Plus channel coming to the Nintendo Wii soon they can even get easier access to the Hulu Plus TV shows as well.

So, with Netflix and Hulu Plus I am paying about $19 per month or so for those two services, but I also reduced my satellite bill by over $60 by reducing the number of streams and channel packages.  This gave me a net savings of about $40 every month just by making this arrangement.

I did find that I couldn’t replace satellite completely, the lack of LIVE TV on Roku makes it impossible for CNN junkies like my wife and I to watch real time news if I were to cut my satellite completely.  But I was able to save quite a bit and every little bit helps.

So live news and local channels (I can’t pick anything up with HD Antenna for some reason) are the only reason I really am keeping a Satellite TV subscription at this time.

-Justin Germino

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