AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV specs and features
As far as gear goes, DIRECTV requires more of it than AT&T TV—most notably, a satellite dish on your roof or a side of the building.
AT&T TV just has a set-top box, which you can install yourself and start streaming with quickly (as long as you have an internet connection, that is). AT&T TV wins here for convenience.
DIRECTV’s DVR is a physical hard drive inside the included Genie receiver, which can store up to 200 hours of HD programming. The storage is more than adequate, but the Genie can record only five shows at once, which could lead to scheduling conflicts. What if you had to choose between recording 90 Day Fiance on TLC and Married at First Sight on Lifetime? The horror!
AT&T TV’s DVR is cloud-based, freeing it up from simultaneous recording limits and allowing for a generous 500 hours of storage (for 90 days). AT&T TV’s set-top box also comes with apps like Netflix and Pandora pre-installed, and a Google voice remote.
If you want TV service in multiple rooms, both AT&T TV and DIRECTV require extra receiver boxes for each TV you hook up, pushing the monthly cost up a little more.
With five Mini Genies, you can have up to six TVs connected, wired or wirelessly, in a household—which is DIRECTV’s version of multiple streams. AT&T TV allows for three simultaneous streams, which is the industry baseline for internet TV. If you need multiple TVs hooked up, DIRECTV is the way to go.
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AT&T TV and DIRECTV have standalone apps that can stream live and recorded content, but their platform reach is limited. Both are available only on Apple, Android, and Amazon Fire TV devices, and none of them work particularly well. It’s almost as if AT&T wants to keep you on their satellite and streaming boxes exclusively. Weird.
When it comes to live programming, DIRECTV has an advantage in that it can broadcast in Blu-ray quality 1080p resolution, whereas AT&T TV’s picture quality—like all other livestreaming services’—can reach only 720p. Streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video can do 1080p (and even 4K) for on-demand content, but immediate livestreaming isn’t quite there yet.
AT&T TV’s transparent channel guide is more aesthetically pleasing than DIRECTV’s stark black-and-grey bars, but they’re otherwise mostly identical.
AT&T TV, like DIRECTV, also assigns numbers to local and all other channels—you don’t get that with other livestreaming services. If you prefer the familiarity of a standard channel grid with numbered channels, rather than the numberless anarchy of livestreamers like Sling TV and fuboTV, AT&T TV might be the way to go.
In most cases, both AT&T TV and DIRECTV allow you to fast-forward through commercials on DVRed shows and movies. There are occasions where you’ll run across un-skippable ads while watching shows on demand, as well as DVRed content, but not at an overly obnoxious rate.