It is kind of weird reviewing a television service provider but here it is. DirecTV Now just launched and there is a bit of buzz about it, some from confused people. What DirecTV Now offers is just what it sounds like: access to DirecTV without having a satellite dish outside and all of the trouble that brings. The service is delivered via your Internet connection, so make sure you have reliable high speed access because there is no backup offering available (without buying physical service). For people like me–cord cutters as we are often called–that is just fine because unlike having a dish out in my yard, I can take DirecTV Now everywhere I have Internet access.
DirecTV Now is compatible with a few hardware options if you are not interested in watching it on your cell phone. You can get an Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, or anything else that can run the DirecTV Now app and connect to your television of choice. In the early part of 2017 there should be a Roku app available (why that is not available at launch, but Apple TV is, I will never understand).
The plan I have signed up for is the $35 per month for 120+ channels. That is quite a deal by any way you cut it. The interesting thing about this deal, if signed up during the introductory period, is that you keep that rate and plan for as long as you keep your account active.
Okay, let’s get to the nitty-gritty here. I am not one that is interested in watching television for extended periods on my phone, so I had to choose a hardware option. I have a Roku HD, so I am out of luck as far as using that. I chose to purchase a Chromecast from Walmart. If you buy it through their app (available on Android and iPhone) then you can save $10 and pick it up in store in about an hour (brings it down to about $25). I did this option, picked up the Chromecast about an hour after signing up for DirecTV Now and began enjoying it.
If you are using this option, then your cell phone becomes your remote control for DirecTV Now. You have access to 15,000+ on-demand titles (movies and television mixed) and your full DirecTV Now subscription. This option requires downloading the free Google Home application as well as the DirecTV Now app.
Finding shows to watch is rather easy. If you are not sure if a show is on, hit the search button at the top of the screen. Click guide and you can scroll through your available channels. You can also select networks and then pick shows that are available in the on-demand section based on the network. Movies are a mixed bag, but certainly newer than what you will find on Netflix or Hulu.
I have Comcast Xfinity Internet access (I think it is 35 or 50 megs a second) and have had no problems with DirecTV Now pausing, buffering, hiccuping, or anything of the sort. I mention this because I see a lot of people on Google Play stating they have had problems with the Android app. If you have crappy Internet access, then your experience with DirecTV Now is going to be crappy.
One plus to having DirecTV Now is that you can sign into the individual apps for stations such as TLC, History, Fox, etc and enjoy those channels on your Roku, or other device. Nice.
I am not sure how long the offer will run but I saved $10 on my Chromecast purchase, as mentioned earlier. Along with that purchase I was given three months of Sling TV (a DirecTV Now competitor) and three months of HBO GO (I believe that is a $30 value but $15 if done through DirecTV Now) and I was given three movies on the Vudu service. That was all included in an e-mail I received thanking me for purchasing the Chromecast, so it may be a limited time offer. These extras had no bearing on my review of the DirecTV Now service though I will review them at a later time.
I will provide an update on the Roku app when it is released in early 2017. For now, even with the additional cost of a Chromecast, I feel the DirecTV Now offering is worth every penny. If you need DVR options on live TV then you will be disappointed with DirecTV Now at this time (DVR is available on on-demand shows only).