Charter TV Select (125+ chnls, promo pricing)
No contract required.
Compared to similar satellite plans, Select will you cost about twice as much.
Charter TV® Gold ($99.99/mo)
If you're looking to max out your cable options, you'll get the most value with this plan (don't forget hefty fees WILL get added to your total, usually >$20/mo.)
As of mid-2012, Charter discontinued their WH DVR (they could never really get a single hard drive system to work properly). They're now steering all customers towards 1 stand-alone DVR per TV.
Compared to its satellite counterparts, Charter's program guide is a bit clunky and decidedly less intuitive. It's sort of like a 3 year old computer - it may get the job done, but expect its fair share of issues.
TV (Select): 175+ channels (50 bonus)
Internet: 30 Mbps download, 4 Mbps upload (solid network)
Phone: unlimited local and domestic calling (free voicemail; caller ID & call waiting extra)
TV (Select): 125+ channels
Internet: 30 Mbps download, 4 Mbps upload
As with most cable providers, Charter leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to customer service. From under-trained (and overseas) staff to long wait times, it's always hit-and-miss. Update: recent feedback is pointing towards improved service, only time will tell.
Smart Pack Plan (55 chnls, promo pricing).
24-month contract required.
The lowest-priced TV plan, period. If you're looking to pull way back on spending, start here.
America's Eveything Pak ($74.99/mo)
All its channels are digital or HD quality, with most in HD.
Simultaneously record and playback on up to 3 different DVRs. Hard drive space: 2 TB. Learn more.
Back in 2011, we probably would've rated this average, at best. However, with the new Hopper system and a full revamp of the rest of their DVR line's software, they're right on DIRECTV's heels.
DISH's infrastructure doesn't support traditional (landline) or VoIP phone service.
TV: 145+ channels
Internet: 10 Mbps download (no cap)
Every year, DISH is at or near the top of J.D. Power's Customer Satisfaction ratings. Their call centers are almost always extra-staffed (short waiting times) and pleasant to deal with; there ARE exceptions, but that's par for the course with any service industry.
SELECT Plan (130 chnls, promo pricing).
24-month contract required.
The lowest-priced package DIRECTV has ever offered (prices dropped Oct. '14), it stacks up well against all of DISH's starter plans.
Premier Plan ($89.99/mo)
100% of their channels are all-digital and approx. 70% are in full HD.
Simultaneously record and playback on up to 5 different TVs (there's ONLY one box). Hard drive space: 1 TB. Learn more.
In our opinion, DIRECTV is the undisputed leader in guide usability, efficiency and design. Not only do all their screens LOOK great, they perform even better (with plenty of pleasant surprises and shortcuts).
DIRECTV partners with AT&T, Verizon, Windstream and others to offer high-speed Internet and home phone service (final specs/price vary per provider).
TV: 140+ channels
Internet: ~10 Mbps download (no cap)
As with DISH, DIRECTV invests a healthy amount of their time and money in their customer service staff. Their screening menu has also gotten better over the years (and less annoying), improving the routing process to the proper agent and/or tech level.
Launched in 1993, Charter grew to over 1 million subscribers by 1998 with nearly 7 million by 2002. Most of that growth was fueled by aggresive acquisitions of smaller cable companies and the development of "mini-monopolies" in strategically-positioned cities. That is, if you're a resident of a "Charter" city and you can't have (or don't want) satellite TV, your ONLY subscription TV option is Charter. Of course, that type of exclusivity typically evolves into price hikes... and that's the single biggest complaint folks have with Charter (and most cable companies). With their promos, the first year (or two) may work out for you cost-wise, but once they expire prices tend to increase upwards of 50%; bottom line, be sure keep an eye out for your contract expiration date, especially if you're on auto-pay.
Outsourcing trend: in the mid 2000s, Charter began to close down their domestic call centers in favor of outsourced options in the Phlippines, Mexico, Brazil and more. Now, they're certainly not alone that practice (DISH and DIRECTV do it as well), but the quality and service coming out of those centers just don't seem to stack up. We have received reports of better service over the last couple years, so hopefully things are on the upswing.
As with most cable companies (at least the top-tier ones), Charter heavily pushes their TV, phone and internet bundles. There's much bigger profit in multiple services, not to mention longevity (as a consumer, it's more difficult to split off a service or two if they're all packed and billed together). Early in 2006, Charter launched their new Broadband Telephony infrastructure and that paved the way for bigger and more-inclusive bundles. Some folks do end up paying less for all 3 services (compared to splitting them up), but it really just depends on your city/state and WHEN you sign up. Here's the latest...
If you've dealt with Charter Cable or you'd like to suggest an important feature not covered above, please feel free to get in touch.