DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity

Who does TV better, DISH or Comcast Xfinity?

OVERVIEW

DISH and Comcast Xfinity are both big-time TV providers, but which delivers the better TV experience? Both DISH and Comcast Xfinity offer hundreds of channels, tens of thousands of on-demand programming options, and some pretty nifty DVRs (Xfinity’s X1 and DISH’s Hopper 3). In the end, we found that DISH does TV better than Xfinity—though it’s a bit of a close call.

Overall winner: DISH

DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity—overall comparison

PlansPriceChannelsDVRDetails
DISH$49.99–79.99/mo.190–290+Hopper 3 (500 HD hrs.)View Plans
Comcast Xfinity$49.99–129.99/mo.140–220+X1 (60 hrs.)View Plans

*First-year pricing of two-year contract.

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DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity—quick comparison

A better DVR and lower, long-term pricing make DISH the winner.

DISH and Comcast Xfinity are two of the biggest TV service providers out there, but besides both being household names, the two don’t have much in common.

DISH is satellite TV service, so you can get it anywhere in the United States (as long as you’re willing to install a satellite dish). On the other hand, Comcast Xfinity is a cable TV provider, so its service is delivered via coaxial cables to your home. Also, DISH requires a 2-year contract, but Comcast Xfinity lets you choose between contract and no-contract service.

Here’s quick look at what DISH and Comcast Xfinity have to offer.

DISH TV

PlansPrice*ChannelsDVR**Details
America's Top 120$49.99/mo.190Hopper (500 hrs.)View Plan
America's Top 120+$59.99/mo.190+Hopper (500 hrs.)View Plan
America's Top 200$69.99/mo.240+Hopper (500 hrs.)View Plan
America's Top 250$79.99/mo. 290+Hopper (500 hrs.)View Plan

*”All offers require credit qualification, 24-month commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay.”
**Supposedly other DVRs are available, but we couldn’t find any. Good luck!

DISH’s four TV plans don’t vary that much (the DVR is the same for all), but we think the America’s Top 120+ plan should meet most people’s needs. It has sports channels and 21 of the 25 most popular cable channels1 (FX, ESPN, USA, TNT, etc.). If you’re wondering, you can check the channels in each plan using DISH’s channel guide.

Comcast Xfinity TV

PlansPriceChannelsDVRDetails
Digital Starter$49.99/mo.140X1 (60 hrs.)View Plan
Digital Preferred$59.99/mo.220X1 (60 hrs.)View Plan
Digital Premier$69.99/mo.260X1 (60 hrs.)View Plan

There’s an 80-channel difference between Comcast Xfinity’s Digital Starter and Digital Preferred plans, so we say go for the latter. It’s the best for the money. If you want to know which Xfinity plans include which channels, check out Xfinity’s channel guide.

Comparing DISH and Comcast Xfinity prices and plans

Turns out you pay more for Xfinity in the long run.

We included the monthly service prices from DISH and Comcast Xfinity in the tables above, but they don’t tell the whole story (in a perfect world, we think they should).

Fees

At first glance, DISH and Xfinity seem pretty comparable—DISH’s Top 120 and Xfinity’s Starter both start at $49.99 a month. You’d think it’d be like comparing apples to apples because it’s the exact same monthly service price—but it’s not.

Comcast Xfinity adds a handful of monthly fees to its monthly service price.

Comcast Xfinity adds a handful of monthly fees to its monthly service price. It has a local channels fee, a regional sports fee, and more.

Though these fees vary slightly by location, they can easily add up to more than $20 a month. So even though Xfinity’s Digital Starter is advertised at a price of $49.99 a month, the actual price is closer to $69.99 a month, and we still haven’t talked about the contract.

Contracts

Yes, DISH requires a 2-year contract, which we don’t like, but if you’re living in a home and putting down roots, commitment doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Plus, DISH’s 2-year contract saves money because its prices are guaranteed for the length of the contract, whereas Xfinity’s prices increase after the first year of service.

Don’t get us wrong—we give Xfinity points for offering no-contract TV service. (Some of us at Reviews.org had to get no-contract Xfinity service because of commitment phobia.) However, Xfinity’s no-contract service is more expensive than its contract service—usually about $5–10 more a month.

The savings

According to DISH,2 you save $576 over two years with its TV service instead of Xfinity. We crunched the numbers and $576 is a little generous, since it assumes higher regional fees and a higher price increase after the first year of service for Xfinity. However, it’s not that far off from our numbers.

Money icon

Deal alert

As of this writing, DISH is offering an Amazon Echo and 24 months of HBO upon sign-up. That’s a pretty sweet deal, but you know how it goes—terms and conditions apply. We recommend asking plenty of questions about the promotion if you speak to a representative.

It’s fair to say DISH saves hundreds of dollars long-term, but maybe you’re more interested in having plenty to watch with Xfinity than saving dollars.

Channels

DISH has more channels total, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have more to watch. Channel counts are like the advertised price—they don’t tell you what you’re really getting. For example, every TV provider, not just DISH and Comcast Xfinity, includes music stations and promotional channels (example: a “what’s-coming-soon” channel) in channel counts. We think it’s fair to say the majority of customers don’t pay for TV service to listen to Radio Margaritaville (yes, that is a real channel).

We checked which plans from DISH and Comcast Xfinity include the 25 most popular cable channels (by viewer count), and it turns out that the cheaper plans include most, if not all, of the top 25 channels.

Comcast Xfinity’s Digital Starter ($49.99/mo.), Digital Preferred ($59.99/mo.), and Digital Premier ($69.99/mo.) plan all have the top 25 cable channels seen above (Digital Starter does lack Univision though).

As for DISH, it has all of the top 25 cable channels in the America’s Top 200 ($69.99/mo.) and America’s Top 250 ($79.99/mo.) plans. But its America’s Top 120 ($49.99/mo.) and America’s Top 120+ ($59.99/mo.) plans do not have Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel.

Packages and pricing summary—DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity

  • Though pricing seems comparable, DISH will save you money with a long-term contract.
  • DISH’s and Comcast Xfinity’s plans have similar channel lineups, except for Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel.

Which has better equipment and features, DISH or Comcast Xfinity?

DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR records eight times as much as Comcast Xfinity’s X1 DVR.

Comcast Xfinity’s X1 DVR boasts some neat features (like a voice-controlled remote), but when compared to DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR, the X1 just doesn’t hold up.

Storage hours

DISH Hopper 3

First off, the Hopper 3 can hold 500 HD recording hours. Xfinity’s X1 holds only 60 HD recording hours, which means the Hopper 3 can hold eight times the movies and shows—that’s a big difference.

Sure, 60 recording hours may be more than enough for one person, but what if you’re sharing the DVR, or you’re a movie fanatic, or you just never want to delete past seasons of Archer?

For example, we record every episode of Chopped. Each episode is an hour long (with commercials), so Chopped can fill up the DVR fast. On an Xfinity X1 DVR, one season of Chopped would take up almost half the available storage space, which means if we were sharing an X1 DVR, we’d have to be picky about what we choose and choose not to record. We don’t like being “choosy,” especially when it comes to Chopped, so having a DVR with plenty of space is definitely a benefit.

Simultaneous recording

Another thing to think about is how many shows you want to record at once. DISH’s Hopper 3 can record up to sixteen shows at once, and Xfinity’s X1 can record up to six at once. We can’t imagine recording sixteen different shows or movies at the same time, but again, we like the idea of never having to be choosy with what we watch.

Equipment and features summary—DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity

  • The DISH Hopper 3 DVR can record eight times the movies and shows of the Xfinity X1 DVR (500 hours compared to 60 hours).
  • The Hopper 3 can record sixteen shows at once, while the X1 can record six simultaneously.

DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity recap

Dish TV service Logo

DISH wins for having a DVR that can “out-record” the Xfinity X1 in every way possible. Also, DISH doesn’t deal in extra fees, so though it requires a contract, you’ll save more money with DISH down the line.

  • Overall winner: DISH.
  • Plans and prices: DISH’s long-term contract saves you money, and you won’t have to bother with Comcast Xfinity’s extra fees.
  • Equipment and features: Considering DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR can hold and do so much (500 hours, 16 simultaneous recordings, etc.), the Xfinity’s X1 DVR doesn’t come out looking nearly as impressive.
  • Full reviews: Check out our full-length reviews of DISH and Comcast Xfinity.

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  • Betsey Kirkemo

    Well, I’m looking at my shiny new Dish bill and you can take this into further consideration: I have America’s Top 250+ and it costs $84.99/month. The next line item is the $10 local channels fee. I have the Hopper and 2 Joeys. The cost for Hopper DVR service is $26/mo and each Joey is $7. That’s $50 of fees above the monthly service (which is more expensive than you published). The reason I’m looking at a switch is because I’m sick and tired of Dish’s outages when they renegotiate with the carriers. I missed the MLB All Star game in July because of the Fox outage. I missed a Broncos game and Thanksgiving football in November when there was a CBS outage. I never had this problem with DirecTv. And it’s discouraging considering how often Dish has these issues. They certainly don’t credit consumers when they have these outages either.

    • Kick the Can

      Me too, but I don’t think Comcast/Xfinity is any better about fees. Also, you are required to have high speed internet service to run the Dish DVR & Joeys (we do – from Xfinity). I am now considering switching over to cable from Xfinity – which I hate, but for $220 a month for Internet & Dish I am going too broke to care anymore. I’m going to find out how much the drive out price is for the xfinity 220 package with all the fees before I switch. I have to have Destination America. Damn it all.

      My Current Services
      Monthly Services $ 104.99
      America’s Top 250 $ 84.99
      HD 250 $ 10.00
      Local Channels $ 10.00

      Equipment $ 26.00
      Hopper DVR Service $ 12.00
      Joey Receiver $ 7.00
      Joey Receiver $ 7.00

      Monthly Total $ 131.02
      Monthly Services $ 104.99
      Equipment $ 26.00
      FCC Regulatory Fee $ 0.03

    • Deodric Marquise Buchanan

      Why not switch back to Directv Call me at 865-406-9819 and I can get you back on with Directv again as if you have 3 tvs that is only $70 a month for the choice package with 185+ channels and NFL Sunday ticket. it goes up to like $110 but it is still worth switching if they are adding on $50 of fees. All tv providers that I work with have a regional sports fee though at higher packages as otherwise they would not be able to show those sports channels to your area.