As high-definition TVs are becoming the only type available, it makes sense to put the best possible sources you can on the display. For DirecTV subscribers, that means using a high-definition receiver in lieu of a standard box. What you might not know is you can get one of these from DirecTV or third-party vendors. In either case you will pay a little more for receiving HD content and the box only works with an HD set, but with the right television you may find it well worth your while.
1Direct from DirecTV: Because DirecTV supplies the programming and their customer service agents possess intimate knowledge of hardware installation and setup, you may find it convenient to simply get an HD box directly from them. To do this, sign into your DirecTV account on their website. Scroll down to the "My Equipment" tab and click on this. Look for the "HD Receiver" option in the "Add a New Receiver" pane. Click on "Add to Cart." Review the charges and additional fees you'll pay, then click "Check Out" if you wish to proceed. The credit card you have on file to pay your monthly subscription is billed and a box with access card is on its way. If you require a new satellite dish to accommodate HD programming, you may wish to contact customer service to arrange swapping out your old dish and box while they're there.
2Used Hardware: You can purchase a DirecTV box from a former subscriber or other second-hand source. Remember, however, that the decoder box must have an access card, which in turn needs to be activated by DirecTV. If the box you purchase does not have a card, you can buy one from DirecTV for a fee. Before you commit to purchasing the hardware you may wish to run the serial number by DirecTV, ensuring that the unit was not blacklisted due to programming theft. You must also have the proper Ka-Ku oval dish, as with any DirecTV HD service. You may only add a used box to an existing account; you cannot open a new account using preowned hardware.
3Retail Purchase: Retailers often team with DirecTV, offering rebates or hardware and installation packages. If you're having an audio/video installation from a retailer and wish to invest in DirecTV programming, you might want to have that shop handle the DirecTV hardware and installation as well. Most retail packages bundle the Ka-Ku satellite dish with the HD box if you're a new subscriber. If you are an existing subscriber expect to be charged new dish installation fees from either the store or DirecTV, depending on whom you choose to do the work.
4Charges and Fees: Installation, upgrade and monthly rental fees apply in most cases for upgrading to HD service. Upgrading or adding an HD box to your existing subscription costs $99. If you are a valued subscriber, that fee is reduced to $49. In either case, expect to pay an additional $6 per month on top of the $10 HD subscription upgrade charge. If you need a new dish installed, you will be expected to pay $49.95 for the upgrade, as of October 2012.