Despite its troubled start, the DIRECTV Plus® HD DVR has evolved into a capable high-definition video recorder. In addition, the Plus® HD DVR has been the driving force in the creation of a strong community of enthusiasts taking an unprecedented role in the software release cycle with DIRECTV leading the way. Now it's time to look back at the DIRECTV Plus® HD DVR journey.
January, 2006: DIRECTV's first homegrown Digital Video Recorder (DVR), the R15, has been in use for several months. The HR10-250, a high-definition DVR based on the TiVo software, has a list price of $1,000. The satellite world is ready for an alternative.
DIRECTV shows a mockup of its new Plus HD DVR at the Consumer Electronics Show.
At DIRECTV's Investor meeting in February, a single slide is displayed that shows the upcoming direction of their user interface. It's a tantalizing taste of things to come.
August 16, 2006: DBSTalk.com scoops the world with its first look at the newest member of the DIRECTV Plus® series, the HR20-700 high-definition DVR. The specs are impressive: 300GB hard drive, MPEG2 and MPEG4 decompression, two satellite inputs, an Ethernet port, and an evolution of the user interface found in the R15.
The feature set is impressive:
- It can record two programs while you are watching a third previously recorded.
- It allows the customer to set bookmarks in recorded material.
- It allows the native output of TV in the resolution in which it was recorded.
- Setting up programs to record is almost instant.
- Series Links can be created with the press of a single button.
- Rearranging items in the Prioritizer is nearly instant.
- Live TV appears in a small window while you are navigating the menus and guide.
At this early stage, the list of what the HR20 does not do is almost as impressive as what it does do, and numerous bugs are found. Updates are quickly requested.
Initially, the HR20 was only available in southern California, so while the rest of the DBSTalk "nation" waits and hopes, those who have received their HR20s form two camps: the lovers and the haters. As luck would have it, Earl Bonovich of DBSTalk.com had cultivated a strong relationship with DIRECTV. This relationship would soon play a crucial role in the rapid improvement of the HR20, but first came the early days and what can best be described as a dark period.