The DIRECTV HD DVR – 4 years long and going strong
After 3 years of incremental steps, DIRECTV took a big leap with the 4th year of the HD DVR. DIRECTV not only added a second generation HD DVR platform, but they also introduced 3DTV for the first time and gave us a glimpse of the future with the demonstration of a Home Media Center platform based on a new technology. In addition to these broad sweeping changes, DIRECTV continued to improve the overall product making the 4th year of the DIRECTV HD DVR the best yet.
The Second Coming
In 2010, DIRECTV introduced its second generation HD DVR series with the release of the HR24-500 and followed later by the HR24-100 and HR24-200. DIRECTV really got one thing right with this new line of set top boxes: speed. While the earlier models may not have always been fleet of foot, the second generation models have proven to give a whole new meaning to the word speed. Another change is the appearance. The HR24 series sports a whole new look and can’t be easily confused with the first generation models.
By all accounts, most people are getting the newer HR24 models as part of new installations today. While there are still some of the older models in the supply and support chains, there are now three manufacturers making HR24 DVRs. Look for the HR24 to become not only the most desired HD DVR, but also the most available HD DVR in the not-too-distant future.
I’m Seeing Double
No, that side-by-side vision that you may be getting doesn’t mean you need to tune your set. DIRECTV introduced it’s first 3D channels this year after adding support for 3D TVs into all of it’s HD DVRs with the exception of the HR20 series. There are currently 3 channels available in 3D: ESPN-3D, n3D and DIRECTV Cinema 3D. In addition, DIRECTV has made even more 3D content available on demand. The catch, of course, is that you need to have a 3D-capable TV. While DIRECTV takes precautions to prevent a non-3D capable TV from viewing 3D content, it won’t hurt your TV it it does come through. You’ll just see double like the image below:
While 3D is still in it’s infancy, DIRECTV is committed to bringing 3D content into your your home using it’s HD DVR.
A glimpse into the future
This past January at CES 2010, DIRECTV showcased a new receiver dubbed the HMC30. This “Home Media Center” prototype sports a number of differences when compared to DIRECTV’s current line of HD DVRs. It would seem that HMC30 has more than two tuners and uses a new technology called RVU that extends the server to other rooms in your homes via a client device. Very little information was offered at CES other than an indication that the HMC30 would be available in late 2010 or early 2011. This new wave of technology looks to be the start of a new era in DIRECTV’s distribution of content to the home.
But wait — there’s more
Despite the introduction of a fresh new line of hardware, DIRECTV continued to develop new features for the HD DVR platform this year. The biggest of course is Whole Home DVR Service (or Multi-room Viewing) which allows you to watch programs from your HD DVR in another room. This is one of the most revolutionary features to come to a DIRECTV DVR in a long time and is available on all HR2x-series HD DVRs. Not only that, H21 and later receivers can act as remote clients for Whole Home DVR Service giving them almost all of the capabilities of a DVR.
DIRECTV revamped its search technology this past year to make searches faster and more relevant. Smart Search finds matches wherever they are, whether by title, actor, channel or keyword. Top Matches allows you to find programs quickly based on as few keystrokes as possible. It’s like having Google for your DVR.
New technology has created an opportunity for 3D TV to be beamed directly into your home. DIRECTV launched 3D this year as well and is available for all 1st and 2nd generation DVRs with the exception of the HR20 series. This new technology was launched with the World Cup competition this past summer.
Another new item this year is the introduction of cast & crew information. This information along with additional enriched guide data allows your DVR to help you to find information about the people in the shows you are watching as well as the ability to find programs that are similar by choosing “You Might Like” in the program information screen.
With 3DTV and faster second generation receivers here now plus the new RVU technology around the corner, DIRECTV has entered a new phase. The HD DVRs have moved past core functionality into advanced features and toward a completely immersive entertainment experience. In 2010 there’s no doubt that DIRECTV now delivers class-leading, solid performance. Who knows what’s next?
Doug Brott and Stuart Sweet