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Directv Hardware Q&A from CES

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Tom Robertson, Jan 9, 2007.

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  1. Jan 9, 2007 #1 of 31
    Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Directv also was extremely generous and gracious giving Richard, Michael, and me time with the people in the know. Thanks!

    This Q&A is limited to the hardware only because I ran out of time to talk to the production side. You know us geeks, I couldn't stop chattin' and they were wonderful to talk to. The Q&A is late, well I got caught up in last night's release (even tho I can't download it now!). Please DO NOT infer anything other than my personal bad for the delay. :) Directv is not responsible nor do I want to slight them by my actions. [/disclaimers] (Yeah, I know I didn't open before I closed.)

    HTPC Cards
    Still in progress, internal beta testing

    Media Server Center
    Still in progress, was delayed by HR20 project. Want HR20 rock solid, stable as portions of code will exist in many future platforms, including Home Media Center.

    Improving HDLite

    I have not been able to gather anything different than was said at the press conference and reported in other threads. There was some interest in having people review their PQ again given the ongoing improvements they are making throughout the backhauling and uplinking system.

    R15 Fixes
    New release going national now, very staggered release given the large user base.

    BTW, the R15 is entirely an NDS product. (The HR20 is entirely Directv, using small code samples and drivers from the hardware and chip manufacturers: NDS, Broadcom, etc.)

    HR20 Roadmap
    Dual Live Buffers
    Product team understands how important this is to users and are weighing this against other features desired. No definitive commitment yet.

    Mac users with the HR20
    Currently it is felt that MACs are supported thru the same tools that we at dbstalk have identified.

    BTW, the team of Directv people, every single one of them is very aware of the things we do here. They were amazed at how fast we tried different things, different tools, and raced each other for input. And they are very happy with our feedback. Good job, dbstalkers!

    Directv ToGo
    Waiting for players to finish testing, final polishing, and then manufacture. Should see models around midyear 2007.

    Future use of the ports: Ethernet, USB, esata?

    Being studied. Not able to say more at this time. The USB port is used on some devices for automated testing.

    Sony HD-DVR
    The people I spoke with at directv didn’t know anything about this. Will follow up with Sony.
  2. Jan 9, 2007 #2 of 31
    Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    Placeholder for followup.
  3. Jan 9, 2007 #3 of 31

    machavez00 Hall Of Fame

    Nov 2, 2006
    PLEEEASE let them know that we CANNOT play audio files. Elgato's Eyeconect has the audio to wav/lpcm plugin(Twonky does not and has no plans to help us) but when we try to play a file all we hear is hissing. The support ticket I submitted to Elgato has been closed after several posts

    Thank you for contacting Elgato Systems.

    Well, we're pretty small fish in the entertainment world compared to DirectTV; the best thing to do would be to ask their support. A feature request for their hardware to support UPnP standard would be great. Have you contacted them yet, and if so what did they say?

    The way the large companies like DirectTV (and indeed most Sattelite or cable companies in the USA) usually work is that they want to sell you a closed system. Their broadcast belongs to DirectTV - they don't want any other PVR or 3rd party entity to interact with their closed system.

    I know you've tried the Twonky Vision for the mac and didn't have any success with that program. There is also the Allegro media server for the mac. Perhaps that software would work with your DirectTV device:


    Kevin V.
    Customer Support

    Elgato Systems LLC

    900 Kearny Street Suite 750 San Francisco CA 94133-5145
    T (415)391-0310 F (415)391-0329 www.elgato.com

    Allegro is music only and does not work

    So again, if you have another chance to speak to D*, please get us some help.

    as my unscientific poll shows, we are out there and are numbers are most likley larger that thought. http://www.dbstalk.com/showthread.php?t=75056
  4. Jan 9, 2007 #4 of 31

    wilbur_the_goose Hall Of Fame

    Aug 16, 2006
    Personally, I'm happy they understand the dual live buffer issue. It makes no sense to stick with D* if they don't provide this service because the ONLY reason I'm with D* is the great sports packages.

    What good is NFLST without dual life buffers?
  5. Jan 9, 2007 #5 of 31

    litzdog911 Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2004
    Mill Creek, WA
    Any announcements or additional info from DirecTV about the Frequency Translation Modules (FTMs)?
  6. Jan 9, 2007 #6 of 31

    Milominderbinder2 Cutting Edge: ECHELON '08

    Oct 8, 2006

    Great work!

    You got many questions addressed that everyone else totally missed!

    Any chance you will be able to get more contact with them? Are you able to colelct any business cards, make some more contacts?

    - Craig
  7. Jan 9, 2007 #7 of 31

    macEarl Godfather

    Jan 1, 2007
    Hi Tom,

    Great work! I'm hoping that they'll at least lurk to your thread to see how it was all reported. I'm hoping that there's a chance of them seeing the attached.

    Many thanks,

    Macs are supported? As my mom used to say - For crying out loud!

    Living Room:
    Samsung HLN507W DLP HDTV
    DVI Switch:
    A - HR20
    B - Mac Mini, 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo, 2GB RAM, 160GB HD
    EyeTV 250 USB:
    S-Video input from HR20
    Composite input from Mitsubishi VCR
    Provides DVD recording of my favorite shows and I don't violate any piracy laws!
    HR20 TOSLink to Mac, Copper from Mac to Stereo​
    Martin Logan Ascent Electrostatics, 2 channel, driven by 400W/ch Denon
    Sunfire Subwoofer, 1875W

    Samsung LNS2651D 26" LCD HDTV
    Bose 3-2-1 System
    HR20 to TV via HDMI, TOSLink to Bose​

    Dear DirecTV - Imagine my dissapointment at not seeing an avenue to get shared multimedia content, via my HR20, especially my already-networked music library, into my bedroom.

    I have personally tried Twonky, *all configurations* of EyeConnect, Allegro, Bittorrenting, VLC, and anything else I could think from Sourceforge to make this work.

    It doesn't, it won't, it can't.

    Please regard well that MacAddicts are driven by technology and aestetics.

    I was the first in a circle of about 50 friends to get HDTV, ~4 years ago. Now, a good many of them have it. Whose house do you think that they were at to have their buying decisions influenced? Now, they're getting ready to go from the odd integrated surround sound to shared content. Who do you think they'll be turning to for advice on that?

    You know what system they'll be using for that? Virtually all of them, Windows.

    And it won't matter what I say, this is what they will hear and think - remember, I know these personally, and I'll bet you know a lot of people just like them:
    1. It's so hard that not even a Mac can do - and Earl was right about iPods and HDTV, so he must be right that it's too hard, somehow
    2. Not even our computer guy (me again) could make it work - it must be risky
    3. Windows is already complicated enough, but I don't think I can switch.
    4. Sounds like DirecTV is making this even more complicated

    And here will be the conclusion:

    So-and-so (another buddy of this group) has Dish now and his stuff is cool and working - let's go check out what he has to say.

    And how about the rest of the people I know/co-influence who have been waiting for prices to come down?

    Are you getting it yet?

    I share this anecdotal information because it is logical to me that your people doing market profiling probably need as much help as whoever in your organization decided that catastrophic, non-functional features on a Mac are somehow a successful, satisfactory outcome.

    Ever hear of Girard's Law of 250 in marketing? Still have any doubt about the ripple effect of not supporting Mac users?

    Please tell us how to encourage you to fix YOUR problem - because we won't have it become ours. I already know how to solve the technology side of the problem without you. It will impact the simplicity and aesthetics - and will therefore irk me even more. I cannot fathom that you could want that within the confines of business sense.

    I am a more typical Mac user than you know.

    Hope this helps!!!

    PS - If this is an unfair early rant and you really do mean to do more to support the Mac, then as Emily Latilla used to say, Never mind! If otherwise, then please be aware of the frustration level, thanks!
  8. Jan 9, 2007 #8 of 31
    Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    First off, thank you for the kind words. I've been greatly helped by Richard, Michael, and the really nice people at Directv ( and dish and TVGOS.)

    I spoke with a few more people at Directv today and will try post before tonight's AVSForums party...but don't hold your breath...

    Some general feedback to your questions here. Even more people I've talked to are familiar with dbstalk.com. So they will be seeing almost every post.
    I'll try to adress any specific questions when I'm using something other than a PDA. :)

  9. Jan 9, 2007 #9 of 31

    awax Legend

    May 9, 2003


    Dec 11, 2006
    Long Island, NY
    I totatlly agree DLB it is crucial.
  11. tiger2005

    tiger2005 Godfather

    Sep 22, 2006
    IMHO, if D* understands how important this is to the vast majority of their HD DVR subscribers and they DON'T implement it, its just a big middle finger to those subscribers. In that case, as soon as my contract is up I'm calling Verizon and having FiOS installed. At least there I can use an HD TiVO.
  12. jaywdetroit

    jaywdetroit Hall Of Fame

    Sep 21, 2006
    Great work, Tom.

    I hope you all saw my post in the HR20 forum:


    Dear D*,

    I love your service. Please give me some kind of commitment on DLBs so I can keep it. (Or at this point are you just waiting me out so I shut up?) lol
  13. heaphus

    heaphus Legend

    Oct 30, 2006
    Good stuff, Tom. I am particularly pleased to hear the HTPC card news. Well, all of it really. Can't wait to hear more.
  14. Clint Lamor

    Clint Lamor Hall Of Fame

    Nov 15, 2005
    This ISN'T an HR20 DLB thread. Please take that discussion to the appropriate forum. Thank you
  15. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

    Jun 14, 2003
    Salem, OR
    If you've got a perfectly good computer hooked up to your TV, what do you need with the primitive media player functionality of the HR20?

    I know that the Macintosh zealot's job is to evangelize the Macintosh, but when you're seeking to put the Mac out of a job, what's the point?
  16. bobnielsen

    bobnielsen Éminence grise

    Jun 29, 2006
    Now there's Apple TV: http://www.apple.com/appletv/?cid=CDM-NA-3740A, although I'd rather see the content go in the other direction (with better quality than S-Video or RCA A/V).

    I wish Elgato (or somebody) had a box with HDMI or Component inputs to feed from my HR20.
  17. ToddD

    ToddD Legend

    Jun 14, 2006

    First Tom, Thank you for taking the time to get this info and for posting it.

    My take on the two issues above: I have decided that the PC card is my salvation so I am glad to see that it's still ongoing. I'd bet that we will hear more after the 29th when Vista and the Cable Cards are out there.

    As to that stuff about they have improved backhaul and uplink so the PQ should be reviewed....Don't think so guys. You say in the J.S. ad that it's 1080i. J.S. does not know what that is and it seems that DirecTV does not as well. J.S. at least has the guts to admit it (and look good while she's doing it :) ) 1080i is in fact a standard. It's a screen res of 1920X1080 pixels. it's not anything less. I'm glad they are getting the rest of the process as good as they can...that is very important...but until they set the res back to the right number of pixels it's still HD light. Just like J.S. I want 1080i....Unlike her, I know what it is!
  18. carlsbad_bolt_fan

    carlsbad_bolt_fan Icon

    May 18, 2004
    Carlsbad, CA
    If you don't stick with D*, you won't get NFLST.

    I want dual buffers too, but it's not a deal breaker for me.
  19. AnonomissX

    AnonomissX Godfather

    Jun 29, 2006
    Las Vegas, NV
    can an R15 user/tivo in the livingroom for the rest of the family subscriber put in her two cents for a dual buffer for the R15 too??? Pu leeeeeeze with cream and sugar on top?

    Thank you! :p :p
  20. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Nov 15, 2005
    You are welcome, it has been a great team effort and a lot of fun.

    I suspect, but do not have the hard data to prove it, that D* is delivering 1080i (at least if the originating content is 1080i) by the simple definition of 1920x1080pixels. The issue at hand is about bitrate (coupled with the encoding technology.) MPEG2 gives breathtaking results at 44mbs, IIRC. And at that bitrate, MPEG2 is considered lossless, not a pixel is dropped no matter what happens onscreen. Alas, that is about double what a TV channel has room for. So stations compress the picture further to fit the 19mbs rate available and lose little. But its still 1920x1080i.

    Where it gets tough is transcoding the mpeg2 into mpeg4. mpeg4 is better at compressing most video, so at 19mbs, the picture is lose very, very little, perhaps lossless. But D* needs to compress that a bit more so they try to get about the same amount of loss that mpeg2 has, but at roughly half the bitrate. (These are very rough mind you.) And again, its still 1080i.

    So what is needed and I've heard no one mention is a minimum bitrate for compliance (or some other standard to measure against.)

    Maybe that will come in time. Perhaps by legislation (I hope not), perhaps by a standards group.

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