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Need advice: switching out HR2Xs and wired ethernet

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by jaguar325, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Sep 4, 2013 #1 of 10

    jaguar325 Legend

    Jan 2, 2006
    Folks, I could use some advice about switching out my current installed setup in favor of Genie. Living in Minnesota, I have about a 60-day window of possible work on the roof before installers will refuse to go up there (cedar shakes) so the decision needs to be made to act now or wait until next year.

    Currently Installed:
    • DVRs/receivers: HR22, HR21, HR20, H21(2)
    • Dish: older 3LNB Slimline w/ Zinwell 16-way splitter
    • TVs/Viewing Locations: 8 HD LCDs various sizes (using Gefen CAT6 HDMI splitters for sharing)
    • Gigabit LAN access: hardwired CAT6 at all viewing locations (2 ports each) and wireless
    • DTV signal access: RG6 ports at all viewing locations (2 ports each)
    The primary motivation for going to Genie is that managing recordings across 3 DVRs is kind of a hassle - the one that is watched most often seems to take the brunt of ad hoc searches and series recordings so it runs low on capacity while the one furthest away is barely used. In addition, one of them has been acting up lately and shows symptoms of a pending disc crash. In terms of network performance, I have not had any problems with my self-installed whole home network - HD shows run just fine. My only speed complaint would have to do with the menus being slow at times but that's probably got more to do with the DVRs.

    1. I see that a number of people still running hardwired networks have been successful with getting them to work with Genie. To me, this is the preferred option because I already have the CAT6 and gigabit router/switches installed and find my hardwired speed and connection reliability to be superior vs. when I run in wireless mode. Am I going to run into problems with DirecTV in trying to keep my current network setup? In the new order, what role does the network play? In addition to providing an internet connection, is it still needed for the Genie to connect to programming on any older DVRs I chose to leave in service? Are there limitations to mixing Genie with older DVRs?
    2. I still haven't installed SWM because I haven't needed to - have all the RG6 connections needed. From reading other posts, I understand Genie requires moving to SWM which means switching out the LNB on my dish and using a different splitter. Is this correct? Does the switch to SWM cause downstream impact/change to any of my existing DVRs if I choose to keep them?
    3. In terms of limitations of Genie to support a given number of TVs simultaneously, I could figure something out (to support all 8) by keeping one or more of the DVRs and using my Gefen splitters to share access across TVs that aren't watched very much. Any thoughts on potential problems with this logic?
    4. Are there any other "gotchas" you can think of for somebody considering the change? I don't resist change, just don't like fooling with a working system until there is a compelling reason to make a change. Faster menu navigation and easier, centralized management of recordings would be good reasons.
    5. How much of this change would DirecTV let me do myself (where they send me what I need)? I have done most of the wiring and setup up until now... not afraid to do the roof work either.
    As always, I appreciate your input. People on this site have always been very helpful and I hope to return the favor.


    Big K
  2. Sep 4, 2013 #2 of 10

    Drucifer Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2009
    NY Hudson...
    While Ethernet Whole Home can be is successful, it eats a lot of LAN bandwidth. Go SWiM.
  3. Sep 4, 2013 #3 of 10
    The Merg

    The Merg 1*

    Jun 24, 2007
    Northern VA
    Okay, I'll try to get all your questions answered...

    1. While you are using Ethernet for MRV and are hardwired everywhere, going to a DECA system will work just fine for you as well. While you do have gigabit switches, you are still putting MRV traffic on your network. With DECA, all traffic will be confined to the DECA cloud. There should be no change in performance and using DECA is the supported setup with DirecTV. All MRV traffic is performed over the DECA cloud in that case. You can hook an Ethernet cable to the Genie and that will bridge your home network/Internet to ALL of your receivers, which would allow PPV/VOD/iPad app use. There are no limitations in mixing the Genie and other DVRs with the exception that all Series Management/ToDo List management has to be done on the DVR itself. You also cannot set a recording on the Genie from the DVR and vice versa.

    2. Genie does require SWM. If you stay with over 9 tuners, you will keep your current dish and LNB and the Zinwell would be replaced with a SWM16. If you cut back to 8 tuners (or less), the LNB will be replaced with a SWM-LNB and only one coax from the dish is needed. Where the Zinwell is currently located, you would probably have a splitter installed to feed the cables to the your receivers. Your DVRs would only require one cable at that point.

    3. The Genie can handle up to 3 clients at once. Just remember that the Genie has 5 tuners and if all 3 clients are using it at the same time, that will leave less tuners for recording things on other channels. In your case, if the H21s are used very infrequently, you might want to put clients there. That would get you full trickplay functionality at those locations and you would be able to have full Series Management capability from those locations as well. With the Genie, you could still use your HDMI splitters, if you want.

    4.The biggest thing to consider is if you want to use clients or DVRs/receivers. DVRs allow you to have full trickplay use and give you additional recording space and tuners, however, you have another unit that you need to maintain Series on. With receivers, you can tell it to record to any other DVR/Genie, but you lose trickplay functionality and cannot manage recordings completely. With a client, you have full control of the Genie Series Management, however, you are using up a tuner on the Genie and can only have a max of 3.

    5. Since you are upgrading to a SWM environment, DirecTV will want a tech to come out and do the work.

  4. Sep 4, 2013 #4 of 10

    NR4P Dad

    Jan 15, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Merg gave you a pretty comprehensive summary.

    You might consider:
    One Genie with a client or two or three
    One HR24
    An H25 or two or three

    The above can cover 8 TV's.

    With two DVR's you get to split your recordings on more than one DVR. If you have one and it dies, there goes the household TV's.
    And while a Genie client will only record on the Genie, the H25 is pretty small, has its own tuner and if you press record, it asks to which DVR should it record.

    This might get $$$ but your equipment list is pretty old and with the sample list I gave you, you will have speed.

    Good luck with your roofing and changes.
  5. Sep 5, 2013 #5 of 10

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    I would go a different route when designing your system... I'd say forget what you have today, and lets look at what would really suffice for you.... then see what you need to mod on your current system to get there.. so..

    How many people in your house?

    How many tvs are usually on at one time?

    Do you record all you watch or half? some people record others watch only live?

    Why do you use an hdmi switch now instead of running 3 more clients?

    How full are your dvrs now usually, each?

    How many things do you usually find being recorded at one time?
  6. Sep 6, 2013 #6 of 10

    otaliema AllStar

    Aug 9, 2012
    Mid-west USA
    Merg's answer is on point, When I was setting up Genie offers or helping my agents with them I would encourage people to keep their existing DVR's there is no cost change and as long as you stay below 16 tuners you will have access to all recordings in all rooms.
    As Merg stated with multiple DVR's you have to manage series recordings and what not at each DVR, use the phone or tablet app to set remote recordings in the far off rooms so you don't have to go-to to them just to set up a one time recording's or start a new series record. You do have to go-to the room to set up advanced search recordings and to stop active series recordings.

    IMHO the three main reasons to keep your current DVR's
    No cost difference on the monthly bill
    Increased recording ability, if that's a concern
    You keep all your current recordings.
  7. Sep 6, 2013 #7 of 10

    jaguar325 Legend

    Jan 2, 2006
    You guys are great! Some follow-up:

    We are empty-nesters so only two of us here most of the time. Here is how things are split today:

    Lower level - 3 TVs serviced by an HR20 and H21 (the latter having a splitter to share between 2 that are never used at the same time). We have overnight guests about 2-3 times/month that stay on this level. Between the 3 TVs, probably no more than 10-20 hours/month viewing.

    Main level - 3 TVs serviced by two DVRs (the third TV getting its signal from a splitter). This is the high usage area since it includes the master, great room and porch. These two DVRs are the ones running into capacity problems. It would be nice to be able to watch 3 different things on this level at the same time - however - the reason I use a splitter to feed the porch TV is that we found it was better to be able to play whatever is running in the adjacent greatroom simultaneously out there so we can walk in/out of the porch while watching something uninterrupted from either place (aka: a clone).

    Upper level - 2 TVs services by an H21 and splitter. This is a somewhat self-contained area like the lower - just a spare bedroom and an office with light usage. So light that it does not appear to have been a problem that no DVR is on that floor.

    Our priorites:
    - easier recording management (beyond basic viewing and delete capability)
    - better menu speeds
    - maintaining the porch as a clone of what's playing in the adjacent great room

    • Space (for equipment) is not an issue - all of my A/V cabinets have plenty of room for anything I want to install
    • We don't really use our LAN for much else so if the only advantage to DECA is improving LAN performance, I don't think we're alnywhere close to capacity now. If there are other reasons to leave my hardwired LAN behind and go in a new direction, I am open to it... just need to get over thinking how much time I put into running it! If I continue to use some CAT6 splitters, that would be a good use for it.
    • I think any change I make would mean still keeping at least the number of tuners I have today. Do I understand correctly that, for my setup, the dish/LNB would remain as-is and no outside work is necessary? The Zinwell is down in the mechanical room and could be swapped out in 5 mins. All of my feeds lead down there and since I have an old-school "twin-teet" RG6 setup, I probably have way more RG6 runs than I will ever use with the new technology.
  8. Sep 6, 2013 #8 of 10
    Bill Broderick

    Bill Broderick Icon

    Aug 25, 2006
    Long Island
    As long as you end up with 9 or more tuners, then yes, they would just swap out the Zinwell with a SWM-16 multiswitch and no outside work should be necessary. Based on your initial post, it appears that you currently have 8 tuners. If you stay with 8 tuners, DirecTV would want to replace the LNB on your dish with a SWM LNB, rather than using a stand alone multiswitch (the SWM LNB cost them less). However, you could always buy a SWM-8 or SWM-16 on ebay for $25 or so and ask the installer to use that rather than replace the LNB.
  9. Sep 6, 2013 #9 of 10

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    Just to make sure I understand a couple things though, you only use the h21 in the basement once in a very rare while...and usually know in advance when those times might be, correct?

    You didn't say, but is the porch tv to terribly far away from the h21 downstairs? how about the porch unit and the H21 on the lower level from the mechanical closet?

    Ok, based on what you said, I'd do several things....

    What I might do if I where you, based on what you have said...

    On lower level - One HR hooked up like it is now to the main tv downstairs.

    On Main level - A genie hooked up to the main tv...
    - A genie client hooked up to the second main tv on that level.
    - split the output like you do now to get to the patio tv as well

    This would allow you easier series management because the client will give you full access to the genie itself for control.

    On upper level - Id switch out the H21 for one of your other HRs.

    As for the two extra tvs in the basement, and the patio being able to be on its own station sometimes, I think since you use this so little, you might be perfect for a wireless client. You could hook it up to the switch downstairs when someone was down there and have it work just as it always has. But when someone wasn't around, you could easily connect it to the patio tv using a different input (I would also leave the genie double connected so you would still have that just as it is now as well) and then you could have a separate channel going on that patio one when you wanted as well.

    This setup would remove both H21's and one dvr from your system. But, you would have 9 tuners vs the 8 you have today. You would also have the same amount of receivers and mirroring fees, so that would not change at all.

    One additional thing you had mentioned that you wanted to make it easier to manage, Id suggest setting a few things on one or two channels only on the upstairs and downstairs dvr, things that you will always record. Example, you always record ucla football and the tonight show. Set the tonight show to always record upstairs, and UCLA football to always record downstairs. Then you never have to worry about managing those things, they wont change. And puts a little more stuff on the outlier dvrs and frees up a little more space on the genie that way as well. Personally, if you do watch a lot of sports, Id say choose one channel and one sports team each for the 2 tuner dvrs, and everything else on the genie. Or even just two sports teams each on the two tuner dvrs.

    Now, if you are ok with higher receiver fees.. Id say forget the wireless client, and keep both h21's, hook up one on the patio and one on the lower level, and the rest stay the same. That would add $6 to your bill a month.

    As for your cat 6 stuff, well, sorry I know what you mean when you say you hate to not use it all after you wired it, im the same way, but.. id move to all deca personally, you actually have to use it in part with a genie client, you have no choice, so go full in. And just connect the genie to the ethernet cable. They will want to do it wireless, let them, then after they leave plug in the ethernet cable to the genie directly, and reboot it and your set.

    And sounds like your right about the switch, will be very easy to rewire your system for swim. And you will want them to do the upgrade most likely, they will supply all the decas and such that way. If you are really lucky you might be able to get the installer to swap out your two current dvrs for hr24s too.

    If you really want to do it all yourself, you may try for big discounts and then get all your stuff from solid signal. That way you could guarantee yourself hr44 and c41 clients. If money wasn't an issue, id do that for sure, as well as replace all the other dvrs with hr24s and if you end up keeping the h21s, id swap them for h25s. But hat would be a lot of money to be honest.
  10. jaguar325

    jaguar325 Legend

    Jan 2, 2006
    Thanks inkahauts for the detailed reply... let me try to clarify:

    Lower-level: yes, H21 physically sitting in workshop I use mainly in winter - shared with bedroom where guests stay couple times a month. If they are here and watching it, I could manage around any potential conflicts. The HR on that floor services an old HD big screen that is hardly ever turned on. It's main function is to be a recorder of ongoing shows that we watch thru MRV upstairs.

    The porch TV is very close to the H21 in the lower level but it would have to be routed through my central distribution location because there is no direct path to it. Today, I have it cloned via CAT6 through this same route - signal is good but there is enough structure between them that RF sometimes is a bit hesitant. The place I would clone it to in a new setup would be the same cabinet with Genie as you suggested. Not sure if the Genie will do better with RF than an old HR20. Later in your reply I saw reference to a second connection for the porch to an H21 (lower level workshop)... if I do that, it would be a function of hassle vs. likelihood anybody would ever turn on a spearate program out there. My wife hates switching from one box to another so I try to keep everything constant.

    Based on your comment about the clone on the porch, I take it there is no new technology that allows you to mirror the same program from room-to-room but maintain an option to watch a different program when you want to. If not, I will stick with the existing setup since it works and we probably would favor a clone vs. separate tuner that you have to switch on/off. At least getting all the main-level programming onto on box would be an improvement (watch and fully manage all programming on it from 3 TVs).

    Is your logic on the upper level that if I already have the DVR, might as well swap out an H21 with it, maintain another DVR able to record, and add some pause capability?

    You mentioned getting rid of 2 H21s... the way I am reading this would say I would still need to keep one (lower level as explained above), right?

    What would be the cost/advantage of a wireless client? Why would I need that? Assuming I would switch to DECA, I have at least two RG6 connections at every TV (probably closer to 8 near where I would put the Genie) that all lead to my mechanical room. It would be no problem putting a client out on the porch that is hardwired. I understand they are pretty small and I could hide it behind the TV. The CAT6 clone box I have back there now is about an inch high and about 3"x5". The thing I like about the new Gefen extender is it only takes up one run of CAT6 and sends low-volt power across the CAT6, eliminating the need hide a transformer behind the TV.

    Big K

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