Dec 29 2012

News - DirecTV Genie whole-home DVR review

We heard lots of buzz surrounding the Hopper whole home DVR service from Dish since CES, but DirecTV doesn't want to be left out of the party. While pricing and availability is still being worked out, it's nice to see some pretty significant benefits to the system over traditional and older DirecTV systems. Read on for Ben's opinions of his review. 

Capable of serving up to eight rooms in your house (but only four at once), the Genie system works with a variety of setups, including being built into some newer Samsung TVs. Only available as part of DirecTV service, the Genie can be had for free by some new DirecTV customers who are willing to sign a term agreement and select the right package, and available to existing customers as an upgrade for $300 depending on the circumstances. If DirecTV didn't already have you at five tuners, 1TB and up to eight rooms, then click through for a full rundown on the latest the original direct satellite broadcast TV provider has to offer.


Sep 03 2012

News - NFL Sunday Ticket Returns to the PlayStation 3

NFL SUnday TicketIf you love NFL football and have an extra $300 lying around, then Sony has an app for you. The NFL Sunday Ticket service provides access to just about every out-of-market NFL game and is usually an exclusive to DirecTV's satellite subscription service. NFL fans on DirecTV are all set, but for everyone else, there is the PlayStation 3 NFL Sunday Ticket app which provides the same access and coverage in a streaming format. Sony and DirecTV teamed up on this offering last year, but DirecTV has confirmed that it will be back again this year. Of course, it should be pointed out that DirecTV subscibers who have already shelled out $300 for the NFL Sunday Ticket Max subscription will have access to the PS3 app for free, I guess in case the satellite stops working.

The satellite provider announced earlier today that the well-known Sunday Ticket package will be returning to the PlayStation 3 on September 4th via a PS Store update, allowing current subscribers to stream full-HD games directly to Sony's renowned console. As for those without any current attachments to DirecTV, however, there is an option out there -- one which costs a familiar $300 per NFL season. 


Apr 19 2012

News - DirecTV Enables HDCP for Premium Channels

DirecTV LogoCry  I don't know why, but I honestly was not expecting this to happen so soon.  Premium content providers like HBO, Starz, and Showtime are requiring DirecTV to enable HDCP on their HD signals.  This seems to have already taken place for HBO and DirecTV states that they will continue rolling this out for the rest of their premium channels.  This is really bad news for users of the Hauppauge Colossus.

What makes this even worse is the possibility that DirecTV may also limit the component outputs to just 540p for these channels, which would impact HD-PVR users, as well.  It would seem that the HDFury could practically be a necessity soon.

"This initiative may impact a small group of customers who have older model TVs that don't support HDCP through HDMI," [DirecTV spokesperson Robert] Mercer advised. "These customers should replace their HDMI cable with a component video cable (E.G. Red, Green, Blue) and a separate audio cable."

DirecTV enabled the feature on all HBO-owned channels last week, "and will continue rolling out to other premium services in the coming weeks," we were informed.

Ars Technica

Mar 12 2012

News - DirecTV HD DVRs Receive Pandora Internet Radio

It wasn't that long ago that the big news surrounding DirecTV's HD DVRs was the deployment of an updated HD UI. Now, DirecTV is adding features to take their DVRs beyond simply watching and recording TV. Internet connected DirecTV HD DVRs can now be used to stream Pandora Internet Radio. Pandora is integrated into the device's "Extras" menu and provides access to both the free ad-supported version of Pandora and the premium version for subscribers. Unfortunately, becoming a subscriber still requires accessing Pandora from a computer. It will be interesting to see if this is the beginning of a new effort by DirecTV to expand the functionality of their systems as all-purpose entertainment devices.

DirecTV Pandora

 So long as the aforementioned DVR is connected to their home network, Pandora users can login by hitting the menu button on their remote and visiting the "extras" section, after which they'll have access to any and all of their personalized stations — up to 100 in total.

The Verge

Mar 06 2012

News - DirecTV Adds TruTV HD Just in Time for March Madness

TruTV HD Basketball

TruTV HD, the reality TV focused spawn of the ill-fated Court TV, signed a deal last year that split the NCAA Championship Tournament with CBS. As a part of the deal, TruTV HD gets to air the games for the first couple of rounds, with coverage switching back to CBS once the action hits the Elite 8 round. As a result of TruTV HD's March Madness score, providers that were not already carrying the network rushed to do so. Evidently, DirecTV was one such provider, except the satellite service provider only kept the network long enough to finish out the basketball season. Now DirecTV has taken to Facebook to let March Madness fans know that they should get their brackets ready beacuse TruTV HD will be back in time for the games again this year, and this time it sounds like the arrangement will be a little more permanent.

Last year, DirecTV temporarily added TruTV HD to its lineup just during March Madness so its fans could catch all of the games, and it's bringing Turner-owned network back again this year. This time however, the satellite company has promised on Facebook (if a relationship is Facebook official, you know it's real) it's sticking around this time.

Engadget HD

Feb 04 2012

News - WeaKnees Offering TiVo THR22 for DirecTV with Expanded Storage

THR22 TiVo for DirecTV

Once upon time there was a cable channel called TechTV devoted to geeks like me, and my favorite show on that ill-fated channel was The ScreenSavers. It was during an episode of The ScreenSavers that I first head of WeaKnees, a company devoted to selling upgrade kits for and upgraded versions of DVRs such as the ReplayTV and TiVo. It's been several years since TechTV The ScreenSavers, and ReplayTV faded away, and not being a big follower of the TiVo scene, I had largely forgotten about WeaKnees so it was a pleasant surprise to learn that the company is not only still around, but that they are applying their storage expanding magic to the recently released TiVo THR22 for DirecTV. According to the WeaKnees blog they don't have many more units than they need to fulfill their backorders, so if you are a DirecTV subscriber interested in getting a 2GB version of the THR22 to call your own and you don't mind the $599 price tag, you had best hurry.

The only thing better than finally receiving the DVR you've waiting five years for is receiving one with four times the capacity as your provider wanted to give you. That is exactly what WeaKnees has done for years and exactly what it's doing now with the latest DirecTiVo, now that the first shipment has been received.


Dec 25 2011

News - DirecTV Updates iPad App with 12 New Channels, Accelerates HD UI Rollout


DirecTV has been a bit slow to get on board with HD, at least in the user interface of their set top boxes. The finally started pushing the new HD UI that they had been promising for years to beta testers a few months ago. Evidently they started rolling out it for real in November, but someone at DirecTV HQ must have realized that people would be watching a lot of TV over the Christmas weekend and decided some gifts were in order, because the HD UI's rollout has been accelerating and new rollout dates are being shared so that everyone can wait with bated breath for their turn to roll around. However, DirecTV users who have to wait until later in January to get their HD UI update can console themselves by watching even more TV on their iPad. DirecTV is also adding 12 new channels to the iPad app's lineup. Unfortunately, if you are a DirecTV user who has to wait until January and doesn't have an iPad, then I guess you got the satellite TV version of a lump of coal for Christmas this year.

 It's live in many areas already where you're probably enjoying the sweet, sweet new guide with its 16x9 graphics and speedier interface, but if you don't yet have it, check out the thread at DBSTalk with estimated rollout dates for many areas. Also by way of the forum comes word of 12 new channels including AMC, Velocity and HD Net that were just added to DirecTV's live TV streaming iPad app. 

Engadget HD

Dec 05 2011

News - DirecTV's HR34 DVR Receiver Rumored for 12/8 Release

It's been a long time since DirecTV announced that they were working with Cisco and Samsung on the RVU multi-room viewing DVR system. It may have taken two years, but DirecTV's first RVU capable DVR, the HR34, looks likely to launch on December 8. The HR34 is set to be a beast with 5 tuners and 1TB of storage. The HR34 will function as an RVU server capable of distributing television to four clients. In the short term this will mean DirecTV satellite receivers in four rooms, but in the future clients can be properly equipped TVs, set-top boxes, and Blu-Ray players. At only $99 after rebate, is this a compelling upgrade for you DirecTV subscribers out there, or will it be better to wait for RVU clients to hit the scene?

While DirecTV has yet to make an official announcement, retailer info states that it will be available starting Thursday for just $99 after rebate ($399 rack rate), bringing five tuners, 1TB of storage, whole home DVR service in up to four active rooms, and more. 


Nov 07 2011

News - AT&T and DirecTV Hooking Up Until 2015

DirecTV did a pretty good job of picking up subscribers in Q3. If their Q4 doesn't go as well, they won't have AT&T to blame. AT&T gets a lot of attention for their fiber optic U-Verse television service, but U-Verse has had a fairly limited roll-out at this point. Where AT&T lacks U-Verse to bundle in with their telephony and data services, they turn to DirecTV. The two companies recently renewed an agreement that allows AT&T to continue to bundle DirecTV with their offerings. I don't live anywhere near AT&T's service area, but I have to admit I would probably prefer to have U-Verse. Anyone live in the AT&T area thankful that they get to choose DirecTV for their bundle instead?

The pact, which runs through March 2015, is another setback for DirecTV rival Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH), which had a similar deal with AT&T that the company terminated in 2008. The AT&T - DirecTV deal will see both companies invest in marketing quadruple plays of satellite TV programming, high-speed Internet access and mobile and landline phone service.


Nov 05 2011

News - DirecTV Gains 327,000 Subscribers in Q3


In early August DirecTV announced that they had added only 26,000 US subscribers in Q2, their lowest number of new subscribers ever. This announcement came on the heels of falling subscriber numbers for several major cable companies, which combined to give rise to some breathless stories about the growing threat of cord cutters and web video to subscription television services.

Fast forward to early November, and DirecTV has announced that they added 327,000 US subscribers in Q3, their best subscriber growth in years. Much of the credit was given to DirecTV's exclusive rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. The announcement highlights two important points. First, subscription television services are not in danger of going the way of the dodo in spite of the cord cutting rhetoric. Second, never underestimate the power of sports to encourage live television viewing. Someday, sports programming will be as simple to consume over the Internet as last week's episode of Glee, but in the meantime DirecTV and its ilk have an ace up their sleeve.

DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) stock surged Thursday morning after the top satellite TV provider said it added 327,000 U.S. subscribers during the third quarter--its best performance in five years. The gains were driven by demand for its exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package, which had a record quarter for gross subscriber additions.


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