The questions about the longevity of the HR10 are coming more and more frequently. DirecTV has been telling a lot of customers that to get all of the HD out there, they need new equipment; that the HR10 won’t get the HD channels.
This is true, but it’s a little misleading. We have heard of no definite plans to turn off the HD DirecTV channels that the HR10s can receive. But it is true that newer HD channels that DirecTV is now offering can not be seen by the HR10 units. In addition, the HR10s can always see the over-the-air HD channels – ones that some of the newer HD DVRs can’t see now.
So here’s a little background history: The HR10-250 DirecTV HD TiVo came out in the Spring of 2004. At the time, it was the only HD TiVo available, and one of the few HD DVRs available. TiVo lovers flocked to this unit – and in many cases to DirecTV to get it. DirecTV transmitted all of their HD stations in a compression format called MPEG2. And this unit could also receive OTA HD channels – which are uncompressed, and therefore the highest quality HD broadcasts you can get, if you can get them. More info on our OTA page.
Then, as DirecTV’s ownership changed and they charted their course forward, they decided to develop their own DVR platform. They also decided to eventually add new HD channels in a more compressed format called MPEG4 to allow for more channels to be sent simultaneously. Obviously, more compression means a lower quality signal, so the MPEG4 channels are often called “HD Lite” – better than SD, but not quite as good as MPEG2, and even further away from OTA quality. But often this difference is only noticeable in a side-by-side comparison and many people are completely satisfied with MPEG4 quality.
So with the change in the DVR platform (away from TiVo) and the change in the broadcast type (to MPEG4) DirecTV developed a new HD DVR: the HR20. The HR20 was similar in interface to the R15, which DirecTV earlier rolled out for SD DVR customers. Initially, the OTA tuners on the HR20 were disabled, but they now work.
Then, to progress from the HR20, DirecTV rolled out the HR21. The HR21 has only two major differences from the HR20: it’s black, and it has no OTA tuner.
To compare the units, here are the main points:
HR10: Uses the TiVo interface and Peanut remote; records MPEG2 HD and OTA HD and all SD stations.
HR20: Uses the DirecTV interface and remote; records MPEG2 HD, MPEG4 HD, and OTA HD and all SD stations.
HR21: Uses the DirecTV interface and remote; records MPEG2 HD, MPEG4 HD and all SD stations.
So what should I do?
Our customers know us as TiVo fanatics and often come to us asking: How do I get the HD channels from DirecTV in a TiVo unit? Sorry to say, there’s no way to do it. These are the best options:
-If you currently have an HR10 TiVo and you are happy with the current channels: Do nothing. DirecTV is definitely hinting that they will stop transmitting the MPEG2 HD channels at some point in the future, but we think that’s at least a year away. With this type of technology, a year is a long time, so there’s no reason to do anything now. Enjoy your TiVo interface and peanut remote and wait to see what happens, when it happens.
-If you currently have an HR10 TiVo and you want more HD channels: Then you can do a few things. You can move to a DirecTV HD DVR; you can ADD a DirecTV HD DVR; or you can move to or add cable. Here’s a breakdown of each:
–Moving to a DirecTV HD DVR: You can get a DirecTV HD DVR without TiVo that gets all of the new HD channels from DirecTV. We have the units – both at their stock 30 hour size, and larger, with up to 145 hours of capacity. See our HR21 page. Once you get the unit, you can arrange to have DirecTV come out and install it with a new dish if necessary, free. (If you also want HD OTA channels, you’d need an HR20. We still have a few here, but we won’t for much longer.)
–Adding a DirecTV HD DVR: Many people prefer using their TiVo, and want to only use a new HD DVR for those channels which the HD TiVo can’t see. The only downside here is an extra receiver fee of $5.99/month. But as long as your TV has two good HD inputs, this makes sense for a lot of people, especially those who use OTA channels.
–Moving to cable: This is obviously a much bigger change, but it can come with many more advantages. The obvious one is that you can get more HD and still do it in a TiVo. The new HD TiVos for cable are really by far the best DVRs yet. (To read more about how they work, see our CableCARD info.) You get networking, OTA channels, Amazon Unbox, and tons more. The one important issue here is the availability of HD channels in your area via cable and antenna – you’ll need to ask your cable provider about this specifically.
And here’s the most-asked question we get: How do I modify my HR10-250 to get the new channels? Sorry to say, this can’t be done.
Next most-frequent: I hear rumors that DirecTV and TiVo will be making a new HD DVR together – true? We wish this were true, and it may be, but we haven’t heard anything to confirm it in the least.
Finally: DirecTV says they’re shutting of the HD channels that my HR10 can receive, and that I have to get a new unit to keep getting these same channels – true? We don’t think this is true anytime soon. While they will almost certainly turn off these channels one day, we think it’s a long, long time from now. Far too many people still have equipment that can only get these channels.