If wanted to have a HD DVR with Direct TV, I had no choice but get this reciever.The Seach feature, the "To Do List", and just about every menu on this reciever are almost impossible to navigate without feeling like you are carrying buckets of sand after using the Direct TV w/TiVo for the last few years. When I'm looking for a show or actor or sporting event, I usually look it up on one of my TiVo's and then go set it up on this reciever. Because I have Direct TV this HD DVR is a neccesary evil.
Silver Spring, MD
Good but could be better
The DirecTV HR20-700S is a good product. It allows you to record 2 channels at once in both regular and HD format. Because it is customized for DirecTV it stays current as more features are added to the service. It is easy to program.
You can only rent the unit. Over the years that adds up to a lot more money you will have to fork out.
The hard drive is big enough for most purposes, but should have been big enough that capacity is never a thought. There's no provision to record or play DVDs in either regular or Blu-Ray format. That would make the unit much more convenient and would help when the hard drive gets full.
Two tuners seem like a lot, but when 3 or 4 good shows are put up against each other in an otherwise crappy week I wish more could be recorded at once.
DVR is great
Anyone that's thinking about getting Directv or already has the service has to buy one of these DVR recorders. It lets you record your shows ans save them for later viewing, so you never have to miss an episode or sacrifice one show when two are on at the same time. How I didn't get one earlier i really don't know, but couln'd get by without it now that I have it. It is worth the extra cost from the normal Directv receivers.
Chula Vista, CA
Oh High Definition Technology, You are a Cruel, Cruel Mistress
I love being on the bleeding edge of technology as much as the next geek, but only when I *choose* to be there. I don't like being painted into a corner by technology, and that's exactly what happened when we installed our second high-definition set in our family room, requiring us to get a second DVR capable of recording high-definition programming from DirecTV. Our high-definition TiVo in our upstairs home theater worked great, but we quickly discovered that horror of horros - *TiVo no longer makes DVRs that work with DirecTV*!! After much mourning, wailing and gnashing of teeth, we took the plunge and exercised the only option we could, as DirecTV customers looking for a high-def DVR. We purchased the **DirecTV HR20-700S** directly from DirecTV.
**About the HR20-700S**Technological specs are listed toward the end of this review, but in general the HR20's main purpose is to record television programming. One plus for this DVR is that it is fully integrated into DirecTV's menu guide system. Users who are transitioning from standard DirecTV service, or standard DirecTV DVR service will feel right at home navigating the grid-like DirecTV advanced program guide. Ex-TiVo recoverers like me may find it cumbersome and unfamiliar.
Other standard features on this DVR include the usual pause, rewind and fast-forwarding of programs, a thirty second skip feature, auto-record and program searching features (by keyword, title, channel, actor, etc.) and a season pass style feature that includes prioritizing. This DVR has a dual-tuner, enabling you to watch or record two programs at once.
Some of the nifty new features of this DVR include access to interactive programming, including real-time review of the most popular channels at any given time, weather forecasts, horoscopes and consolidation-style channels that show panels of all the major news or sports programs at any given time. The HR20 offers another improvement over the TiVo in that it allows you to have a small thumbnail of the program you're watching (either live or recorded) in the upper right hand corner of the screen while you're perusing the guide, setting up passes and performing other administrative tasks. The included remote is both IR and RF capable, which we love because our DVR is located in an enclosed cabinet.
**Setup and Installation**Setup and installation was a snap - because in true DirecTV fashion, we had to have an installer come out to install everything. Upgrading to the HR20 required us to upgrade our dish to one that received local stations via satellite. The new dish is so large that a herd of bison would be quite capable of seeking shade underneath it on a sunny day, but fortunately it's on the back of our house where it only scares the wildlife in the forest behind us. The upside to the professional installation is that well, it's professionally installed. No worries about setting up the DirecTV HR20 and our installer even showed my husband how to reset it and force it to download any new software updates.
**Quick recommendation:** If you're currently a DirecTV subscriber, be sure to ask for deals when calling to get the new dish and recorder. Often DirecTV will offer a substantial discount on installation in exchange for a subscription committment. Also, long-time subscribers who have special premium packages often get preferred treatment and discounts from DirecTV customer service. Ask about it when you're on the phone!
**Using the HR20**I couldn't wait to get my hands on the remote to start test-driving the new system. While I was peeved that I couldn't have my TiVo, I'm always eager to try a new gadget. As a TiVo fanatic, I found that the HR20 took a lot of getting used to. I did not find the interface intuitive, and even today, two months later, I still get frustrated by the interface.
The guide only displays in a single manner: the grid. I hate the grid and wish that could be changed. The remote itself is also strange and unwieldy. There are two sets of arrows. On the top half of the remote are the buttons that control playback of video. In the middle of the remote, a second set of four arrows, and the yellow select button in the middle control the functionality of the administrative menus on the DVR itself. I constantly find myself getting these arrows confused. Invariably after browsing through the menu guide repeatedly, I'll attempt to control playback using the buttons in the middle of the remote. It's very frustrating.
**Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs**The HR20 is a relatively new product, and we received it in January, after reading on various forums that it was insanely buggy. I think that ours was a late enough version that we didn't suffer from the massive problems that plagued early adopters. However, we have noticed several bugs in the software that I hope will be resolved soon by additional updates.
The first evening that we had the DVR, the remote stopped working with the set. It was as if the batteries died, but they hadn't. There was no way to control the DVR, even from the front panel. The DVR required a hard reset to start responding again. This happened two times within the first couple of weeks that we owned the DVR, and just as I began to wonder if this would be a serious issue, it cleared up. I suspect a software update fixed the issue.
Another issue is that when we go to play a recorded program, it frequently comes up a full minute to 90 seconds within the program. We have to select the program, and then rewind to the beginning.
Other minor bugs I've noticed include infrequent color changes on the status bar when we're doing a thirty second skip, and our preferred weather locations aren't saved in the interactive menu guide.
**Specifications**As promised, here are a few of the key specifications for this product, as provided by DirecTV.*- DirecTV Plus HD DVR Model HR20- 2 Satellite tuners/2 ATSC tuners- Video Outputs: HDMI (1), Component (1), S-Video (1), Composite (2)- Audio Outputs: Digital Optical (1), Stereo (2)- Satellite In (2), Off-Air In, Phone, Front/Back USB ports (future use), Ethernet RJ-45 (future use) S-ATA Port (future use)*
**Cat's Bottom Line**DirecTV is not a DVR company, and as such their HR20 isn't quite as fully-developed as the DVRs that I've been using for the past five years. This is a passable product, and it gets the job done, but it's not nearly as intuitive to use as a TiVo, and right now the reliability of the product is questionable. I expect that reliability will continue to improve, as DirecTV works out the kinks in this new product. I don't expect that the interface itself will change much, which is a disappointment. I can only half-heartedly recommend this product. Essentially, if you want to record high-definition programming from your DirecTV service, you don't have any other choice.
**DirecTV Information**Website: http://www.directv.comHR20 Quick Tips: http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/global/contentPage.jsp?assetId=P3940008Phone: 1-800-494-4388