Archives For Satellite TV


As anyone who follows the tech industry knows, the annual Consumer Electronics Show is nearly upon us. And, with it, bazillions of new product announcements. Some of which aren’t always revealed exactly as or when a vendor had intended… and such may be the case with DISH Network’s upcoming “Hopper” whole-home DVR solution that was supposedly covered by TWICE prematurely (and then yanked).

What I gather from the article and some Internet sleuthing is that EchoStar’s next generation XiP satellite whole home DVR hardware will be branded as the DISH Network “Hopper” (XiP 813) – along with the cute little kangaroo logos you see below. Further, the “extender” units will be Joeys (XiP 110). Given DISH’s inglorious historical product/box naming conventions, this is already a massive win as far as I’m concerned (and it beats TiVo’s Q and Preview, conceptually). The XiP, er Hopper, also features smaller, less angular set-top box hardware which had been my other major complaint with DISH units.

Of course, the goal of a whole-home DVR is to create a mostly centralized repository of recordings that can be streamed around the home… which the 2TB, 3 tuner Hopper and Joeys deliver. Along with live television. From the article, the system Continue Reading…


When TiVo and DirecTV rekindled their relationship in 2008, we were pretty psyched. Because, back in the day, the companies represented a dream team of cutting edge television services — the best DVR mated with the best TV (Sunday Ticket). Unfortunately, at some point their relationship soured and existing (non-MPEG4) DirecTV TiVo units were merely allowed to remain active (although stagnant) via a reciprocal do-not-sue patent arrangement worked out in 2006 (with DirecTV picking up ReplayTV’s patent portfolio as leverage in 2007).

Yet, after a few years of delay, we’re finally here… And the new DirecTV TiVo DVR, originally scheduled for 2009, goes on sale tomorrow. It’s everything we expected, but nothing we hoped for. The unit features TiVo’s original standard definition user interface, now branded as their “Classic” UI, running on outdated DirecTV hardware. So it’s neither the best TiVo experience, nor is it the best DirecTV DVR.


Our readership generally expects cutting edge products, but we recognize there’s a broader market out there and suspect a subset of current DirecTV subscribers (and defectors) might find comfort in that classic TiVo experience (including the iconic peanut remote). While it may be functionally limited, the product could be highly usable and sufficient for many. In fact, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers is banking on it: Continue Reading…


A day or so before HBO GO was released to Roku devices I was tipped off that DirecTV and Comcast wouldn’t offer this service. At the time, I didn’t recognize the implication… but it’s become all too clear. Comcast and DirecTV are willfully preventing access to HBO GO on Roku devices, even though that very same content is offered to their subscribers via mobile devices and web browser.

In corresponding with Roku and HBO, I’m pretty sure this is neither a technical issue nor a licensing issue. So it’s not clear to me why Comcast or DirecTV would deny Roku owners access? My initial thought was that it boils down to fear of an over-the-top future… yet Comcast is bringing Xfinity to the Xbox and, generally speaking, HBO has done right by their partners and only offers HBO GO to HBO cable/satellite subscribers. I asked Comcast to help me understand, but their prepared non-response doesn’t shed any light on the situation.

Every day we’re working to make XfinityTV programming available to our customers in more ways including the Xbox, connected TVs, on websites like XfinityTV and HBOGo, on tablets and other devices.  Today, all HBO content is available on and through the XfinityTV app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  We will continue to work with our partners to deliver even more choices to our customers in more places.

For now the mystery remains unsolved, with the impotent HBO and Roku encouraging customers to contact their respective providers if they’re not being served. And this marks another day that I’m pleased to be a Verizon FiOS TV customer.

New DirecTV HD UI Nearly Ready

Dave Zatz —  October 23, 2011

Rumor has it DirecTV’s high definition interface will land on their satellite set-top boxes (HR20 or H21 and up) beginning November 1 (Get it here: As you can see from the video above, the new design is at once both modernized and simplified with what appears to be quite sprightly interaction. DirecTV breaks it down:

  • A sleek new look and feel
  • Lightning fast scrolling
  • 1080p HD resolution
  • Visual browsing experience
  • One place for all DIRECTV CINEMA and On Demand movies
  • Recommendations based on your past viewing preferences

Between this new guide and DirecTV’s whole home DVR capabilities, I wonder how many takers they’ll find for the upcoming DirecTV TiVo? Given two years of delays, DirecTiVo is expected to feature older DirecTV hardware running TiVo’s original standard definition UI.

DirecTV Nomad

While Roku is getting the big headlines this morning with its HBO Go support and a sub-$50 streamer, DirecTV has a newsworthy launch going on as well. As Jeff Baumgartner points out, the product page is now live for the company’s Nomad ($149) product that lets subscribers transfer DVR recordings to a PC, iPhone or iPod Touch. (Macs, iPads and Android devices coming soon)

This is reminiscent of a Motorola gadget Dave and I wrote about years ago, but that product never made it to market. Instead, I believe the Motorola Mover was absorbed by Motorola’s Televation platform, which is reportedly coming to Comcast soon. That service will include live, linear streaming to mobile devices in your home. In contrast, the Nomad lets your store recorded video so you can take it with you on the go.

The guys at DBSTalk got their hands on a Nomad box late last month, and they note that transcoding and copying video from your DirecTV DVR requires about the same amount of time it would take to watch the content in the first place. However, you can set series to “autodownload” so that video is ready for transfer shortly after recording. Here are some of the other critical specs per the DirecTV product page.

  • Sync with up to 5 mobile devices over your in-home Wi-Fi connection
  • Record “up to 20 hours” of programming for viewing on a mobile device
  • Content reportedly transcoded to 720×480
  • One Ethernet and 2 USB ports included
  • 7.2″(w), 1.3″(h), 4.7″(d), 0.5 lbs

Looks like the new DirecTV TiVo HD DVR is (finally) nearing launch! Perhaps as soon as next month. But is it all we hoped for?

If you recall, TiVo and DirecTV once had a fruitful partnership… that petered out. However, the companies rekindled the flames nearly 3 years ago and announced collaboration on an updated HD DVR  – set to launch in 2009. While we’re a few years off schedule, today at TiVo’s quarterly call CEO Tom Rogers indicated that new DirecTV TiVo DVR units are “now being manufactured and we expect DirecTV to publicly share specific launch details in the relatively near future.” Further, a few unconfirmed reports suggest DirecTV distributors should be receiving product on or about September 25th. If that wasn’t evidence enough, folks over on DBSTalk have been discussing DirecTV’s August training video (embedded above, thanks Engadget!) which reintroduces their salesforce to TiVo.


Unfortunately, what we pieced together back in February appears to be accurate: Older DirecTV hardware (HR22-100) running the older TiVo interface. Yesterday’s technology, today! Even worse, multi-room viewing will not be supported between DirecTV TiVo units and/or other DirecTV HD DVRs. Ouch. But, on the bright side, the unit will ship with the latest TiVo peanut remote.

If DirecTV and TiVo had launched as planned two years ago, this product probably would have worked. As it stands, I doubt there will be much of a market for their “new” solution — irrespective of the yet-to-be-revealed hardware pricing and service fees. Unless this is merely a stop-gap… as at least two people on DBSTalk indicate they’re aware of additional hardware. Stay tuned?

Sony PS3 Lands NFL Streaming

Dave Zatz —  August 18, 2011

Will you look at that. Not only is DirecTV taking NFL over-the-top for DirecTV subscribers and non-subscribers alike (as they did last year), they’re expanding their reach beyond mobile devices like the the iPad and will stream live football direct to the Sony PS3 in 2011. This is a massive deal given the NFL’s status in the US as not only the premiere sports league but also as one of the most lucrative entertainment properties of any stripe. And this marks the first time the NFL will all be available to a television-based device over the Internet. Minus those in market games, of course.

Engadget reports non-DirecTV subscribers will be able to order the streaming-only version of Sunday Ticket for $350 as of September 1st. As I said last year, “it doesn’t come cheap. But they don’t call it Super Fan for nothing.” Then again, I’m sure I spend more than that at my local wing joint in any given season. Bonus? The PS3 price drop – now only $250. Is it too early to declare Sony’s more-than-gaming platform as box of the year? Although there’s still time for additional lean back partners to be announced…


DISH Network’s next generation whole-home DVR passed through the FCC today – with minimal confidentiality requested, suggesting launch may approach sooner than expected. If you recall, the XiP 813 DVR was unveiled a few months back and features 3 satellite tuners writing to 1 terabyte of storage. The EchoStar-produced product is also quite svelte by DISH standards… perhaps by doing away with integrated “SlingLoaded” placeshifting functionality, as offered in the current gen ViP 922. What makes the XiP813 notable is that it not only serves as a highly capable DVR, but it also acts as a hub – streaming recorded shows around the house to upcoming XiP 110 extender units (that also handle live TV). Hit our DISH Team Summit post for photographs of the new hardware, thanks to SatelliteGuys.