DirecTV Continues to piece together HDTV Frankenstein Box

by Davis Freeberg

It’s been no secret that DirecTV has been trying to move away fromTivo, but I continue to be surprised at how slow and complicated DirecTV efforts have been on the PVR front. For all of the buzz that they have generated on their upcoming PVR boxes, there is very little hard information on their devices. was able to get a hold of a user’s manual for their non-hdtv product last August, but I’ve yet to see a review on the actual box itself. Earlier this week they announced two more new partnerships for their upcoming DirecTV branded HDTV box. It looks like they will be having LG Electronics manufacture their HDTV set top boxes and they’ve hired Tandberg Television to help them support mpeg4 on the new machines. In their press release, LG Electronics says

“The new HDTV satellite MPEG-4 broadcast services initiated by DIRECTV for the first time in the world employ advanced digital compression technology to deliver more channels in the same frequency bandwidth as existing ones. Other satellite broadcasters and cable broadcast operators will likely introduce MPEG-4 broadcast services, spurring the growth of MPEG4 market in the years ahead.”

While support for the MPEG-4 will allow DirecTV to produce a more compelling product, it hasn’t come without controversy. Earlier this year, they announced that customers who have purchased HDTV TiVo’s will be forced to upgrade to a box that supports mpeg4.

DirecTV is having to jump through a lot of hoops to get this product off the ground and I can’t help wondering if trying to create their own PVR box was the best move on their part. Not only do they risk losing their TiVo subscribers to the cable operators, but they’ve been forced to make some significant investments into their partnerships. In the end they may end up saving some money, but when TiVo is letting you keep 80% of the service revenues from their DVR’s I can’t help but wonder if we really need another generic brand X DVR box.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Direct TV has some pretty serious control hangups. Crippled Tivo’s, no firewire boxes etc, certainly no direct PCI cards like you can get for the europe version of dish.
    Probable why this is taking them a million years and the final product is going to be DRM laden add touting behemoth that will likely be all but unusable, but that of course is pure speculation on my part, still learn to fear the banner add :p.

    I assume Dish will step up to support MCE long before Direct TV comes around, but will see.

  2. It’s good that there’s even this kind of competition in the USA. In England, we are given a set-top box by the operator and that’s it – no choice. I think Virgin Media is planning to introduce a box manufactured by Samsung in the next few months.