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Old 12-16-2013, 05:38 PM   #1
Russ Arcuri
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Questions about current HD DirecTV

My current setup is pretty old. An ancient standard definition DirecTV dish, a channel master multiswitch with four outputs, a standard def R10 DirecTiVo in the living room with two feeds from the multiswitch, and an older Hughes DirecTiVo in a bedroom with one feed.

I have a TiVo HD working off of an antenna, which gets me the broadcast networks in high definition. That's why I wasn't terribly motivated to upgrade the DirecTV stuff to HD.

But we seem to be watching more things on the other channels lately, and I'm tired of watching standard def on my high def television. I need to know what's involved with moving to a full high definition setup. My better half insists we stick with TiVo, so at minimum I'll have to get a THR22 for the living room. Here are my questions:

1. Can the new dish fit into roughly the same spot as an old 18" dish?
2. How many coax cables come off of the new dish?
3. I'm assuming the old multiswitch has to be replaced... but with what?
4. Can I still use either the R10 or the old Hughes DirecTiVo on the bedroom TV? Or does the new dish and multiswitch not provide the MPEG2 streams these things require?

If there's a previous thread covering these questions, I missed it in my search. Apologies for that, just point me in the right direction.

Russ
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Old 12-16-2013, 07:38 PM   #2
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1. Yes, but it needs braces that attach to the wall/roof/whatever
2. Assuming you replace all your receivers, which I would recommend, just 1. Otherwise you'll need a larger dish with four outputs to a multiswitch or SWM module.
3. If you go all new boxes, a splitter the installer will provide. Otherwise you need either a SWM module or a "wideband" multiswitch.
4. If you get the new dish with the builtin SWM, then you will need all new boxes. MPEG2 isn't the issue. If you get a traditional dish with four outputs, you can keep the old boxes, but make it very clear to DirecTV that's what you're doing and triple-check with the installer.
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:59 AM   #3
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Steve, thanks for your reply. I have a few followup statements/questions, mostly to confirm I understand how this works:

5. So it sounds like the new dish is roughly the same size as the old 18" dish, but (I assume) a different shape. My old dish is installed between a window and a chimney, with some room to spare around it but not a lot.

6. The newest dish only requires one coax cable to feed multiple receivers/DVRs, assuming all the receivers are new. I would not need a multiswitch to feed two THR22s. I would need a new kind of splitter.

7. As I understand it, the THR22 can record two different programs at once. Does this require two coax inputs, or is only one input required? If two, then will I need multiple splitters to feed both coax inputs on two different THR22s?

8. I did the installation for my current SD setup back in the late 1990s. Is that still an option, or will the HD dish/splitters/etc have to be installed by a DirecTV technician?

9. I currently get all my locals through an antenna connection on a TiVo HD (except CBS, which is too far away). Digging through the DirecTV website, I can't tell what the cost is to get locals through DirecTV, or if it's possible to get ONLY CBS.

Thanks again for any insight you can offer.

Russ
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:34 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Russ Arcuri View Post
Steve, thanks for your reply. I have a few followup statements/questions, mostly to confirm I understand how this works:

5. So it sounds like the new dish is roughly the same size as the old 18" dish, but (I assume) a different shape. My old dish is installed between a window and a chimney, with some room to spare around it but not a lot.
The new dish will be roughly the same size but a lot lighter, so it shouldn't be an issue.

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6. The newest dish only requires one coax cable to feed multiple receivers/DVRs, assuming all the receivers are new. I would not need a multiswitch to feed two THR22s. I would need a new kind of splitter.
Assuming the use of SWiM (Single wire multiswitch), then yes, just one cable. A SWiM module will take card of multi receivers.

[quote=Russ Arcuri;9936445]
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7. As I understand it, the THR22 can record two different programs at once. Does this require two coax inputs, or is only one input required? If two, then will I need multiple splitters to feed both coax inputs on two different THR22s?
Only one input.

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8. I did the installation for my current SD setup back in the late 1990s. Is that still an option, or will the HD dish/splitters/etc have to be installed by a DirecTV technician?
They will probably insist on a tech coming out. I would let him install - with your supervision, of course.

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9. I currently get all my locals through an antenna connection on a TiVo HD (except CBS, which is too far away). Digging through the DirecTV website, I can't tell what the cost is to get locals through DirecTV, or if it's possible to get ONLY CBS.

Thanks again for any insight you can offer.

Russ
Local channels are provided free (or at least included) in just about all packages.

As for fees, you may have to argue or get someone who know, but lifetime should remove the $5 TiVo fee at least.

May I ask why you are so insistent on keeping the TiVo interface? While it's not a terrible option, the Genie has several advantages like five tuners and whole home viewing, which you cannot get with the THR22. The THR is stuck in the past with little benefit over the HR10-250 apart from the ability to handle MPEG2.

I had a THR22 for 2.5 years before finally succumbing to the Genie and I must say, I love it. I have an HR22 in the bedroom, so I can record a total of seven things at the same time and watch them anywhere with my GenieGo.

If you look at the interface with an open mind, it's actually pretty good. I'm not anti-TiVo, but I like to keep my options open.
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:52 AM   #5
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... As for fees, you may have to argue or get someone who know, but lifetime should remove the $5 TiVo fee at least.
...
If you look at the interface with an open mind, it's actually pretty good. I'm not anti-TiVo, but I like to keep my options open.
Yes, having Lifetime TiVo will remove the $5 TiVo fee but it took contacting the Office of the President to get them to do it.

I tried the Genie but just could not get accustomed to their user interface. Since the THR22 was still an option, I had them switch and am happy for the most part (having more then 2 tuners would be great but my OTA Premiere takes up the slack when necessary).

Best of luck getting a great deal from DIRECTV on the upgrade!
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:57 AM   #6
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May I ask why you are so insistent on keeping the TiVo interface?
Not me. My better half, aka SWMBO, aka my wife. She has had a TiVo of one stripe or another for almost 14 years. She isn't interested in alternative interfaces. Before the new DirecTiVos came out, we were looking at dumping DirecTV for cable so we could use the TiVo HD with a cablecard.

Quote:
While it's not a terrible option, the Genie has several advantages like five tuners and whole home viewing ... I had a THR22 for 2.5 years before finally succumbing to the Genie...
I know from what I've read recently that it's relatively easy to upgrade the storage on a THR22. Is that even possible with a Genie? How much storage does it have out of the box?

Thanks --
Russ
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:02 PM   #7
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Best of luck getting a great deal from DIRECTV on the upgrade!
I haven't had to so much as talk to DirecTV customer service in years, but it went well way back when. Should I be concerned now? I sort of assumed that they'd be happy to get a long-time customer upgraded to their latest gear, rather than lose that customer to cable.

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Old 12-17-2013, 01:19 PM   #8
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I haven't had to so much as talk to DirecTV customer service in years, but it went well way back when. Should I be concerned now? I sort of assumed that they'd be happy to get a long-time customer upgraded to their latest gear, rather than lose that customer to cable.

Russ
Absolutely no worries. If the CSR won't offer it all for free, hang up and try again. People with a lot less history and much more in the way of free stuff have been able to get free upgrades.

If you have too much difficulty, just say 'Cancel' at the first prompt and you'll eventually get through to retention, which has a lot more flexibility than the first line CSRs.
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Old 12-17-2013, 01:41 PM   #9
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Absolutely no worries. If the CSR won't offer it all for free, hang up and try again. People with a lot less history and much more in the way of free stuff have been able to get free upgrades.

If you have too much difficulty, just say 'Cancel' at the first prompt and you'll eventually get through to retention, which has a lot more flexibility than the first line CSRs.
Thanks for the tip.

I've been upgrading the storage capacity of my various TiVos for the past 14 years. You mentioned the Genie supporting five simultaneous recordings... but how much storage capacity does it have? Is it possible to upgrade it? There's a slight chance I could get my wife to consider changing away from TiVo if there was a compelling enough reason.
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Old 12-17-2013, 01:43 PM   #10
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Yes, it's my wife as well who insists on the TiVo interface. While I don't particularly like the DirecTV UI, it works well enough and the HR44 has enough other advantages to more than make up for an annoying UI. I have both an HR44 and a THR22.

They probably will balk at giving you a THR22 for free, but one never knows.
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Old 01-09-2014, 04:15 PM   #11
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A followup post for all of you who have been waiting with bated breath to hear about how this all turned out...

I spoke with various DirecTV representatives on the phone about upgrading to HD service. They were invariably polite, and three different people I spoke with commented on my 16.5 continuous years as a subscriber. (They must have that information on the first page of account information they refer to during the call.) They answered all of my technical and logistical questions, and then we came to the matter at hand: putting together the actual package they would offer me and scheduling the installation.

They told me that as a loyal DirecTV customer, they would upgrade all of my hardware -- dish, switch and DVRs -- for free, along with free installation. Their proposed package included a Genie for the living room and a compatible whole-home receiver for the bedroom.

I told them that we wanted TiVo/THR22s instead - one for the living room and one for the bedroom. They balked at this request -- they're really trying to push the Genie -- but eventually we came to a compromise agreement. They would upgrade the dish, switch and one DVR to a THR22 for free; if I wanted another THR22 for the bedroom I would have to pay a discounted rate for it. (IIRC, it was offered for $99.) I told them I could live without the second receiver, thinking I would just move my antenna-connected TiVo HD to the bedroom.

I mentioned that my status as a 16+ years loyal DirecTV customer might also qualify me for a discount on service, akin to the great deals they're offering brand new customers. They transferred me to a supervisor who agreed that I deserved a discount off my bill. She offered me a substantial discount for six months, and a somewhat less substantial discount for the subsequent six months. I accepted her offer.

I asked if I could install the equipment myself, as I had always done my own installation work in the past. "No," she told me, "we don't allow that anymore, but don't worry. The installers are highly skilled professionals and we aren't charging you anything for installation." Surprisingly, she told me they could have the installer(s) at my house that afternoon. I agreed, but warned her that it would take me a half hour to drive home to meet with the installers. Luckily I had a contractor working on my house that day who could greet the installer, point out the old dish that had to come down, etc.

That's where the problems began. When I got home, the installer told me that his work order only specified that he swap out one receiver, and that the rest of it -- basically, the entire installation -- had not been requested. He called somebody, information was exchanged and the work order clarified, and all was (supposedly) back on track. We went into my basement so he could scope out what had to be done. That's when he mentioned the Genie. I corrected him -- we were getting a TiVo THR22, not a Genie.

"No," he replied, "I have the work order right here. It says you get a Genie. Besides, the Genie is way better than a TiVo. I think I've installed only one TiVo in the last two years."

"No," I insisted, "this was all worked out ahead of time. The Genie may be great, but we want a TiVo -- and that's what was in the offer I agreed to. You'll have to call somebody to check on that." He reluctantly called somebody; they told him I was supposed to get a TiVo; he hung up.

"We got a problem now. I don't have a TiVo in the truck, and I doubt I can get one before next week. What do you want to do?"

I told him as long as he was here we should proceed with the installation. If they couldn't install a generic receiver temporarily until the TiVo arrived (they couldn't*), I could live without the non-broadcast channels for a week.

* Which was incorrect, as far as I can tell. A DirecTV representative actually suggested this solution to me when I was on the phone with her, but the installer insisted it was not possible and that the DirecTV rep was wrong.

Okay, fine. Let's move on. That's when we encountered the second (and ultimately, bigger) problem. My old dish, which I installed myself, was in a convenient spot -- partially hidden from street view, on the south face of my house, close to an attic window. That's where I wanted the new dish installed.

"You don't want your dish there," the installer said. "You won't be able to clean snow off it in the winter. It's too high."

"Not a problem," I said. "In the fifteen years we've been in this house, I've had snow build up on it only twice. And when that happened, I opened that attic window and brushed it off with my hand."

"Well, I can't put the new dish there. It won't fit." This was clearly untrue; there was plenty of room, even accounting for the larger size of the new dish. I told him I wanted to see if it would fit -- not just assume it wouldn't.

"Can't do it. My ladder won't go up that high."

I pointed out that there was an easy-to-open window right next to the spot, and that if the window was unsuitable the contractor working on my house already had scaffolding set up. (I later found out that the contractor had offered to let the DirecTV installer use his scaffolding before I had arrived home.)

"No, I'm not allowed to use other people's equipment. I'll install your dish on the roof of your front porch."

Let me paraphrase his statement in the way that I took it:

'No, I don't want to install anything that high. Instead of putting the new dish in a convenient, out-of-the-way spot on the side of your house, I'll put it on the peak of your front porch roof, where it will be the focal point/eyesore, and impossible to reach when snow builds up on it.'

I told him I didn't want it on my porch roof. He said it was the only place it could be installed. I pointed out that my old dish had worked fine for 15 years in the spot it was in. He returned to his old argument that it 'wouldn't fit' where the old dish was. I reiterated my belief that it probably would fit, and that all we had to do is check. I mentioned too that if he was concerned about the difficulty of cleaning snow off of it, my porch roof was a much more difficult spot to get at than the side of my house next to a window.

In the end, we could not agree and I ended up cancelling the entire thing. The old dish came down, the old DirecTiVos were disconnected, and no new dish was installed in its place.

We could have switched to cable, but we didn't. My wife and I discussed it and we decided to try cord cutting. Well, sort of, anyway. I bought a Roamio for the living room, replaced the hard drive before even turning it on, connected it to the antenna, and moved the TiVo HD up to the bedroom. We have Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime Instant Video. We use Hulu for some shows, and are thinking of maybe subscribing to Hulu Plus, but thus far can't find a compelling reason to do so.

With the money we're no longer sending to DirecTV each month, we can buy shows on iTunes or Amazon that are unavailable through the other services.

If this experiment in cord cutting doesn't work out, then we'll probably end up going with cable. I have a Roamio and a TiVo HD that both work with cablecards, and a local cable provider that's been sending me promotional offers for the past 16 years. But if I had to guess based on our experience so far, I'd say the cord cutting experiment is working out pretty well.
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Last edited by Russ Arcuri : 01-09-2014 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Fix typos, formatting
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:17 AM   #12
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Wow, this is quite a sorry story for DirecTV and Tivo. I am in a similar situation, but in addition to old SD DirecTivos I have antenna TV connections around my home with diplexers used to share antenna + satellite signals on coax lines.

I have been reluctant to call DirecTV for an upgrade deal because I feared the installer would balk at carrying the diplexer plan forward. Now from your story I can see installers may not even be willing and able to replace an existing dish with a new one in the same spot.

I'm glad your mostly-cord-cutting plan is working. That may be my solution as well.
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Old 01-12-2014, 04:34 AM   #13
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Well I wish read Russ's story before my brother insisted on getting DirecTV, but he paying for it. Genie box is a piece of crap. What so easy to do on the TiVo is hard to do on the Genie. To do anything is click, click, click. The big problem I have with the Genie box is that is that there no way to change between tuners like you can do on the TiVo. Wish DirecTV would offer the Roamio box.
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:25 AM   #14
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Johncv, yes you can switch tuners just like on TiVo. The Genie is not "crap". Some things it does better than TiVo.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:00 AM   #15
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Johncv, yes you can switch tuners just like on TiVo. The Genie is not "crap". Some things it does better than TiVo.
Please explain how one can switch tuners just like on TiVo and what things it does better than TiVo. You been using the Genie longer than I have, please help a newbie here.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:12 PM   #16
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Please explain how one can switch tuners just like on TiVo and what things it does better than TiVo. You been using the Genie longer than I have, please help a newbie here.
I don't know how to switch tuners on the Genie, as I don't have one... but these are ways in which the Genie is better than the THR22 (the DirecTV TiVo):

1. Genie can record 5 shows at once; THR22 only 2.
2. Genie supports whole-home DVR operation; THR22 does not.
3. Genie has more storage than THR22.

There may be other features which are better, but I believe those are the biggest advantages.

That said, we wanted TiVo instead for one big reason and one little reason. Big: We have been using TiVos of one type or another for almost 14 years. My wife was particularly opposed to changing interfaces. Little: Fast forward and rewind are smoother on the TiVo.

That second reason is hard to explain, especially to those who either haven't used a TiVo before or did but have gotten used to using the non-TiVo DirecTV DVRs like the Genie. On the TiVo, fast-forward playback begins immediately when the FF (>>) button is pressed, and the picture never 'blanks' out -- it just plays back faster. (i.e., it goes from playing back at 1X speed to playing back at 3X speed without a pause/transition.) On the DirecTV DVRs we have tried (including the Genie), fast-forward playback doesn't begin immediately when the FF button is pressed; instead, there is a brief pause, in which it seems like the DVR has to switch modes or something, before faster playback can begin. And then when faster playback does begin, it seems jerkier -- as if it's picking fewer key frames to display than the TiVo does. In other words, it doesn't look like 'normal' video sped up (as on the TiVo); instead it looks like it's showing a series of still frames pulled from the video stream.

That's a lot of words to describe something that amounts to a relatively minor annoyance, but there it is.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:51 PM   #17
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There is no need to get into a TiVo vs. DirecTV argument. The best one is the one YOU prefer. End of.

However, there are things both do better than the other. Apart from the above, the Genie (and other HRXX receivers) will handle the 3D channels and the THR22 will not, but the TiVo guide is far superior to the grid-type guide on the HRs.

It's possble to go on all day about which is best and there is no definitive answer. IMHO, I love the TiVo interface, but I make far more use of the Genie's features that would cause aggravation on the THR22.

Like I said, this is just my opinion based on 2.5 years of living with the THR and giving it up for a Genie a year ago.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:41 PM   #18
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Tony -- Given that you have a Genie, maybe you could answer John's question. How do you switch from tuner to tuner while watching live TV on the Genie?
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:02 PM   #19
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I haven't had a need to switch between more than two tuners at any one time, but you can do that by pressing 'Down' twice and then you can switch between the two by pressing 'down' each time. You can pause one and then the other. When you switch, it will automatically start again from the paused point, very similar to the same operation on a TiVo.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:18 PM   #20
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The tuner switch feature is called Double Play. Read about it here.
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