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· MythBuster
194 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
UPDATED: December 19, 2011

DirecTV HDTV HR10-250 TiVo -- April 21st, 2004

Back of HDTiVo

In April 2004, DirecTV launched the DirecTV HR10-250 DirecTV with TiVo with 250GB capacity offering ~30 hours of high definition, ~200 hours of standard definition recording, or any combination of the two. *Actual recording time will vary depending on the type of programming being recorded. [Press Release...]
[ Specifications Front ] [ Specifications Back ]

DirecTV HR10-250 TiVos contain 2 DirecTV SD/HD and Over-the-Air tuners (a total of 3 coax inputs) which can receive/record standard definition and MPEG-2 high definition programming from DirecTV as well as the unique capability to record local digital/HDTV broadcasts brought in by an antenna.

DirecTV HR10-250 TiVos were introduced with an MSRP of $999, and have been out-of-production for many years now as DirecTV switched to a leasing model in 2006. Sometimes these units can be found on eBay.

What is the future of the DirecTV HR10-250 TiVo?

The original DirecTV HR10-250 TiVo must now be viewed as a legacy device as it can only record and view the small amount of remaining MPEG-2 DirecTV programming. DirecTV now has over 100 national channels, plus the top ~50 local TV markets all presented in MPEG-4 HDTV which cannot be recorded on an HR10-250.

After the 2003 acquisition of DirecTV by Rupert Murdoch, DirecTV announced the dissolution of their partnership with TiVo and introduced their own competing DVRs developed by Murdoch's partner company NDS. The NDS-designed standard definition DirecTV DVR was released in October 2005 and the High Definition NDS DVR followed in 2006. In light of this news, TiVo invested heavily in CableCard-powered TiVos that work with all digital cable systems, as well as putting TiVo software on existing Comcast hardware. During this interim of five years, the DirecTV HR HDTV DVR models (which are not TiVo-powered) caught up with the functionality (if not the ease of user interface) of the TiVo platform.

In 2009, DirecTV renewed their partnership with TiVo and now, in 2011, have introduced a new combined TiVo® HD DirecTV product called the THR22-100. This new TiVo, which is running on the HR22-100 NDS hardware platform, became available to customers on December 8, 2011 in selected markets for $199 with 2 year contract, and is expected to go nationwide in 2012. The new unit lacks many of the new features introduced to the TiVo platform over the last 5 years including Home Media Sharing, Youtube, Netflix, Multi Room Viewing, etc.

What ports and cables does the DirecTV HR10-250 TiVo include?

DirecTV HR10-250 TiVo ports include two USB2.0 ports (reserved for future use), 1 Component (RGB) video output, 1 HDMI output, 1 S-Video output, 1 Composite video output, 1 Stereo audio output, 1 SPD/IF Optical output, and 1 Modem jack.

The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connector with High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is the only digital video output on the HD TiVo. High Definition component video is also offered. An HDMI cable is included, as is a DVI-to-HDMI adapter.

NOTE: HDTVs with HDMI or DVI ports that lack HDCP chips may blank out the picture through the HDMI port during certain PPV and sports programming at the broadcaster's discretion.

What output formats/resizing does this DirecTV HR10-250 TiVo support?

The DirecTV HR10-250 TiVo always displays programming at the selected output resolution. If the TiVo is set to output 1080i, then 720p shows (from ABC or ESPN) will be converted to 1080i prior to display. If you wish, and your HDTV does a better job natively displaying 720p, then you may change the output resolution to 720p when watching 720p material (there is, unfortunately, no on-screen indication of the source material's format).

Formats: You can change the output format the TiVo is using through a Setup menu or by simply pressing the UP arrow on the remote while watching a program. The output resolutions the TiVo will toggle between are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and all programs will then be converted to that format. There is no "native" mode where the output format is automatically switched to match the source material.

S-Video/Composite: DirecTV HR10-250 TiVos can only display a standard definition picture (over S-Video or Composite video outputs) if the TiVo is set to 480i display. DirecTV HD TiVos WILL NOT output a composite (S-Video/yellow RCA) signal simultaneously with an HD signal (Downconversion).

Stretching: DirecTV HR10-250 TiVos have Stretch Modes allowing you to display 16:9 or 4:3 material stretched to fit 16:9 Widescreen HDTVs or 4:3 digital TVs. There are no zoom/crop/justify (aka "coke bottle") modes.

Will the DirecTV HR10-250 TiVo support Home Media Option and Networking?

DirecTV HR10-250 TiVos run a variant of the same 3.1 software seen on the 2004 DirecTV standard definition TiVos. Neither version 4.0 of the software nor Home Media Option networked media features were ever released.

What hardware do I need from DirecTV?

Most DirecTV customers have a round dish with a single dual LNBF 'head'. This enables them to receive programming from DirecTV's main satellite positioned at the 101 degrees.

HDTV, Spanish, and Chinese programming all require an elliptical (oval) dish with at least 3 LNBF 'heads'. This adds the ability to receive programming from DirecTV's three MPEG-2 satellites at 101, 110, and 119 degrees. Older DirecTV elliptical dishes come with 2 LNBFs 'heads' (101 and 119) and a space in between. A 'Sat C Kit' will give your older dish the ability to see 110.

Phase III DirecTV elliptical dishes have the circuitry necessary to receive all 3 satellites sealed inside the 'arm' of the dish. DirecTV enthusiasts have also been known to use 3 separate round dishes, each pointed at 101, 110, and 119 degree positions!

You can also use the new 5LNB Ka/Ku 'superdish' from DirecTV with the HR10-250 HD TiVo, but you will not be able to record any high definition channels which are in MPEG-4 format (local-into-local channels and nearly the entire lineup of HDTV programming on DirecTV).

DirecTV HDTV programming at 110:
ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, Discovery HD, HDNet Movies, Showtime HD

DirecTV HDTV programming at 119:
HDNet, HBO HD, HD Pay-per-view

All elliptical dishes either have a 4x4 multiswitch bolted onto the back of the dish (101/119), or integrated into the arm of the dish (Phase III).

The FOUR wires that come out of the dish are all "switched" outputs which means that any of the 4 wires can see either side of any of the 3 satellites.

This is why you cannot use a splitter, because signal tones and voltages are sent up the wire FROM the DirecTV receiver TO the dish (or multiswitch) asking for the satellite feed they need to display the requested channel.

To take full advantage of a DirecTV with TiVo or DirecTV HD TiVo receiver/recorder, you must have TWO wires from the dish/multiswitch connected to them. Ordinary DirecTV receivers each require ONE wire from the dish/multiswitch.

All rooms wired for HD (future proof)
Using a cascading 4x8 multiswitch to provide 8 outputs which can see all 3 satellites (101/110/119).

What DirecTV HDTV packages are available?

DirecTV now offers well over 100 national HDTV channels, as well as HDTV local-into-local channels, all of which require either a DirecTV HR20, 21, 22 or other NDS-designed DVR (further discussion of these models can be found at DBSTalk.com) or the newly introduced DirecTV THR22 TiVo that supports the new MPEG-4 HDTV signals available from DirecTV.

The HR10-250 can only record MPEG-2 HDTV channels, including HBO HD, Showtime HD, ESPN HD, Discovery HD, HDNet, HDNet Movies, and NFL Sunday Ticket Superfan HDTV, NBA HDTV, Pay Per View, New York and Los Angeles versions of ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS, and finally Spice TV. These channels may transition to MPEG-4 at any time as bandwidth is needed on DirecTV satellites.

· MythBuster
194 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
UPDATED: January 3, 2012

What is HDTV?

High Definition TeleVision (HDTV) is the first major improvement to broadcast television since the introduction of color in the 1950's. HDTV is part of a larger broadcast standard referred to as ATSC (the American Television Systems Committee) which contains 18 different formats/qualities/resolutions.

What hardware do I need to watch Local channels in High Definition?

ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, WB, UPN, and Fox stations in all markets are now broadcasting digitally.

In order to receive digital local broadcasts in your home, you will need an antenna or receive them from your cable or satellite company. Antennas which can pickup HDTV signals range from rabbit ears to medium or large YAGI-type (arrow-shaped) antennas to medium or large grille-type antennas with bowtie shapes attached to them. If you are within 30 miles of a full-power digital transmitter, rabbit ears or a small grille-type antenna should provide acceptable reception.

A very useful website for determining what antenna you will need is AntennaWeb.org. By entering your ZIP code, you will find out which stations are with ~100 miles of you, sorted by proximity and labeled with the strength of antenna you will need.

It is beyond the scope of this document to provide a complete list of recommended antennas, but you should consider:
  • Zenith Silver Sensor (rabbit ears with surprising reception ability)
  • Radio Shack grille/bowtie-type (aka the Objet d'Art)
  • Square Shooter wafer-style pole-mounted antennas
  • Channel Master YAGIs available from 80 to 150 inches and beyond
  • Channel Master grille-type antennas such as the 4228
  • Televes antennas (various types)
  • Winegard antennas (various types)
and seriously avoid:
  • Terk antennas especially their dish clip-on type and Terk TV55 HDTV antenna.
  • Jensen antennas (various types)
These antennas have yielded worse performance than a $10 pair of rabbit ears.

What kind of HDTV reception can I get where I live?

Please visit the AVS HDTV Local Reception Forum.

What are the different HDTV formats? What's the difference between 720p and 1080i?

The 4 most commonly encountered digital TV formats in the US are 480i, which approximates standard (NTSC) TV, 480p, which is a DVD-like format with the same resolution (720x480) and aspect (16:9) as DVD, 720p (used by ABC, Fox, and ESPN), and 1080i (used by everyone else). More details:

1080i aka 'High Definition'
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution (16:9 ratio)
  • ~4 times NTSC quality
  • 30 frames per second (interlaced)
  • Used by NBC, CBS, PBS, CW, HBO, Showtime, Starz, HDNet, Discovery, etc.
720p aka 'High Definition'
  • 1280 x 720 progressive (16:9 ratio)
  • ~4 times NTSC quality
  • 60 frames per second (progressive)
  • Used by ABC, Disney, ESPN, and Fox
480p aka 'Enhanced Definition' or EDTV
  • 704 x 480 progressive (16:9 ratio)
  • DVD resolution
  • ~2 times NTSC quality
  • 60 frames per second (progressive)
480i aka 'Standard Definition' or SDTV
  • 720 x 480 interlaced (4:3 ratio)
  • NTSC quality
  • 30 frames per second (interlaced)
  • NTSC (standard definition)

ATSC streams (which may include one or more subchannels in 1080i, 720p, 480p, or 480i qualities) use a total of 6MHz or 26.2Mbps of bandwidth. An HDTV resolution picture (either 1080i or 720p) require 6 times the bandwidth of a Standard Definition channel. Many content providers such as DirecTV and local affiliates of broadcast networks re-compress HDTV signals, sometimes to conserve bandwidth, sometimes to make room for a Standard Definition subchannel. This has created a lot of controversy which we will not go into here.

What sound quality improvement does digital TV bring?

ATSC/HDTV also includes significant improvements in sound transmission standards. 1080i, 720p, and 480p all specify Dolby Digital (AC-3) as the official standard for broadcast audio. The Dolby Digital soundtrack included in each broadcast may contain anywhere from 1 to 6 channels of surround sound digital audio which can be heard by connecting an Optical cable to a home theater system. Stereo downconversion is available on all HDTV-receiving equipment as well, through the standard RCA connections.

What HDTV programming is available?

Virtually all modern programming in America is now available in High Definition, from scripted dramas and comedies, to movies, to sports, soap operas and other daytime programming, to local news broadcasts, and other programming. For the most part, all nationally broadcast programming is now presented in High Definition, and even a growing amount of local programming as well.

HBO, Showtime, ESPN, and Discovery were some of the first national variety HDTV channels, but now a huge selection of HD channels exist including staples such as TNT, USA, TBS, etc.

HDNet was the first full-time HD channel, offering World News (the only regular international news broadcast available in the USA in HDTV), various syndicated HDTV shows, movies, and sports (HDNet provided NBC with HD coverage of the 2002 Olympics) from Fox SportsNet, The NHL on HDNet, CBC Hockey Night In Canada, and has also co-produced basketball with NBC.

More details about HDTV programming can be found at the TiVo Community's sister site, the AVS HDTV Forum.

Does the Broadcast Flag mean I will see a poor/downrezzed picture on my older HDTV?

The broadcast flag could, in theory, allow a content provider to tell the HDTiVo to play back a broadcast at 480p instead of the 720p or 1080i quality that it was broadcast with. To date, broadcasters have promised not to use the flag except for premium programming such as PPV. With the prevalence of HDCP-compatible televisions, this is a shrinking concern.

"The most important thing in the FCC's broadcast flag rules is that the broadcast flag cannot be used to prevent recording. That is not the intent of the broadcast flag, and even the MPAA in its comments filed to the FCC agreed that it should not restrict consumers from recording or copying for personal use. For that matter, the FCC doesn't have the authority to mandate something that overrides copyright law which allows us to record and copy for personal use.

The FCC rules do not require devices to reduce the resolution of flagged HD material when it is output in analog form. (The FCC did not take any action to close the "analog hole".) However, devices will be required to reduce the resolution of flagged HD material when it is output in digital form over a signal path that is not secure. The HDTiVo's HDMI connection has the HDCP encryption, so the rule isn't applicable.

The FCC rules also spell out how recorders are to comply with the broadcast flag. First, recorders have to preserve the flag. If the flag is there when it's recorded then it has to be there when it's played back. Second, recorders have to encrypt the stored content using an approved method so it can't be used elsewhere, except by other compliant products."
-- Wayne Bundrick

"The broadcast flag prevents flagged content from being passed via unprotected digital outputs (unprotected Firewire or DVI). Digital output must be protected by 'approved' mechanisms ... namely 5C(DTCP, HDCP, CPRM, D-VHS) approved protections.

The only affect the broadcast flag could have on the HDTivo is that the DVI connection may require use of a DVI/HDCP compliant connection.

All that being said, there are additional copy restrictions (copy never, copy once, etc.) that can be applied above and beyond the broadcast flag by DirecTV (or any MSO). The FCC has issued guidelines on what types of restrictions can be imposed based on the content type (Broadcast, Subscription Channels, Premium Channels, PPV, VOD, etc). In the most restrictive case, premium content (like PPV) can be marked as 'copy never'. Even when content is marked as 'copy never', it is still allowed to be buffered/paused by a PVR for up to 90 minutes."
-- dt_dc

All TV programs must be broadcast in HDTV as of the national switchoff in February 2009, right?

Broadcasting programming in HDTV is not a requirement.

There is a Federally mandated requirement that all TV stations be broadcasting digital television by the end of 2003. Many stations applied for hardship waivers and other such requests for additional time to make this transition. But there was no requirement that this programming be High Definition (or any other format for that matter). Some stations use their digital transmitter to simulcast as many as 5 standard definition channels.

There was a Federally mandated requirement that all TV stations switch off their analog transmitter in 2009. This only affected TVs which received all of their programming over-the-air from 'rabbit ears'. A variety of subsidized converter boxes were made available for free to the public through a mail-in waiver program.

· Tivo Veteran
2 Posts
I would add a note that to use the HDMI output with a DVI converter, your DVI input will also have to be HDCP-compliant.

· CreaTiVoty!
229 Posts
Thanks, Feldon - good to see you back contributing so significantly.

Your FAQ is truly a beautiful piece of work! HD deserves this attention, as I'm sure the forthcoming HDDVR will be a huge success! I've got a Panasonic PT-47WX53 and love the HD format. Adding TiVo to it will be more than the icing on the cake.

· Also wants a pony
175 Posts
I thought the rumored Samsung box (rumored $899) was supposed to have more capacity than the Hughes (rumored $699) unit? The original rumor post over on AVSforum said both on March 1st, and tagged the Hughes with a "lower recording capacity". And we know from the press release that the Hughes has 250GB, but not the price...

I'm hoping the Samsung unit is real, and assuming the rumored prices are correct, they could put a 2nd 250GB drive in that one. Especially if they used Samsung drives... (yo, Fred, pass me another pallet of drives, will ya!)


· MythBuster
194 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The press release from DirecTV says that the Hughes box will have a 250GB hard drive. I find it hard to believe that you get 250GB for $699.

If so, at $899 the Samsung will have, what, 500GB?!?

· Advanced Driver
6 Posts
Well done Feldon.

I'm just slightly confused about the bit about the ATSC 480i standard which you say is "Not used in broadcast". You then say that some transmitting stations are simulcasting as many as 5 standard definition digital channels. Aren't these using 480i?

· Also wants a pony
175 Posts
Originally posted by feldon23
The press release from DirecTV says that the Hughes box will have a 250GB hard drive. I find it hard to believe that you get 250GB for $699.

If so, at $899 the Samsung will have, what, 500GB?!?
Agreed, $699 sounds too cheap for the initial launch price. Although as we both know, the "cost" of a DirecTV receiver and it's "price" have very little to do with each other... I don't think they need to subsidize the box, at least at first. So to me, the $699 price is the least believable part of that rumor post. But whatever the price of the Hughes box, Samsung could certainly add a second 250GB drive for a $200 SRP bump. They'd even have a few bucks of margin left :D. (Seriously, the cost of the 250GB drives has come down quite a bit, I'd guess in volume, from your own disk division, they should be ~$120 or so).

Even if was $300 more than the Hughes, if it has 500GB, I'll still buy it.

But look at the PVR921 at $999. If Hughes prices their box at $699-799, that's a steal given the added functionality! (and yes, I know, but there's no firewire - sorry, doesn't bother me *this year*).


· Registered
1,581 Posts
DirecTV HD TiVos have a switch on the front of the unit allowing you to control the output format being sent over the Component outputs to suit the capabilities of your HDTV. This setting cannot be changed with the remote control
The people who have seen the demo / beta units seem to say that the second sentence here is untrue, you can change output format by remote. Can anyone confirm this? It would be highly annoying if you couldn't.
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