|DirecTV HR10-250 HD DVR|
|Home Theater Media Servers Satellite & Cable Receivers/PVRs/DVRs/TiVo|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Monday, 01 November 2004|
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Putting the DirecTV HR10-250 to the Test
I purchased my DirecTV HR10-250 to replace my trusty Sony Sat-T60 (non-HD) TiVo and my Sony HD200 HDTV receiver. I couldn’t have been happier to get rid of my Sony HD200. While more physically quiet than my Sony HD100, it was a poor performer. More often than not, it would flash error messages along the lines of “searching for signal,” meaning I was out of business if I wanted to watch HDTV. In both my former high-rise condo (with a clear shot to the HD antenna on Mt. Wilson), as well as at my current home (complete with a HUGE terrestrial antenna on the top of a 280-foot hill), I have never been able to receive Fox in HD. The minute I hooked up my DirecTV HR10-250, the Fox HD feed came in clearly. This means more NFL football in HDTV, which immediately justified the cost of the DirecTV HR10-250.
Having dumped my old TiVo, I needed to spend some time programming my unit for the season passes I wanted. Amazingly, it only took 20 minutes or so to book all of the shows I wanted to watch. I set up a pass for “The Simpsons,” but only wanted to record “first run” broadcasts, a simple option. I set up a Season Pass using keywords to record the Philadelphia Eagles and my USC Trojan football teams. One important point to note when recording sporting events – I highly recommend that you program the stop time to be significantly longer than actual end of the game, at least 30 minutes to one hour. This allows for overtime or, as I have seen (and been REALLY frustrated by), a network cutting the climatic ending of your game off.
One of the really cool things the DirecTV HR10-250 does is integrate HD programming with traditional NTSC programming. With the help of some cool presets on my AMX touch screen remote, gone was the need to type those clunky “7.1” or “4.1” codes in for the HD versions of ABC or NBC in the Los Angeles market. With my old system, there were so many times when I didn’t get what I want that I often felt that channel surfing simply wasn’t worth it in HDTV. With the DirecTV HR10-250, it is so much easier to channel surf in HDTV that you will definitely find yourself wanting to watch and record more shows.
I watch an entire Eagles-Lions game in HDTV on the DirecTV HR10-250, which allowed me to flip from live to recorded HDTV. I found the broadcast to be less than desirable by HD standards, because on all receivers, there were squiggly lines visible in the end zone, especially near where the Lions team logos were painted. The good news was that I was hard-pressed to tell the difference between live and Memorex when backing up the DirecTV HR10-250 and to watch plays I’d just seen live.
One of the things I love about the D-ILA projector technology vs. DLP is D-ILA’s superior color saturation. With the DirecTV HR10-250 in my system, I definitely noticed even better color saturation than with my old Sony HD-200. The picture looked more alive and vivid in terms of color. On close-ups, details looked less pixilated. Upon comparing the details to the recorded version of the programming, you might be able to see some compression or loss, but it is so slight compared to the other advantages of the DirecTV HR10-250 vs. my old rig that it is hard to pick fault with it. I loved my old Sony Sat-T60, but the effects of the compression of the video were really obvious in both picture and in sound. I lived with it because the TiVo interface was fantastic, allowing me to easily control what I was able to record. The DirecTV HR10-250 takes recording shows, especially HDTV, to an entirely different level. Gone is the bullhorn-like compression on the audio. Gone is the often snowy picture. While my Sat-T60 owes me nothing for years of trusty service, I’ve got to say that I am glad to have ESPN’s Sportcenter recorded every night in HD, waiting for me when I come home. Also, it is quite nice to have enough hard drive space for 250 hours of NTSC programming or 35 hours of HD programming. This is much more than the 35 hours I have on the other TiVos in my house. I have yet to even come close to filling my DirecTV HR10-250 with shows.
Some HDTV channels simply look better in HD than others. Mark Cuban’s HDNet channels look fantastic, especially when he has live sports on. “American Chopper” on Discovery HD Theater (another one of the best channels in HD) was a striking demo. These gear-heads build custom choppers that have lots of vivid colors and polished chrome. The sheen and reflection of the chrome on the chopper they were working on was something to behold. The three-dimensionality of the picture was captivating in a way than made HDTV seem new all over again.