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DirecTV HR10-250 HD DVR Print E-mail
Monday, 01 November 2004
Article Index
DirecTV HR10-250 HD DVR
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The Downside
The DirecTV HR10-250 has a number of shortcomings despite its performance and convenience advantages. No RS232 port makes controlling the DirecTV HR10-250 with a Crestron or AMX harder. You will need to stick an IR sensor on the front of the unit, but the industrial design of the unit is concave in that area. This means the sticky section of the IR emitter won’t stick. My solution is an ugly one and requires a bit of blue painter’s tape. I will need to glue my on but will do that with reservations.

At $1,000, the DirecTV HR10-250 cost a healthy fraction of what an entry-level rear-projection HDTV set costs. For many, this will not be a deterrent – it wasn’t for me. However, when I opened the box and unpacked my DirecTV HR10-250, I found that it was built really poorly. The machining of the metal work was shoddy at best. On a brand new component, there were discolorations and the unit felt cheap overall. I don’t expect a DirecTV HR10-250 to be built to the insane standards of the new, more expensive Classe’ products, but I also don’t expect the unit to look stained and feel flimsy.

The remote is basically the same kind that you get with the $99 DirecTV DVR that you can order directly from the satellite provider. While it is shaped to fit your hand, it is not clear which way is up (or down) by touch alone. Additionally, the remote is not backlit. Yes, you can memorize the remote, but not everyone is up for that challenge. I would rate the remote at best a three out of 10. My remote is relegated to my remote drawer, thankfully because I control my system with my AMX touch screen remote. However, not everyone is going to have a big remote system to control their DirecTV HR10-250.

While there is a USB port on the unit, there is no Ethernet connection. On my calls to DirecTV, I tried to get them to explain to me how I can access my DirecTV HR10-250 on the Internet for remote TiVo programming from my office. I actually have extra spaces on the router in my AV rack for just this kind of geeking around, but DirecTV couldn’t help me. Nor could their website. It has been suggested to me that programming your DirecTV HR10-250 is possible from the Internet. However, it requires an adaptor and finding the specific IP address. Without tech support, I gave up, but at $1,000, I think this is a reasonable feature to expect on the DirecTV HR10-250.

I may be in the minority, but I still have a 4:3 screen. My Sony Sat-T60 was able to fill the screen fully, considering it is an NTSC product. The DirecTV HR10-250 can only present a 16:9 picture, even when the programming is native 4:3. You might ask, what kind of idiot would be buying an HD TiVo when he has a 4:3 screen? I would answer – me. The DirecTV HR10-250 allows you to stretch the picture out with a limited number of zoom options. It is acceptable, but for programming like CNN or ESPN news that use tickers at the top or bottom of the screen, you might find yourself watching roughly a 40-inch picture on your 100-inch 4:3 screen. Another solution might be to get a new screen, but for me, that requires drywall work and modifications to custom cabinetry. I am likely to do it anyway.

The fact that the DirecTV HR10-250 doesn’t fill an entire rack width makes it important for those who are touchy about the look of their rack to get a custom rack shelf, complete with a face plate that makes the DirecTV HR10-250 look like it belongs with the big boy toys installed in your AV rack.

At long last, you can record your HDTV programming on DirecTV. The terrestrial tuner is the best I have seen to date. The integration of terrestrial HD and satellite is fantastic as well. The TiVo service is worth fighting (and paying) for on the DirecTV HR10-250. The unit allows you ample room to record both NTSC and HDTV shows, as well as a topnotch interface that anyone can successfully use.

The statistics from our reader poll says it all – only five percent of Audio Video Revolution readers have any form of DVR, yet 28 percent say they are on the verge of buying one that can record HDTV soon. The DirecTV HR10-250, because of its ease of use, picture quality and spectacular interface, should be at the top of anyone’s list heading to the store looking for the best in HDTV. You might argue that no HDTV is complete without one.

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