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DirecTV HR21 HD DVR Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 April 2008
Article Index
Page 2
Page 3

The Downside
The fact the remote control for the DirecTV HR21 isn’t backlit goes to show you that the engineers who made this remote have no clue. Most people watch TV in a darkened or totally blackened room. How can you navigate all of the buttons without being able to at least catch a peek at them? DirecTV either thinks you should turn the lights up every time you want to perform a function, or that every user is some sort of gamer who can remember what every button does. In my case, I couldn’t and ended up having to use two different Crestron remotes to get the functionality I wanted from my DVR in a reasonably dark setting. This is an inexcusable mistake on the part of DirecTV.

When surfing channels and toggling between HD and SD channels, the volume differences are not slight. The standard-definition channels are always louder, so much so that they can wake up someone sleeping next to you if you are catching the end of that last show before bed. An audio compression function option would be a nice addition to help alleviate this issue.

While not a function of the DirecTV HR21 itself as a component, the award-winning customer service at DirecTV is truly poor. I am not saying your cable provider is better, but I am setting your expectations that any so-called tech person will have only one trick up his or her sleeve to help you get a broken or malfunctioning unit back up to speed – that trick is the unit restart. If you are reading, we have to assume that, before you endure the mental punishment of speaking to any such people reading from a script, you have already tried unplugging the unit two or three times before you call for help.

While fixed on the soon-to-be-released HR21 Pro unit, this unit doesn’t have RS232 control other than by way of the USB port. My installer used an adapter from IOGear that takes USB to serial in my main theater and it has been working perfectly in the big room. To ignore a standard like RS232 is a slap in the face of the install community, even if it is better than the IR emitters of the past.

I have more than once had a nightmare in which I worked for a company and they made me use a PC at my desk. The results were nothing short of a mess and I woke up in a cold sweat, went downstairs and gave my Apple G5 a hug, then curled back into bed. Switching away from TiVo to DirecTV HR21 wasn’t that bad, but it had its trials and tribulations that left the transition far from smooth.

In the end, it’s the HD channels I need and the only way to get them at this stage is to run the DirecTV HR21. TiVo is for cable only and I am not willing to switch yet. I have learned most of the functionality of the DVR and can make it do 90-plus percent of what my old HD TiVo could do, as well as a few tricks like the 30-second skip that my TiVo couldn’t. If you want the most HD channels currently on the market with an upgraded image, you have no choice but to get into a DirecTV HR21.

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