Your choice: Genie or 3 HR24s?

Say you had a choice… Let’s say that you knew that recording five things at the same time was important to you. Say you were already an existing DIRECTV customer, and so none of the new customer promotions applied. You would be faced with a choice: Get one Genie DVR, or get three HR24 DVRs. Which would be better for you?

Cost
The Genie DVR takes an early lead here. It costs more than one HR24, but a lot less than three. Now, it’s true that every receiver after the first one has a $6 mirroring fee, so if you were hooking all these DVRs to a single TV that price differential would eventually even out. However, it’s more likely that these extra boxes would be distributed around your home, taking the place of other receivers. So, in this case the Genie wins quite easily.

Advantage: Genie

Capacity
The HR34 Genie has a sizable 1TB DVR that can record up to 200 hours of HD. This number varies depending on the actual programming, since DIRECTV programs, even HD programs, are not all the same quality. However, each HR24 DVR has a 500GB drive that can record roughly 100 hours of HD. That means that you have 50% more recording capacity with three HR24 DVRs.

Advantage: HR24s

Tuners
The Genie gives you five tuners all in one place. This is really nice for managing recordings since conflicts hardly ever happen, even when you’re watching live TV. However, three HR24s give you six tuners. The problem is managing them. Each DVR has only two tuners and there really isn’t a master “to do list.” If you want to watch live TV and both tuners on that DVR are being used, it’s difficult to move a scheduled recording from DVR to DVR. If you are using them all on one TV, you could try to keep one HR24 set up so it always had one tuner free for live TV. If they are all on different TVs you’ll find yourself walking around the house trying to figure things out.

Advantage: tie

Speed
If you find yourself bopping around the menu system a lot, you’ll appreciate the extra speed of the HR24. Both DVRs are acceptably fast most of the time but there’s definitely a spring in the HR24’s step that isn’t there in the HR34. If you’re accessing remote recordings, that advantage goes away, and with the Genie, you won’t have to access remote recordings because they are all stored on the same DVR.

Advantage: HR24s

Sound
No question that if you are sitting in front of the DVR with the television off, the Genie is louder. It has a larger fan and the hard drive is a tad noisier. Neither one can be heard over the TV when it’s on, but if you’re thinking of using one of these devices in a bedroom, you need to know that there’s a chance the HR34 Genie will keep you up at night where the HR24 might let you sleep. On the other hand, the Genie clients are totally silent.

Advantage: tie

Capabilities
Because the Genie is DIRECTV’s latest, it has a few bells and whistles you won’t find in the earlier HR24. Only Genie has Genie Recommends, which automatically records suggested programs and stores them without using taking up any of your recording space. Only Genie has picture-in-picture. Otherwise, the two devices are fairly well matched. Also, Genie lets you use the C31 Genie Client to add full DVR functionality in another room with a small, quiet device. If you don’t have a Genie DVR, you can’t use the Genie Client.

If you are still using a “legacy” (non-SWM) DIRECTV system you need to know that the HR34 Genie will only work with a SWM system. Still, as the SWM systems become more and more popular, that’s less and less of a consideration.

Advantage: Genie

Redundancy
Here is the Genie DVR’s Achilles’ heel. Many people use multiple DVRs to make sure that nothing is lost in case of a hardware failure. Hard drives wear out, power supplies burn out… these are facts of life. Recording the same programs on two DVRs makes it more likely that you won’t lose anything. The Genie DVR puts everything on one hard drive in one box. That makes some people a little nervous.

Advantage: HR24s

The Bottom Line
It’s really hard to go wrong no matter which way you go. If you keep in mind that these devices hardly ever break down, and especially if you use a DVR to record things you’re likely to watch in the next several weeks, it’s hard to beat the convenience and price savings that come with the Genie DVR. However, if you’re a “DVR Packrat,” more than one DVR will make you feel more comfortable.