H25 vs. C31… which is best for you?

Let’s say you have an HR34 Genie DVR. Pretty soon, you’ll have a choice for how you want the other televisions in your house to connect. You can choose the H25 Receiver or the C31 Genie Client. (The H25 is here now, while the Genie Client is expected sometime around October 2012.)

Let’s take a look at your two choices and see if we can declare a winner.

Pausing Live TV

If you want true DVR function in every room, that means pausing live TV. It means whenever you want to, you can back up, get an instant replay or, if you start a program a few minutes in you can fast forward.

The H25 has no DVR functionality. If you want to pause, rewind, or fast forward what you’re watching, you need to set it to record first on another DVR. This is all well and good except for those “what was that” moments when you saw something you just had to see again. If you’re watching live, and the phone rings, you can try to quickly set up a recording, but you’ll probably miss the call.

On the other hand, the C31 Genie Client acts just like a DVR. You can always pause, rewind and fast forward live TV. It’s like having a big DVR right in front of you.

Advantage: C31 Genie Client

Connecting to older TV’s

HDMI has been standard on TVs for about 5 years, but those older TVs didn’t always have enough HDMI ports. What if you want to connect using component or composite?

H25 receivers have composite connections for standard definition, but neither of them can output component without an external cable like this one.The cable costs extra unless you get it from an installer, but then you have to pay for installation.

Advantage: H25, barely

Doing a lot of recording

If you do a lot of recording, you need a lot of tuners. The HR34 Genie can record five things at once, but only if those tuners are in use. Watching live TV on the Genie uses one tuner… if you use DoublePlay to watch two things at one time that uses two tuners.

Here’s where the difference really comes in. The C31 Genie Client doesn’t have a tuner of its own. It relies on the HR34 Genie DVR to supply all the video and audio. So, if you’re watching live TV on a Genie Client and on the Genie DVR, you can only record three things. Watch TV in a third room and you can record only two things.

On the other hand, the H25 receiver does have a tuner. That means that if you’re watching live TV on an H25 as well as on the Genie DVR, you can still record four things. Watch TV on another H25, you can still record four things. The number of H25s you use doesn’t make any difference to the number of recordings.

Advantage: H25

Searching and scheduling

This one’s a no brainer. The C31 Genie Client has the same smart search technology as the DVRs. It will also have the “Genie Recommends” feature so you can look through a list of things your DVR thoughtfully recorded for you. H25 does have some search capability but it is nowhere near as powerful.

The one advantage the H25 has is, if you have multiple DVRs you can schedule a program to record on any DVR right from the H25. You can’t do that with the C31 Genie Client.

Advantage: C31 Genie Client

Price

These boxes both cost the same so there’s nothing really to pick on here.

Advantage: (tie)

Speed and Performance

The H25 receiver is self-contained. It has everything it needs for live TV. That means it will work a little faster than the C31 Genie Client, which relies on the Genie DVR for everything but the basics. It’s not a really noticeable difference unless you are paging through screen after screen on the guide. Both should give you an acceptable level of speed.

Advantage: H25

Moving from room to room while watching

Here’s a killer feature that no other receiver has:

If you’re watching live TV on your Genie DVR, you can turn it off, go into another room, tune the C31 to the same channel you were watching, and still have the full buffer from the Genie DVR. This works about 90% of the time, and when it doesn’t work it’s usually because the Genie DVR is recording four other things or using the tuners for something else (like other Genie Clients). It takes about five minutes before you lose the live buffer, which is plenty of time to walk from room to room.

Big Advantage: C31 Genie Client

What about all the other stuff?

Here are a few things the H25 can do that the C31 Genie Client can’t:

  • H25s are currently wall mountable,while there is no mount yet for the C31. and so is the C31, now.
  • H25s are approved for commercial installations. C31s are not.
  • H25s have a few front panel buttons. C31s can’t be operated from the front panel.

Here are a few things the C31 Genie Client brings to the table:

  • C31s are expected to use less power, even though they both use the same power adapter.
  • C31s can browse the On-Demand and DIRECTV Cinema libraries and record programs.
  • C31s start up twice as fast as H25s after being unplugged.
  • C31s have a built-in RF antenna.

In conclusion

Let’s wrap this all up with a quick chart:

F E A T U R E H25 Receiver C31 Genie Client
Pause live TV without doing any extra steps X
Connect to an older television X (tie) X (tie)
Keep tuners free for recording lots of stuff X
Search for new things to watch X
$6 monthly fee
X (tie)
X (tie)
Browse through menus and guide quickly X
Move from room to room and keep the buffer X
Wall mount is available X
Use in commercial installations (bars/restaurants) X
Operate it from the front panel (no remote) X
Use less power (cost less to operate) X
DIRECTV Cinema / On Demand X
Genie Recommends (auto record suggestions) X
Fast startup after being unplugged X
Built-in RF Antenna X

In the end, both the H25 and Genie Client are good choices, but some people might find a “killer feature” with each one of them. If you pause live TV or like to move from room to room while watching live TV, C31 Genie Client is your best choice. If you do a lot of recording or spend a lot of time cruising the guide, H25 is better for you.