I get this question about once a week. Here’s a typical one:
I’m thinking about pulling the trigger on a new Genie 2 but I don’t want to be left out if the Genie 3 is coming out soon. Do you have any information on the Genie 3 system?
It seems like it’s time for some honest talk there.
About DIRECTV’s Genie system
The Genie system from DIRECTV and AT&T has been the default install for new customers since 2012. It’s actually on its fourth generation, even though the current version is called “Genie 2.”
Generation 1: HR34 / C31
The original HR34 Genie was revolutionary for its time, to be sure. With five recording tuners and the ability to support three clients, it was a big hit with new customers. However, the HR34 hardware itself was a little overtaxed even on the day it was released. It tended to slow down with even moderate use.
Although this picture doesn’t show it very well, the C31 client is much smaller than the HR34. From day one, the DIRECTV Genie client has been about 4″ x 6″ in size and perfectly quiet. This device was made for bedrooms and is perfect for that kind of environment. The C31 differs from all Genie clients after it because it uses the old DIRECTV remote, not the Genie remote.
Generation 2: HR44 / C41
DIRECTV’s HR44 DVR was shown only one year after the HR34 debuted. As DIRECTV’s smallest DVR to date, it brought sleek performance to the Genie system. It also was the first DIRECTV DVR to support recording of 4K content, although like all Genie DVRs it required a client to show 4K content.
The C41 Genie client was identical to the C31 except that it uses the Genie remote. This remote has proven very popular due to its ease of programming and comfort in the hand. The C41 is still in use today. All HD Genie clients, models C41, C51, and C61 are functionally identical.
Wireless capabilities also came to the Genie system with the C41W client. The C41W and the later C61W are functionally the same.
Generation 3: HR54 / C61K
The HR54 is a streamlined version of the HR44. It has the new branding and no front panel buttons other than power. With 7 internal tuners, it can still record 5 things but does allow for the recording of HDR content in 4K.
There is a new-version HR54 which uses a pebbled front panel instead of a smooth one. This is a photo found on the internet:
This new HR54 acts just like the older versions. Other than the outer casing and the physical button for power, there’s no difference.
The C61K 4K client is the standard for wired clients now for customers who want 4K. To date there is not a wireless 4K client.
Generation 4: HS17 Genie 2
The Genie 2 represents a big change for DIRECTV. This one box acts as a power supply for the dish, wireless adapter for clients, Wi-Fi network adapter for on-demand, and DVR. As a DVR it offers the ability to record 7 things at once and supports 5 clients at once including 2 4K streams. All the Genie clients ever made are supported by the Genie 2.
Unlike older Genies, the Genie 2 doesn’t have a video output and doesn’t connect to a TV. The clients are used for TV viewing.
But what about the next generation “Genie 3?”
Folks, I can tell you that as I write this there is no Genie 3. AT&T is still making HR54s and Genie 2s. Unlike older receivers, there isn’t a lot of refurbishing needed and most people are getting brand new hardware when they get an install.
Now you can easily say that in the “tuner race” DISH’s Hopper 3 beats Genie 2. After all, Hopper 3 has 16 tuners and supports up to 8 clients. I’m not going to deny that. I will simply say that for most people, that’s kind of overkill. Personally I can’t recall the last time I recorded 6 things at the same time, let alone 16. Your choice of hardware and service is up to you, but if you’re a DIRECTV fan, you shouldn’t feel bad about having “only” 4 tuners. Also, remember that with an HR54 system you can add as many HR24 DVRs as you want, making a 16-tuner DIRECTV system an easy reality.
But the bottom line here is that there isn’t really a demand for any more advanced hardware. It basically boils down to bragging rights at this point. Both DIRECTV and DISH seem to have settled on their current devices, and it’s not likely those are going to change any time soon.
“Oh, this means both companies are going out of business, or merging, or …”
I hear this rumor all the time and honestly it’s nothing more than that. The fact that both companies are using economies of scale means that they’re smart. It doesn’t mean anything else. I’m not saying I know what the future will bring, but I can tell you that as I write this… no one is going out of business. No one is shutting anything down. No one is merging with anyone.
Stick to the facts. The current generation Genies are pretty great. Everything else… that’s for another article.