The day the GenieGO died

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to remember the fifth anniversary of the passing of GenieGO. In that time, its place in this world has been nearly forgotten. I suspect that of our readers, perhaps one or two even have fond memories of its potential. The world has moved on, and we are all better for it. But let’s take a moment to remember the road not taken.

Flash back ten years ago

Let’s think for a moment about the world we knew in 2011. If you had a phone with a data plan, it was probably pretty new to you. Getting speeds faster than 5 megabits per second on your cellular connection was rare. Not only that, typical cell data plans allowed you 400 megabytes a month. That’s barely enough to watch two movies in standard definition. This was a time when data was still a novelty unless you were sitting at home on a computer.

Into this world was born a product called Nomad.

This was Nomad.

Oops, sorry. Wrong Nomad. I mean, this was Nomad.

Nomad was a nondescript, anonymous little box. It had one purpose in life. It took recordings from your DIRECTV DVR and changed them into a format you could carry around on your phone. In this way, you could watch stuff on your phone without using a data plan.

Of course, it wasn’t perfect.

The big issue with Nomad was time. It took a ton of time to do this work, using the processing power available back then. And, it was a two-step process. The first step took about one minute for one minute of video. In other words, if you wanted to prepare a two-hour movie to go on your phone, it took… two hours. And that wasn’t it. After that you had to connect to the device using your phone and download it. This took about 10 minutes for a two-hour movie, which despite reviews at the time, was not “very fast.”

Later iterations sped up the process of preparing video and even later, the same capability was built into Genies so that you didn’t need an extra box. But, it still wasn’t seamless, not by a long shot.

Nomad was rebranded as GenieGO just a year or so after launch, but it didn’t matter. The product just didn’t have appeal. Folks didn’t want to spend the time, and the experience just wasn’t that good. Video quality was poor even on a phone, and it was very hard to skip commercials.

When Nomad, GenieGO, and its associated technologies were phased out, few people even remembered they existed.

A product ahead of its time

Today, what Nomad did is just par for the course. You can stream programs from the DIRECTV app. You can download programs to your phone or tablet. And, most streaming apps also let you download programs as well. The idea was a good one, but the limits of early ’10s technology didn’t let it reach its full potential.

Ten years later, we live in a world of unlimited data plans and speeds that let us download 4K videos at 10 times actual speed or more. We’re less obsessed with carrying our content with us, because pulling it out of the air is just so easy now. In 2021, no one is going to wait two and a half hours to download a standard-definition movie to our phones. But in 2011, for one moment in time, it was the coolest thing ever. Don’t believe me? Check out this review I created back then. I won’t apologize for the design; it was considered trendy at the time.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.