The history of DIRECTV DVRs, part 3: The Genie is out of the bottle

By 2010, DIRECTV had a pretty good idea what it was doing with DVRs. In order to understand what happens next, you have to go almost back to the beginning.

In 2006, DIRECTV was working furiously to finish its HR20 DVR, but they already had an idea where they wanted to go. A top-secret project started to develop a new kind of DVR for high-end customers, with up to four tuners and the ability to share programs between the DVR and other receivers. The HMC20 project was too expensive to continue at the time, but many people within DIRECTV liked the idea. They counted the days until they could create an affordable home media center DVR.

Rumors of the new HMC30 Home Media Center started flying by 2010, and one YouTuber even saw the prototype HMC30 and C30 on a show stand in Amsterdam. The HMC was designed as a standalone product that worked with its own clients; to save money it would not be compatible with existing DIRECTV DVRs.

2012: HR34

No one saw or heard much of the HMC30 until very late in 2011 when DIRECTV unexpectedly showed a new Super DVR that incorporated the best of the HMC30 concept and added full compatibility with older DVRs and receivers as well as its own miniature client. This proved to be the DVR worth waiting for — with five tuners and a one terabyte hard drive it put older DVRs to shame. It could feed three clients or receivers with programming at one time and was the first DIRECTV DVR since the original Ultimate TV with picture-in-picture.

2013: HR44 Genie

The HR34 was a gigantic hit. Some customers complained that it wasn’t very fast, and it was clearly the largest DVR DIRECTV had produced up to that time. It also looked a lot like the 2010-era HR24, and that meant it looked a little dated to some enthusiasts.

After a long wait for the HR34, the DIRECTV faithful were utterly surprised in January 2013 when DIRECTV showed the HR44 Genie, a new generation based on the HR34 hardware but faster, smaller and quieter. Where HR34 was the largest DVR ever, HR44 Genie is the smallest.

Luckily for HR34 users all of the new-generation features that came with HR44 Genie also ported back to HR34. Advanced suggestions, improved on demand, smarter search, and Genie Recommends, a feature that automatically records content based on customer viewing patterns.

Just one more TiVo…
Even though DIRECTV stopped offering TiVo DVRs in 2007 in favor of its own DVRs, a patent-sharing agreement with TiVo gave them the right to produce their own DVRs for DIRECTV. It was three long years between the 2008 announcement and the coming of the THR22, based on DIRECTV’s HR22. Sadly, the TiVo enthusiasm had cooled by then and the THR22 was poorly received due to its lack of modern features like multi-room viewing.

Yes, the fifteen-year history of DIRECTV DVRs has had some twists and turns, but what we’re seeing now is a really world-class product… so world class that DIRECTV’s US-designed DVRs are now used throughout Latin America.

It’s been a lot of great years for DIRECTV… can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

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.