Folks, DIRECTV NOW has rolled out its 2.0 upgrade to Roku users. This update adds DVR service and brings the Roku experience up to match the iOS and Android experiences.
As with the other platforms, you get 20 hours of DVR service for free. Recordings generally stay available for 30 days. For an additional $10 per month, you can increase that to 100 hours and 90 day availability. There’s also a lightly refreshed user interface identical to the AppleTV experience.
Version 2.0.0 has a bug that’s manifested in certain Roku devices. Roku Express and some TCL Roku TVs will experience a fairly noticeable increase in load times. I had the opportunity to test this on a TCL Roku TV and I’m here to tell you, they’re right.
On the previous app, load time from the main menu was about 18 seconds.
On the new app, load time from the main menu has increased to 54 seconds.
It did seem to me that the app worked normally with minimal speed difference once it loads, but sitting there and wondering if it’s going to work for nearly a minute is not something you’re going to feel comfortable with unless you have been told to expect it.
I didn’t get a chance to test the Roku Express experience but having had that device in the past, it’s pretty slow all the time so I would probably not have thought twice about a 1-minute load time for any app.
What can you do?
AT&T’s engineers are working on a fix. While I don’t know exactly what causes the issue, I have a theory that the app is trying to update itself every time it opens and that causes the slow load. It’s only a theory and my AT&T friends are staying tight-lipped on it. Their official channel’s spokespeople have said they will have a way to address it shortly with a “special offer.” I don’t know if that’s going to be some sort of hardware solution such as getting another device at a discount rate. It could just be some sort of workaround. They’ve also committed to fixing the issue so another option is just to be patient and wait for the fix.
Is this a big deal?
Personally, I would say it is not. The TCL TV has one of the fastest start times of any budget TV so the net time to turn it on and start watching DIRECTV NOW is still pretty competitive even with waiting nearly a minute to get started. As I said the actual experience once you’re in the app is pretty good too so this is not something that should annoy you more than once a day. It might discourage you bopping from app to app but then I have to say with the low-end Rokus this has always been a slow and tedious process anyway.
If this really bothers you in the short term you could wait to see what the “special offer” is going to be or you can just get something like a Fire TV stick for now. Keep the DIRECTV NOW app open in it all the time and you won’t see any issues. Just switch from device to device if you want to continue using the Roku experience as well, or migrate everything over to the new device for a little while if you want.
Or, as I’ve said before, just sit and be patient for a minute. In today’s go-go world it’s going to seem like a long time but really, it isn’t.