Solid Signal Fall 2012 Buyers Guide

Does your DIRECTV receiver seem like a dinosaur? If it’s been a while since you looked at new satellite equipment, it’s time to look again. Even if it’s only been 5 years since you looked at your system, you will be surprised at the upgrades you can get. You may have been scared off by reports of flaky equipment, but DIRECTV boxes are rock solid these days, and they do tricks your old receivers never dreamt of.

Sales pitch aside, there are some things you need to know:

Non-APG receivers will not work in the near future. If you have a DIRECTV box from RCA, Sony, Philips, or Hughes, or if your DIRECTV box doesn’t have an access card, it will not work with DIRECTV service in the very near future. These older receivers rely on obsolete systems to keep them working and DIRECTV has been using the new system for about 8 years. Any receiver older than that should be responsibly recycled.

First-generation HD receivers are obsolete. If you bought a DIRECTV HR10 DVR or an RCA or Sony HD receiver, you probably know that all the national HD channels will not work with it. DIRECTV is also transitioning all the local channels to MPEG-4 technology that’s incompatible with these older boxes.

DIRECTV has moved to SWiM technology. If you do need a service call to your home and you haven’t had one in some time, don’t be surprised if the tech wants to change you over to SWiM technology. This is a proven system for distributing signal to your home that is less expensive and simpler, but most receivers made before 2008 won’t work with it. (Want to know more about SWiM technology? Read our White Paper.

So, if you’ve been holding out, coddling an older receiver and waiting until the time was right, wait no longer! You can get a great experience with HD channels and extra features, so why wait?

Want to take it with you? Click to download our Fall 2012 Buyers Guide!

Here’s what you’re missing

If you’re using older equipment, you may not realize what DIRECTV has to offer now. Depending on the age of your equipment, you might be missing out on:

170 full-time national HD channels: You can’t beat that, and all of them use MPEG-4 technology for superior picture quality

Interactive and mix channels: Do you want to watch 8 channels at once? It’s easy with DIRECTV Mix Channels

ScoreGuide: The technology inside DIRECTV receivers lets you keep tabs on every game, not just the one you’re watching.

YouTube, Pandora, and other apps: Make the most of your viewing experience with tons of content on your internet-connected receiver.

Whole-Home viewing: Start a program in one room, finish in another. Share programs, delete from any room!

Scheduling using smartphone and tablet apps: Even without the internet you can schedule programs to record on any DVR.

Most of all, by updating your DIRECTV receivers, you’ll know that you won’t be left out in the cold with future upgrades. DIRECTV has a lot of new things coming out in the next year and you’ll need modern equipment to take advantage of them.

Start small: the DIRECTV H25 receiver

If you’re used to an old RCA receiver the size of a pizza box, you’ll be amazed at the paperback-sized H25. It’s small and light and very inexpensive. As DIRECTV’s most modern non-DVR receiver, it has all the features you would expect in a size that makes it right at home in any environment. It’s small enough to wall mount using the DIRECTV Wall Mounting Bracket, or for a truly professional installation mount it on the back of any TV with the Solid Signal Commercial Wall Mount. The H25 practically disappears when mounted behind at TV. Take a look at our video review:

H24: the smallest full-featured receiver

Do you need a receiver that works with an older system? What about a receiver that supports ethernet or component video out? Check out the H24. It’s the original touchscreen receiver, small and fast. If you’re not ready for a single wire system, the H25 won’t work — it’s SWiM-only. Plus, its small size means there are some compromises. The H24 is as small as it can be and still have a full set of outputs and an internal power supply.

Of course, the H24 will give you access to whole-home viewing and a stellar HD Experience. It’s definitely small enough for a bedroom and like other HD receivers, it’s perfectly silent.

Old Reliable: The DIRECTV H21 receiver

If your receiver is going to be mounted in an equipment rack, you should consider the H21 HD receiver. Yes, it’s true, it’s been around since 2007 but there’s a reason this receiver is still a top seller: its friendly “component-size” chassis and superior cooling make it great for commercial use, and it also works perfectly in home theater installations.

The H21’s large size gives it the advantage in high-stress, high-heat environments like closed home theater cabinets. It has a built-in RF antenna so it works well behind closed doors when combined with the RC65R remote. It does everything the H25 does, and doesn’t require an upgrade to SWiM technology (although a B-Band converter is required to receive HD without a SWiM system.)

The H21 also doesn’t compromise with outputs; unlike the H25 it has a full set of component, composite and S-video connections, along with coax and optical digital audio outputs to go along with the standard HDMI connection. If your home theater works on optical audio, you’ll find the H21 an excellent fit.

HD DVR on a budget: the DIRECTV R22 DVR

It’s not glamorous… but it’s cheap, and it does everything the others do. This is the DIRECTV R22 DVR. It’s designed to be a standard-definition DVR, with 320 hours of SD capacity. However, if you already have HD service on your DIRECTV account, it automatically turns into a 50-hour HD DVR with the same features as all other DIRECTV HD DVRs.

The R22 dates back to 2008 when DIRECTV still sold a lot of SD DVRs, and it was designed to be made on the same assembly line as other HD DVRs. It’s proven technology that still works!

If you’re going to network this DVR, make sure to pick up a DECA so you can connect it for DIRECTV whole-home viewing. You’ll also get DIRECTV’s HD menus and apps as soon as the receiver upgrades for the first time.

HR24 – Sleek and sexy


The DIRECTV HR24 is the fastest HD DVR in the DIRECTV line. It features a touch panel front and 100 hours of HD recording capacity, more than enough for casual viewing. It’s been updated with DIRECTV’s hot new HD menus featuring Pandora, YouTube videos and all of DIRECTV’s advanced features.

Share programming with other rooms or download from DIRECTV’s extensive on demand library. This DVR features built-in coax networking, so no DECA required here. 2012 Energy Star certification means it won’t use much power when it’s not recording, and it runs quiet enough for use in bedrooms. can guarantee when you order an HR24 DVR, you are getting the latest and greatest new equipment. If you order from DIRECTV, you may get older or refurbished equipment. If you want the best, get it here at Solid Signal!

Call in the big guns… the Super DVR is here.

If you want the best, most future-proof DVR you can get, you need to get the HR34 Super DVR. This is the one to beat… record 5 things at the same time, use picture-in-picture, and store a ridiculous amount of programming (over 200 hours of HD or 800 hours of SD. Share that programming throughout the house, too.

Simplify your setup by running an ethernet cable straight into this DVR instead of using a Cinema Connection Kit… the internet access will be shared with all other networked receivers.

You say you want to be future-proof? This DVR has built-in RVU technology ready for the next generation of smart TVs and receivers. You say you want to use your Smart TV as a DVR but without another box? Or maybe you want a box with DVR functions in another room but you want it to be silent and as small as a paperback book. It’s all coming soon and only the DIRECTV HR34 will give you the capability to use next year’s hardware like that.

Check out Solid Signal’s video review of the HR34:

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.