Streaming is (probably) coming to your Genie DVR… but when?

This unretouched image comes from the settings screen of the DIRECTV app for iPad, version 4.4.105. This is the version available to everyone, not some fancy test version. It confirms something I’ve been saying for a while. DIRECTV’s GenieGO streaming device is gone, but the technology is still there. It looks like it’s taken up residence in your Genie DVR.

There have been long-term rumors that streaming functionality as well as off-loading functionality was built into the Genie DVR and here’s the first proof. You have the option to enter a receiver ID number instead of a serial number, which confirms that there is a DVR out there capable of doing this sort of thing.

The detective work stops there, though, since the receiver IDs of my DVRs didn’t work when I put them in. So this is obviously a feature still in beta test and that’s not surprising either. There was a prototype of this technology shown at the recent DIRECTV Revolution dealer conference in Orlando, Florida, and reps there were happy to tell you that it will be ready by the end of the year.

What remains to be seen is what you’ll actually get. GenieGO gave you two options: offload a standard-definition copy to your device that would expire after 30 days, or stream directly to the receiver at a quality level about 1/2 of standard definition. Either way it was impossible to get true HD from a GenieGO and that’s one of the reasons the little box wasn’t terribly missed when it went out of production.

DIRECTV’s own streaming platform, built into the smartphone and tablet apps, provided much better quality if you had enough bandwidth, and as far as taking stuff with you, in my opinion you were better off with something like our Tech Choice Video Grabber which gives a standard definition version that you can keep forever. As for truly HD video capture, it’s still expensive and elusive because content providers simply don’t want you to have that option.

In the meantime, DISH reports that while the Hopper’s built-in Slingbox and DISH everywhere functions are great, but users don’t seem terribly lit up about it, preferring to stream directly from content providers when needed. The HopperGO product DISH showed at CES may already be a distant dream, as nothing’s been seen or heard of it since that show in January. That’s usually a sign of vaporware.

I’ll admit that I was much more interested in this sort of technology before data plans became cheap and before it became possible to stream pretty much anything you want from provider web sites or from services like Hulu. That said, there’s still a large group of people who travel and want to offload their content so they can watch on planes. Starz’ new app lets you do this but most streaming apps don’t. For them, a device like this is perfect, and for them it can’t come soon enough.

When it does become available, look for a full review at The Solid Signal Blog.