CEDIA Expo Report: DIRECTV Booth Tour

DIRECTV was definitely “in the house” at CEDIA Expo 2012. They brought a whole-home setup completely wired for RVU, and a full complement of new equipment designed for the satellite TV connoisseur.

Let’s take a walk around and see what cool toys showed up. (Larger images are no longer available)

The heart of any RVU setup is the Home Media Center server. At the left, you see DIRECTV’s HR34 Super DVR. It’s more than just a 5-tuner DVR. When paired with the C31 RVU client or the Samsung Smart TV it’s also the heart of a next-generation home theater system. The Samsung Smart TV can be used without any external box, and the C31 can be used to turn any TV into an RVU-enabled powerhouse.

Speaking of the C31, the CEDIA Expo was its “coming out party.” For almost everyone at the show, it was the first time seeing this little box. It’s smaller than Dish’s Joey client, and there’s no question that it’s the smallest box with DVR functionality to be found. It’s also just as responsive as the HR34.

Before the CEDIA Expo, there were rumors of the C31 composite cable. This cable is very important, because a small device like C31 is very tempting for use with older, smaller TVs. Yet, the small size of the C31 makes it impossible to put anything but a single HDMI connector on its back. The multi-pin plug found next to the HDMI connector gives a solution. In addition to providing component function (using the same cable as the H25) we can now confirm that this connector will also allow older TVs to connect to C31. Of course very old TVs will need an RF modulator.

There was another pleasant surprise at the CEDIA Expo… the C31 Wall Mount. The wall mount looks a lot like the H25 Wall Mount but obviously is designed for the smaller size of the C31. However, unlike the H25 wall mount it looks like it’s possible to mount the C31 on the back of the TV using the pre-cut “keyhole” openings. The C31 is held at a slight distance away from the base of the mount, giving better ventilation and the ability to fit mounting screws into the back after the C31 is put into the wall mount.

It wasn’t possible to confirm the spacing of the holes but they look like they are perfectly sized for the most common small VESA mounts.

The final surprise of the DIRECTV booth was the new configuration for the Broadband DECA 2. DIRECTV seems to go back and forth on how to connect a DIRECTV system to the internet… first they advocated a DECA and PS18 power adapter. Then they built the Cinema Connection Kit to allow a single point of connection that was clean and small. Now it looks like they are going back to using a separate system that includes a DECA IIH25 Power Supply, and the little dongle you see here. It converts the plug from the H25 power supply into coaxial, for connection to the DECA II. Solid Signal is looking into this dongle and we’ll let you know as soon as pricing is available.

Special thanks to the talented staff of DIRECTV engineers and sales managers who helped with this report!