Focus on DIRECTV Residential Experience 2.0

There are several articles on this blog about DIRECTV Residential Experience. DRE was the focus of DIRECTV’s marketing efforts at the HITEC show, and if you’ve read our review of COM1000 and Floodgate based on HITEC experiences, it’s only fair to compare DRE with those other two systems.

DRE 2.0 is the new, cool, current version of the DIRECTV Residential Experience. The first version of DRE was a huge step forward in creating a hotel experience, but there were still some limitations. First of all, the remote, though antimicrobial, wasn’t unique to DIRECTV and didn’t really reflect DIRECTV’s vision of what the customer is looking for. Second of all, while it was possible to do most of the things in your hotel you could do at home, something was missing. What was it?

D. V. R.

If you’re looking for the premier experience from your hotel TV, you’ve probably got a pretty good system at home. DIRECTV Residential Experience brought a lot to the table like interactive channels, the customer’s familiar guide and the potential for hundreds of channels. But I don’t know about you… but for me it’s hard to wrap my head around life without a DVR. I’m in year 10 as a DVR user and it’s fair to say that my entire TV life can be split into two phases: pre-DVR and with-DVR. I’m a DVR junkie. I don’t even think about commercials. I hardly ever watch things live. Before the DVR I had a complex multi-VHS system that only I could understand. I don’t miss those days at all.

And let’s be honest, I don’t miss live TV.

DIRECTV Residential Experience was shown at the HITEC booth and it was clear to see the advantages. Of course the learning curve was non-existent. If you have DIRECTV you know how to use this. There’s a simplified remote, with only the buttons you’d actually use in a hotel. The only color button is the red one, and that gives you access to scoreguide when applicable.

The DIRECTV booth showed the Wimbledon Game Mix and that’s a perfect example of the kind of content you won’t find on any other hotel system. The “bedroom” in the DIRECTV booth had a Philips TV with a built-in H25… a perfect fit for a hotel room. Of course if you would rather use any TV, you can use the H25 receiver and the Solid Signal Commercial Wall or TV Mount for DIRECTVs H25 (H25WTVMNT) from Solid Signal for a clean look. Either way the guide was fast and all the channels were right there where I expected them to be. I could even set parental controls.

Of course, there were really only two buttons on the remote that I was interested in.

DRE can be used with H25 receivers, but the really premier experience comes if the hotel operator chooses to put an HR24 in the room. This is completely up to the operator. If you want, you can use one H25 per room and the wiring is easier. However, to get the full effect, and really impress your customers, you need to put the DVR in.

The pause button just works. Finally, a hotel system that gets me! Pause for 90 minutes just like at home. Fast forward, rewind, instant replay… it’s all there. Which brings me to the other button that really lit me up:

Believe it or not, you can record programs off the guide. You can even set series links up and the hotel can automatically wipe them when you check out. Sure, you’d have to be in a hotel for a long time to really need that but that does happen.

My time at the DIRECTV booth was spent watching demos of the system in action. I got a quick look at the closet where all the equipment was, and of course it looked like a combination of a server room and a DIRECTV equipment room. What impressed me most was how much activity there was. This is something that a lot of people really want and from what I understand, there are deals in place now where you can get the whole thing for no upfront cost. I think that attracted attention too.

I’ll admit that this isn’t the most flexible system. Of course it only works with DIRECTV, as if that’s a downside. But, the Floodgate system gets points for being able to aggregate other sources as well. For DRE you can add local insertion channels but that really means short videos shown on a server.

On the other hand, COM1000 wins hands down for being small, easy to manage, and easy to wire. It’s also a DIRECTV-only system but it’s a good economical choice if you just want up to 24 channels and no DVR. On the other hand, if you want to give your guests the best possible TV watching experience to go with the best possible hotel experience, there’s no contest: you’ve got to look into DIRECTV Residential Experience 2.0.