Solid Signal’s HANDS ON Review: DIRECTV NOW 2.0 with DVR

It’s finally here. DIRECTV NOW just rolled out a major new update that brings it in line with other live streaming TV services. You don’t have to choose anymore between a service that has DVR and one that doesn’t. Our own Jake Buckler laid out the basics yesterday, and I’ve been given exclusive permission to show you the user interface today.

The new app

You’ll know you have the new app if the app icon is white not black. Right now it’s only available for iOS and AppleTV boxes but the other versions are coming very, very soon.

If you didn’t notice the white app icon you’ll certainly notice the new splash screen. It only comes up the first time you launch the new app.

After launch, you’ll go to a new home screen with a large, easy-to watch preview of live TV. Of course you can expand it out to full screen if you want.

Note, this is a bit of a mockup. When you take screencaps it blacks out the live picture. I put it back in so you can get an idea what it looks like.

DVR function

Every user gets 20 hours of free DVR storage which stays available for 30 days. After that the recordings are deleted. You can upgrade, however, to 100 hours of storage for 90 days, for only $10 a month. Either way, the DVR function is very well integrated.

Here I didn’t photoshop back in the live picture so you can see the DVR controls. You can pause live TV of course and by tapping on REC you can record the current program. In most cases the program will record from the beginning even if you’ve just tuned in.

You can also go into any future program and set it to record, and there are series recordings similar to pretty much any other DVR out there. To record a whole series, tap “Record Episode” then tap “Record Series.” You have the option of “All Episodes” or “New Episodes.” It will record episodes across multiple channels in many cases, so be careful with “All Episodes.” Choosing to record every episode of Law&Order will probably fill up your 25-hour DVR allotment pretty quick.

Recordings are accessed by choosing “My Library” from the bottom of the app. You can also look at upcoming recordings and prune out episodes you don’t want. Video continues in a small box at lower right (which is black in this image.)

Upgraded guide

On mobile, there’s a spiffy-looking guide that’s easier to read than ever. Black letters on white plus a live TV picture at lower right. On AppleTV, the guide continues as white letters on black with the live TV picture full-size behind the guide. There’s no word on whether the streaming box guide will change to look like the guide on the app.

For the most part the streaming box experience looks just like the mobile experience. It’s been upgraded for DVR service as well.

Impressions

I’ve been playing with DIRECTV NOW’s update for a little while and I really like the improvements to the mobile experience. DVR service has been flawless and seems to be well thought out.

It’s pretty clear to me that AT&T is really serious about growing its streaming products. There have been rumors of moving the entire DIRECTV satellite experience over to mobile, but I believe that would end up being at a price comparable to what you pay today for satellite. DIRECTV NOW is a great value at the price you pay and it’s perfect for people who watch a mix of TV on their TVs and mobile devices.