Solid Signal’s Hands on Review: DIRECTV C41W Wireless Genie Client

It’s the number one question our support department gets: “Is there a wireless client?” and until today, the answer has always been “No.” We’re proud to give you our exclusive review of the DIRECTV C41W Wireless Genie Client. Just imagine our C41 Mini Genie Client, but without a coaxial cable. Bring the DIRECTV receiver and TV into any room! This is a whole new product for DIRECTV and will make installations easier and give customers options for redecorating.

This product is currently in pilot testing and will be available from Solid Signal soon. Bookmark this page and we’ll let you know when it’s available! This product is now available at Solid Signal!

This review is available in PDF format! Click here to download!

How it works

The wireless Genie client can be used with either the HR34 or HR44 Genie DVRs, and can be used in combination with other C31 and C41 clients. You can use the Genie DVR and up to 3 clients (wired or wireless) at any time. The wireless client does not depend on your wireless network at all. Instead it uses the DIRECTV Wireless Video Bridge to create a secure wireless network that only communicates with your clients. That means that you don’t even need wireless networking and your DIRECTV experience won’t be impacted by any other network traffic. The Wireless Video Bridge needs a coax connection but it has a passthrough feature so it can share a line with the Genie DVR if necessary.

Here’s a diagram of how the system works:

The wireless video bridge connects to the splitter. It can be its own coax run from the splitter or, as shown, you can pass the satellite line through it to your Genie DVR. Regular Genie Mini Clients connect as they always have, but the wireless client doesn’t need a coax connection at all.All three clients can be wireless if you would prefer and all of them can share the same wireless video bridge.

In detail: The C41W Wireless Client

At first glance, the C41W (bottom) looks just like a C31 (top) until you realize it doesn’t have a coax input. It is wider and not as tall. The power button design is different, with a bit of thick clear plastic between your finger and the logo.

From the top it’s very obvious that the C41W is larger than the C31, but not by much.

Like the C31 and C41, the C41W doesn’t have an access card slot. In fact the only buttons on the clients are reset and power.

Looking at the back of the C41W, it’s pretty sparse. There’s an AV Out connector that can be used for the DIRECTV H2510PIN 10 Pin to Component Dongle for DIRECTV H25 and C31 (H2510PIN) from Solid Signal or DIRECTV 10PINCOMPOS 10 Pin to Composite Dongle for DIRECTV C31 (10PINCOMPOS) from Solid Signal) to connect to older TVs. There’s an HDMI out, digital audio out, power in, and of course the always-useless USB port.

On the front right of the client is an ever-growing list of endorsement logos, in this case for Dolby Digital, RF4CE (the remote control technology) RVU (the tech that makes clients possible) and energy star.

Another big improvement from the C31/C41 series is that there’s a center spine on the bottom with two keyhole slots. This means that you can mount the box on the back of the TV or on the wall without a separate plastic mount. The spine also creates two channels on the bottom that probably help direct airflow to cool the box. Like all of DIRECTV’s little boxes, this one runs pretty hot.

In detail: the Wireless Video Bridge

The wireless video bridge is about the size of an average router. The base can’t be removed in order to force you to keep it vertical, which improves wireless range. The only feature on the front is a blue light.

If you look at the video bridge from the side you get a better idea of its overall shape. you can also see the coax input and output. The video bridge must be connected via coax but you can pass coax through to another receiver if you are out of space on a splitter.

Focus on the rear connectors

The Wireless Video Bridge is based on an existing Cisco reference design and this is most apparent in the back panel. There are a lot of unused connectors. Here’s a closer look, top to bottom:

At the top is a hole for WPS which is unused. WPS is not supported and production video bridges will probably have this hole removed. The red reset button factory resets the bridge. Below that is an ethernet connector which is also unused. Future versions of the video bridge may support ethernet as well as coax networking but for now it’s coax only.

Below that, there’s a coax in and coax out. The coax out has a chained-on terminator which should always be used if the coax out is not used. Coax out is used in order to let one coax line feed both the Genie DVR and the video bridge if you have no room on your splitter. Signal loss is similar to using a 1×2 splitter. Finally at the bottom is a power connector.

EPS10 power supply and RC71 remote

Both the video bridge and the C41W use the EPS10 power supply. This is the same power supply that ships with H25s, C31s, C41s, and Broadband DECAs. DIRECTV has standardized on this design because having an external power brick makes the power supply easier replace if it fails. The client and video bridge each need their own power supplies.

The C41W ships with the same RC71 remote used by the HR44 and C41. It is fully RF-capable and self-programming. A regular white DIRECTV remote can be used in IR mode only if you prefer.

How it all works / FAQ

How does the system work? 
The video bridge creates its own secure wireless network and doesn’t depend on your router. The only information on that network is between the client and the video bridge.Is the client truly wireless?
It doesn’t have a coax connection but you still need a wire from it to the TV, and you need to plug it into the wall.

How do you configure the video bridge?
Just plug it in and wait until the light stops flashing, which takes 2-3 minutes. There are no user configurable options.

Can I navigate to the video bridge and log into it like I can with my router?
That option is disabled on production units.

Can I use an RF remote with the client? 
The RC71 remote is RF-capable. You can’t use an older DIRECTV remote in RF mode.

Where should the video bridge be located?
For best results, it should be within about 50 feet of the wireless client.

What if my home is so big that one video bridge doesn’t cover it?
You can have several video bridges (not sure what the limit is) and the clients can connect to any of them.

First-time installation of the video bridge and C41W

Setting up the video bridge is easy. Connect it to a free coax line, and if needed disconnect the terminator cap and run a coax line to another receiver. (Otherwise keep the cap in place.) Connect it to the power adapter and plug it in. Withing a moment the light on the front should start flashing blue. When it turns solid blue, you’re done. That’s it.

Setting up the client

Just like the wired clients, there is a setup and pairing procedure. It only needs to be done once.

Connect the client to the TV and power it up. You should see the normal DIRECTV startup screens and eventually you will see the first pairing screen:

Go to the Genie DVR and turn it on. Then, press {MENU}. From there, go to Settings&Help, Settings, Whole-Home, Add A Client. A PIN will be displayed on the screen– write it down because you will need it later. This is the same procedure you use to pair a wired client. (Click here to read our pairing instructions for wired clients.)

It may take up to a minute but if the client is able to communicate with the video bridge you will see the Signal Strength display and you will see that “Continue” is highlighted. Press {SELECT}.

Now, the client will wait up to 2 minutes to complete the pairing procedure, during which time you will see this screen:

When the video bridge and client are paired, you will be asked for the PIN that you saw on the Genie DVR menu. Enter it here.

From here the process is very straightforward. You can copy settings from another client (or from the server) you can name the client, and program the remote. This is an RF remote but it will also control your TV in IR mode so there’s no reason not to put it in RF mode right away.

What can go wrong?

If the client pairs properly the network light on the front of the receiver will glow solid green. If it is flashing yellow or solid yellow, that means the connection is too weak to use. In a case like that it may not pair properly, or it may work very slowly. The best thing to do at that point is reposition the video bridge. Don’t put it in a cabinet, don’t lay it on its side. Put it as close to the wireless client as possible with a clear view of a door. This will give the best possible wireless signal.

Overall impressions

I was expecting this client to be kind of a dud, honestly. AT&T’s wireless receiver is pokey and takes a long time to work. Its remote response wasn’t that good and it was definitely one of those things you only use when you have to. On the other hand, there was no real difference between performance between the wired and wireless clients. The wireless client starts up in about the same time and response to the remote is just as good as it is with the wired client. That was the biggest surprise.

I was not surprised at all that this client runs hot, about as hot as an H25. There’s a lot going on in that little box. I would not say it was so hot that I worried, but it was noticeably warm to the touch.

Also, while I know that the RC71 remote isn’t everyone’s favorite, I will say the RF performance is very strong. I used a threaded machine screw in one of the mounting holes on the back of the TV, and hung the C41W behind the TV. The RF remote had no problems shooting straight through the TV.

I would definitely recommend this wireless client for everyday use.

Here’s a video that shows the C41W and Wireless Video Bridge in action:

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.