Can a DIRECTV H25 be turned into a DVR?

Sure, it’s frustrating. You know that the DIRECTV H25 Receiver looks and acts so much like a DVR, but it isn’t a DVR. Your friends with DISH may have told you stories of a receiver you can convert into a single-tuner DVR. For people who don’t do a lot of recording and basically want a device to pause live TV now and again, it sounds perfect.

So, you thought it was not going to happen, and then you took the family on vacation. You went to a hotel with the latest DIRECTV Residential Experience and you saw what looked like a bone-stock H25 receiver… that let you pause live TV and record. What the heck?

OK, let me explain. What you saw was the same H25 receiver you may have at home, but it runs special software designed for hotels. Yes, it also has a tiny flash drive in the USB port that lets it function as a very basic one-tuner DVR. Your eyes were not deceiving you. Obviously, it can be done. But the odds are that you’ll never see this technology in your home. Bummed? I understand.

This technology was developed specifically for the hotel industry to give DIRECTV a leg up on the competition. No one else is offering DVR service to the hotel room. Only DIRECTV does that. Not only that, DIRECTV offers the greatest selection of on-demand programming including tons of free titles. No one else does that either. When you do pay for a pay-per-view title, you’ll pay a lower price than you do with other hotel systems. It sure sounds like a win to me… but all of that stuff is tied into the hotel system. In order to take the DVR part and make it work with home systems would mean starting almost completely from scratch.

Yes, starting from scratch. And DIRECTV has said, over and over, that the future is the Genie system and the “next thing after,” whatever those magical engineers are cooking up that will merge the worlds of DIRECTV and AT&T as if they were long lost lovers. The H25 generation, which really began with 2008’s H21 receiver, has seen its day come and gone. It’s still hanging on because it’s useful in bars, restaurants, hotels, and for people who just want tons of receivers in their homes. But is it growing? Is it thriving? Certainly not. At best, that H25 is like an old dog, even if you get a new one. The chance that you’ll get to see it do new tricks is pretty darn slim.

And folks, I’m right there with you when you say you’d like to see an H25 with at least limited capabilities to record or pause live TV. The Genie system has one powerful limitation – you can only have three clients or smart TVs active at one time, and you can only have one Genie DVR. So, if you want more capacity than that, your only option right now is an HR24 DVR. Not only does the HR24 cost twice as much when you get it, but it looks positively huge compared with the small and sleek hardware that’s part of the Genie system. Oh, five years ago it looked tiny too, but that was then… when a lot of people still clung to massive VCRs. Today it looks like a remnant from stereo ages gone by.

But, of course, we have to live in the real world. One thing that I can say for sure is that there will some solution for people who want more than 5 tuners and 4 TVs active at the same time, and that solution won’t involve HR24 or H25 hardware. I’m talking about moving forward, not moving back and you have my word, DIRECTV is anxious to give you as much recording capacity as you need. Why wouldn’t they be? Just… unfortunately the H25 DVR won’t be part of the equation.