Can I use an HR20i DVR for anything?

This is the DIRECTV HR20i DVR. It looks just like any other HR20 or HR21 DVR. Some were silver and some black. The difference: If you look in the back, you’ll see no satellite input. The HR20i was designed for DIRECTV’s MFH3 apartment system, which used ethernet cables instead of coaxial ones.

It was a good idea back in the 2000s, because DIRECTV’s systems were not very scalable back then, and it was very hard to create a DIRECTV system that worked in an apartment building. The MFH3 system wasn’t very popular, but there were enough of them that you’ll occasionally see these HR20i receivers out there in the wild on eBay or something.

The problem with MFH3 was that you couldn’t use regular DIRECTV equipment, and as new capabilities were added, the HR20i and its receiver-only counterpart the D11i were left in the dust. This led to some unhappy apartment dwellers.

If you’re a property owner who still operates an MFH3 system, you probably know that there are ways to migrate that to a D2 Advantage system. D2 Advantage is the coaxial-cable-based system for apartments that lets your customer use any DIRECTV equipment they want and have access to all the same great features that single-family-home DIRECTV customers have. D2 Advantage has been the standard for over 7 years now.

I have to say, I’m always pretty surprised to encounter one of these devices in the wild after all these years. I guess it’s a testament to how well built the system is, that it’s still functioning after about a decade. Still, you would think that property owners would have done some sort of upgrades in the meantime, wouldn’t you? The last time I was asked about one of these was back in 2013 and it was a dinosaur then… today it’s just plain amazing that it works at all.

As for that HR20i, sorry to say that it’s pretty much valueless at this point. You could try selling it on eBay if there’s someone else out there trying to nurse a little more life out of an old system, but really you should probably responsibly recycle it, unless you’re trying to make an old MFH3 system hold on for just a little longer.

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.