Why can’t you just hook a keyboard up to your DVR?

You know, just plug one into the USB port? You actually can do that, it doesn’t do anything but the plug fits. You’d think with all the searching some people do, that it would be a real benefit. You’d also think it’s not that hard considering that most satellite receivers and DVRs have Linux as their underpinning.

First of all, while it’s true that most modern receivers run Linux, it’s not the same thing you can get in your run-of-the-mill server or computer. It’s “Embedded” Linux, designed for devices that don’t act like computers. It’s not designed for direct keyboard input. That’s not to say it wouldn’t work or it couldn’t work, only that it would take a few more steps than you’d think just from knowing you have Linux in there.

Adding keyboard input is probably more feasible now than it was in the mid-2000s, when the DVRs and receivers of the day needed every bit of processor power they had just to decode and display HD video, but in the meantime it’s all gone in a different direction. Specialized apps like DISH Explorer and the DIRECTV apps for phones and tablets make physical keyboards unnecessary. They provide a better search experience and come on, who doesn’t have a smartphone or tablet at this point?

Of course there are going to be people who would rather use a physical keyboard, and those folks have a valid point that it’s obviously going to take a lot more effort to search using the remote. DIRECTV could develop a physical keyboard, or a remote with one built-in like TiVo has, but the demand is limited and at this point DIRECTV has to be very careful with equipment costs because content providers (especially sports providers) are squeezing the company with high price increases that can’t be passed along to customers. For those folks, unfortunately, it’s the remote or else.

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.