Does the DIRECTV Genie have a built-in Wireless Video Bridge?

I admit, this can be a confusing one. Since the introduction of the HR44 Genie several years ago, there has been some sort of wireless capability built into every DIRECTV DVR. DIRECTV’s Wireless Genie Mini client works without a coaxial cable (for those nitpickers out there, you still have to plug it in, it’s not totally wireless.) So where’s the disconnect?

Why can’t you connect a wireless client to a Wi-Fi equipped Genie?

You can, of course, but in most cases you need a wireless video bridge. I know, that doesn’t make sense, but maybe it will after I’m done explaining.

DIRECTV’s wireless client doesn’t use your home’s Wi-Fi. Instead, it uses a special Wi-Fi network that isn’t used for any other purpose, and which operates slightly differently from normal Wi-Fi. The Wireless Video Bridge uses MIMO technology for the strongest allowable signal, just like our mesh networking products. It also uses a dedicated channel to try to eliminate interference. That way, you should be able to get a smooth and problem-free experience.

It’s those fancy MIMO antennas that are the reason that HR44 and HR54 Genies don’t have the ability to connect straight to the client. When you look at the Wireless Video Bridge, what you notice first of all is that it sticks up. It doesn’t lay flat. That’s not uncommon for high-end routers, because it allows large antennas that pick up and broadcast strong signals. However, when you look at this Genie DVR:

it doesn’t stick up. It’s wide and flat, which is great for your entertainment center but not so great for Wi-Fi. Even though the HR44 and HR54 probably have enough computing power to run a wireless client, they don’t even try because the experience isn’t any good. A wireless video bridge is used instead, with it’s big honkin’ antennas, to give you a better experience.

The Wi-Fi on the HR44 and HR54 is only used to get on-demand programming and advanced features. It’s not used for anything else.

So, I’ll say it again, if you have an HR44 or HR54 Genie, you need a wireless video bridge. Simple as that.

Obviously, there have been a lot of people who said that the HR44 and HR54 should have had the ability to work with wireless clients without any extra hardware, and when AT&T engineers were designing the HS17 Genie 2, they took that in mind. Because the HS17 doesn’t output to a TV, it doesn’t have to fit in an entertainment center. That means it can be much better shaped for strong Wi-Fi performance.

The Genie 2 can connect to wireless clients without a separate video bridge. If you need a separate video bridge you can use one, for example if the Genie 2 isn’t close enough to the client and you get a yellow light on the front of the client. But, the trick is to put the Genie 2 in the right location, so you don’t need anything extra.

Bottom line here folks: If your Genie is wide, you need a video bridge. If it’s tall you don’t. Think about it that way and it’s easy to remember.