Does DIRECTV’s wireless client work as well as a regular one?

DIRECTV has actually had a wireless client for five years. It first rolled out back in 2013 and my review of it was very positive. In the years since, it’s pretty much stayed the same, with the exception of a new logo on the front on some clients. However, the DVR side has gotten faster and better, making the experience better than it ever was. Yet, there are people who say it shouldn’t work at all. Here’s the down and dirty.

Yes, it really does work.

There’s a small group of people who believe that a wireless client couldn’t possibly work. They talk about things like bandwidth and attenuation and traffic. They throw around a bunch of terms hoping to confuse you. The real truth is that a wireless client isn’t that hard to do, especially here in 2018.

Yes there is enough bandwidth.

Let’s talk first about bandwidth. A lot of people will tell you that an uncompressed video stream, such as the one that comes from a DVR and goes over an HDMI connection, is about 10Gbps. They say a typical wireless connection could never support that, and they are right. However, the Genie mini clients actually use a stream about 15Mbps or less for HD. This has been proven by the fact that you can have 7 streams (including 2 4K streams) using the MoCA 1.1 technology built into a Genie. We know MoCA 1.1 has a maximum speed limit of 175Mbps.

Yes, even 50 feet away.

So, a wireless connection just needs a sustained speed of about 15Mbps to function. That’s completely achievable with current technology and in fact even with attenuation it’s rarely an issue. Attenuation is the property of a signal where it gets weaker over distance, and with data speeds that usually means it gets slower. So even though you might start with 150Mbps speed from your router, it gets slower as you get further away.

I tested 802.11ac performance using my own equipment and while I could give you a bunch of graphs, the most important thing is that I got 35Mbps everywhere and that’s all that matter.

No, traffic isn’t a problem.

People say that a wireless client isn’t going to work because all the other Wi-Fi in your home is going to disrupt it. If you’ve ever tried to shop online while the kids are streaming, you know what I’m talking about. I hear you, really. But DIRECTV wireless clients aren’t like streaming devices. The DIRECTV clients use their own wireless network. Even though it’s basically an 802.11ac network, it is completely closed off. It doesn’t interfere with the other networks in your home. Like other wireless networks, it chooses a “channel” to communicate on and will automatically choose another channel if the one it uses is crowded.

Yeah, but does it work?

OK, let’s bottom line it all. I use a mix of wired and wireless clients in my own home. I very rarely notice any difference in performance between the wired and wireless ones. Occasionally I find there’s a short delay after I press a button, but only the first time I press the button.

If you have had problems with your wireless clients, here’s a nice tutorial giving you some options. If you are thinking about upgrading to a wireless setup, shop at Solid Signal now.